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  • Beyond Good Salted Caramel Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes Recipe

    Beyond Good Salted Caramel Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes Recipe
    Sarah Dobson (@sarahschocolatestash) created this amazing recipe for mini chocolate mousse cakes, using the Beyond Good Salted Caramel 73% dark chocolate...

    Ingredients (makes 6)

     

    Base

    - 40 g Super Wine biscuits (4 biscuits)

    - 20 g Beyond Good Salted Caramel chocolate

    - 20 g unsalted butter

    Mousse filling

    - 50 g Beyond Good Salted Caramel chocolate

    - 25 g unsalted butter

    - 3 tbsp cream (45 ml)

    - 1 egg, separated (at room temperature)

    Topping

    - Chocolate shavings (using remaining chocolate)

    - Small handful of chopped roasted peanuts

    - Softly whipped cream (~50 ml)

    Equipment needed

    - Food processor 

    - Electric beater

    - Silicone mini muffin tray (or similar)

    - 5 small bowls or ramekins (with at least two being microwave safe)

     

    Method

     

    Base

    1. Blitz the Super Wine biscuits into a fine crumb. Set aside.

    2. Chop up the chocolate and butter and place in a small, microwave safe bowl.

    3. Use a microwave to melt the chocolate and butter in short 5-10 second bursts (stirring in between).

    4. Once melted, add the biscuit crumb to the chocolate/butter mix and stir thoroughly.

    5. Firmly press teaspoonfuls of mixture into 6 mini muffin spaces. Ensure you have ~1 teaspoon of mixture leftover - this will be used for the topping. Leave this in the bowl.

    6. Place the muffin tray & bowl of leftover base (for the topping) in the fridge, and start on the mousse.

     

    Mousse

    1. Set out 4 bowls with the mousse ingredients. Prep each ingredient as described below...

    Bowl 1 (microwave safe): Chocolate and butter

    Begin by melting the chocolate and butter in the microwave, using 5-10 second bursts. Once melted, set aside to cool.

    Bowl 2: Cream

    Use an electric beater to whip the cream to soft peaks. Set aside in the refrigerator.

    Bowl 3: Egg white

    Using a clean beater, whip the egg white to soft peaks. Set aside.

    Bowl 4: Egg yolk

    Lightly whisk the egg yolk using a fork or small whisk.

     

    2. Slowly add the yolk to the chocolate mixture while beating the chocolate/butter mix on low speed. It should thicken slightly. Stop beating once incorporated.

    3. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate/butter/yolk mix until incorporated.

    4. Finally, gently fold in the egg white until fully incorporated.

    5. Remove the muffin tray from the fridge and spoon mixture on top of the 6 cake bases. 

    6. Fill to the top of the muffin spaces and use a scraper to smooth the cake tops.

    7. Place back into the fridge and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.

     

    Topping

    1. When ready to serve, whip ~50 ml of cream to soft peaks. Set aside.

    2. Finely chop up a small handful of roasted (salted) peanuts and any remaining chocolate.

    3. Add the peanuts and leftover chocolate to the bowl of leftover biscuit topping (from the base). Combine.

    4. Using a hot bread & butter knife, carefully run around the edge of each cake and pop out of the mould. The hot knife can also be used to smooth the sides if required.

    5. Place a teaspoonful of cream on top of each cake.

    6. Finally, sprinkle over the peanut/chocolate/biscuit base mixture of topping. Serve immediately.

     

    Recipe notes

     

    - As this recipe uses raw eggs, make sure your eggs are fresh and have clean shells.

    - For a lighter mousse, you may omit the egg yolk.

    - Unsalted butter is specified because the chocolate is salted.

    - Any high quality, craft dark chocolate would be suitable for this recipe, if you don't have the specified bar on hand.


    chocolate mousse recipe nz

  • What Is Craft Chocolate?

    What Is Craft Chocolate?

    What is Craft Chocolate?

