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THE CHOCOLATE CHANNEL – JUNE 2018

— June 2018 Issue Free Content —

Chocolate Songs of Summer
As the summer of 2017 neared its completion last September, I pieced together a very fun, unique Chocolate Channel article as both a musical, and chocolatey, farewell to the season. Truth be told, however, I really wished we’d thought of the segment for the start of summer, rather than its end.

Why?

Well, let’s face it, as much as we love chocolate, we don’t tend to sing about it very frequently – although in all fairness, that’s probably because we’re too busy eating it, and it’s difficult to sing when your mouth’s full.

Now That’s What I Call Chocolate!

In other words, I don’t think too many opportunities will knock for us to create a super fun chocolate-centric music playlist for all our readers to enjoy, and I felt a bit like I missed the boat last September.

Persistence abounds, however, and I decided to create an uber-energized, revamped version of last Fall’s Chocolate Channel, this time focusing exclusively on an uplifiting summer vibe, and, of course, only with songs tied to chocolate in one way or another.

So today we kick off a rambunctious (that’s right, I said rambunctious) summer fling, once again at the crossroads of chocolate and music.. perhaps at a fun little roadside dance bar where a sip from your chocolate martini and a twist of the hips kicks off the hottest season of the year in celebratory fashion. Welcome to the chocolate songs of summer.

I must, however, repeat the all-too-serious about the very first song on the list – Chocolate (Choco Choco) by Soul Control. It will, inevitably, get stuck in your head like no other, so listener discretion is advised. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…

Chocolate (Choco Choco) by Soul Control
Soul Control - Chocolate Choco Choco 2004 - YouTube
If you’ve never heard Chocolate by Soul Control, I really, really don’t want to spoil it for you. Just press play and stop reading right now… then prepare to get choco crazy, because this song is insane.

Finding more information on this group proves no easy task, with YouTube comments, perhaps for the first time ever, actually proving useful. The group appears to be from the Netherlands, and the song itself appeared to be quite popular in other parts of the world, particularly in the 2004 range when it first came out.

Some suggest that the song appeared on Nickelodeon and MTV even, but people most frequently reference the song as one played by their teachers during grade school exercise class!

Regardless of any ambiguity (and excessive cheesiness, especially in this video), the crazy-catchy tune sits near the top of any list for chocolate songs, where we expect it to stay for a long time.

Click here to pick up the song

Chocolate by Young Bull
Chocolate (Official Music Video) - Young Bull - YouTube
The smooooothest “chocolate” song you’ll ever hear, the new kids on the block, Young Bull, deliver a seriously rich groove, absolutely perfect for a summertime playlist.

Hailing from Durham, North Carolina, this very young and new trio (their first album dropped in 2016) is “ rooted in a distinctively Southern sound – fusing trap and old-school soul influences into an unmistakably electric aesthetic.”

One review referred to Young Bull’s sound as “the perfect mix between soul and swagger,” and we think you’ll positively love it. Let the summer roll on…

Click here to snag the song

Chocolate by The 1975
The 1975 - Chocolate - YouTube
Why do we love this song? Two words – The 1975. Okay, so I suppose technically that’s one word and a number, but still, you get the idea…

This still relatively new band out of the UK (their self-titled debut dropped less than five years ago, with a third effort supposedly on the way soon) has two outstanding albums under their belts, with Chocolate serving as their flagship, first song. And like I warned you upfront, it is catchy!

Also, yes, after listening to this song, your car and a few other things will start smelling like chocolate. Sorry about that (hey, that’s what the lyrics tell us, and I believe ’em).

The most enjoyable part, however? Chocolate may be one of the only words you understand because of the singer’s vocal style and thick accent, so you’ll find yourself, often quite comedically, creating your own lyrics!

As a big fan of The 1975, I do, however, know all the words, so feel free to start up a little chatting in the comments below and we’ll have some fun with it…

Click here to check out the album

Chocolate by Jesse Rose & Trozé
Jesse Rose & Trozé - Chocolate (Milk Version) - YouTube
As we dance into the second half of our summer playlist, the genres expand, so the more varied your musical tastes, the more you’ll enjoy these final three songs.

You likely heard this third song before, as Apple picked it up for a commercial a few years back. It’s certainly bouncy, most definitely catchy, and features one of the best song write-ups ever. Check out this quick snippet from NestHQ.com

“When I first heard Trozé rap about chocolate I knew we had something special on our hands,” Play It Down boss, Jesse Rose, explains of his new single, “Chocolate,” featuring the seductive vocals of the LA newcomer.

Backed with a raw, gritty bassline and a bevy of shuffling hi-hats, “Chocolate” is contagiously catchy thanks to some simply brilliant writing from Trozé — “Ay, just cashed a check. And I’m ’bout to blow it all on chocolate.”

“Chocolate” is yet another example of how Jesse Rose finds a unique way to remain firmly seated in the underground scene while peaking into a realm of greater accessibility. Like Trozé so accurately put, “Chocolate” is “big booty house for the whole minivan.” We’re down with that.”

If you find yourself nonsensically referring to random things as “Big booty house for the whole minivan,” we apologize… but this jam is so worth it.

Click here for more

Chocolate Distance by Karuan
Karuan - Chocolate Distance (Original Mix) - YouTube

One of two songs in the playlist that don’t include an official video, I’ll venture a guess that you don’t even mind… Chocolate Distance is divine. Never heard of Karuan? Here’s a brief excerpt from his short biography on last.fm –

“Karuan (also Karwan Marouf or simply Karwan) was born in 1976 in Vienna as the son of Kurdish parents. Karuan’s love for music arose from the Kurdish singer Şivan Perwer and from the traditional Kurdish celebrations.”

The biography also notes his music as “is an artistic bridge between the oriental culture of his Kurdish family and the European culture in which he lives in.”

Visit Karuan on last.fm here
Click here to pick up the song on Amazon

Gimme Chocolate by BABYMETAL
BABYMETAL - ギミチョコ!!- Gimme chocolate!! (OFFICIAL) - YouTube

BABYMETAL, noted on Wikipedia as “a Japanese kawaii metal band,” rounds out our Chocolate Songs of Summer playlist. This genre-bending trio, who sing and perform with a heavy metal band backing up their unique, catchy vocals, offers a musical mix like none you’ve heard before.

Wikipedia also notes —

“The concept of the band is a fusion of the heavy metal and Japanese idol genres.”

Yes, expect the unexpected when you hit the play button, and if you’re not a fan of metal, the song’s opening will most likely turn you off. We recommend, however, giving it until the 45 to 50-second mark to hear how the song evolves before you jump ship.

