Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a bonbon, truffle, and filled chocolate?

Bonbon is a general term for a bite-sized confection which can be used to refer to a truffle, filled chocolate, or solid chocolate like a nut cluster.
A truffle is a chocolate ganache, the soft filling made from chocolate, butter and/or cream and other ingredients, which is scooped or molded into bite-sized pieces and rolled in cocoa powder, or dipped in chocolate so it has a thin, crisp shell.
A molded or filled chocolate is a bonbon made by piping the ganache into a tempered chocolate shell, then bottoming it with more tempered chocolate so it’s enclosed. The shell of a molded chocolate is generally a little thicker than a truffle, but should be crisp and shiny.
Ganaches and fillings can be made in a wide variety of textures, from smooth and creamy like traditional ganaches, to more flowing like liquid caramels and fruit jellies, to crunchy with nuts and other ingredients, or more firm or chewy like caramels, pate de fruits or denser, rich ganaches. The possibilities are endless, and the explorations of flavors and textures most exciting!

White chocolate is not really chocolate, right?

Wrong! Although in many cases confections that are called “white chocolate” really have nothing to do with chocolate at all and are made with vegetable oils, dairy and flavorings. 

Real white chocolate is made with cacao/cocoa butter, the fats from the cacao bean that are separated out during a process in chocolate making. Cacao butter has a rich, earthy flavor when it is not “deodorized”, or further processed to take out some of those funky and cocoa-y flavors, which we happen to love! 

We use un-deodorized 34% content cacao butter Venezuelan and 31% single origin Ecuadorian, both blended with pure vanilla, dairy and sugar cane from their countries of origin, which are creamy real white chocolates.

What is “couverture”?

Chocolate couverture (the type of high end, high-cacao chocolate that is created for chocolatiers to make confections) has more cacao butter content and a small amount of soy or sunflower lecithin to increase its fluidity and make it easier to work with, especially when molding and dipping chocolates. It is a type of chocolate that tempers well.

What is tempering and why do you do it?

Tempering is the process of warming and cooling the chocolate to specific temperatures so the cocoa butter stabilizes and it becomes crisp and shiny and has a snap when you break it. This lengthens the shelf life of the chocolate, keeps it from melting at lower temperatures (so it doesn’t melt as easily on your fingers), and makes it more beautiful to look at and enjoyable to savor. It is the hallmark of a high-end chocolate confection.

Heating or cooling chocolate can make it go out of temper, so when it re-hardens it changes the texture and mouthfeel of the chocolate to something more soft, grainy or oily, and can cause the streaky, hazy appearance called “bloom.” While it is still safe to eat, the experience is generally regarded as not as pleasant in the professional chocolate world. Tempered chocolate should have a snap to it, and melt slowly and evenly on the tongue. The simple rule is not to store your chocolate next to something warm, in the sunshine, or in the refrigerator or ice chest if you don’t want it to go out of temper.

Why is there lecithin in your chocolates?

Lecithin is an emulsifier found in couverture chocolates used by chocolatiers and confectioners. Like ingredients added to baked goods, sauces etc (think: baking soda and baking powder in cakes, corn starch or flour in sauces), lecithin is used in small amounts to transform the texture of chocolate without changing the flavor. Derived from soy beans or sunflower seeds, lecithin stabilizes the cocoa butter in chocolate so it doesn’t bloom as easily, and makes the chocolate smooth and easy to work with. 

The dark chocolate couvertures we are using are made with sunflower lecithin, a non-GMO plant-based lecithin extracted by cold pressing and NO chemicals. Most of the milk and white chocolates we are using are made with non-GMO sunflower lecithin, but some are made with non-GMO soy lecithin depending on the source. We are also using some lecithin-free chocolates in confections and ganaches. Check our packaging for more info.

The amount of lecithin in a typical chocolate usually comprises no more than 0.5% of the total weight.

What does “origin-made” and “direct trade” mean?

Origin made means chocolate made bean-to-bar in the country of origin. Direct trade means the chocolate processor buys the raw material, cacao beans, directly from the farmer, thereby creating a direct relationship with the farm and better allowing the farmers to negotiate a fair price for their cacao. Learn more about both and chocolate growing and making in general here.

Do you use Belgian or Swiss chocolate to make your confections?

We do not. Referring to a chocolate as “Belgian” means the beans were processed in Belgium where there is a long and highly respected chocolate making tradition, and sometimes people use it to describe how chocolate is made in the European style, like in Belgium. Beans from around the world are imported to European countries and to the U.S. where they process the chocolate so it has a higher cacao content and is smooth and creamy with a consistent flavor profile.

Swiss chocolate is, you guessed it, made in Switzerland. We owe it to the Swiss chocolate maker Rudolph Lindt who devised “conching”, the technique where chocolate and cocoa butter are heated and ground between rolling pins for a long period of time to result in chocolate that is creamier. The Swiss are known for their milk, and they create milk chocolates that are very creamy in texture.

