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Here's another delicious hot chocolate recipe to help you through the winter. You'll want to use fresh lavender heads for this - hopefully you can find some growing near to you.

Remember - if you're attempting to make these recipes at home, they won't work if you switch the Hogarth Drinking Chocolate for a standard hot chocolate powder. It's not just about the Hogarth's being much higher quality, it's actually a different kind of product with different ingredients and a different processing method. You can read more about this in our previous blog piece.

Ingredients (serves two)

300ml oat milk (you can use a different kind of milk if you like, but oat gives the best flavour)

60g Hogarth Peru 66% Drinking Chocolate

1 small lemon (or half a large lemon)

10 heads of fresh lavender

Instructions

1. Wash your lemon and then remove the rind, either with a peeler or a sharp knife.

2. Put the lemon rind, lavender and milk into a saucepan, making sure to put the lid on. Heat the milk until it starts to bubble, then turn off the heat and leave the pan on the stove top for 45 minutes.

3. Remove the lemon rind and lavender from the milk. You can scoop them out with a slotted spoon or use a sieve. 

4. Return the milk to the stove and bring it back up to almost-boiling point. 

5. Add in the drinking chocolate and stir vigorously until the chocolate is fully dissolved. When you use real chocolate like this it takes longer to mix together than a cheap hot chocolate powder. You will need to keep it on the heat for a few minutes whilst you stir.

6. Serve in small cups. Garnish with a slice of lemon, if you like.

 

This recipe is designed to be served in small, intense doses. If you'd prefer a larger cup of less intense hot chocolate, simply add a bit more milk.

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The hot chocolate winter rampage continues with this recipe for licorice and vanilla. This is probably my favourite recipe so far, though I realise licorice isn't everyone's favourite flavour.

As usual, this recipe is designed to be served in small cups, in the style of French sipping chocolate.

Ingredients (serves two)

300ml oat milk (you can use a different kind of milk if you like, but oat milk gives the best flavour)

60g Hogarth Dominican Republic 75% Drinking Chocolate

1 vanilla pod

10g licorice root (you can buy this in shredded form at organic shops. If you can find the whole root then even better.)

Instructions

1. Slice your vanilla pod down the middle, lengthways.

2. Put the vanilla, licorice root and milk into a saucepan, making sure to put the lid on. Heat the milk until it starts to bubble, then turn off the heat and leave the pan on the stove top for 45 minutes.

3. Pour the concoction into a bowl, through a sieve, to remove the vanilla and licorice root. 

4. Return the milk to the stove and bring it back up to almost-boiling point. 

5. Add in the drinking chocolate and stir vigorously until the chocolate is fully dissolved. When you use real chocolate like this it takes longer to mix together than a cheap hot chocolate powder. You will need to keep it on the heat for a few minutes whilst you stir.

6. Serve in small cups.

 

This recipe is designed to be served in small, intense doses. If you'd prefer a larger cup of less intense hot chocolate, simply add a bit more milk.

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For our latest interview we caught up with Emily Stone, the founder of Uncommon Cacao and a key figure in the world of ethical and high quality chocolate. Uncommon source high quality cacao and build long-term relationships with both farmers and chocolate makers, helping them to connect and crate beautiful things. Many of the chocolate makers we work with at The Chocolate Bar source beans via Uncommon, so we thought you might like to know a little more about what's happening behind the scenes.

 

In a nutshell, what does Uncommon Cacao do?

Uncommon sources the finest quality cacao from 14 origins across six different countries for chocolate makers around the globe. We operate our own origin companies in Belize (Maya Mountain Cacao) and Guatemala (Cacao Verapaz), and through our U.S.-based cacao brokerage (Uncommon Cacao) we deliver best-in-class customer service, quality control and development, impact reporting, and cacao adventures to 150+ chocolate makers globally. At Uncommon Cacao, we believe business can create positive social and environmental change and are grateful and excited to be a part of the bold vision of radical transparency in cocoa. We’re one of the only supply chain companies in the world to publish our pricing and margins from origin through final sale. We are committed to doing honest business as a new kind of supply chain company.

What inspired you to start the business?