For more, check out the song here

That wraps up our six-song extravaganza! We hope you enjoyed the musical, chocolate adventure, and if you want to replay it anytime, just use the link below to pull up the full Chocolate Songs of Summer Playlist on Youtube and enjoy!

CLICK HERE for our full CHOCOLATE SONGS OF SUMMER playlist

JUNE 2018 ISSUE PREVIEW

The post Chocolate Songs of Summer Playlist appeared first on Chocolate Connoisseur.

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On the Chocolate Regular:
Alter Eco

by Rene’ Zimbelman

— June 2018 Issue Free Content —

The Heart of Alter Eco

Alter Eco claims the spotlight in this issue’s return to On the Chocolate Regular for good reason. Yes, their chocolate tastes delicious (easily one of the better-tasting of the larger sized chocolate companies) but it’s the extent to which Alter Eco lives out their tagline, Enlightened Indulgence, that grabbed me during my early research for this article. The company’s quest for enlightenment within the business world began with its founders, French citizens Mathieu Senard and Edouard Rollet (better known as Mat and Ed), who trained in business but are activists at heart.

Their activism could warrant an article strictly focused on that aspect of their work, without even delving into the products they sell, but don’t worry, we’ll talk chocolate soon enough here as well. First, however, let’s have a chat with Edouard to learn a little more about Alter Eco’s “founding fathers.”

“Half of my family is Swiss, so as early as I can remember, I visited aunties, uncles and cousins in Switzerland three or four times a year. I remember when we drove back from our little Swiss alpine village, close to the French border, we would systematically stop at the grocery store in Switzerland to stock up on chocolate before heading home and crossing the border back to France. Also, my great aunties gave me mountains of chocolate whenever I visited.”

Two of Alter Eco co-founders, Edouard Rollet and Mathieu Senard

Since Edouard found himself fascinated with Swiss chocolate at a very young age, he developed both a sweet tooth, and a specific sensitivity, for Swiss chocolate quality.

“This differentiation comes from the quality of the milk the Swiss use, the very long conching (milling) time, and years of experience making the smoothest chocolate in the world.”

Coincidentally, part of Mathieu’s family lived in Switzerland, too, so he traveled there at a young age, enjoying Swiss chocolate regularly long before he and Edouard met back in 1993. Their similar experiences with such early exposure to true chocolate undoubtedly helped the duo grow Alter Eco into the successful company we see today.

“In 2004, Mat and I decided to settle in San Francisco to start the business which was, and still is, the heart of the green economy and epicenter for good, healthy foods.”

Along with Mat and Edouard, there were two additional co-founders —  Frenchman Tristan Lecomte and Australian Ilse Keijzer. The four founders all originally trained in business. In fact, before starting Alter Eco fifteen years ago, each founder gained invaluable experience in the worlds of profit-driven multinationals and on-the-ground NGOs.

Activism, however, strongly drives all four of them.

“After recognizing the challenges surrounding humanitarian aid efforts, we decided to join forces to become pioneers in social entrepreneruialism.

Our business backgrounds have most certainly helped us develop Alter Eco into a successful company that crafts deliciously healthy foods, but our passion has driven us to create a company rooted in sustainability, to fight for both social and economic justice.”

A little side note — Tristan no longer works at Alter Eco; however, as current President of Pur Project, he continues to work with Alter Eco on agroforestry endeavors (more on that organization in a bit). Ilse is still very much involved with Alter Eco as the Founder and Director of Alter Eco Pacific.

“Mat” and “Ed” in their early Alter Eco days 

From San Francisco to the Southern Hemisphere

Also helpful with starting Alter Eco, the founders gained access to a large network of farming cooperatives in the southern hemisphere.

“What the cooperatives all had in common is they were principally made of small-scale farming communities who, while they were living on a dollar or two a day, were cultivating the highest quality ingredient: criollo cacao beans in Bolivia, nacional cacao beans in Ecuador and other outstanding beans in Peru.”

Ed meeting with farmers of ACOPAGRO – Peru 2009

Alter Eco also accessed many other ingredients, such as unrefined sugar in Paraguay and the Philippines, and quinoa in Bolivia.

“The main thing these small farming communities needed to thrive was access to international markets, and we knew the quality of their crop would allow us to find many interested customers in Europe, the US and the Pacific regions.”

They then searched for a chocolatier in Switzerland who held both the expertise to produce minimally processed chocolate, and a commitment to sustainability.

Together they all worked diligently to develop memorable recipes people passionately crave.

Spreading Chocolate Love

In their early days, Alter Eco received immediate support from retail stores, independent retailers, and organic, specialty food chains.

“They embraced our story and appreciated we were one of the first few Fair Trade certified chocolate companies. Above all, they were amazed a small company could come up with such premium, quality chocolate sourced from such remote and marginalized farmer groups.”

Edouard remembers how they were forced to drive countless miles in harsh climates (including cold and snow at one point, then 120-degree weather at another), to present their products and organize tastings — one store at a time. They also encouraged CEOs and store team members from larger retail chains, like Whole Foods Market and National Cooperative Grocer, to visit their farming communities in Ecuador, the Peruvian Amazon, and various other locations from which they sourced key ingredients.

“We facilitated these trips for CEOS and store team members to meet and spend time with the families they support by purchasing our products. We feel this is the best way of understanding the impact of Fair Trade and ethical supply chains in the local communities. Having the CEOS and team members see firsthand the love the farmers put into their crop, and, equally important, having the farmers know their hard labor is appreciated by people biting into a bar of Alter Eco chocolate, is truly priceless.”

Their equally important mission, “to pioneer a full circle approach to eating, farming and doing business – and to inspire others to do the same,” ties in directly with their tagline, Enlightened Indulgence.

Our pillars of sustainability include choosing clean ingredients, investing in our farmers as a Fair Trade company, regenerating the Earth as a top-ranking B Corporation and eliminating waste. Also, our chocolate-centric line of products is all Fair Trade Certified, Carbon Neutral Certified, Non-GMO Project Verified and USDA Certified Organic.”

That’s quite a mouthful, and since these pillars showcase all the reasons Alter Eco impressed me so much from the beginning, let’s take a look at each one separately.

Clean Ingredients

Alter Eco believes we are what we eat, and they pay close attention to every organic and minimally processed ingredient. The core ingredients through most of their product lines are cacao beans, coconut oil and flakes, caramel, quinoa and fleur de Sel de Guérande.

“We’re proud of the relationships we’ve built through partnering with co-ops to ethically source our ingredients from a handful of countries including Peru, Ecuador, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Bolivia.

