Origin-made chocolate

You’ve heard of single origin and bean-to-bar, well how about origin-made bean-to-bar chocolate? Since the majority of the chocolates that we use are origin-made, we wanted to share more of that story with you.

Tavernier Chocolates trip to Ecuador with Replublica del Cacao where  they visited a cacao plantation

Dar recently returned from a trip to Ecuador with an origin-made chocolate company, where she visited a cacao plantation that supplies the company and is preserving their rare Arriba Nacional cacao trees, an heirloom varietal specific to Ecuador with a singular, complex and flavorful profile. The same company sources dairy for their milk and white chocolates from a community of Ecuadorian farmers in the Andes mountains, and their sugar from an organic sugarcane plantation where they make panela, unrefined sugar with a less sweet and deeper, more complex flavor than common refined.

Cacao plantation in the Vinces region of Ecuador where Tavernier Chocolates visited

All of these incredible ingredients are being made into chocolate bars and chocolate couverture in Ecuador, origin-made chocolate that is bean-to-bar in the country where it is grown. This keeps more money in the local economy, and creates more jobs.

Know your chocolate sourcing: cacao pods ripening in Ecuador

Cacao grows in equatorial regions, and most cacao beans are sold on the commodities market for a very small price, where they are shipped to other countries (France, Italy, United States, etc.) to be processed into the chocolate we know and love. This means that farmers have great difficulty making a living growing cacao, and the industry is rife with child labor and poor working conditions.

Bean-to-bar craft chocolate makers have helped change the industry in that they buy directly from farms and pay farmers a higher rate for their beans than commodity prices, and they are helping to preserve heirloom varietals that are lower yield but much more flavorful and full of history. They are also socially-conscious and craft-driven people who are educating the public about how chocolate is sourced and grown, and how we can experience chocolate on the same level as a fine wine or estate-grown coffee bean.

Ecuadorian cacao farmers

Origin-made means that the farmers, many who have formed farmer-owned cooperatives, work with processors in their country who not only ferment the beans, but roast them and grind them into chocolate bars and couverture. This way the people involved in each of these steps are able to be connected to chocolate-making all the way through from plant to bar, and refine their growing and processing methods to create a top-notch chocolate product that commands more money from buyers, and keeps that money in their country. Using milk, sugar and other ingredients from their country magnifies this impact. This is truly an important part of preserving cacao for the future, and ensuring that the people growing and making it are able to not only make ends meet but to create better lives for themselves and their communities.

Some companies, like Valrhona who is part owner of Republica del Cacao, an Ecuadorian company with whom Dar traveled, are partnering with chocolate growers and placing production in the country of origin, providing them with capital and infrastructure while employing and using local resources.

Tavernier Chocolates making chocolate mousse with the culinary team from Republica del Cacao in Ecuador

Let’s face it, all of these things are of utmost importance, but the chocolate has to taste good, too. In order for people to be willing to buy chocolate at a higher price, and in order for us to use it in our recipes and pair it with the delicious, premium ingredients we source locally for their outstanding flavor, all of these steps must ultimately result in a chocolate product that tastes superior.

As a chocolatier, using a delicious origin-made product means that we can access a superior couverture with singular flavor notes for our truffle, filled chocolate, drinking chocolate and confections recipes, while supporting the people at the foundation of cacao sourcing.


To read more about origin-made chocolate, check out these links:

Origin-Made Chocolate: the Bars to Beat Simran Sethi Wall Street Journal 2/9/17

Help Socialize Our Capital: thoughts on improving the chocolate supply chain through origin-made (my summary) Rogue Chocolatier/Colin Gasko GoFundMe Campaign

Some of the origin-made chocolates that we are currently using:

Republica del Cacao (Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Peru)

Chocolates El Rey (Venezuela)

Mesocacao (El Salvador, Nicaragua)

Guittard (Hawaii)

chocolate pairing & SILO Distillery

Vermont’s finest ingredients make this collab a match made in heaven.