I’ve been a chocolate freak since childhood - my first independent school project at age 10 was “Desserts Around the World.” As I went through school and started my career though, chocolate stayed squarely as a hobby and treat, and I devoted my time to activism on social justice and environmental issues. I was working as a shareholder activist for an environmentally-responsible investment firm in Boston in 2010 when I reconnected with chocolate. I was investigating fair trade certifications, and I was blown away by the extent of the issues associated with chocolate and the lack of entrepreneurial innovations to solve them. I realised there was a market gap for producing high-quality cacao with a transparent supply chain focused on social and environmental impact working with small-scale farmers. Shortly after, I was on a plane to Belize to launch Maya Mountain Cacao.

How do you decide which farms to work with?

We always start with a sample of beans. We conduct both physical and sensory evaluations on the quality and flavour profile of the cacao. If we see potential in the beans, we dive into a series of conversations with the producers, captured in our 46-indicator Supplier Scorecard that covers various sustainability, governance, and quality factors. After that, we like to visit an origin in person to build the relationship, and from there we’ll continue with harvest samples and then a trial container. We work with select chocolate makers to try out various roast profiles and processes on the beans - and if chocolate makers (and their consumers) like them, we’ll bring the cacao into our full line-up!

How do you teach farmers about quality, and how to achieve it?

Quality means so many things, from the genetics planted, to the farm production practices, to post-harvest processing, storage and logistics. From our experience the best way to teach farmers about quality, as it relates to any of those factors, is through a combination of tasting their own product and price incentives. The learning process to improve quality can be expensive for farmers, especially when it means not being able to sell some percentage of their crop due to animal or disease damage, rejecting wet cacao that was harvested under - or over - ripe, or even a need to replace some of the genetics on their farm. We seek to be partners for farmers in this journey and support them through Kiva micro-finance loans, grant projects, and pricing incentives wherever possible. We have learned that improving post-harvest processing is best done hand-in-hand alongside farmers so we can actively incorporate flavour and quality feedback from chocolate makers and ensure implementation of new practices. This is why we almost exclusively work with centralised fermenteries, where trained professionals are running the post-harvest process. At all of our origins in Guatemala, these trained professionals are farmers themselves who we have taught about fermentation and drying over the last four years and who are accompanied by ongoing technical assistance from Uncommon Cacao’s on-the-ground team at Cacao Verapaz.

In your experience, what influence does ethical trade have on quality of product?

Producing high quality cacao is expensive. The prices paid by commodity markets make it extremely challenging for smallholders in particular to produce quality cacao. Thus, ethical trade in the form of paying higher, transparent prices for better quality sets the critical foundation for accountability around continued quality and consistency of cacao. However, there are many ethical trade models, such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance, that do not focus on either the prices paid for cacao or the quality of the cacao produced. Ethical trade is not clearly defined in cocoa and can mean many things, but our perspective is that transparency is absolutely key to ethical trade, whether you’re talking about high-quality cacao or bulk cacao.

What would you say to someone who is more willing to trust chocolate with Fairtrade certification than chocolate made with beans sourced via Uncommon?

Despite their good intentions, certifications have not been shown to create meaningful change in farmer income. Premiums typically go to co-ops, not farmers, adding bureaucracy and costs without directly improving farmer livelihoods. Fairtrade certification does not measure or verify quality or flavour in cacao in any way, which makes it much harder to produce great chocolate. Choosing chocolate made with beans sourced via Uncommon guarantees that strict quality controls have been implemented across the supply chain to ensure only the best cacao makes it into your chocolate, and our annual transparency reports provide clear data on farmer revenues, participation of women in the supply chain, environmental practices, and more.

What’s the biggest challenge you face with the business?

Our greatest challenge is in the matching of supply and demand for specialty cacao as the industry grows, and in the communication with both farmers and chocolate makers about these dynamics. As craft chocolate has grown, many new specialty cacao origins have also emerged over recent years. Makers will sometimes choose to use new beans as they come onto the market and reduce their use of beans they’ve used in the past, seeking novelty and excitement for their production and marketing. This can make it very hard for farmers and origins to plan. For Uncommon Cacao, it makes it hard for us to know how much of each origin to bring to market each year, and yet it becomes even more critical for farmers and exporters to maintain and improve the quality of the cacao they produce to stay relevant and of interest to craft chocolate.