By establishing these meaningful relationships with our farmers and their local communities, we’re able to ethically source the highest-quality food in an environmentally and socially responsible way. It’s truly what sets us apart. In fact, each organic, non-GMO ingredient we use can be traced back to the farmer cooperative in which it came from.”

Speaking of GMOs, the company clearly communicates its stance on the subject. Their website says —

“Don’t get us started about GMO. The process of genetic modification, which takes place in a laboratory, typically merges DNA from different species, creating combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.

Does that sound like something you’d want to eat? Us neither. We have always been a strong advocate against GMOs and always will be. Even our compostable, plant-based packaging is non-GMO.”

Highly impressive. More on that non-GMO packaging later, but our second pillar involves actively working with the many farmers all doing their part to put our beloved chocolate within hands reach.

Investing in Farmers

As mentioned earlier, Alter Eco’s 100% Fair Trade status means 100% of their products are sourced from small-scale farmers (mainly in Peru and Ecuador), and the beans are then sent to, not surprisingly, Switzerland, where Alter Eco then crafts its fine chocolate. The company’s co-op partners offer their own interesting stories as well, available in their entirety on Alter Eco’s blog, but lLet’s give you a taste right here for starters.

Acopagro  – Peru

Thanks to a United Nations program in 1994, these Peruvian farmers began replacing illegal coca crops with cocoa. Along with planting cacao, these farmers are working with Alter Eco and PUR Projet (mentioned earlier), to plant trees within the cacao fields.

So far, PUR Projet has planted over two million trees with Acopagro and has successfully designated a six million-acre conservation site as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Fair Trade Alliance Kerala (FTAK) – India

Founded in 2005 in the Malabar Coast of India, 3,500+ member farmers came together in response to their struggles against indebtedness.

To preserve biodiversity and increase food security, FTAK farmers grow a host of tropical products such as cashews, coconut palms, coffee, cocoa, pepper, nutmeg and vanilla, and this is where Alter Eco’s coconut oil originates. 

Fortaleza Cooperative – Ecuador

Founded in 2005, Fortaleza aimed to improve the living conditions of small-scale cocoa producers in Ecuador.

Today, Alter Eco purchases cacao from Fortaleza, and the co-op’s diversified crops now include coconut, banana, and timber as  well.

Sangamaya – Sri Lanka

Alter Eco’s sources coconut flakes from the Sangamaya small-scale farmer group in Sri Lanka. In addition to growing, harvesting, and processing organic and fair trade certified coconuts, many of the farmers grow banana, mango, passionfruit, and limes.

Fair trade also assisted these farmers, giving them access to technical training and tools, including funding the renovation of a computer training center.

UNOCACE- Ecuador

UNOCACE Cooperative is an organization of Ecuadorian cacao farmers established in 1999, producing ‘Cacao Nacional Arriba’ – some of the highest quality cacao beans in the world.

Alter Eco works with its Swiss chocolate makers to support UNOCACE in developing an agroforestry project aimed at increasing cacao farm productivity and bean quality.

Nuevo Amanecer – Bolivia

Nuevo Amanecer, founded in 2009, sits at an elevation of 12,000 feet in the Southern High Lands of Bolivia. With less than ten inches of rain per year, quinoa is the only crop that can grow is in this region.

This makes quinoa, llama, and sheep the sole sources of food in the area. Harvesting by hand in some of the harshest conditions in the world, the farmers of Nuevo Amanecer benefit from a living wage thanks to Fair Trade practices. 

What’s the common thread within five out of six of the co-ops above?  A focus on biodiversity, which leads us to pillar number three…

Regenerate the Earth

Most of us chocolate connoisseurs know conventional cacao tree cultivation focuses on monoculture, which often results in soil degradation and biodiversity loss. Thankfully, now many co-ops and chocolate companies, including Alter Eco, practice dynamic agroforestry, which instead cultivates a wide variety of crops to benefit the soil.

This practice is also known as agroforesteria dínamica or foresteria integral con cacao (FINCA). Per Alter Eco —

“To protect the soil and ecosystems, all of our products have been Certified Organic from the very start.  With a passion for environmental regeneration in our DNA, we’re excited to share that we’re currently pursuing the Regenerative Organic Certification which is a holistic farming approach that seeks to give back more than it takes.”

To jump deeper into their Regenerative Organic Certification programs, take another hop, skip, and a jump on Alter Eco’s website. Just click the Activism tab at the top of the site, then their Regenerate the Earth link, and you’ll learn more details on how they’re both boosting biodiversity and regenerating the rainforest.

“We’re incredibly passionate about leaving the world better than we found it. In fact, since 2008 Alter Eco has planted upwards of 28,274 trees with the help of our partners, Pur Project, and have offset 12,331 tons of CO2 within our supply chains – and this is just the start.”

Passionate indeed. Since the time Alter Eco joined the Certified B Corp program in 2009, they’ve expanded their scope to become a Public Benefit Corporation in 2013.

Also, for the last three years they’ve been named a Best for the World Company by B Lab, scoring nearly twice as many points as their fellow honorees.

Still, it gets better, and the fourth and final pillar here is actually my favorite — it’s where Alter Eco truly shines.

Eliminate Waste

We’ve all felt it – that nagging feeling as we throw something in the trash we wish was recyclable. In my case, it’s usually some type of non-recyclable plastic, which unfortunately isn’t surprising. Alter Eco’s website notes —

“Plastic packaging makes up over one sixth of the waste in United States landfills. It also sickens millions of fish and birds when they mistake it for food, and might even end up floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”

So, you ask, what does Alter Eco do to set them apart from other chocolate companies? Well, they’ve actually produced recyclable packaging for their bars for quite some time. They ran into a problem with finding recyclable plastic, specifically polyethylene plastic, when it came to the pouches for their quinoa and the inner wrapper for their truffles.

In order to resolve this dilemma, they worked for several years with partners and manufacturers to create the world’s first compostable, non-GMO, non-toxic candy wrappers. Outstanding!

“We always remain at the forefront of sustainable packaging solutions as new technology emerges to reduce the waste impact of our wrappers.”

The world’s first compostable, non-GMO, non-toxic candy wrappers

They also invented the world’s first compostable stand up pouch, named Gone4Good because it goes back to where it came from with zero waste, since it’s made from renewable, plant-based, non-GMO materials. And they’re part of a coalition to get other companies to follow suit.

As the company’s website puts it, “When it comes to backyards, we think the pouch holding your quinoa should fertilize your soil instead of polluting the oceans.”

Now, if that doesn’t get our awesomely nerdy, green-centric-selves excited, I don’t know what will.