    There are a few different terms we use to describe the kind of chocolate we sell at The Chocolate Bar, but most commonly we use ‘craft chocolate’. If you’re a customer of ours and have been following what we do for a while, you’ve probably got a reasonably clear idea of what we mean when we use this term. But if you haven’t got a clue what craft chocolate means then don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Even within the industry, many chocolate professionals still debate what this term means, and there are no specific guidelines or rules around its use. Here are my thoughts on the matter...

    craft chocolate bean to bar nz

    Craft chocolate will never be a black and white term because the chocolate industry - and life in general - is too complex and nuanced to put everything into clearly defined boxes. What the term can do, when used with authenticity, is give a reasonably clear indication of the chocolate’s ingredients, the production technique, the ethics and the intentions of the chocolate maker. Here’s a rough guide to what is commonly meant by craft chocolate...

    1. USUALLY craft chocolate has been made from scratch - from bean to bar. This is the case for about 99% of the chocolate we stock. An example of an exception would be Akesson’s, who grow their own cacao but outsource the chocolate making to legendary French chocolate maker Francois Pralus.

    2. USUALLY craft chocolate aims to highlight the flavour of the cacao. Whereas mainstream industrial chocolate tends to mask the flavour of cacao with lots of added ingredients and heavy processing, craft chocolate makers aim to help cacao live its best life. They make cacao the star of the show and their whole process revolves around extracting the most delicious flavours the beans have to offer. Having said that, we definitely sell some amazing bars with added flavours where the flavour notes of the beans have taken a backseat. Even with these types of bars, there are always high quality beans at the base of what we sell.

    bean to bar chocolate cacao new zealand

    3. USUALLY craft chocolate is made in relatively small batches. Just like craft beer, the term suggests making chocolate on a small scale with more human interaction and control than mass-produced chocolate. We work with a lot of very small-scale producers who are processing less than ten tonnes of cacao beans per year. At the higher end of the craft scale would be a company like Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco, which processes around 120 tonnes of cacao per year, and that’s still very small compared to a company like Whittaker’s, which processes thousands of tonnes of cacao per year, or Cadbury, which is processing hundreds of thousands of tonnes per year. The largest chocolate company we currently work with is Zotter, which processes around 250 tonnes of cacao per year. Would we still call that craft? Well, we probably wouldn’t, but many would, and it’s definitely a lot closer to craft-scale than Whittaker’s or Cadbury.

    4. USUALLY craft chocolate is made with fine flavour cacao, which accounts for around 5% of the world’s production (the other 95% being commodity or ‘bulk’ cacao). All of the bars we stock are made with high quality cacao, and that quality comes from both the genetics and the post-harvest processing. However, it is absolutely possible to make high quality, great tasting chocolate with ‘lower quality’ cacao, such as CCN51, which has been genetically engineered to favour disease resistance and yield over flavour. If you took some bog-standard CCN51 and meticulously fermented and dried it, then asked a master craft chocolate maker to turn it into chocolate, you would almost certainly end up with a great chocolate bar (though without many of the benefits of using fine flavour/heirloom cacao, which is a whole other topic).

    5. USUALLY craft chocolate makers are paying between two and four times the commodity price (aka futures index) for cacao. As I’ve mentioned many times before, this increased price is based on quality, and aims to create a sustainable business model that benefits both the farmers and the chocolate makers. Currently the futures index price for cacao is around $3.20 (NZD) per kg, and the makers we work with are usually paying between $6 and $12 per kg.

