All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.
– Charles Schulz
As a business centered around nuts, it’s no surprise that we use a fair amount of chocolate. After all, is there anything in this world yummier than chocolate when it meets the roasted, salted goodness of peanuts or almonds? We are so fortunate to source cocoa from three amazing bean-to-bar chocolate makers.
Escazu founders Danielle Centeno and Hallot Parsons came to chocolate from the culinary world, working their way up as line cooks, sous chefs and eventually running kitchens. When they transitioned to chocolate makers, they brought with them the care, integrity, and respect for the quality of natural ingredients learned in the kitchen: Chocolate isn’t a product to be made but a food to be crafted. Located just down the road in Raleigh, Escazu sources cocoa directly from small farms in Costa Rica and Venezuela to make handcrafted bars, truffles, ice cream, and confections. All of their cocoa is roasted in an antique 1920’s roaster and milled in an antique stone grinder using traditional methods to bring out all the natural flavor that the high quality cocoa has to offer. Our Apricot Pepita Bars, Peanut Cocoa Butter, and Almond Cocoa Butter would not be the same without their stunningly rich and crunchy cocoa nibs.
Askinosie was started in 2005 in Springfield, MO, by former criminal defense attorney Shawn Askinosie. They uphold high standards for ingredient quality, sustainability, social responsibility, and community enhancement. As practitioners of Direct Trade and A Stake in the Outcome, they’re able to ensure they’re using the highest quality cocoa available, and the farmers who produce it are compensated accordingly. These practices, combined with their 70-step chocolate making process, result in chocolate that is truly exquisite. We use their chunks to bring our Cherry Pecan Bars to a new level of deliciousness. We’re also proud to supply Askinosie with fresh-roasted, handmade peanut butter, which they use in their Dark Chocolate + Peanut Butter bar (pictured at left).
Somerville, MA based Taza is a pioneer in ethical cocoa sourcing. Taza was the first U.S. chocolate maker to establish a third-party certified Direct Trade Cacao Certification program (in collaboration with our friends at Durham-based Counter Culture Coffee), and partner only with cacao producers who respect the rights of workers and the environment. They use traditional Mexican stone mills called molinos to grind their cocoa, which creates a rustic chocolate with bold flavor and gritty texture. We melt their stone-ground chocolate to give our Peanut Cocoa and Almond Cocoa butters their deep chocolatey flavor.
*Speaking of amazing bean-to-bar chocolate makers, we were thrilled to recently collaborate with Videri Chocolate Factory to create our version of Peanut Gianduja; an ultra smooth blend of peanuts, Videri dark milk chocolate, Madagascar vanilla beans, honey, and a touch of sea salt. The tiny batch was made for the 2017 Farm to Fork Picnic and was featured in a dessert on Phoebe Lawless’s new menu at The Lakewood.
Videri makes their incredible chocolate at their beautiful downtown Raleigh, NC, factory. The true definition of transparency, they roast, winnow, grind, temper, and hand wrap their chocolate out in the open where customers are free to watch the magic happen. We look forward to working with them again in the near future!
Main photo credit: The Chocolate Journalist