Southern Artisanal


Artisan Chocolatiers are emerging worldwide. I became aware of bean to bar Chocolatiers in the South through an article in the Southern Living Magazine (February 2012).

French Broad Chocolates – an amazing story of a young professional couple who pursued their ‘culinary creativity through the medium of chocolate; to create a beautiful space and a beautiful menu. French Broad Chocolate provides an array of exquisitely made chocolates in tantalizing varieties. French Broad Chocolates is located in Asheville, NC

Truffles top left to right – cafĂ© au lait; white jasmine; lavender and honey; 
bottom left to right - cosmic love potion-with rose petal; earl grey and canela picante. 
The flavors...beyond words. Wow!

I chose a variety of chocolates to enjoy immediately and
to use in my cooking. I have not been disappointed by the quality of the products I received.

.  I will be making a special chocolate sauce for Valentines dessert and a chocolate cake for Sunday dinner

Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Co. ‘Hand crafted by native Nashvillians in the heart of music city, Olive and Sinclair is proud to be the original bean-to-bar chocolate maker of the South’  They slow roast and grind their own beans in small batches selecting single origin beans combining them with fine ingredients. I have chosen a special tin filled with a 
selection of chocolate bars – and a large bar of baking chocolate. 

Contained within the tin from Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Co bars of:
  Cinnamon Chili; Cacao Nibs; Sea Salt; 67% Cacao; 75% Cacao. 

Cacao Atlanta is a young boutique bean to bar joining in the ever-growing world of artisan chocolate makers. The owners of Cacao Atlanta use ‘Old World’ techniques in a ‘New World aesthetic’ producing delectable chocolates that are sure to transport you. From Cacao Atlanta I chose their ground cocoa and chocolate nibs as well as one of their famous ‘Love’ bars. 

The creation of chocolate is a remarkable, somewhat magical process. Good artisanal chocolate is created through time, care and effort and knowledge of the origin of the cacao and the various processes to chocolate’s creation.

Chocolate is made from the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree found along the equator. Theobroma is a greek word that means, ‘food of the gods’. The seeds are in a pod with a fruity pulp. Cacao trees fall into three varieties. The rarest, possibly oldest is the Criollo followed by the Trinitario and the Forastero. The Criollo is found mainly in South America within the Rainforests.  The Trinitario is grown throughout the world containing characteristics found both in the Criollo and the Forastero. The Forastero is grown in the heat and the sun of  West Africa and South America – the source of most cacao produced throughout the world. The growing conditions of the Forastero have been noted to create a more bitter cacao.

A Theobroma Cacao Tree in the Rainforest

The mature, reddish-brown cacao pods are harvested, broken open exposing the pulpy-seeded insides and allowed to ferment. A stage that is essential to the formation of chocolate’s flavor.
Drying and roasting of the beans follow the fermentation process. The drying process is usually done in the sunshine or drying facilities to avoid mold. The roasting process further develops the chocolate flavor resulted from the initial fermentation.
Once the roasting is completed, the cocoa beans are cracked and winnowed to remove the shell and any debris resulting in what is now cocoa nibs.

The cocoa nibs are then ground producing cocoa butter and cocoa liquer. When pressed, the cocoa butter is removed and the remaining produced is ground into cocoa powder.
Making chocolate bars and confections.
 To take the cocoa powder, cocoa solids into chocolates you add sugar and other ingredients and then the ‘conching’ process is begun. The first machine resembled a conch shell resulting in the name of the process. The cocoa and the sugars are further, more finely ground. The length of time dedicated to this process can result in a more finer chocolate.

The chocolate is now tempered. Tempering is a heating and cooling process which stabilizes the fat crystals that ultimately producing a silky rich chocolate.
What a wonderful, amazing gift. Knowing the wonders of the creation of chocolate, the careful process causes one to appreciate a well-made piece of chocolate.
Once you try a really good piece of chocolate, could you be satisfied with anything less?

Artisanal Chocolatiers know their product and their craft. They select single sources of beans. They may grind and roast their own beans in small batches and follow European methods of producing fine chocolate. These artisans then combine the chocolate with selected ingredients to produce a heavenly product worth taking the time to enjoy.

Really good chocolate is an experience; it is to savor. To experience the pleasure of good chocolate one uses all their senses. It is worth taking the time to observe the beauty of the chocolate. Is it glossy? When you open the package take in the aroma. Take care where and how you store your chocolate. Chocolate absorbs the fragrance of the flavors in its surroundings. Good chocolate should have a ‘snap’ when broken.

Take a small piece of the chocolate and let it rest on your tongue. The cocoa butter content melts just below body temperature and the chocolate will slowly melt releasing the flavors and fragrances found within. You can begin to chew the chocolate to experience the full mouth feel and the various ingredients of the chocolate. The flavors should meld together well – complement each other.

I have chosen chocolate sauce as my first recipe to make with my artisanal chocolate. The chocolate sauce to go along with
a creamy, vanilla custard to be layered with red-ripe strawberries. I will top the dessert with a strawberry, shaved chocolate and pistachio nuts.

Chocolate Sauce
1 cup or 8 oz semi sweet chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream
set a pan of water to simmer. Place the chocolate and cream in a small bowl. Place the bowl over the pan of simmering water, stirring until the chocolate has melted and the chocolate-cream mixture is smooth. Approximately 5 minutes.
Layer the chocolate cream, sliced strawberries, custard in a dessert dish or wine glass top with curled chocolate and pistachios.

Thank you for joining me in celebrating this wonder - Chocolat.