Happy 4th of July ! How am I celebrating ? With American chocolate, but of course.
The first eleven Chocolate Roundups on MyKugelhopf featured chocolate from around the world, from big players like Switzerland, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Austria, as well as from other countries not necessarily known for their chocolate, like Croatia, Slovenia, Australia, New Zealand and Poland. The USA made its way into more than one roundup too, with styles and ingredients varying wildly. Theo and Vosges appeared in the inaugural roundup in 2009 and still remain favorites of mine. Over the years, I discovered Askinosie, Salazon, Taza and Olive & Sinclair to name a few. And more recently, thanks to Meadow, a gem of a chocolate shop in New York City (flagship in Portland), Xocolatl by David and Fruition were featured as stellar American bean-to-bar chocolate makers. And on my last trip to New York City in April, I discovered even more.
Passionate artisans are currently devoting themselves to producing chocolate at a superior level, taking each and every step of the process into their own hands: sorting, roasting, winnowing, grinding, conching, tempering, flavoring, molding, packaging… What’s more, consumers nowadays are more and more curious about just about everything, wanting to know the origins of the ingredients and even the chocolate maker’s background. Below is a selection of bars I tasted from small batch chocolate makers in America who satisfy our curiosities – and especially our sweet tooth.
An excellent place to start on the topic of bean-to-bar chocolate in the USA is, perhaps surprisingly, in Missouri. Alan McClure has earned quite a reputation for his range of bars under the name Patric Chocolate. His signature blends have earned him well deserved praise. And his series of OMG bars, well… oh my god is right. The mocha bar with just “4 simple ingredients” (cacao, cane sugar, cacao butter and espresso beans) didn’t even last long enough to be photographed. The mint bar did, with its 4, the last being natural peppermint oil. As for the pbj, I can’t say it any better than the chocolate maker himself: “Dark roasted peanut butter plus cacao with naturally occurring jam-like bursts of berry flavor equals one way-too-easy-to-eat chocolate bar.” Omg indeed.
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