Friday, March 6, 2015

French Broad Chocolate: bean-to-bar chocolate that left me wanting more!

I have been fascinated by French Broad Chocolate since I learned of them a few years ago. They have a unique story that begins with purchasing a cacao farm in Costa Rica in 2004, long before they started making excellent chocolate in North Carolina. But being oh-so-far-away in Canada's great North, I have not been able to taste their chocolate. Until now.

Since Montreal's La Tablette de Miss Choco began selling bean-to-bar chocolate online last Fall, I have been able to get my hands on all sorts of American craft chocolate (without having to e-mail the chocolate maker and beg for an out-of-the-ordinary chocolate shipment to Canada). So when I saw French Broad Chocolate's products on Miss Choco's website, I immediately placed an order.

I ordered only two chocolate bars: a single origin Peru 70% dark chocolate, and a single origin Costa Rica 80% dark chocolate. The 70% Peruvian bar was very fruity, full of mixed berry flavour, and bright with a nice cocoa aftertaste. It had a very pleasant texture and was thoroughly enjoyable.

The 80% Costa Rican bar surprised me because regional flavours did not seem to be overwhelming. It was pleasantly bitter with a slight espresso and heavy cocoa flavour, but also it had a nice balanced acidity.

Overall, I was impressed with French Broad Chocolate's delicate chocolate pieces, excellent tempering and fine texture. The chocolate certainly left me wanting more, and it left me regretting that I did not buy a few other bars made by this chocolate maker.

FBC's Story:

Like most artisan chocolate makers, owners Dan and Jael Rattigan, began their chocolate business in a home kitchen and at farmer's markets, but quickly turned it into something more. The French Broad Chocolate Lounge was opened in 2008 and as demand grew, so did the lounge. In 2012, they officially became bean-to-bar chocolate makers when they opened a chocolate factory and tasting room. And soon they will be making chocolate farm-to-bar, as they begin to harvest cacao from a farm that they purchased in Costa Rica.

Another amazing thing about French Broad Chocolate is that they appreciate and sell chocolate made by other American craft chocolate makers (that's right, their competitors). Find French Broad Chocolate alongside chocolate from over 15 producers here:

Package details:

Here are the package details from the chocolate that I reviewed today:

Tumbes, Peru, 70% cacao, 60g
French Broad Chocolates (Asheville, NC)
Ingredients: organic cacao (from the Tumpis Cooperative), organic cane sugar. Made in a facility that handles tree nuts, gluten, milk, corn & peanuts, but not soy.
Batch #: 140723

San Andres, Costa Rica, 80% cacao, 60g
French Broad Chocolates (Asheville, NC)
Ingredients: cacao (direct from our partners at Cacao South), organic cane sugar. Made in a facility that handles tree nuts, gluten, milk, corn & peanuts, but not soy.
Batch #: 140325