World’s first compostable pouch

Another facet of their activism encourages every employee to take three paid work days per year to support a cause of their choice. Alter Eco’s website tells us some of their causes include planting trees, beach and park cleanups, serving food at Glide Memorial Church, partnering with In Good Company to build green spaces in urban neighborhoods, and supporting local cause-related events such as Earth Day and MLK Day.

According to CharityNavigator.com, in 2016, corporate giving accounted for only 5% of all giving, while individuals accounted for 72%, so it’s great to see Alter Eco contributing this way.

Last, but certainly not least, Alter Eco requires its employees to take a tour of San Francisco’s groundbreaking Recology plant, so they can all become advocates for proper recycling and waste disposal. We simply cannot give enough kudos this outstanding kind of business ethic!

Now… let’s talk chocolate!

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Chocolate Connoisseur by Eric Battersby - 2w ago

JUNE 2018 Issue Preview

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

NOTE: We publish multiple blog posts previews for each issue, to give you an idea of what you’ll find inside. Scroll down below to see which posts we’ve already published for the June 2018 Issue.

JUNE 2018 ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS
On the Chocolate Regular -- Alter Eco
Chocolate One-on-One with Victoria Cooksey: Shawn Askinosie, Part I
Alter Eco Chocolate Mint Strawberry Brownies Recipe
Chocolate News: Fine & Raw Chocolate news, new chocolate quinoa, and we honor Anthony Bourdain
Chocolate Channel -- Chocolate Songs of Summer
Alter Eco Nutty Chocolate & Caramel Cups Recipe
Editor's Corner -- Farewell to Anthony Bourdain
Chocolate Calendar
On the Cover / Credits
JUNE 2018 PREVIEW
Alter Eco – On the Chocolate Regular

Jun 30, 2018 | 0 Comments

Sure, you’ve most likely already heard of Alter Eco Chocolate… but do you know all the different ways this unique company makes the world a better place every single day? Read on to discover how Alter Eco’s passions run much deeper than saving the environment, and learn why they sit near the top of all On the Chocolate Regular options as well…

read more

The post June 2018 Issue Preview appeared first on Chocolate Connoisseur.

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THE HEALTHY BEAN:
Chocolate, Cadmium, and Lead
by Eric Battersby

— May 2018 Issue Free Content —

Chocolate Cadmium? We always love diving into the positive health effects stemming from our favorite food, but we’d also be remiss to not mention any health concerns in the chocolate world as well. Ironically, as chocolate connoisseurs, the possible health danger we’re discussing today actually puts us more at risk, not less, so it’s very important that you pay attention to this article.

Don’t worry, it won’t cause you to stop eating chocolate, we promise… but you will likely focus a little more on a one or two key potential hazards previously unnoticed.

Nibs Shine The Light

So what caused all the hub bub here in the first place? Cacao nibs. Seriously, cacao nibs. As I recently sprinkled a fair amount of Navitas Organic Cacao Nibs on my morning cereal, I noticed a warning label on the bag of the packaging. I’d frequently noticed similar warning signs during my time living in California, but never on any food labels – at least not any food within my own diet.

The label read as follows –

WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

Ever the health-conscious one (even when my dietary habits stray to the point of ignoring my own health conscience), I felt compelled to dig into this bizarre warning staring back at me from an innocuous bag of organic cacao nibs. What I uncovered shocked the heck outta me, on multiple fronts, so let’s take a closer look…

Chocolate, Cadmium, and Lead – The Unholy Trinity

It turns out cacao, for all its wonders, can also contain potentially concerning levels of lead and cadmium. Pay a visit to the website AsYouSow.org, and you’ll catch a glimpse into the health concerns presented by both of these natural substances. Lead grabbed plenty of headlines over the past several decades, dating back to the days when gas stations still sold leaded gasoline (seriously, why?)… regulatory agencies thought lead paint posed no risk… and on and on. Knowing is half the battle, however, and with lead now firmly on our radar, it’s at least easier to combat this metallic poison.

As for lead in chocolate, As You Sow states the following –

No level of lead is safe for children. Lead exposure has been a significant public health issue for decades. Lead is linked to a variety of neurological impairments, including learning disabilities, seizures, and a lower IQ. Developing fetuses and children are especially vulnerable to lead exposure because their brains are in critical growth and development stages.”

Chocolate cadmium tends to fly under the radar, however, to the extent that I personally didn’t even know it posed a risk. Recently I noticed a small burst of hair loss (a big thank you to my ancestors for the receding hair line), and started the usual process of looking for any diet changes over the past month or so. The only change? I added the Navitas Cacao Nibs to it. That triggered my investigation of the warning label I’d noticed previously, but ignored until now.

Digging a little deeper, I uncovered the cadmium and lead risks, and also found entire online communities of men looking out for their health together by getting blood tests done, or hair tests, to monitor levels of heavy metals in their system, among other things, and then sharing the results of their health journeys. Unsurprisingly, hair loss registered as one of the key issues.

The Cadmium Conundrum

Now I’m by no means unequivocally stating that cadmium levels in Navitas Organic Cacao Nibs kicked off some hair loss, but I am most definitely stating that I’m concerned. Step one in that situation of course is to chase down the facts. First, let’s take a look at cadmium.

According to BerkeleyWellness.com (from UC-Berkeley) –

“Cadmium is naturally found in soil – a result, for example, of volcanic activity, forest fires, and weathering of rocks – and is taken up by many plants, including cocoa plants. Soil can also be contaminated by “man-made” sources of cadmium, such as from the manufacturing of certain batteries and the use of phosphate fertilizers.

How much of the heavy metal ends up in cocoa beans depends on the geographic region, soil acidity, plant variety, and other factors. Further contamination may occur, to varying degrees, during processing and manufacturing of cocoa products as well as during transport and storage.”

Unfortunately, we all need to recognize that cadmium may indeed show up in our beloved chocolate. That leaves a few big questions still to answer, however. For starters, why are we even worried about cadmium content in the first place? Berkeley Wellness tells us more, noting that “Cadmium accumulates in the body and can have detrimental effects on the kidneys, lungs, bones, and possibly fetal development; it’s also classified as a probable human carcinogen.”

Cadmium in the Periodic Table of Elements
Remember this from high school chemistry?

If it were only found in chocolate products, the cadmium conundrum would likely offer little concern, except for the highest content products that we’d likely all want to avoid. Sadly, the heavy metal appears in plenty of other foods, as Berkeley Wellness notes –

“Lots of foods contain trace amounts, notably rice, as well as seaweed, seafood, and some organ meats; even peanuts, sunflower seeds, leafy greens, potatoes, bread, and mushrooms contribute to dietary cadmium intake.”