What’s your favourite thing about doing what you do?

My favorite days at work are hosting chocolate makers at origin, wandering through the fields together admiring the beauty of farms and hearing farmers educate makers in detail on the practices they have learned to improve productivity and quality. Sitting down together for a hearty lunch of spicy chicken soup in a farmers’ home so the makers can share more about their companies, their markets, and the challenging realities they face on their own turf. There is an incredible comradery in specialty cacao and craft chocolate because, I think, we all realize that what we are doing is so hard yet so important.

What are some of the best chocolate bars you’ve tasted recently?

I love dark millks!

Sirene Dark Milk Chocolate, Guatemala 65%

Castronovo Tumaco Dark Milk

Fruition Brown Butter Milk Chocolate

Thanks so much to Emily Stone for taking the time for this interview. If you'd like to try a bar made with beans sourced via Uncommon Cacao, I highly recommend the Dick Taylor Belize Toledo or the Hogarth Alto Beni dark milk.

 

Photos credits: Uncommon Cacao

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Last month I was lucky enough to spend a long weekend in Melbourne, where I had the opportunity to meet all of the finest chocolate makers in the city. It was fantastic to get a taste (literally) of Melbourne’s blossoming bean-to-bar chocolate scene. It’s still early days for craft chocolate in Australia but there’s a palpable enthusiasm for the movement, coupled with a lovely sense of community that I was honoured to be welcomed into.

I thought I’d share some of the photos from my trip with you, plus at the bottom of this piece you’ll find my top three tips for delicious treats in Melbourne. Enjoy!

Ratio Cocoa Roasters

Atypic Chocolate

 

Hunted + Gathered

Monsieur Truffe

Top 3 Delicious Treats in Melbourne

As you can tell, I tasted a vast amount of delicious things during this weekend. I thought I'd pick out three highlights that you should search for, if you're ever paying a visit...

1. Solomon Islands drinking chocolate at Ratio Cocoa Roasters

I'm pretty hard to please when it comes to hot chocolate but this 70% single origin mug of joy really hit the spot. You can have this made with macadamia milk, which I strongly recommend.

2. The Coffee Bar at Monsieur Truffe

This bar is made with coffee beans instead of cocoa solids, and it has the most amazing molasses and licorice flavour notes. Very unique.

3. Flourless Orange Tea Cake at Atypic Chocolate

This gluten and dairy-free cake is coated in 70% Solomon Islands chocolate. Need I say more?

 

Thanks so much to all the great people I met in Melbourne. It's so exciting to see the craft chocolate scene develop over there, and I know this is only the beginning. I hope that there will be a day when we have a similarly buzzing bean-to-bar scene here in Wellington. Onwards and upwards!

 

 

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Time for another hot chocolate recipe! Today we have the Earl Grey and Strawberry.

I've been a fan of Earl Grey with dark chocolate ever since I tried the Wellington Chocolate Factory Earl Grey truffle, which also uses Fine & Dandy Tea. I love how the addition of strawberry in this drink adds some tartness to go with the tannins from the tea.

As usual, this recipe is designed to be served in small cups, in the style of French sipping chocolate. The recipe is for four cups - you can try and make it for less but it's difficult to use the stick blender on a smaller amount of liquid. 

Ingredients (serves four)

600ml oat milk (you can use a different kind of milk if you like, but oat milk gives the best flavour)

60g Hogarth Peru 66% Drinking Chocolate

2 tbsp Fine & Dandy Earl Grey Tea, in a bag or infuser

20g of Fresh As Strawberries Slices (freeze-dried)

Instructions

1. Put the strawberries, tea and milk into a saucepan, making sure to put the lid on. Heat the milk until it starts to bubble, then turn off the heat and leave the pan on the stove top for 45 minutes. The tea should be removed after roughly ten minutes.

2. Add the drinking chocolate to the pan and give it a quick stir.

3. Use a stick blender (or regular blender) to blend together the milk, strawberries and chocolate.

4. Return the mixture to the stove and bring it back up to almost-boiling point. 

5. Serve in small cups. If they're in season, some fresh strawberries served on the side for dipping would be incredible.

