Friday, May 25, 2018

The Best Chocolate Croissants in Toronto : Pain au Chocolat at Goûter

Last weekend I attended the eGullet Chocolate and Confectioner Workshop in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where confectioners and wanna-be chocolatiers gathered for a weekend of learning, improving their chocolatiering skills and bettering their bellies (I mean literally, we ate a tonne of chocolate!).

While at the workshop, one of the key presenters and 'teachers' was Rodney Alléguède, who is a chef and the owner of Goûter, a Patisserie, Boulangerie and Chocolaterie in Toronto.  All the attendees of the workshop agreed, after three full days of 'hard work' tasting Rodney's pastries, that he makes some of the best pastries we had ever tasted. For me it was all about the flaky chocolate croissant, or 'pain au chocolat' as it is properly called in France, where Rodney is from. Although I make a less flaky version at home (to keep the mess at a minimum), I love a good flaky chocolate croissant, with a crisp outer edge yet soft on the inside.

During the year that I lived in France, the word 'Goûter' was probably the most fascinating word to me. The French never walked around eating food in public, the way we might see us North Americans eating breakfast on the subway or on our way to work. But for some reason, the 4 p.m. snack time, goûter, as it is called, was the only time they seemed to be okay with eating outside and on their way home. Every day I would see French folks eating a Pain au Chocolat on the streets of Rennes, the city where I attended school. And every day it would inspire me to try a new chocolate croissant from a different shop, perhaps in hopes of becoming a croissant connoisseur one day, or just in increasing my waste line (you can imagine which goal I reached first that year). So Rodney`s Pain au Chocolat really brought me back to that time.

Blurry pastry selfie - it is blurry because I accidentally
rubbed too much butter from the croissants on my
phone`s camera lens. :-)
The other croissant by Rodney that truly dazzled was the raspberry one (sorry, no chocolate here). It was full of rich raspberry puree or fresh jam, had a gorgeous colour and probably was the most delicious pastry I had ever tasted.

Goûter is also making a Nutella croissant, which I hear is delicious. So if you are in Toronto, you NEED to get over to Rodney`s shop to try it. Plus he has delicious gelato, chocolates and confections, and other amazing pastries and breads, so go NOW! You`ll find Gouter at:
3507 Bathhurst St., Toronto
Instagram: @gouterbyra

I took a pic of these delicious confections
recently at Gouter in Toronto. Don`t they look amazing?
They tasted even better than they looked.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Packaging Chocolate Bars: The How-To and See MY New Packages!

Announcing....Ultimately Chocolate's brand new look!  That's right folks, we just launched new packaging. It feels like a real achievement since I took so darn long to work on it. Although we have launched retail-style packaging - with nutrition labels - before for my chocolate TOFFLE, this bean to bar chocolate packaging has the works, including bar codes.

I wanted to make sure we did everything right the first time. So admittedly I was a little slow working on this project. The design team that I worked with (Signature Group, Sudbury) was patient though and very good, and finally, I have just received all the new packages and they are amazing!

So what's the process to designing chocolate bar packages?

1. Hire a design team.

2. Work with the design team to come up with a concept (do you want something that goes with the industry norm or something completely different than everyone else?  What materials do you want to use: clear packaging, boxes with windows, bags with windows, printed boxes, wrapping-paper?)

3. Buy the barcodes and the GS1 Subscription, then go to a different site and pay for the graphics for the bar codes (that's right, buying the bar codes doesn't mean you get the actual 'bars', just the codes. You need to pay twice to get the full 'bar code'. They come in packs of 10 generally from (in Canada it is  I went to Nationwide Barcode for my graphics:

4. Gather and decide on your information, marketing style, and how you want to describe your products, company mission, etc.

5. Calculate your nutrition label or send your products off to a lab to get tested (the kind of lab that sends you back a nice graphic of the nutrition label is the best-yet-most-expensive way).

6. Get all your info translated to French (we must do this in Canada) with a professional translator or really smart French friends, and a group of friendly French-speaking proof-readers.

7. Send all the info to the designers. Let them do their magic and try not to get in the way of their artistry. Designers became designers because they are artistic and have a good eye, so be sure to listen to their ideas.

8. Source a printing company. I used a custom box company out of the Toronto area. Soopak offers great pricing when you buy in bulk. It is less economical if you want less than 1,000 packages though.

9. Proof-read, check it over and proof read again. Check the designers final files, then get a mock-up made from the printing company (which sometimes costs you), then get a team of people you know to check it all over again. 

10. Place your order. It generally takes three weeks for your packages to arrive once you've paid and given final approval. has the little clear round sticky labels to seal your boxes or packaging, to ensure your customers that no one has tampered with the product.

That was my process. Yours may be the same or it may vary, depending on your team or ideas about packaging.

As for now, if you want to buy my new products, neatly in their packaging, you can e-mail me at info @, or visit My Mother's Place (gift & artisan food shop) in Sudbury, several Manitoulin Island retailers (including Loco Beanz in Little Current, Loco Beanz in Gore Bay, and Huron Island Time in Providence Bay) and at JoJo CoCo in Ottawa on Terry Fox Drive. Stay tuned for more retailer near you!