    6. USUALLY craft chocolate makers are very open about their business model and practices. Mainstream industrial chocolate is shrouded in smoke and mirrors that hide the truth behind the ethics and quality of the chocolate being produced. As an antidote to this, the craft chocolate industry has made openness a core part of its values, and most makers will be happy to show you exactly how their chocolate is made, where the ingredients come from, how much the farmers are paid and who is involved at every step of the process. There is nothing to hide and they are working to rebuild people’s trust in chocolate.

    bean to bar craft chocolate nz

    So there you have a collection of USUALLYs that give you an idea of what we mean when we say ‘craft chocolate’. There is one other thing that unites all of the chocolate we sell - something that is ALWAYS - and that is high quality

    Ok, so there you have it. It’s a complex topic that needs an involved discussion, and we hope this piece can help you get a feel for what it’s all about. If you ever want more information about the chocolate that we stock, please feel free to get in touch.

    Thanks,

    The Chocolate Bar NZ 🍫

  • Diversity in Chocolate

    Diversity in Chocolate
    The lack of diversity in the chocolate industry can be quite astonishing. A huge amount of the world’s chocolate is made by just a handful of multinational companies, all using the same types of cacao from the same areas - mostly West Africa and Indonesia - to create chocolate with a standard ‘chocolatey’ flavour. Most small-to-medium sized chocolate companies are chocolatiers who buy pre-made chocolate from these bigger companies - the most common of which is Barry Callebaut in New Zealand. These chocolatiers can do all sorts of unique and creative things with the chocolate, but the chocolate itself is the same as what thousands of other companies are using.
    Imagine if the wine industry was like this. Imagine if most of the wine you saw on the shelf was made by the same company, just with different added flavours and different branding, and all offering the same kind of ‘wine’ flavour notes. And what if almost all the wine was just made with Sauvignon grapes, rather than the huge array or grape varietals that we have access to today. It would be a crying shame! And yet this is exactly how the chocolate industry is, and we’ve all grown up thinking that this is a normal situation.
    Bean-to-bar craft chocolate makers are bringing diversity to chocolate and offering us a whole new world of experiences. It’s currently a small segment of the chocolate industry but within it you’ll find a vast array of options that you’ve never seen before. Different flavour notes in the chocolate, specialist varietals of cacao, unique small-batch chocolate making techniques, different farming and fermentation methods - it’s all the exciting diversity that we’re used to with wine or beer or cheese, but in chocolate it’s a relatively new thing. This is one of the main reasons for the work we do at The Chocolate Bar, and why we choose to only stock bean-to-bar craft chocolate. If you haven’t yet experienced this kind of chocolate, you’ve got some very exciting and delicious discoveries in front of you!
    craft bean-to-bar chocolate
  • The Chocolate Bar Interview 023: Luisa Abram

    The Chocolate Bar Interview 023: Luisa Abram

    For my latest interview I caught up with Luisa Abram, whose beautiful chocolate is featured in this month's subscription boxes. Luisa is based in São Paulo, Brazil, and she set up her family-run business in 2015. Throughout her study of gastronomy at the Anhembi Morumbi University, Luisa made regular trips to the Amazon Rainforest, during which time she developed a fascination with wild, heirloom cacao. All of Luisa’s chocolate is made with cacao found growing in the wild along the Amazon river plate, and she works with a variety of riverside communities to help discover, gather and ferment the cacao in very small batches. I thought it would be good to find out more about this incredible chocolate project, and I'm sure you'll enjoy sharing in Luisa's ebullient passion...

    luisa abram chocolate brazil

    What is your background and what led to you becoming a chocolate maker?

    I went to culinary school and I always loved making food, especially pastry. When I was finishing my degree my dad gave me a book about molecular desserts! Chocolate was in the first pages and so I fell in love! I had no idea prior to the book that you could make chocolate at home, so I went to do a bit of research on cacao. My first instinct was to import cacao from Ecuador, but I soon discovered that Brazil does not allow cacao from abroad to enter the country (because of a history with witches broom, a fungi that destroyed cacao production back on the late 90s). So then I found out that the Amazon rainforest was the birthplace for the cacao tree and I went to look for wild cacao. After months of research we finally got in touch with a cooperative in the state of Acre, close to the border with Peru. It was always a dream to go to the Amazon and when I arrived, I knew it was the right place to be!    

    luisa abram chocolate brazil

    Who runs the business with you and what are their roles?

