Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chocolate in Missouri: A Road Trip for the Taste Buds

I just arrived back from a place that was unexpectedly chocolaty: Missouri!  I know what you're thinking. Chocolate in Missouri? It's not exactly a state known for fine chocolate. And if you have ever driven through the state, you'll recall that candy factory signs are everywhere, and BBQ seems to be all the rage. But NOT fine chocolate. Heck, even the locals didn't know what I was talking about when I said I'd visited a chocolate factory.

But kid you not, fine chocolate Missouri has. In fact, two of America's most renown and long-standing bean-to-bar craft chocolate makers reside in Missouri: Askinosie Chocolate and Patric Chocolate.

Of course, the goal of this trip was not to travel for chocolate. It was to attend a true country-themed farm wedding in the heart of Missouri. My good friend, who I met 11 years ago in France, was getting married on his honey and horse boarding farm in Centralia.

Every detail of this farm wedding had been thoughtfully planned,
from the bride, groom and entire wedding party riding in on individual tractors, to the horse stalls being beautifully transformed into lounge areas in the barn.

I did find a little chocolate at the wedding too. Among the large selection of country pies, there was one 'chocolate pie', made by a relative with a passion for chocolate and baking. It was so delicious that I ate two pieces. So if I find the recipe, I will not only make it, but I will post it here for you to try.

But before the pies and the fun festivities on the farm, came my trip to Askinosie Chocolate Factory in Springfield, Missouri. Askinosie makes a range of dark chocolate, dark-milk chocolate, and white chocolate bars with a focus on collaboration with the farmers, the local schools and other organizations who follow the same socially responsible mission as Askinosie. They also make delicious dark chocolate hazelnut spread and hot cocoa mixes.

I will go into detail about this chocolate maker in a later post, but needless to say, I spent loads of money on chocolate and have been on a cacao high ever since.

Before leaving Springfield, I surprisingly found a little chocolate in the Beef Jerky outlet store (I know, an outlet store for beef jerky is awesome right?).

The choices were on the fun and silly side, but I did find one slightly more serious truffle: a 'latte' flavoured milk chocolate ganache with Mexican coffee, dipped in layers of milk and white chocolate. It filled my cravings for something rich and sweet at the same time.

We soon moved on to Columbia, Missouri, where I picked up several Patric Chocolate bars at the Root Cellar, a cool little local-food products store in the centre of the city. Patric Chocolate is a bean-to-bar chocolate maker based in Columbia, Missouri.  They do not have a store front, but you can buy Patric's award-winning line-up of chocolate at local retailers like the Root Cellar, or at HyVee West Broadway, or sign up for the monthly release newsletter and buy online.

Finally, I made my way to the St. Louis airport, where I thought my chocolate-buying opportunities had come to an end. But surprisingly I found some chocolate made by a St. Louis-based chocolate company called Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company (yup, that's a lot of chocolate).  At an airport store called MAXGA, I found some all natural Nonpareils.  With no artificial flavours or colours and NO hydrogenated vegetable oils, these candy-sprinkled chocolates were a perfect treat for my kids. If you are heading into St. Louis though, there are several locations of Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate that you can visit, and at the factory you can take a tour.

And if you only have minutes to spare in a Missouri airport, and just can't make it out to find some fine chocolate, there is always a little to be found at Starbucks.  Those Starbucks gluten-free chocolate cookies are on the sweet side, but they sure are chocolaty and tasty!

So that was my chocolaty adventure in Missouri! Stay tuned for more information on Patric Chocolate and Askinosie later this week or next. And let's not forget about that chocolate pie that I promised to make!

Have a great day folks!