We use high cacao-content chocolates from single origins in Latin America whose flavor profile depends on, like coffee and wine, the terroir, seasonal changes, and the heirloom varietals grown and processed in that country, lending to chocolates that all taste very different from each other and taste different year to year. We strive to create recipes that allow each chocolate’s origin to shine through and be distinctive on your palate. We find this exciting to work with!

Learn more about our sourcing here.

Is it okay to refrigerate chocolate?

Well tempered chocolate bars, solid chocolate bonbons, filled chocolate bonbons and dipped truffles should not be refrigerated since temperature changes and humidity can affect the structure of the chocolate, causing chocolate bloom (a blotchy, streaky white cast made by cocoa butter or sugar separation that is safe to eat but can change the shelf life, texture and flavor of chocolate), and chocolate truffles and filled chocolates to crack since the centers expand and contract differently than their chocolate shells.

Refrigerate chocolate only when absolutely necessary (if you live in a tropical climate without air conditioning, for instance!).

Please note that our chocolate charcuterie patés and saucissons must be refrigerated to ensure their longer shelf life.

How long does chocolate last?

A well tempered solid chocolate bar, mendiant or bonbon can last up to one year if it is stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Inclusions (other ingredients added for flavor and texture, like nuts, dried fruits, salts, etc.) can affect the shelf life of confections, so check the packaging for the Best By date.
Filled chocolate bonbons and truffles have a shorter shelf life since their centers are made with cream and/or butter and other ingredients. In general, eating bonbons within one week of their creation is suggested for best flavor and texture.

What is the difference between a Chocolate Maker and a Chocolatier?

In a nutshell, Chocolate Makers roast, winnow and grind fermented cacao beans from different origins to make chocolate that highlights the flavor notes of the beans and their terroir. The term craft chocolate usually means it is made on a smaller, more handmade scale. 

Chocolatiers make confections from chocolate couverture, or high-cacao high-cocoa butter content chocolate made by chocolate makers, some from single origins that reflect the bean and their terroir, and some from blends that strive to be more consistent in flavor year to year and batch to batch.

We’re happy to see the chocolate world opening up to more collaborations between craft chocolate and chocolatiers. The term “re-melters” was being bandied about by some craft makers years ago, and comparisons to using a mix (chocolatiers) as opposed to making baked goods from scratch (craft chocolate) does not give confectioners their due as artisans in their own right. Maybe it’s more like a baker sourcing their flour from a good source as opposed to buying the grain from the farmer and processing and milling it themselves (another amazing craft trade), or a woodworker sourcing lumber from a certain mill to build their designs based on the best materials they can source. 

The art and craft of a chocolatier/confectioner, from inventing recipes for ganaches, caramels, pralines, toffees and brittles to crafting hand rolled truffles, filled chocolates and other bonbons, while layering flavors and textures to create specific culinary experiences is something we are passionate about and that excites our creative imagination. We are also passionate about the incredible work of craft chocolatiers, and, of course, chocolatiers can also be craft chocolate makers, and craft chocolate makers can also be chocolatiers!

Do you make your chocolate bean-to-bar?

We do not. After much consideration and research we decided to source our chocolate couverture from origin-made, direct trade companies who source their cacao through local farmer cooperatives and make delicious, single origin, sustainably produced and grown chocolates, so the people making it are intimately involved with the whole process from bean-to-(couverture) bar in their country. With John’s background in coffee roasting and sourcing, and Dar’s background in restaurants, we remain open to making some of our chocolate couverture in the future from bean-to-bar, so stay tuned. Learn more about our sourcing here.

Are there unsafe levels of cadmium or lead in your dark chocolate?

All of the chocolates we use have been tested and are within safe levels of cadmium and lead. Here is a breakdown:

Our main supplier of chocolate has origins in Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Peru. These are what we use for our bonbons and bars (with the exception of one bar*) and are all within safe levels of cadmium and lead. Here is the official statement from the Ecuador/Dominican Republic/Peru source:

“Because it is well-known that cacao beans (and other botanical products) may absorb cadmium from the soil in which they are grown, for many years, we have been monitoring the cacao beans we use and the chocolate couverture we produce for trace levels of cadmium but also many other chemicals including lead. These analyses are conducted following a statistical analysis plan by an external accredited laboratory, COFRAC (recognized international standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005). Our analysis results demonstrate that all of our products are in compliance with strict quality and safety requirements of the U.S., both federal and state…We also ensure strict compliance with FDA safety requirements.”

*Our darkest chocolate, used in our Midsummer Night bar/tablet, is a blend of African origins that is named in Consumer Reports as one of the safest choices.

Some of our white and milk chocolate may be sourced from Venezuela. They use strict EU guidelines when testing and reporting on their products. Based on both FDA and EU guidelines, all their chocolate was below the maximum levels when tested, with the white and milk chocolate at the least amount of ppm. In addition, our Venezuelan source is now going to test beans before they buy them for lead and cadmium and then going to test the chocolate after it is made in factory and before it is sent to us here in the US.

What is the best way to taste chocolate?

We love this question! Check out our Chocolate Guide for some simple chocolate tips to help you get the most out of your chocolate tasting experience.

Check out our Process page to explore more about our ingredients and approach to chocolate making

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Visit our contact page to ask us all your questions about chocolate.