    All my family! My Sister works in the Sales and Administrative department, my mom works in a multinational company during the day and at night she comes to the factory and takes care of the orders. My dad also has a day job in the financial market and at night does our finance and also helps with machinery, and I'm in charge of the production.

    How do you decide which cacao to source and where to source it?

    We only work with wild cacao from the Amazon Forest. First of all, we look for the riverside families who are willing to follow our fermentation protocols, then we analyse the density of cacao trees in the area, to see if this will have a positive impact on the communities that will harvest the wild cacao. If there isn’t enough density, it doesn’t make sense to harvest for either side, given the difficulties of getting to those trees within the forest. Then we harvest a test batch and make chocolate with it to see if the taste is interesting, and assess the terroir. After that, if the cacao makes good chocolate, we go back to the forest and collect DNA samples to send to a laboratory in Washington DC, to analyse the data to see which family the cacao belongs to, if it is a brand new varietal, etc...

    luisa abram chocolate brazil

    What interests you about wild cacao?

    I can say that everything about it interests me!! When you have the biggest forest in the world being the birthplace of cacao, it just makes more sense to do something new! 

    Also, Brazil is so big that we have a really diverse culture throughout its regions. I’m always eager to learn about new ways, and the Amazonian culture is one of a kind! Working with nature and the preservation of it is great! And the most amazing part of it is to see the impact of my work in the wellbeing of the riverside families. I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to work side by side with people with a completely different reality than mine, in the city of São Paulo. And with the result being chocolate - it’s just the icing on top!

    luisa abram chocolate brazil

    Is there a big following for bean-to-bar craft chocolate in Brazil?

    We would not call it big yet here in Brazil, but since 2014 we’ve been seeing very expressive growing rates. As a consequence of this growth, we now have strong tree and bean-to-bar associations, and a women’s group with over 100 members.     

    How does your location influence the chocolate that you make?

    Being in a country of cacao origin, which contains a vast area of the Amazon Forest, gives me numerous opportunities to create and use local ingredients. The cacao extracted around the margins of different rivers and regions have distinct terroir and can give chocolate with particular tastes and flavours. Ingredients like cupuaçu, açai and Brazil nuts can be added to give wonderful inclusion bars.

    luisa abram chocolate brazil

    We’re featuring your cupuaçu bar in our October subscription boxes. Is this a popular fruit in Brazil? How else might it be used?

    Cupuaçu is widely known in the Northern region of Brazil. You find it in the Amazon and in the states on its borders. It is used to make sweets, jams, desserts and juices, as well as added to chocolate in bars, bonbons, dragees and truffles.

    luisa abram chocolate brazil

    What are some of the biggest challenges in your work?

    We only work with wild cacao, so getting the beans out of the Amazon is a real challenge. We have to find the right partners that care about the fermentation and drying of the beans, the way we taught them. That means we have to go every year to all the origins to make sure everything is being done in the right way. 

    How has COVID19 affected your business?

    COVID had a major impact on flights and our biggest customer is in the US, so getting the chocolate shipped was a big challenge. Also, visiting the communities was difficult and we had to increase the price of the cacao because everything had price adjustment. Our clients before COVID used to be markets and small specialty food stores, but we saw a shift with COVID and our website became a major part of our revenue. Customers started purchasing directly from us!

    luisa abram chocolate brazil

    What’s your favourite thing about being a chocolate maker?

    Everything! Going to the forest, fermenting the cacao, making the chocolate. Seeing how cacao and chocolate can make a difference in the life of many people. Creating new flavours and making people happy.

    luisa abram chocolate brazil

    Thanks so much to Luisa for taking the time for this interview, and for sharing these beautiful photos with us.