This leads us to the all-important question…

How Much Cadmium is Too Much?

In order to address cadmium in our diets, we of course need to know how much cadmium equals too much cadmium. As is all too often the case in today’s world, “how much” apparently depends on where you live. Yes, that’s a nonsensical statement, but when you look at the varying safety levels across the globe, that’s exactly what you’ll glean from our health agencies.

For example, the at times negligent United States FDA has yet to even set a cadmium limit in food or supplements, while the World Health Organization set a guideline of 0.3 micrograms per gram in dried plants. The EU set a TWI (Tolerable Weekly Intake) of 2.5 µg/kg body weight, but also offers the most detailed guidelines, including new guidelines for children set to enforce in 2019 based on the following –

“In view of a possible reduction of dietary exposure to cadmium, existing maximum levels have recently been reviewed and additional maximum levels have been established for food commodities of concern for which no maximum levels existed yet. These new maximum levels aim especially at an increased protection of infants and young children and concern chocolate and several categories of infant formula.

For chocolate, three maximum levels have been established depending on the content of the chocolate varieties. The strictest maximum levels apply to the chocolate varieties mostly eaten by children. The darker the chocolate, the higher the maximum levels are. A fourth maximum level is set for cocoa powder destined for direct consumption. In order to allow the cocoa producing countries and chocolate industry to adapt to these new maximum levels, these maximum levels will only enter into force on 1 January 2019.”

Then there’s the outlier that kicked off this entire investigation – the state of California. California requires the aforementioned warning label on any product containing more than 4.1 micrograms of cadmium per daily serving. With no standards on these guidelines, trying to siphon out the exact truth tends to be quite a challenge, and that’s bad news for consumers and their health.

When faced with this perplexing situation, whether you think California’s guidelines overzealous or otherwise, truthfully they present the safest risk threshold. In other words, if you live by the health mantra “better safe than sorry”, then California’s guidelines will likely serve you best. However, those guidelines were established in 1996, and they reference studies from even earlier. In fact, the core study took place in 1986, and in that study, mice were given cadmium acetate in their drinking water. As you’ll see referenced below, ingesting cadmium naturally-occurring in plant-based foods likely presents a completely different picture versus ingesting cadmium-laced drinking water. So yes, clear as mud.

Too Little Information

Confusing as all those differing parameters may be, we at least hold a measuring stick now that can help guide our chocolate choices. Sadly, the final piece to the cadmium puzzle remains largely hidden. Manufacturers never disclose cadmium levels in their products, even when the levels trigger a warning label (more on that in a bit). Yes, you’ll see the warning if required in your area, but you won’t know the actual cadmium content, a serious obstacle to overcome if you’re concerned about overall cadmium intake.

Remember, many other foods contains cadmium, not only chocolate, and the problem truly originates here. The dose makes the poison to some extent, but when you’re ingesting the poison from multiple sources each day, and the poison accumulates in the body, well… yes, we’re concerned.

Sites like ConsumerLab.com perform actual lab tests on products to offers some insight, but to look at actual data, you must be a member, which means were not allowed to report on the data – we can only send you to the source. Here’s the core quote on the matter from ConsumerLab.com –

Cocoa powders, chocolates, and other products made from cacao beans can be rich in flavanols — which may help with blood flow, blood pressure, memory, cholesterol levels. But beware: Many products are contaminated with high amounts of cadmium, a toxin you should avoid. In addition, the amounts of flavanols are rarely disclosed, so you have no idea what to expect unless you test them in a lab — which is what ConsumerLab.com has done.”

Thankfully, ConsumerLab.com still provides some valuable information without the raw data, including the real litmus test for health-conscious chocolate connoisseurs – what’s the flavanol content versus the cadmium and lead content in each chocolate? As they continue…

“Among dark chocolate bars, our tests revealed that two popular bars to be contaminated with cadmium at several times established limits. And being labeled “organic” did not ensure better quality. Also, the “% cocoa” (or cacao) on labels was often a poor indicator of flavanol levels. In fact, several bars claiming 80% to 85% cacao contained lower amounts of flavanols than bars claiming 56% to 77%.”

If you’re dealing with a health issue or are extremely health-conscious, ConsumberLab.com might be worth a look. You can subscribe and access everything on the site for less than $35 per year (note: we are not affiliated with them in any way).

Unfortunately, the list of products ConsumerLab tested consists almost entirely of big chocolate and what we report on at Chocolate Connoisseur in our On the Chocolate Regular column – decent to good quality chocolate you can pick up almost anywhere, a cut above big chocolate products, but in most cases nowhere near the quality of your smaller bean-to-bar makers.

We’ve listed a few of the notables below, but for the full list, click here to visit the exact page on ConsumerLab.com.

The bottom line – we’re essentially left in a state of ignorance here with our chocolate, because without firm guidelines in place, and without easy, required testing for all chocolate, we simply won’t know when our diets may present a health risk. We’ll touch on that briefly at the very end here to give you a final takeaway on how to move forward, but before we do, let’s address a key part of the problem that needs to be resolved as soon as possible – openness in regards to cacao powder and cadmium.

The post Chocolate, Cadmium, and Lead? appeared first on Chocolate Connoisseur.

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Chocolate Connoisseur by Eric Battersby - 1M ago

May 2018 Issue Preview
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
NOTE: We publish multiple blog posts previews for each issue, to give you an idea of what you’ll find inside. Scroll down below to see which posts we’ve already published for the May 2018 Issue.
MAY 2018 ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS
The Healthy Bean: Chocolate, Cadmium, and Lead?
Terroir's Chocolate Sauce Recipe
Chocolate One-on-One with Victoria Cooksey: NearyNogs
Chocolate Channel -- Firefly, ConsumerLab.org, and more...
Chocolate News: Cadbury and the Royal Wedding, a major chocolate spill in Poland, and shade-grown cacao gets some love
Editor’s Corner - Local for the Summer
Chocolate Calendar
Terroir Chocolate Collections
On the Cover / Credits
MAY 2018 PREVIEW
Firefly Chocolate – Chocolate One-on-One with Victoria Cooksey

May 31, 2018 | 0 Comments

Victoria Cooksey returns to interview Jonas Ketterle of Firefly Chocolate and Ceremonial Cacao. Follow Jonas’ chocolate journey through his brief tech startup days… to a fateful trip to Mexico… to the outstanding, transformative chocolate and drinking cacao of Firefly. Get an inside look at how one of the most transparent chocolate companies today came to be.

read more
Terroir Chocolate Collections

May 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

Terroir Chocolate delivers two distinct collections — Single Origin and Dark Milk — to satisfy your bean-to-bar chocolate cravings one last time before the summer no-shipping season sets in. From Belize, to Haiti, to the Dominican Republic, it’s time to taste the Terroir…

read more

The post May 2018 Issue Preview appeared first on Chocolate Connoisseur.

