April 06, 2016
With the coming of Autumn and the nights getting colder, we thought we'd get in a few new products to help you warm your cockles at night.The cacao coming out of the Camino Verde plantation in Ecuador is some of the best we've tasted, so it's very exciting to have this in drinking chocolate form. Expect a deep nutty and chocolatey taste with some floral and fruity highlights.Another exceptional drinking chocolate, the 72% Madagascar is made with organic cacao from the famed Akesson Estate in the Sambirano Valley. This as a deeply fruity affair with strong notes of raspberry, cherry and blackberry.A brand new chocolate from our friends in Scotland, this bar is made with nibs that have been soaked in single malt whisky from Islay, an island producing whisky that is famous for its peat smoke and sea air notes. We ordered this about half a second after discovering it existed and were not disappointed when it arrived on Monday. YUM.
March 23, 2016
I wrote a piece entitled 'The Rise of Craft Chocolate' for Vegan New Zealand Magazine and they ended up using it for the cover story.
Really exciting to see this and great to help spread the word of the craft chocolate revolution.
You can pick up this magazine in Commonsense Organics or order it from the Vegan Society website.
February 25, 2016
This morning I woke with an epiphany and I knew that the baking gods wanted me to make beer biscuits.
These biscuits contain barley malt syrup and hopped chocolate chips, courtesy of Naive. They definitely have a beery taste to them and I like the fact that they're a treat but not too sweet. They won't keep me awake at night if I eat them all, which is about to happen.
This is a super easy recipe, suitable for a baking novice like me. It makes eight or nine biscuits.
110g of butter or olive spread
1/2 cup of barley malt syrup
1 egg (beaten)
1 Tbsp honey
3 cups of flower
1 tsp baking powder
55g Chocolate Naive Hops (diced)
Pinch of salt
1. Gently heat the butter in a pan on the lowest heat on the hob. Stir in the barley malt syrup and honey. Mix well. Leave to cool.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add in the chocolate chips and mix through.
3. Add the beaten egg to the butter/syrup mixture and stir thoroughly.
4. Pour the butter mixture in the flour mix a quarter at a time, stirring well with a wooden spoon or spatula. When you've finished you should have a soft dough.
5. Cover the bowl with cling wrap or a plate and leave in the fridge for half an hour.
6. Place a sheet of baking paper onto a baking tray. Tear off balls of dough, about the size of a decent plum, then roll into a ball and place on the baking paper, squashing them slightly into a disc shape.
7. Place in a pre-heated oven on 150°C for around 25 minutes (on 'bake' setting).
8. Leave to cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes (if you have a rack, which I don't).
February 18, 2016
Ridiculously excited to introduce a new member of The Chocolate Bar family...
I've been talking to Chocolate Naive since before this business began and I'm so happy to finally have them over here. They make incredible, organic bean-to-bar chocolate in a small town in Lithuania. When I saw their branding I instantly fell in love, and they taste even better than they look!
Naive are the most heavily awarded chocolate makers that we now stock, picking up regular prizes from the International Chocolate Awards, Academy of Chocolate Awards and various other competitions.
We're stocking the Honey, Hops and Porcini bars. The Porcini won a gold at last year's International Chocolate Awards and it's the most unique chocolate I've ever tasted. Interested to see how people feel about this one - I absolutely love it but Emily was not so keen!
Check out the full range here.
January 18, 2016
To celebrate the launch of Wellington Chocolate Factory’s new limited release Bougainville Bar, we’ve decided to put together a special pack of chocolate made with beans from Papua New Guinea.
The PNG Fundraiser Pack contains three incredible bean-to-bar chocolates:
1 x Wellington Chocolate Factory - Bougainville Bar
1 x OCHO - Revolution 70%
1 x Bahen & Co - Papua New Guinea 70%
All of these chocolate bars are made with 70% PNG cacao, yet their flavours are very diverse.
The pack costs $35, of which $10 will be donated to Roar4PNG - a small, grassroots NGO based in the East New Britain Province (a cacao growing region), who are dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence and have recently set up a safe house.
Rates of family and sexual violence in PNG are amongst the highest in the world, with an estimated 70% of women experiencing rape or assault in their lifetime (in certain provinces that percentage is much higher.)
The funds raised from these packs will go towards helping these current projects:
1. Comfort packs for survivors of violence including female pads for rape victims, soap, clothes, basic food, tooth brush and toothpaste, hair brush, information about services, emergency numbers, etc. Roar4 want to hand these out to all survivors that come to the safe house.
2. Transport for survivors to a safe location. Often survivors arrive with nothing and need to travel back to their village (via boat or bus) to get away from perpetrators. There are often requests for transport home from victims but there is a lack of transport funds.
3. Mosquito nets for new mums and babies to reduce deaths from malaria. This project focuses on remote locations and islands.
4. GBV (Gender Based Violence) film nights being rolled out to raise awareness about domestic violence. Roar4 have a few short films about GBV and want to show them in a number of areas to get the conversation started about reducing GBV.
It would be fantastic if you could help us to raise funds for these projects. As well as getting to taste some phenomenal bean-to-bar chocolate, you’ll be doing some good in the world.
Check out the pack in our shop.
January 12, 2016
I’m really looking forward to these events for so many reasons. Firstly, I’ve never seen this kind of taste matching done in New Zealand before, so I’m excited to play around with these new and delicious possibilities. Secondly, it’s an opportunity to get to know some of my customers more personally, and to have decent conversations about what everybody enjoys when it comes to chocolate. Lastly, it’s the start of the more educational side of this business, which is something I really want to focus on this year. Bean-to-bar chocolate is a relatively new thing in New Zealand, so I’m really looking forward to explaining in depth about the whole concept and process.
As for the tastings themselves, I think it’s going to be really fun to try out these different combinations and to introduce people to some unique and wonderful flavours. I’ve organised several taste matching events in the past, but what I particularly love about this is the level of subtlety involved. Tea and craft chocolate both involve very intricate flavours that you have to appreciate calmly, allowing the mysteries to unfold on your palate in their own time. I think - and hope - people are going to be pleasantly surprised by some of the things that they encounter.
I’m also excited to be collaborating with two of the best tea companies in New Zealand - Ritual Tea in Wellington and Fine & Dandy in Auckland. Both of these companies are using exceptionally high quality single estate tea that is Fair Trade and organic. Likewise, the chocolate we will be tasting is all single origin and made with Fair of Direct Trade cacao. The similarities between tea and chocolate are manifold, and what I find really interesting about both is the influence of the terroir in the final flavour. It’s an infinite world of joy to be explored.
These events are going to be an appreciation of so many things: they are a way of giving thanks for the natural bounty of the earth; a way of paying gratitude to the people who harvest this bounty; a celebration of the talented crafters who turn this bounty into something delicious, and a general enjoyment of the fine and delicate things in life. In a world that can often be cruel and overwhelming, it’s important to take some timeout to bask in these gifts.
I hope some of you can join us for these events.