We celebrated spring this past weekend with a jaunt up north for a special collaboration with the Norwich Inn, as part of their Bread & Brew Weekend. Partnering with our friends at SILO Distillery, we paired a selection of our single origin, Vermont-inspired chocolate bars with SILO’s vodka, gin, and maple whiskey made with Vermont-grown grains and infused with Vermont-sourced lavender, maple syrup, juniper and apples for a group of 20 enthusiastic guests from around the country. As the old adage goes, what grows together goes together, the sheer abundance of Vermont ingredients melding to create a mouth-watering journey of flavors that you can only find in our amazing little state.

SILO’s distillery and tasting room

In their sun-drenched barn in Windsor, head distiller Erin Bell led the group through the process for creating their line of artisanal spirits from start to finish, using premium local ingredients. Each distiller sets up their distillery in a different way, so the singular approach to refining and capturing their chosen ingredients to turn them into delicious libations is unique to each maker. All of SILO’s spirits are corn-based, each recipe and technique creating an incredibly different expression of the grain.

An enthusiastic group convened in the tasting room for a short introduction by John and Dar to chocolate sourcing, tempering and pairing, followed by a pairing with SILO’s Maple Whiskey, Lavender Vodka and apple-juniper Gin and a selection of our bars chosen specifically for their complementary flavor notes. Explorations coupled with laughter, questions, and exclamations ensued, making for a fun and lively afternoon!

hot chocolate three ways

We love a big, steaming cup of hot chocolate on brisk winter days, post-ski or snowshoe, or to wind down after a busy work week. With the bounty of New England herbs and veggies that can be dried and used throughout the winter months, making sipping cocoa mixes that use real, freshly ground ingredients to flavor them makes the freshest, healthiest treat to stave off the chill from a polar vortex or Nor’Easter. And BONUS: you can use them in your favorite baking recipes!

gourmet hot chocolate and sipping hot cocoa mixes

We grind pure dark chocolate from Venezuela for our Drinking Chocolate mix, and blend that with premium cocoa powder, a touch of organic raw cane sugar and freshly ground spices, fruits or veggies for our Sipping Cocoa mixes. All are dairy-free (except the Bonfire Blend, made with rich, caramel-y dark milk chocolate) and can be made with hot milk, water if you’re a purist, or a hot plant-based mylk of your choice.

We went a little crazy with flavors, coming up with everything from the cool and refreshing Forest Blend with Vermont spruce and wildcrafted peppermint, to the umami Forage Blend with medicinal mushrooms and rosemary, Heart Beet with earthy ruby beetroot powder and a hint of raspberry, Golden Chai with a Vermont-made chai spice blend and turmeric, Bonfire Blend with Vermont maple sugar and smoked sea salt, and spicy Xocoatl with locally grown chili pepper and spices based on traditional Mayan blends. With no artificial flavors or colors, the pure aromas come through with each sip and make this one elegant chocolate drink to savor.

And don’t forget our dark and milk chocolate submarinos, perfect for travel, the office or a quick snack. An Argentinian tradition, these solid chocolate cigars can be stirred into hot coffee drinks or warm milk, vegan mylks, or hot water to your taste, and you can nibble on the chocolate as you enjoy. So civilized.

Fresh unsweetened whipped cream or fluffy homemade marshmallows are our favorite accoutrements for hot drinking chocolate, but fresh heavy cream whipped with a nip of your favorite liqueur, natural pure extract, coffee, tea or fruit juice concentrate is pretty darn amazing. Check out our simple instructions below to make a dreamy flavored whipped topping and pillowy vegetarian marshmallows!

Simple Recipes

Drinking Chocolate & Sipping Cocoa Recipes

For one serving of hot chocolate, simply heat 8 oz. of milk/mylk over medium heat until just scalding, then turn off the heat and whisk in 3 or more Tablespoons of Drinking Chocolate or Sipping Cocoa Mix. Voila!

Our amazing little mixes can also be used in recipes from rich and flavorful ice cream sauces, to swapping them out for chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in your favorite baked goods. Try out our recipe for flavorful fudgy brownies, spiced with your choice of our Sipping Cocoa blends, for a crazy-good and not-too-sweet twist on a classic. And may we suggest a side of hot cocoa to go with?