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&
Present

THE TERROIR CHOCOLATE COLLECTIONS

Last chance — Wei of Chocolate ends Sunday (5/13) at Midnight!

For even more on Terroir Chocolate, check the May 2018 issue, publishing soon…

GET YOUR CHOCOLATE COUPON CODES
Remember, Magazine Subscribers save 20%.
Free CC Club Members save 10%.
Chocolate Connoisseur Premier Members save 30% and receive all chocolate offers automatically.

Collection #1: Single Origin
Terroir Chocolate Single Origin Collection
– $40 –

(SHIPPING INCLUDED)

A Look at Each of the Four Bars…

The Single Origin Collection includes the Belize, Oko Caribe, Finca El Vesia and Haiti bars.

Belize

Ingredients: Belize Maya Mountain cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter

Finca Elvesia

Ingredients: Dominican Republic (Finca Elvesia) organic cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter

Haiti

Ingredients: Organic Haitian cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter

Dominican Republic Öko Caribe

Ingredients: Organic Cocoa Nibs, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter

Terroir Chocolate Single Origin Collection
– $40 –

(SHIPPING INCLUDED)

Collection #2: Dark Milk
Terroir Chocolate Dark Milk Collection
– $40 –

(SHIPPING INCLUDED)

A Look at Each of the Four Bars…

The Dark Milk Collection includes the Cafe Au Lait, Lavender, Salty Nibber and Caramel Crack bars.

Salty Nibber

Ingredients: 60% Dark Milk Chocolate topped with carefully roasted cocoa nibs and sea salt

Cafe au Lait

Ingredients: Organic cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, whole milk powder, Stumbeano’s coffee

Lavender

Ingredients: Organic cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, whole milk powder, lavender oil

Caramel Crack

Ingredients: Organic cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, whole milk powder, MN Maple Toffee (organic cane sugar, organic butter, Minnesota Maple Syrup, sea salt)

Terroir Chocolate Dark Milk Collection
– $40 –

(SHIPPING INCLUDED)

The Chocolate Therapist Testimonials
“…incredible chocolate, coffee, wine pairing classes, home brew ingredients. The list goes on and on. “Set an appointment” and go see your Chocolate Therapist.” — U.R.
“”  —
“” —
Join Chocolate Connoisseur Premier and Save 30% on Terroir Chocolate!
Welcome to our most exclusive, rewarding chocolate experience yet: Chocolate Connoisseur Premier Ten different chocolate offers at 30% OFF, shipped to you throughout the year, plus a free Annual Subscription to Chocolate Connoisseur…

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APRIL 2018 Editor’s Corner

— April 2018 Issue Free Content —

“You can never do a kindness too soon, for you never
know how soon it will be too late.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

In this issue’s Chocolate News, I report on the Ferrero Group’s purchase of Nestle’s USA Confectionary Division, and although certainly a noteworthy news item in the overall chocolate world, it’s nothing that stirs any feathers in the realm of chocolate connoisseurs. Or does it?

Waxing Sweet Sentimental

To answer that, let me just say this — I guess it all depends on whether or not a Baby Ruth or a Butterfinger hold any sentimental value for you. For me, in all honesty, they do not. Researching Ferrero’s Nestle acquisition did, however, remind me of the company’s two other confection-related acquisitions in the past year – Fannie May and Ferrara (formerly Ferrara Pan). My current chocolate knowledge be damned, the truth is that both of those companies hold a special place in my heart, so I did indeed feel the heartstrings tweak a bit when I initially read the news.

Why? Well… it’s local. I grew up in Forest Park, a small town just outside of Chicago, home to the original production facility of Ferrara Pan. The factory didn’t only share the same town, it also shared the same square half mile… sitting just across the Eisenhower expressway from the house I called home for the majority of my childhood. So close, in fact, that one of my most vivid childhood memories is that of Ferrara Pan’s Red Hots in the making, with the sweet smell of a spicy cinnamon wafting across the expressway and right into my own backyard.

Ferrara Pan Candy Co.

On summer days, when I’d walk the five long blocks to our park district’s glorious pool (i.e. – my second home), my lazy summer strolls took me over Forest’s Park’s largest bridge, and right past the Ferrara Pan facility on its east side. On occasion, those jaunts included stopovers at the tiny little Ferrara Pan store, nestled into the front corner of the factory… a place where Lemonheads, Boston Baked Beans, Jawbreakers, and the aforementioned Red Hots made their way into my ridiculously unhealthy diet of yesteryear!

In most ways, it’s simply a passing memory… I didn’t live on Ferrara Pan’s candy by any means (who could), and it certainly wasn’t my favorite. The factory’s proximity, however, coupled with the wonderful scents oft-emanating from within and the company’s growing fame, eventually cemented a special place in the hearts of more than one Forest Park’er. For those in my age group at least, I can guarantee that a fair cross section of kids grew up with a love for Ferrara Pan.

In my case, it eventually connected itself to a little deeper family lore… so much so that the favorite short story I wrote during my trial-by-fire writing classes at the University of Illinois actually began with the scent of Ferrara Pan Red Hots filling the air…

That story, called Jacob’s Sin, existentially reinforced my positive childhood memories of cinnamon swirling through the atmosphere and wonderful, sunny ice cream afternoons at the Forest Park Pool… days I remember quite fondly. The story also set one very different, fateful summer day against that cheery backdrop, however… a day I will most certainly never forget.

It started with a happy late-morning goodbye to a super-sweet, black Great Dane named Sin, who entered our family only a few days earlier, yet made an indelible mark on all who met the big fella, including my best friend Chris at the time, who lived right across the street from us. As vivid as my sweet candy scented memories are of Forest Park back in the day, so is the memory of my friend Chris and I playing with this gentle giant of a dog in my dining room.

The Ferrara Pan Candy Co. Building in Forest Park, Illinois

He chased us around and under the dining room table, played fetch within the seventeen-foot confines of our small, connecting living and dining rooms, and just delivered such a sense of wonderment and appreciation for animals in what, in hindsight, was an incredibly short span of time. Sure, a name like Sin on a big, black-haired beast might conjure otherwise for you initially, but trust me, five minutes with that amazing animal and you’d still speak his praises to this day too.

