SETTING THE BAR

Say hello to our newest obsession — bean to bar / small batch / artisan / homemade / handcrafted / holy cow / are we really doing this? — chocolate.

Sorting

Sorting

Roasting

Roasting

Winnowing

Winnowing

What the what you ask? Well, it all started quite innocently one evening...

After eating some homemade almond butter cups, Zan posed the question "I wonder how chocolate is made?" The rest is, as they say, OCD. History, I mean history.

It was a matter of moments after that fateful question hung in the air between us before we turned to the internet. We had enjoyed gorgeous, clean eating food blogs like Sprouted Kitchen and Minimalist Baker for years so we assumed that educating ourselves about making chocolate from scratch should be simple.

Cocoa butter

Cocoa butter

Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean

Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean

Aside: As I reflect on the true origin of our latest food infatuation, I begin to realize that our fascination with food has matured in concert with our relationship over our 15 years together. What began as an intense, untempered and seductive addiction has matured into a healthy, sustaining, life affirming love affair. (There are so many people gagging at that very sentence right now that it makes the decision to include it in the blog that much funnier.)

Ready for refining

Ready for refining

Truth be told, the internets can be packed full of useless garbage sometimes but we soldiered on and devoured all the blogs, how-to's and forums we could find for several weeks.

After researching the growing trend of small batch makers in the US, we were able to accidentally secure cacao beans from our new friends at the amazing Fruition Chocolate on a holiday trip to visit family in Upstate New York. Situated at the base of the Catskill Mountains, Bryan has been voted one of the Top 10 Chocolatiers in North America. His offer to sell us beans and answer our amateur questions makes him #1 in our book.

Molding

Molding

Tempering

Tempering

Random Useless Fact: For those of you taking notes, we used cacao beans from Ghana for our first batch and tried our Trinidad beans for the second. Our third, and final bag from the Dominican Republic still calls from the pantry for it's inaugural voyage in our test kitchen.

Final bars, batch one and two...

Final bars, batch one and two...

A little over a half year in, we're beginning to make some sense of our excitement. Perhaps this is all a thinly veiled excuse to travel the world sampling dark indulgences from hipster kitchens in funky cities... or an excuse to invite friends over for blind chocolate tastings after dinner... is it just another reason to create budgets and spreadsheets and "pin" packaging concepts for our delicious bean to bar creations?

Well, one thing is for sure — whatever you call it, consider it fair warning that this site is going to overindulge in all things chocolate in the coming months.

So. Much. Chocolate. And just as many food puns.