Out Now: Venezuela, Porcelana - 70% Dark
Porcelana is perhaps the most coveted cacao in the world. It's a varietal, not a place, and this example comes from a very old plantation near Machiques, Venezuela.
What makes Porcelana so special, and so rare? Genetics. It lacks genes for producing a pigment that gives most cacao a dark color and bitter flavor. Evolution favors the pigment: its bitterness encourages monkeys and other mammals to spit out the cacao seeds, thereby planting more cacao trees. We're still not entirely sure whether Porcelana cacao trees once had genetics for the dark pigment, then lost them, or simply never had them at all.
In any case, Porcelana has neither spread nor survived as well as other varietals, and that makes it rare. The missing pigment also tends to make its flavors comparatively mild. But neither rarity nor mildness are guarantees of quality. The only useful test of quality I have found thus far is a simple one: tasting.
It has been a year since I added a new origin to the lineup. Over the course of that year, I've made and tasted chocolate with cacao samples from literally dozens of different origins. This Porcelana made the lineup not because it was rare, but because it was so impressive that I simply had to work with it.
I could try to describe it to you--my tasting notes read chocolate milk, coconut, and cantaloupe--but in truth it seems to change a little with every taste. That's part of its magic. It must be experienced to be understood, and it's finally ready.
Available online now, and coming to my partner stores over the fall season.
Bar Trio Gift Boxes
With the holidays quickly approaching, I'm pleased to offer a new gift box that makes it easier to share my single-origin dark chocolate bars with family and friends on your nice list.
Each colorful box holds three 2oz bars and comes complete with space to hand-write a gift note to the recipient.
At my holiday markets and events, you'll be able to chose which bars to add to a box, or let me select a set for you.
Online, when you order a Featured Bar Trio, 2oz size--now showcasing the Belize 68%, Honduras 70% + salt, and Ghana 75%--it will automatically come in the new Bar Trio gift box.
Check it out below and if you're planning to order, don't leave it to the last minute--we're entering chocolate's busy season, and supplies aren't guaranteed to last!
In addition to making bars, I have the pleasure of collaborating with other quality-driven food and beverage producers to showcase world-class cacao and whole cane sugar in new ways. October was a busy month!
Chocolate Beers w/ Working Draft Beer Company
Working Draft produced not one but two new cacao-steeped beers this month, using two very different origins to achieve two very different results. The first, a Scotch Ale, made use of deep, classic Ghana nibs to create a liquid play on the Caramel deLite cookie. The second, an Imperial Stout, embraced the concentrated dark fruit flavors of cacao from the Maya Mountains in Belize for a massive, complex beer so rich it could be eaten with a spoon. Both were limited brews, but as of this writing the latter is still available in the taproom at Working Draft, here in Madison.
Mocha w/ The Heights Kitchen
Featuring all-day dining and coffee options, as well as specialty grocery (including my chocolate bars), The Heights Kitchen is a welcome addition to Madison's near-west side. Locally sourced ingredients are the focus, and we've worked together to create a mocha using coffee from WI's Ruby Coffee Roasters and my drinking chocolate. We're all loving it and hope you'll stop in to try one next time you're passing by.
Fall & Holiday Events
Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago readers, I'm looking forward to sharing my chocolate with you soon--details below:
November 2: Cheese & Chocolate Pairing Happy Hour @ Fromagination, 3:30-6:30pm (Madison, WI)
November 10-11: re:Craft & Relic @ Milwaukee County Sports Complex (Franklin, WI)
November 17-18: MMoCA Holiday Art & Gift Fair @ MMoCA (Madison, WI)
December 1-2: Renegade Craft @ Bridgeport Art Center (Chicago, IL)
December 7-8: Good Day Market @ Madison Masonic Center (Madison, WI)
December 9: Hover Craft @ The Pritzlaff Building (Milwaukee, WI)
December 14: Holiday Pop Up Market @ Working Draft Beer Company (Madison, WI)
Updates to the events lineup will be posted here.
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