That fateful day, I said a long, playful goodbye to Sin, who flashed super sad eyes as I walked out of the yard (he always did), leaving him behind for a half day in favor of an afternoon at the pool just over the bridge. When I returned later that day, the morning sun’s bright light now replaced by growing, late afternoon shadows, the yard sat eerily still… quiet. My stepdad sat hunched, just outside the fence, the most intense look on his face I’d ever seen (and still ever saw for the rest of his long life)… fighting back tears…

It took me a long moment… but once I noticed the shovel, and the raised pile of dirt just in front of a large evergreen bush in our side yard, reality firmly clicked into place. Sin’s time with our family had ended all too soon and abruptly, and worse, all because his previous owner neglected to disclose everything about the dog’s health (and you wonder why I do what I do over The Walk a Mile Project). Sin died long before he needed to, and on that one hot and humid day, initially filled with quintessential summer happiness, I tasted sad, sudden loss for the first time… forever against the backdrop of sunny swims, Mickey Mouse ice cream bars at the pool’s concession stand, and the sweet, cinnamony wafts of Ferrara Pan’s Red Hots.

I really don’t share that story with you to bring sadness… only to remind you that sometimes, what may seem like irrelevance in our world today, may hold more significance than we ever admit to. And if, in your case, that means lamenting the change of Fannie May’s Mint Meltaways or Nestle’s Baby Ruth bars moving over to Ferrero Group, stemming from some important memories in your own life, I completely understand.

Yes, we certainly don’t tout any false wonders of big candy conglomerates here at Chocolate Connoisseur, rightfully so, but it’s also incredibly important to remember where we come from… and how it shaped who we are today. So if you find yourself craving a Butterfinger right now, while waxing sentimental over any sort of precious memory, you might as well pick one up and live in the memory a moment. Don’t worry… I won’t tell.

In Chocolate Positivity,
Eric

Eric Battersby
Editor-In-Chief, Chocolate Connoisseur Magazine

APRIL 2018 ISSUE PREVIEW

The post Ferrara Pan Candy: Editor’s Corner – April 2018 appeared first on Chocolate Connoisseur.

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APRIL 2018 Editor’s Corner

— April 2018 Issue Free Content —

“You can never do a kindness too soon, for you never
know how soon it will be too late.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

In this issue’s Chocolate News, I report on the Ferrero Group’s purchase of Nestle’s USA Confectionary Division, and although certainly a noteworthy news item in the overall chocolate world, it’s nothing that stirs any feathers in the realm of chocolate connoisseurs. Or does it? Waxing Sweet Sentimental

To answer that, let me just say this — I guess it all depends on whether or not a Baby Ruth or a Butterfinger hold any sentimental value for you. For me, in all honesty, they do not. Researching Ferrero’s Nestle acquisition did, however, remind me of the company’s two other confection-related acquisitions in the past year – Fannie May and Ferrara (formerly Ferrara Pan). My current chocolate knowledge be damned, the truth is that both of those companies hold a special place in my heart, so I did indeed feel the heartstrings tweak a bit when I initially read the news.

Why? Well… it’s local. I grew up in Forest Park, a small town just outside of Chicago, home to the original production facility of Ferrara Pan. The factory didn’t only share the same town, it also shared the same square half mile… sitting just across the Eisenhower expressway from the house I called home for the majority of my childhood. So close, in fact, that one of my most vivid childhood memories is that of Ferrara Pan’s Red Hots in the making, with the sweet smell of a spicy cinnamon wafting across the expressway and right into my own backyard.

On summer days, when I’d walk the five long blocks to our park district’s glorious pool (i.e. – my second home), my lazy summer strolls took me over Forest’s Park’s largest bridge, and right past the Ferrara Pan facility on its east side. On occasion, those jaunts included stopovers at the tiny little Ferrara Pan store, nestled into the front corner of the factory… a place where Lemonheads, Boston Baked Beans, Jawbreakers, and the aforementioned Red Hots made their way into my ridiculously unhealthy diet of yesteryear!

In most ways, it’s simply a passing memory… I didn’t live on Ferrara Pan’s candy by any means (who could), and it certainly wasn’t my favorite. The factory’s proximity, however, coupled with the wonderful scents oft-emanating from within and the company’s growing fame, eventually cemented a special place in the hearts of more than one Forest Park’er. For those in my age group at least, I can guarantee that a fair cross section of kids grew up with a love for Ferrara Pan.

In my case, it eventually connected itself to a little deeper family lore… so much so that the favorite short story I wrote during my trial-by-fire writing classes at the University of Illinois actually began with the scent of Ferrara Pan Red Hots filling the air…

That story, called Jacob’s Sin, existentially reinforced my positive childhood memories of cinnamon swirling through the atmosphere and wonderful, sunny ice cream afternoons at the Forest Park Pool… days I remember quite fondly. The story also set one very different, fateful summer day against that cheery backdrop, however… a day I will most certainly never forget.

It started with a happy late-morning goodbye to a super-sweet, black Great Dane named Sin, who entered our family only a few days earlier, yet made an indelible mark on all who met the big fella, including my best friend Chris at the time, who lived right across the street from us. As vivid as my sweet candy scented memories are of Forest Park back in the day, so is the memory of my friend Chris and I playing with this gentle giant of a dog in my dining room.

The Ferrara Pan Candy Co. Building in Forest Park, Illinois

He chased us around and under the dining room table, played fetch within the seventeen-foot confines of our small, connecting living and dining rooms, and just delivered such a sense of wonderment and appreciation for animals in what, in hindsight, was an incredibly short span of time. Sure, a name like Sin on a big, black-haired beast might conjure otherwise for you initially, but trust me, five minutes with that amazing animal and you’d still speak his praises to this day too.

That fateful day, I said a long, playful goodbye to Sin, who flashed super sad eyes as I walked out of the yard (he always did), leaving him behind for a half day in favor of an afternoon at the pool just over the bridge. When I returned later that day, the morning sun’s bright light now replaced by growing, late afternoon shadows, the yard sat eerily still… quiet. My stepdad sat hunched, just outside the fence, the most intense look on his face I’d ever seen (and still ever saw for the rest of his long life)… fighting back tears…

It took me a long moment… but once I noticed the shovel, and the raised pile of dirt just in front of a large evergreen bush in our side yard, reality firmly clicked into place. Sin’s time with our family had ended all too soon and abruptly, and worse, all because his previous owner neglected to disclose everything about the dog’s health (and you wonder why I do what I do over The Walk a Mile Project). Sin died long before he needed to, and on that one hot and humid day, initially filled with quintessential summer happiness, I tasted sad, sudden loss for the first time… forever against the backdrop of sunny swims, Mickey Mouse ice cream bars at the pool’s concession stand, and the sweet, cinnamony wafts of Ferrara Pan’s Red Hots.

