Thursday, March 9, 2017

French Broad Opens the Book on Chocolates

 

"Once upon a time...." are the words that begin every timeless story. And those are the words found on the inside of French Broad Chocolates` new high-end chocolate packaging. The chocolate bar box is designed to look like a beautiful hardcover book, and when all lined up together, they create a wonderful 'library' of chocolate.

During their Instagram takeover of @ChocolateNoise a while back, French Broad Chocolates founders, Dan and Jael, refer to it as "locally-crafted packaging", and a way of sharing the "stories behind the chocolate", whether it is their "own love story, a special relationship with a cacao farmer, or a brilliant local coffee roaster."

On the package, their story is told from the beginning, starting with falling in love (at a wedding), and on to the farmer's markets where they sold confections, to a stint in Costa Rica running a bakery/café, and then on to their more current accomplishments in chocolate, such as an online web store, a busy dessert lounge in 2008, a Chocolate Factory and tasting room in 2012, and a chocolate shop and café called Chocolate+Milk in 2014. In the last year, they have been winning awards and basking in the glow of a business that has come into its own, gained nation-wide (and International) popularity, and has all the right marketing in place to be one of the 'big guys' in craft chocolate.  You can read more of their 'story' on the chocolate maker's website.


Now let's continue our story by talking about the chocolate...



When it comes to dark chocolate, French Broad Chocolates seems to be a two-ingredient chocolate maker. This can be identified just slightly in the texture of the chocolate, there is always something a little stiffer in the texture of two-ingredient chocolate. But usually, I have found, the natural cocoa bean flavours of two-ingredient chocolate are more intense. Often, when cocoa butter is added, it can change or dilute the flavour (depending if it is deodorized or non-deodorized cocoa butter). So by choosing two-ingredient chocolate, Dan and Jael have chosen a chocolate philosophy (as I call it) of featuring the pure flavours of the bean.

I have tasted a few of French Broad Chocolates over the last few years, and enjoyed each one immensely. In fact, I always vow to share, because I find their chocolate bars so pretty I want other people to see it, but inevitably, I end up eat it all myself.

Most recently, I purchased French Broad's Guatemala 73% chocolate bar and their Nicaragua 68% bar.  I was testing some new Nicaragua beans myself, and I was curious if the flavour was just as citrusy, with some bold acidity as the other Nicaragua beans I had been trying. I found a similar flavour profile, but loved how French Broad Chocolates featured the flavours of this Nicaragua bar. To me, it offered a robust roast flavour, the slightest hint of lingering grape, then a citrus-lemon aftertaste. After looking at the chocolate makers notes, I see they tasted something very different: "buttered toast, black tea, and brown sugar." Of course, upon tasting it again, those flavours also come to mind, but that may be from the memory of reading it. I still taste citrus, and the black tea is a flavour that features a certain measure of acidity, which this chocolate certainly has. I like how the chocolate makers have used the art of chocolate making to tone down the natural acidity with a little more sugar and a good, strong roast.  It is a very good, balanced dark chocolate.

The Guatemala is in-a-good-way intense, with a rich cocoa flavour. It has a slight fruit flavour, with blackberry, and perhaps bitter wild blueberry. It has no hint of the astringency that I have tasted in some recent Guatemala bars. Guatemala seems to be all the rage in terms of cacao origins these days, which is why I chose this bar. I wanted to see how it compared to some others on the market. I found, again, that the chocolate makers did a lovely job with the beans. They chose a perfect sugar level and a roast to feature the best flavours in the bean, making it an enjoyable and interesting chocolate bar for all palates.

French Broad Chocolates offers many other kinds of chocolate bars, so many that you can line your book shelves at home and chuckle every time you trick your friends into thinking you read a lot of books. I suggest you check them out on French Broad`s website: https://frenchbroadchocolates.com/frenchbroad/. They also offer lovely desserts and confections in their store-front locations, so if you are ever in Asheville, North Carolina, you won`t want to miss the experience of visiting.

Have a great day! Hope you discover a new chocolate today!

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