Miracle Women

 
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Once upon a time, I co-created a retreat to celebrate the women who craft, champion and enrich our world through the magic of cacao. The retreat was called Mujeres Milagros, miracle women, and it was a living dream.

It started, as dreams do, with travel. A fateful podcast interview with Lauren of WKND Chocolate would result in joining her on my first trip to origin. During our 10 days together, we traveled from Ecuador’s Andean foothills to coastal Esmeraldas, in cacao-filled rainforests by day, discussing the transformational gifts of the godly fruit by night.

A couple months later, we talked about the potential for gathering women from across the industry and around the world — IRL — with chocolate sommelier, Sophia, of Projet Chocolat.

By September, after months of animated conversations, the three of us would be standing at the doors of a historic hacienda. That first year, we humbly welcomed a collection of women who shared our love of chocolate and, more importantly, a desire for something more transcendent than working for work’s sake.

 
 

I have to confess my fear of collaborating in a female-only space yet, after only a few days together, I was on fire with inspiration. Post-retreat, I retired to a tiny casita outside Santa Fe, NM, feeling more connected to my self and my desires than ever before.

Over the next three weeks I found wonder in everything — I drew pictures of my food, wrote poetry for the first time in years and laughed and cried without reservation or regret as I painted from dawn to dusk.

 
 

The second year, I returned to the desert to find a new batch of women brimming with a similar spirit. We opened ourselves up to one another, vulnerable yet emboldened by the delicate act of bonding.

Before these gatherings, I thought I understood the virtues of creating a plan and taking action but it was in those moments that I truly discovered the power of clarity and it’s ability to manifest the improbable.

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Last year’s retreat celebrated the “art of chocolate,” a prescient theme in hindsight, as this post is about the things that must come to an end in order to continue creating.

What began as an open, honest conversation with a new friend in a new country completely transformed my world. And yes, this is a rather long way of saying that I won’t be returning to co-host. As for that dream, I am confident that it will continue to transform the miracle women that gather — gifting them the clarity to find, and the courage to take, their own, true path.

My treasured time in the desert taught me, again and again, that my desires are simple and sincere: more time and energy for my personal art practice. And though cacao may not always be in the foreground of that practice, my life and work will remain centered around the many gifts that it has revealed to me.

Re-Treat

 
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When we started making chocolate four years ago it seemed as though I never had enough. I pined for more hours in the day, more room to experiment and more courage to make mistakes. Like anyone who devotes their life to a creative endeavor knows, such a discipline can be as isolating as it is rewarding.

But of all the things in short supply, what I really needed most was perspective.

When Sophia, Lauren and I first conceived of Mujeres Milagros, our motivation was simple — step away from the demands of our daily lives and gather with like-minded “women in chocolate” in a serene, supportive space. We had no way of knowing if the idea would resonate but we dared to imagine. Worst case scenario, the three of us would relax at a private hacienda outside Santa Fe, watching the sun rise and fall over a mystical mountain range while commiserating over a stash of decadent craft bars.

 

 

Mindful conversations, intentional bonding, nurturing food.

 

 

More mantra than mission statement it was, ultimately, a selfish motivation — a connection we desired for ourselves, intimate in both scale and intention. What resulted, however, was nothing less than a magnificent confluence.

One by one, the most perfect women walked through the massive antique Puebla doors and swiftly into our hearts. They were real — these brilliant women — and they not only shared our passion for cacao but a desire for something more transcendent than working for work’s sake.

Over the next few days, we laughed and cried and shared many, many bars as we reconnected with the reasons we all fell in love with cacao in the first place. And, after only a few remarkable days, the retreat had easily become one of the sweetest things I’ve had the pleasure of bringing into the world via Batch.

As we approach another year of making, I’m still unclear as to the kind of impact I might have on craft chocolate as a maker. I am abundantly confident, however, that this little sweet spot we’ve created in the desert has the magic to transform the women who graciously walk a similar path. 

This year’s retreat will “celebrate the art of chocolate” with a healthy balance of playful and meaningful.

For me, finally, enough.

Holy Cacao

 
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I finally witnessed cacao at origin.

Being presented with a freshly plucked pod felt like when a friend shares a sonogram of their unborn child ~ while I played no part in the making of this odd but magical creature, I promise to help love and nurture it into the rock star it will one day become...

 
― CACAO HQ, ECUADOR

 

 

Bloom

Part science, part art, the process of tempering chocolate requires as much patience and intuition as it does technique. A badly tempered batch results in streaks and striations referred to as bloom.

After pushing through a laborious chocolate-making process, bloomed chocolate is generally an unwelcome sign of failure. Yet, by it’s very definition, I sort of love how hope can be found even in the face of defeat.

 

 

bloom: to flourish or thrive.

 

 

With each new batch, bloom is what we’re striving to avoid in our chocolate and what we aspire to achieve for ourselves as makers. 

Success and failure are two sides of the same coin.

There’s a kind of poetic justice to that, don’t you think?

In the Wild

In between tossing delicate pillows of dough and hair raising black bear encounters, we’ve managed to churn out teeny tiny batches of chocolate in our trusty test kitchen for more than a year.

Truth be told, we officially registered Batch Craft as an entity that makes chocolate, and chocolate products, this past April. Wanna hear something wild?


we’re the only* bean to bar chocolate makers in the state of South Carolina!


What does this mean for us?

Well, since our creative plates are already full with Social, and our social calendar booked with JMT training hikes, we’re embracing a small batch approach.


We only intend to produce and sell in small batches. Think of it less like Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory and more like an artist releasing a new, limited edition print to faithful collectors.

Bars will be handcrafted, signed & numbered and in high demand. (wink)


What does this mean for you? 

After a few more months of tasting and tweaking, we plan to release our bars into the wild, for sampling and sale, before the new year.

As you can imagine, we’re a little beside ourselves but we’d really love to know what you think. Does it sound like a plan for sweet success or as wild as Mr. Wonka himself?


*As far as we know / according to countless internet searches.

Raising the Bar

Raising the Bar

We first proclaimed our infatuation with small batch craft chocolate almost 6 months ago to the day. Since then, we've traveled far and wide tasting our brains out.

From hopping on every chocolate factory tour we could find, to soldiering through bitter test batches in our own kitchen, craft chocolate has proved to be a worthy seductress.