So mostly everyone in the world likes chocolate, whether it’s dark, milk or white chocolate. Or even the new Ruby Chocolate. But away from the huge chocolate making industries, a new kind of chocolate is growing in stature and popularity. Craft Chocolate – or ‘bean to bar’ as it is often known – offers a completely new experience for chocolate lovers, but what is it and how does it different from your average everyday bar?
Craft chocolate has turned the method of making this amazing confectionery into an art form. It concentrates on where the chocolate started its journey, the origin of the cocoa beans and continues through the processes to turn it from the fruit of the Cacao tree into an amazing, addictive luxury product. It focuses on sourcing the right cocoa beans, uses only the finest ingredients and rewards you with an intricate and unique experience, one that is meant to be savoured and enjoyed by all your senses.
With so many small businesses around these days, and more of us willing to support those that offer something different, particularly if it’s made by hand and of good quality, the independent chocolate makers are in a great position to promote their craft. There are a growing number of artisan chocolate makers and chocolatiers in the UK today, many with a unique take on things – for example, Annie’s offer vegan chocolate, suitable for anyone who wants or needs dairy free – but not all offer the bean to bar experience. So why should we be eating craft chocolate?
Kathryn Laverak, certified fine chocolate taster and International Chocolate Judge, says
“I think of chocolate in the same way as I do literature: the tasting experience is just like reading a good book. It takes you on a journey. As the experience unfolds you get lost in its intricacies and complexities. It has its own character and the aftertaste leaves you with the feeling that you have learnt something about other people’s lives. You want to talk about it with friends, taste more from the same maker and find out about the origin of the beans. Where were the grown? How were they fermented and dried? How did the maker use their skills to express the intrinsic flavours of the origin and beans whilst at the same time making the bar their own?”
“Once you discover fine chocolate, you won’t look back, there is always another bar to taste.”
Fair trade and ethical business practices are also important to craft chocolatiers. How the chocolate is farmed is as important as the end result, adding to the overall appeal of the finished product. Can we really enjoy our chocolate, knowing that the family who farmed the beans may have been forced to live on a little over £1 a day?
Whilst there is still a place for mass produced and cheap ‘industrial’ chocolate, you definitely get what you pay for with Craft Chocolate. The feel and the look of the confectionery in your hand, that beautiful ‘snap’, the heady smell of honeyed notes or hints of flowers, spices and fruits, and of course, the fantastic taste, its an assault on your senses that is definitely worth paying extra for.
For more on Bean to Bar chocolate tasting, visit Kathryn’s website www.cocoaencounters.co.uk