 

This recipe is designed to be served in small, intense doses. If you'd prefer a larger cup of less intense hot chocolate, simply add a bit more milk.

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Here's another hot chocolate recipe... the Rhubarb and Rose.

This one makes me feel quite nostalgic for my younger years in England. Rhubarb always reminds me of my mum's rhubarb crumble with custard. The best winter food!

As usual, this recipe is designed to be served in small cups, in the style of French sipping chocolate.

Ingredients (serves two)

300ml oat milk (you can use a different kind of milk if you like, but oat milk gives the best flavour)

60g Hogarth Peru 66% Drinking Chocolate

1 stick of rhubarb (around 60g), chopped

1/2 cup of dried rose petals (around 5g)

Instructions

1. Wash your rhubarb and then chop it into roughly 1cm thick slices.

2. Put the rhubarb, rose petals and milk into a saucepan, making sure to put the lid on. Heat the milk until it starts to bubble, then turn off the heat and leave the pan on the stove top for 45 minutes.

3. Pour the concoction into a bowl, through a sieve, to remove the rhubarb and rose petals. 

4. Return the milk to the stove and bring it back up to almost-boiling point. 

5. Add in the drinking chocolate and stir vigorously until the chocolate is fully dissolved. When you use real chocolate like this it takes longer to mix together than a cheap hot chocolate powder. You will need to keep it on the heat for a few minutes whilst you stir.

6. Serve in small cups.

 

This recipe is designed to be served in small, intense doses. If you'd prefer a larger cup of less intense hot chocolate, simply add a bit more milk.

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It's time for another hot chocolate recipe! Today we have the Rosemary, Honey and Hazelnut.

Please note that if you're attempting to make these recipes at home, they won't work if you switch the Hogarth Drinking Chocolate for a standard hot chocolate powder. It's not just about the Hogarth's being much higher quality, it's actually a different kind of product with different ingredients and a different processing method. You can read more about this in our previous blog piece.

Ingredients (serves two)

300ml hazelnut milk (available in organic food shops and some good supermarkets)

60g Hogarth Dominican Republic 75% Drinking Chocolate

1 tsp honey

1/2 sprig of rosemary (or one small sprig)

Instructions

1. Put the rosemary and milk into a saucepan, making sure to put the lid on. Heat the milk until it starts to bubble, then turn off the heat and leave the pan on the stove top for 45 minutes.

2. Remove the rosemary sprig from the milk.

3. Return the milk to the stove and bring it back up to almost-boiling point, then switch to a low heat. 

4. Add in the drinking chocolate and honey and stir vigorously until they are fully dissolved. When you use real chocolate like this it takes longer to mix together than a cheap hot chocolate powder. You will need to keep it on the heat for a few minutes whilst you stir.

5. Serve in small cups. Garnish with some toasted and chopped hazelnut, if you like.

 

This recipe is designed to be served in small, intense doses. If you'd prefer a larger cup of less intense hot chocolate, simply add a bit more milk.

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Time for another hot chocolate recipe! It's the only way to make winter bearable. 

Today we have the Date, Cardamom and Sea Salt, which is designed to be served in very small and intense doses. Things of it as more of a macchiato than a latte.

Ingredients (serves two)

200ml oat milk (you can use a different kind of milk if you like, but oat gives the best flavour)

50g Hogarth Dominican Republic 75% Drinking Chocolate

4 dates, chopped

8 cardamom pods, cracked

2 pinches of high quality sea salt flakes

Instructions

1. Put the dates, cardamom pods and milk into a saucepan, making sure to put the lid on. Heat the milk until it starts to bubble, then turn off the heat and leave the pan on the stove top for 45 minutes.

2. Remove the dates and cardamom pods from the milk. You can scoop them out with a slotted spoon or use a sieve. 

3. Return the milk to the stove, add a pinch of salt, and bring it back up to almost-boiling point. 

4. Add in the drinking chocolate and stir vigorously until the chocolate is fully dissolved. When you use real chocolate like this it takes longer to mix together than a cheap hot chocolate powder. You will need to keep it on the heat for a few minutes whilst you stir.