I really don’t share that story with you to bring sadness… only to remind you that sometimes, what may seem like irrelevance in our world today, may hold more significance than we ever admit to. And if, in your case, that means lamenting the change of Fannie May’s Mint Meltaways or Nestle’s Baby Ruth bars moving over to Ferrero Group, stemming from some important memories in your own life, I completely understand.

Yes, we certainly don’t tout any false wonders of big candy conglomerates here at Chocolate Connoisseur, rightfully so, but it’s also incredibly important to remember where we come from… and how it shaped who we are today. So if you find yourself craving a Butterfinger right now, while waxing sentimental over any sort of precious memory, you might as well pick one up and live in the memory a moment. Don’t worry… I won’t tell.

In Chocolate Positivity,
Eric

Eric Battersby
Editor-In-Chief, Chocolate Connoisseur Magazine

APRIL 2018 ISSUE PREVIEW

The post Editor’s Corner – April 2018 appeared first on Chocolate Connoisseur.

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Chocolate One-on-One:
Neary Nogs

with Victoria Cooksey

— April 2018 Issue Preview Content —

Editor’s Intro

Here in the April 2018 issue, I’m excited to announce the debut of our newest Associate Writer, Victoria Cooksey. You may already know Victoria from her own chocolate blog — Dark Matters Chocolate Reviews. I highly encourage you to visit the blog here at http://darkmatterschocolatereviews.com/, and to follow Victoria’s work there, in addition of course to the great work you’ll see from her here at Chocolate Connoisseur Magazine.

You can also email her anytime via Chocolate Connoisseur via victoria@chocolateconnoisseurmag.com.

Now, without further ado, it is my pleasure to present you with Victoria Cooksey’s first CHOCOLATE ONE-ON-ONE article!

— Eric Battersby, Editor-in-Chief

Victoria Cooksey

Welcome to NearyNógs

Today I happily introduce you to Northern Ireland’s first craft chocolate maker, NearyNógs, a family-run business started back in 2011 as a way to fund a trip to India for the eldest Neary child leaving home.

NearyNógs based their original chocolate off a recipe Dorothy Neary inherited from her mother. In 2013, the business shifted its focus to “additive-free” chocolate, at the same time upgrading its equipment to include a stone grinder, and then upscaling to increase output over time as well.

Fast-forward here to 2018… and just a few months ago NearyNógs, still family-run, launched a new website to sell chocolate worldwide. I recently caught up with Dorothy Neary to learn more about the evolution of NearyNog’s chocolate, the challenges to starting an online shop, and, yes, why there is a “Nog” in NearyNógs!

Let’s get started…

Victoria Cooksey (VC): Since starting NearyNógs in 2011, how have your thoughts on chocolate making changed?

Dorothy Neary (DN): Like night to day.

I’ve always loved chocolate deeply but growing up I never thought too much about where it came from, who grew it, its origins or how it was made. I never wondered what made it shiny and I’m certain the sound of the snap wouldn’t have been given any thought as I hoofed in it.

My mother Thelma, had given me the recipe for a chocolate fudge, from when our eldest daughter was heading off to India to do charity work and we’d organised a fundraiser. After a year of making chocolate fudge & mashing a lot of cacao nibs, I was certain there had to be a way to make chocolate from the actual bean… somehow.

Cacao beans are hard to come by in Ireland. I’d rang the mainland couverture chocolate supplier enquiring about cacao beans since they did everything else. I was greeted with a firm, NO, you CANNOT make chocolate. Its impossible, he said.

That was my green light.

John Nanci, of the chocolate alchemist’s website was a budding chocolate makers paradise!! My eyes were opened! I loved all the science & art behind chocolate… how all the variables from cacao origin, fermentation, roasting, grinding time, conching, ageing, etc can all define the end result.

I read everything I could find and then Shane (my husband) said lets just do it. So, we bought our first table top melangeur.

Our first beans arrived from Peru and the excitement became reality, until I opened the bag and the pungent smell of fermentation left me wondering how was this to work. Then, the most amazing fragrances escaped the oven doors on our first roast and we were in love!

We were covered in cacao dust trying to shell the beans and the air was heady with the smell of chocolate making. Our first batch of 70% chocolate was quickly gone. We left that tiny kitchen a few years ago now for bigger space and a bit of an upscale.

Last year we called into the London Chocolate Show with our daughter August, who is a regular patient at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. It was an amazing place to come together with so many people who care about the greater chocolate community, meeting other chocolate makers, sharing with each other, cheering each other on and championing the cause of cacao farmers in far away places.

Now, I always look to see where all the chocolate I eat comes from and its origins. I care about who grew it and how it was made. I look at the shine and notice the snap. I stop to savour the taste on my tongue for I know that the chocolate maker worked thoughtfully to bring out the best of that origin.

VC: Does Northern Ireland’s weather pose any challenges for chocolate making? If so, what types of challenges?

DN: Our Irish weather is typically mild with very little extreme temperatures that some seasons can bring. We are really rather lucky!

Our biggest challenge is keeping the damp away & the humidity down. We keep everything secure in plastic tubs to insulate from damp & moisture.

Dorothy Neary

VC: On your website you talk about the origin of the name NearyNógs. Will you explain it further for those who don’t know? (Do you still have some of the stories?).

DN: NearyNógs is actually the name, Shane’s Dad Johnnie, called the stories he used to tell when Shane and his sister were children. NearyNógs stems from the Irish Tír na nÓg… meaning Land of the Young. Over the years the name would come up in conversation or in references to our own children and it seemed to fit.

Shane’s dad is still hunting out the stories he wrote… keep an eye out!

VC: You recently launched an online store. What has been some of the challenges in taking that next step? What have been the rewards?

DN: Launching our online store was a long time coming. We worried about packaging alot (like how to keep it eco friendly & keep our chocolate safe in transit) and of course its had its hiccups, like not charging shipping or orders disappeared from the site for a few days leaving us in a panic but everything is sorted now and ticking over like magic.

And for more on NearyNógs, visit these links:

Website: https://www.nearynogs.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nearynogsartisanchocolate/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NearyNogsChocs

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nearynogschocolate/

NOTE: All photos by NearyNógs unless otherwise noted.

APRIL 2018 ISSUE PREVIEW

The post NearyNógs – Chocolate One-on-One with Victoria Cooksey Preview appeared first on Chocolate Connoisseur.

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