Flavored Whipped Cream Topping

Per one pint of chilled heavy whipping cream, add one or two tablespoons of the following and whip in a chilled metal bowl until soft peaks appear:

  • liqueurs like Frangelico (super tasty paired with Forage Blend Cocoa & Bonfire Blend Cocoa), Chambord (try it with Heart Beet Blend Cocoa), Kahlua (yummy with Spicy Xocoatl Cocoa)
  • syrups & sauces like Maple Syrup (delicious with Bonfire Blend Cocoa), raspberry sauce (super good with Heart Beet Blend Cocoa), lemon or lime juice (zesty with Golden Chai or Heart Beet)
  • strong brewed coffee (we love it with all of the blends), tea (Mint is amazing with Forest Blend, Earl Grey with Bonfire Blend, and Chai with Golden Chai Blend)
  • Create your own combinations! Have fun!

Make at Home Marshmallows

We make seasonally flavored marshmallows here in the shop to float on the top of Drinking Chocolate and Sipping Cocoas, as well as to pair with our bars to make yummy s’mores. Here’s a simple vegetarian, corn syrup-free recipe to make your own delicious, fluffy marshmallows at home, so much better than store bought!

  • ~1 cup confectioners’ sugar to coat pan & marshmallows
  • 3 (1/4-ounce) envelopes powdered unflavored gelatin (we use vegetarian, 1-1/2 tsp per quarter ounce, so 4-1/2 tsp total )
  • 1 1/2 cups raw organic granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract, or your favorite liqueur or housemade extract
  • Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil. Dust the pan generously with confectioners’ sugar (we use a fine mesh metal strainer), knocking any excess sugar out of pan.
  • Put 1/2 cup room temperature water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle the gelatin into the bowl and stir briefly to make sure all the gelatin is in contact with water. Let soften while you make the sugar syrup.
  • In a heavy 3- to 4-quart saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, rice syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water. Heat on medium and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Once dissolved, using a candy thermometer continue boiling without stirring until the thermometer registers 240°F (soft-ball stage). (Caution: the mixture might foam up and boil over, so turn the heat down slightly if necessary!) Remove the saucepan from the heat and let stand briefly until the bubbles start to dissipate.
  • With the mixer on low speed, pour the hot sugar syrup into the softened gelatin in a thin stream down the side of the bowl. Gradually increase the mixer speed to high and beat until the marshmallow is very thick and forms a thick ribbon when the whisk is lifted, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla/extract or liqueur.
  • Scrape the marshmallow into the prepared pan wetting your fingertips with a little water to spread the sticky mixture evenly and to smooth the top. Let stand, uncovered at room temperature, until the surface is no longer sticky and you can gently pull the marshmallow away from the sides of the pan with your fingertips, at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Dust a cutting board with confectioners’ sugar. Use a rubber spatula to pull the sides of the marshmallow from the edge of the pan and invert onto the cutting board. Dust the top with confectioners’ sugar. Brush a long thin knife with vegetable oil and dust with confectioners’ sugar to prevent sticking, re-coating and dusting the knife inbetween cuts. Cut lengthwise into strips and then crosswise to make cubes of your favored size. Coat marshmallows one at a time in confectioners’ sugar, using a pastry brush to brush off any excess. Marshmallows can be stored in an air-tight container for up to a month!

recipe for make at home marshmallows adapted from Epicurious


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drinking chocolate mix
sipping cocoa mix

new year, new ideas

I’m not one for resolutions. They seem to hang over one and nag, those met more quickly forgotten than the unmet that linger, even as accomplishments and challenges that could not have been possibly conceived at the start of a new year have been realized.

With that said, I do love to think of the New Year as a time to reflect on the past 365 days and make note of what worked, what didn’t, what fell by the wayside and was missed, and challenges I’d like to take on, and then be more mindful and aware of letting go and letting in.

Right after we locked up the doors on Christmas Eve and prepared to take a couple of days off, I realized I was not feeling quite right and woke up the next morning with a full-on wretched head cold. It felt like my body was staving it off until it could finally relax and let go, going from a 100 mph run throughout the last couple of months to 0 mph in a matter of hours. That’s me with a celebratory glass on New Year’s Eve, a tad bleary-eyed and ready to clink and sip with my partner in life and love, happy to finally feel better and armed with a clear memory of what to try to avoid during next year’s holidaze.

interior design of our cozy home with midcentury furniture and handmade ceramics.