  • Greenwashing in the Chocolate Industry

    cacao

    As I’m sure you’re already aware, the mainstream cacao industry is rife with ethical issues, such as slavery, enforced child labour and the general mistreatment of farmers, who often earn barely enough to survive. As people become more and more aware of these issues, we see more and more chocolate companies ‘greenwashing’ - making dubious claims about the ethics behind their products, and often using made-up symbols and fake certifications on their packaging.  

    Even the official certifications are failing to achieve most of what they promise to. I’m not an expert on this topic but we talk with many people who are, and there’s an almost unanimous consensus that, whilst filled with good intentions, well known certifications like Fair-trade and Rainforest Alliance are not even close to achieving what they set out to achieve, particularly in West Africa, where about 60% of the world’s cacao is grown. That’s not necessarily entirely the fault of these ambitious certification schemes, but the result of trying to fix a system that is so heavily broken. The system needs a complete overhaul.

    The fine cacao and craft chocolate industry are showing how things can be done differently, and with as much transparency as possible. The chocolate makers we work with are paying around two or three times the market rate for their beans, as opposed to the tiny premium offered by certification schemes (usually around 10% more than the market rate). They are working with farms where slavery is absolutely not an issue. One of the key things that is different about the fine/craft system is that it values quality over quantity. The much higher rates paid to farmers are based on the quality and flavour profile of the beans - it’s about doing the right thing, but it’s also about creating mutually beneficial business relationships that are sustainable and built to last. Likewise, that is why the chocolate we sell is more expensive than most supermarket brands - you’re paying for something that’s truly ethical, as well as something that is much higher quality and offers a completely different flavour experience.

    These issues around ethics and sustainability in chocolate are unbelievably complex, and made all-the-more confusing by the greenwashing we see everywhere, not to mention the big money marketing campaigns that are so much more prevalent than the voices of people and companies who are actually doing great things. Fine cacao and craft chocolate is just a drop in the ocean of this huge industry, but we hope that one day the example we’re all setting will be much more widespread, and that the world can embrace ethical trade and a quality over quantity approach to chocolate. 

     

    Photo courtesy of Luisa Abram. Views expressed are my own.

  • The Chocolate Bar Interview 022: Kelly Go, Auro Chocolate

    The Chocolate Bar Interview 022: Kelly Go, Auro Chocolate

    For my latest interview I caught up with Kelly Go, co-founder of Auro Chocolate in the Philippines. Kelly's background in Political Science and Culinary Arts led to her decision to move back to the Philippines from the U.S and create a socially conscious and high quality chocolate company. She launched Auro Chocolate in 2015, along with her best friend Mark Ocampo. We're featuring Auro's Tupi 70% bar in our August subscription boxes, so I thought you might like to know a little bit more about this beautiful chocolate...

     

    auro chocolate

     

    What is your background and what led to the creation of Auro Chocolate?

     

    My chocolate journey was far from a straightforward one. I graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Political Science and International Studies. I then decided to go to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris to pursue my lifelong passion for food. My mom is a pastry chef/engineer and my family is in the food equipment business, so my curiosity for food was developed from a very young age. My time at Cordon Bleu and France made me gain a deeper appreciation of the importance of sourcing quality ingredients and elevating it through the art of cooking/baking. Since I realised quite quickly that my skills were better suited to work outside rather than inside a kitchen, I started searching for various food-related opportunities in the Philippines and eventually settled on cacao because not only did I absolutely love chocolate, but saw that it gave me a unique opportunity to combine my passion for food and community development. Mark, my best friend, and I decided to partner together and move back to our home country, the Philippines, in 2015 to create great chocolate that makes a difference in our own community. It has been the most challenging and rewarding journey of our lives, and we are excited to keep pushing Philippine cacao and chocolate onto greater heights! 

     

    Where does the name Auro come from?