5. Serve in very small cups, with a sprinkle of sea salt flakes on top. If you like, you could serve with a couple of salt-sprinkled dates on the side.

 

This recipe is designed to be served in small, intense doses. If you'd prefer a larger cup of less intense hot chocolate, simply add a bit more milk.

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To help come to terms with the onset of Winter, I've been developing some delicious hot chocolate recipes, which I will share with you over the next few months. First up we have the Orange, Cinnamon & Juniper...

Ingredients (serves two)

300ml oat milk (you can use a different kind of milk if you like, but oat gives the best flavour)

60g Hogarth Peru 66% Drinking Chocolate

1 orange

2 cinnamon sticks

8 juniper berries, chopped in half

Instructions

1. Wash your orange and then remove the rind, either with a peeler or a sharp knife.

2. Put the orange rind, juniper berries, cinnamon sticks and milk into a saucepan, making sure to put the lid on. Heat the milk until it starts to bubble, then turn off the heat and leave the pan on the stove top for 45 minutes.

3. Remove the orange rind, juniper berries and cinnamon sticks from the milk. You can scoop them out with a slotted spoon or use a sieve. 

4. Return the milk to the stove and bring it back up to almost-boiling point. 

5. Add in the drinking chocolate and stir vigorously until the chocolate is fully dissolved. When you use real chocolate like this it takes longer to mix together than a cheap hot chocolate powder. You will need to keep it on the heat for a few minutes whilst you stir.

6. Serve in small cups. Garnish with a piece of orange and a cinnamon stick, if you're feeling fancy.

 

This recipe is designed to be served in small, intense doses. If you'd prefer a larger cup of less intense hot chocolate, simply add a bit more milk.

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The Chocolate Bar NZ by Luke Owen Smith - 2M ago

You'll hear us describe the chocolate we sell as 'fine chocolate', 'craft chocolate' or 'bean-to-bar' chocolate, so we thought we'd explain a little bit about what these terms mean to us. The definition of these terms is not set in stone and it's something that keeps evolving. There's no one term that will always describe all of the chocolate that we sell, and this is a good thing. If all of the finest chocolate in the world fit neatly into one descriptive term, it would only be a matter of time before cheap industrial chocolate makers would start to print it on their labels. We're already starting to see that with 'bean-to-bar'.

So, bean-to-bar is probably the easiest to explain. This term means that the chocolate makers are making chocolate from scratch, from the bean, and controlling the whole process from beginning to end. Small-scale makers often use this term to separate themselves from other small chocolate companies, most of which are chocolatiers, who buy in pre-made chocolate. However, most large-scale industrial chocolate makers also make their chocolate from the bean, so this term doesn't tell you too much about the level of quality, it just explains how the chocolate was made.

The meaning of ‘craft chocolate’ is still being debated, and probably will be for many years, just as people still debate the true meaning of ‘craft beer’. When we use this term, we’re talking about bean-to-bar makers who make chocolate on a small scale, using rare varietals of cacao to make the highest quality chocolate possible. Often these companies will have a known person or persons who make the chocolate, and there will be a distinctive personality to the chocolate they produce. Craft chocolate makers aim to celebrate the uniqueness of each bean they process, rather than aiming for an end product that is always identical.

‘Fine chocolate’ is another loose term, but when we use it we’re essentially describing any chocolate that is made with fine flavour cacao, where high quality and exceptional taste are the priority. Fine chocolate is mostly describing the quality, rather than the chocolate making style.

Everything we stock at The Chocolate Bar is fine chocolate, and almost everything we stock is craft chocolate. An example of something we stock that is fine chocolate but that we wouldn’t consider craft would be the Zotter Labooko range. Zotter produce absolutely incredible chocolate but we would consider them more of a medium-sized chocolate maker, so a bit bigger than most of the other companies we work with.

We hope this helps you to understand more about the chocolate we love. Really these labels are just a guideline and not supremely important. What matters to us is the individual stories and techniques of the chocolate makers, and of course the taste and texture of the chocolate they produce.

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