Looking ahead to 2019 as Vermont chocolatiers with more collaborations, more tastings, chocolate pairings and gatherings, more new recipes and ingredients, more time outdoors, more travel and inspiration, more gardening, more growing, more supporting others and ideas, more action, more help, more balance. Less hours working and doing all the jobs, less worrying, less accumulating stuff. Cheers to you, and here’s to a New Year! Let’s go get ’em.

sultry summertime

Autumn is almost here, and although warmer temperatures are still hanging on, we are already feeling nostalgic about morning coffee in our garden, the abundance of mushrooms we cultivated and gathered this rainy, humid late summer, and recipes for flavored bon bons featuring fresh fruits, herbs and veggies from local farms and foragers.

Succulent local berries reduced with a rich balsamic vinegar from Modena and folded into a dark chocolate ganache, topped with ground cacao nibs caramelized with Vermont basil and a sprig of crystallized local rhubarb made a debut in early summer. Later in the season our cornbread coupes were a big hit with local sweet corn and rosemary blended into a white chocolate ganache, topped with local red pepper candy glass. Wild foraged rose from the north atlantic coast perfumed a few of our ganaches, and were oh-so-pretty candied.
  

We also had a blast working with the amazing bi-coastal photographer Clare Barboza who shot us in action foraging behind our home and visiting a local orchard during the hottest, most humid day of the year (thank you, linen and deep shady forest). We think she captured the passion and drive behind our Vermont chocolate company, steeped in our local bounty.

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dosa kitchen cookbook

The book is OUT! When our friends Leda and Nash, owners of Brattleboro’s beloved Dosa Kitchen food truck, asked us to contribute a recipe for a chocolate dosa that would appear in their forthcoming cookbook, we naturally jumped at the chance.

above photos by kristin teig // styling by catrine kelty // clarkson potter

The process began with our developing a recipe that would compliment the spongy, crispy, tangy delight that is a dosa, a traditional South Indian crépe that can be filled with myriad delicious fillings. We had a lot of sampling experience under our belts, with Nash and Leda dishing up their creative takes on both traditional recipes and new cultural mashups (Dosa hotdogs! Nut falafel dosas!) at our weekly winter farmers market and in their gem of a blue food truck at Grafton Village Cheese.

A chocolate ganache filling perfumed with cardamom and made with flavorful Vermont buttermilk hit the mark for us, so we began tweaking our recipe to create a simple, creamy, flavorful spread that you can easily make in your home kitchen.

cardamom, chocolate & buttermilk filling waiting in the wings for a fresh, hot dosa

With Leda’s background in cookbook writing and recipe development, we had we scaled down our recipe to home-cooking-size, and further tested and refined. When the time came for the official photo shoot, we gathered in Leda and Nash’s gorgeous Brattleboro kitchen to cook up the recipes and make any final adjustments. What a thrill it was to watch Clarkson Potter’s crack team of photographer Kristin Teig and food stylist and recipe tester Catrine Kelty in action!

Photographer Kristin Teig checks a shot on her laptop, while cookbook author Nash cooks a Dosa, and L to R: freelance photographer Clare Barboza, food stylist Catrine Kelty and cookbook author Leda Scheintaub look on

Food stylish Catrine Kelty gets a chocolate filled dosa ready for a shot

And then of course, there was testing of the final product. Here are Leda and I on quality control. It passed!

Leda & Nash hosted a launch party for their cookbook at their dosa food truck in Brattleboro, and I advertised the shindig at the Brattleboro Area Farmers Market

We got lots of great positive feedback from folks who went to the cookbook launch party and tried our chocolate dosa at Nash and Leda’s little blue food truck (thanks for tasting, everyone!). Here’s the recipe for the filling, simple and so satisfying to make. The ultimate way to enjoy this filling is in a crisp, hot dosa, so get the book for Leda and Nash’s recipe with step by step instructions on how to make them. Also great spread and melted on toast, pancakes, waffles.

recipe courtesy of Clarkson Potter books / Dosa Kitchen


And if you haven’t had a chance to taste the deliciousness of Dosa Kitchen’s sublime recipes in person, you can purchase the book online and make them at home:

