Tropical Paradise

Tropical Paradise
"Tropical Paradise", watercolor, by Roye Jan Myers

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dark, Darker, Darkest

There's dark chocolate -- 60%, 70%, 80% -- even 90%.  What all of them in this range have in common is at least a small amount of sugar. They can be insanely, intoxicatingly delicious. That little bit of sugar, that smallest touch of sweetness, completely changes the game.

And then there is 100% dark chocolate. Just pure, straight-up, roasted, ground, refined, conched and molded cacao. There is no sugar flying cover for even the slightest of off-flavors. Everything the bean has to offer, for better or for worse, is on full display.

Fine 100% darks are NOTHING like the baking chocolate that you may have had the misfortune of tasting at some point along the way (aside from being 100% cacao). When made well, these unsweetened bars are works of art. They can be as smooth and creamy as some of the better milk chocolates. The taste is not bitter or astringent (nor is it sweet), but rather complex and rich -- each one in its own distinct way.

100% darks aren't for everyone, but if you want to experience chocolate full-on, without decoration or embelishment, find a bar of Pralus 100% Madagascar, Domori IL100%, Granada Chocolate Company 100% organic, Zotter 100% Peru (my personal favorite) or Bonnat 100% Cacao. Find a quiet place to sit down. Cleanse your pallate. Break off a small corner of the bar. Let it melt on your tongue...and let it take you to that special place that only a truly great chocolate can...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

From Bean to Bar

In addition to offering our flagship Fortunato No. 4 chocolate and (soon) other fine single-origin dark chocolates on our website (, making our own line of vegan white chocolates, biscotti, bon-bons, and the like, we’ve been quietly and diligently working on learning how to make our own chocolate ‘bean-to-bar’ from raw cocoa beans. We’ve read we’ve studied, we’ve made test batches, we’ve waited with great anticipation for the finished chocolate to come out of the molds, we’ve tasted the results – and we’ve gone back to the drawing board a couple of notches wiser more times than we can count. What we’ve really learned most from all of this so far is that there are a lot more ways to make bad or so-so chocolate than good, and that making truly fine chocolate is an art form that can (and probably will) take a lifetime to master – and even then it’s still a journey, not a destination.

We don’t know at the moment whether we’re weeks, months or even years from a process that will result in a chocolate good enough for us to want to put our name on. What we’re making today is worlds better than what we were making six months ago, but it still isn’t that insanely, deliriously, gloriously, intoxicatingly other-worldly great chocolate experience that we’re after. So until then…

…so until then, we’d like to start sharing our bean-to-bar journey with you, play-by-play, in our blog (we’ll let you know on Facebook when we add a new post to our blog) – the trials, the tribulations, the successes and the inevitable ‘learning experiences’.  We’d also like to invite anyone that’s seriously interested in being a part of this chocolate making adventure to join us on the journey and to help us evaluate and refine our chocolate. Our test batches are typically very small – about one to two pounds. We save some out for comparison with other batches, so that doesn’t translate into very many 'extra' bars, but for anyone willing to provide constructive feedback on our blog, we’ll send you small bars or tasting squares (and a description of what you’re getting) on a first-come, first-served basis until we run out – the only requirements are that you cover any insulated shipping if you want to participate in the warmer months (we’ll cover standard shipping in the cooler months of the year), and that in order to get your next bar you have to have left some thoughtful feedback on the previous one you received. Our eventual inaugural bar will be the world’s first ‘crowd-sourced’ chocolate bar, and you will have been part of it!