     

    AURO is a portmanteau of Au, the chemical symbol of gold, and Oro, the Spanish and Filipino word for gold. It represents a new way of looking at an old tradition. The Philippines is actually one of the first countries in Asia to plant cacao in the 17th century during the Spanish colonial period, and the first variety of cacao that was planted was criollo from Mexico brought here through the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade. In addition, we have also developed a rich culture of creating our own form of cacao drink called “sikwate” or “tablea” that has been passed on from generation to generation. This long history of cacao production and consumption has been largely taken for granted and not been widely shared with the rest of the world until recently, and represents the hidden treasure or gold in the Philippines that we have sought to uncover and transform into stories and products that make people see its actual value. 

     

    How do you decide where to source your beans from and which farmers to work with?

     

    We have decided to focus our sourcing initiatives in Davao, known as the “fruit basket” of the Philippines, because it is where more than 80% of the cacao in the country is produced. It is the region with the greatest diversity of cacao varieties and qualities at the moment, and many farmers and cooperatives have basic knowledge of cultivation and post-harvest techniques. We are also starting to develop other regions, but those will still take some time as they are in the early stages. We specifically choose to work with individual farmers and cooperatives who are committed to producing excellent quality of cacao and also share our social and environmental values. 

     

    auro chocolate

     

    How does Auro Chocolate support cacao farmers?

     

    We go beyond “bean-to-bar” by involving ourselves in every step of the process. Since we have a satellite office in Davao and employ a full-time team there, we are able to offer constant support to our farming partners and teach them organic farming and business management fundamentals. We are currently working with over 10 cooperatives and 50 individual farmers. We directly purchase all our beans from farmers at higher value, between 20 to 50% of global commodity price, to inspire quality and give farmers the opportunity to improve their standard of living. 

     

    We also share farmers' stories and highlight more unknown regions of the Philippines like Tupi in South Cotabato that often do not get sufficient recognition. In fact, one of the farmers that we have mentored over the past 5 years, Mr. Jose Sagoban of Paquibato village, was recently awarded Top 20 Best Cacao by Cocoa of Excellence in 2019. 

     

    How has COVID-19 affected your business?

     

    During the onset of the lockdown in the Philippines in mid-March, we lost the majority of our business and had to cease production temporarily as the entire country basically came to a halt and movement of goods and people was severely restricted. We immediately decided to pivot our business more towards e-commerce, which has helped us gradually recover. We are now back in normal operations and have been able to thankfully keep most of our team members. This pandemic has definitely taught us the importance of being resilient and adaptive. 

     

    We’re featuring your Tupi 70% bar in our August subscription boxes. What can you tell us about this origin?

     

    Tupi is a municipality in South Cotabato located at the foothill of Mount Matumtum in the southern part of the Philippines. It is most famous for the hundreds of hectares of pineapples that grow on its fertile volcanic soil. In between these large pineapple plantations, there are small farms that grow some of the rarest varieties of cacao that can be found in the country. 

     

    auro chocolate

     

    Is there a growing appreciation of high quality single origin chocolate in the Philippines? 

     

    It is definitely growing! Despite being one of the oldest cacao producers in the world, the Philippines is only starting to be recognised recently as an important origin of high quality, single origin chocolate. The international recognition and wider distribution gained by a few local craft chocolate producers like ourselves have definitely helped put the Philippines on the map, and I believe that this appreciation will only continue to grow over time. 

     

    What are some of the biggest challenges in your work?  

     

    Constantly adapting to the ever changing times and penetrating new markets. It’s not always easy to find the right partners, but we focus on finding one's that share our same values and grow with us. 

     

    auro chocolate Philippines cacao

     

    Who are some of your favourite chocolate makers?

     

    So many to choose from. A few would include Taucherli, Omnom and Fjak. 

     

    What are your hopes for the future of Auro Chocolate?

     

    We want to be able to reach more people through chocolate and empower more farming communities.

     

    auro chocolate

     

    Thanks so much to Kelly for taking the time for this interview. Be sure to check out the Auro Tupi 70% bar in our online store.