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Dosa Kitchen Cookbook

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melting into a new year

Who doesn’t love grilled cheese? Well then, how about grilled chocolate and cheese? Our pâté-style chocolate charcuterie lends itself to a scandalously delicious toasted sandwich. Blended with Vermont made cheeses and butter, it’s a simple solution to an extravagant bite. Assembled ahead of time and grilled just before serving, cut into quarters and serve at your next gathering. I guarantee guests won’t let them stay on the platter long! They make delicious breakfast sides, like a warm and melty pastry (I put that to test this morning, and can happily attest). Read on for instructions and serving suggestions:

Grilled Chocolate & Cheese Pâté

grilled chocolate charcuterie
making grilled chocolate charcuterie

Ingredients:

Method:

  • heat 1-2 Tbsp oil on a well seasoned frying pan on medium-high heat
  • when pan is hot, place 2 slices of bread on pan and press frequently with a spatula to brown, approximately 2-4 minutes, checking its progress after 1-2 minutes so it doesn’t burn
  • when bread is toasted and a golden brown, flip & brown the opposite side for another 2 minutes, pressing down on bread with a spatula
  • place slices of chocolate pâté on one slice, making sure that the pâté is on top of the bread does not hang over the sides (it will melt quickly onto the pan & burn!). If you wish to add sliced fresh fruit (we love apples, pears, peaches or fresh strawberries) or jam/jelly (raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, zesty marmalade, sweet & spicy chili pepper jam or apple cider jelly are knockouts) or a chutney (try fig & fennel, apple & chili pepper, or whatever you have on hand), now is the time to do it! Cover and brown for another 1-2 minutes until pâté is melted
  • remove from heat & place both slices separately on cutting board with your spatula. Drizzle a tiny bit of fruity, cold pressed olive oil over the top of the melted pâté, then sprinkle with flake sea salt. Press plain toasted bread slice on top of the melted & toasted pâté slice, cut into halves or quarters, & serve while warm
  • voilá! Enjoy!
grilled chocolate cheese recipe

Chocolate pâté is heavenly, but a humble chocolate bar and cheese is also amazing. Scroll down for delicious chocolate bar and cheese combinations with a variety of cheeses here, and get grilling!


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sapling pâté
mont vert pâté
bleu hour terrine
orchard hill breadworks
atlantic saltworks

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summer test kitchen

Summertime is here, our favorite time of the chocolate year, and we are busy creating new limited edition recipes for flavored bonbons with the bounty from local farms, forests and makers.

 

So far the season has been a rainy one, with temperatures swinging between cool and better fire-up-the-woodstove to hot and muggy. Our mint has absolutely thrived in these extremes, so we plan on making batches of Deep Mint Bonbons throughout the summer along with locally grown basil for a fresh herbal bite.

As Vermont chocolatiers, some of our bonbons this season have included locally foraged Ramp Coupes, strawberry & candied local rhubarb white chocolate mendiants, Forest Path bonbons with matcha, locally foraged evergreen needle & dark chocolate salt+pepper soil, Deep Mint bonbons with our own homegrown mint & local basil, dipped fresh fruits, Tulsi Leaves with locally grown holy basil, Strawberry Balsamic Paves with local fruit, Golden Hen Eggs with local egg yolk-enriched dark chocolate ganache & a swipe of edible gold, Xoxoatl Pyramids with coconut milk, avocado & chilis.

More chocolate pairings included locally grown garlic capes, fresh local fruits, herbs and cheeses, all making appearances in our recipes, always inventive, and always delicious.

We will introduce a new bonbon or two every week at the Farmers Market, so check out our website and follow us on Facebook & Instagram to see what our latest creations are for that week!

   

new year resolutions

Happy New Year friends, family, and everyone who supported and inspired us this past year, we love and thank you all! I think this photo of our Queen Bee Cups by Sara Brooke Curtis illustrates what we hope to accomplish as Vermont chocolatiers in this new year: hard work, supporting the creative hive, goodness, beauty, bounty, sharing, exploring, enjoying thoughtfully made and delicious things, and striving to create the best chocolate in Vermont.

I think our friends at MKT: Grafton summed it up perfectly: Remember your power and use it for good. Love big, dream freely, act kindly, eat well.

 

photo by Sara Brooke Curtis for Junction Magazine