Frequently Asked Questions

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!

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 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, meaning the process of warming and cooling the chocolate to specific temperatures so it becomes shiny and has a snap when you break it, lengthening the shelf life of the chocolate, making it more beautiful to look at and enjoyable to savor.

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. The milk and white chocolates we are using are made with either soy or sunflower lecithin depending on the source.

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

We are also using some lecithin-free chocolates in confections and ganaches.

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.

Our Venezuelan origin-made chocolate source that we use for our 73% Dark Drinking Chocolate mix and for some seasonal bonbons has been testing for cadmium for a couple of years. In Venezuela, they did about 200 soil and bean samples to identify the areas where the beans seemed to have less cadmium and that is the area where they get their beans from now.

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 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 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.

Do you use Belgian 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.

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 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.

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