Forum Activity for @Annette Jimison

Annette Jimison
@Annette Jimison
12/09/08 11:40:46PM
14 posts

Special Holiday Chocolate Offers for Chocolate Life Members


Posted in: Classifieds

Is anyone selling samples of beans? I would love to buy a pound of cacao beans, say, six different varieties. Some that are super chocolate and some that have the different nuances artisans love to find in their beans. Email me!!! It's my present to myself!Hey, Clay, you putting together a Sampler Box? I'm in!Annette
Annette Jimison
@Annette Jimison
12/08/08 05:18:54AM
14 posts

Liquors for use in chocolate ganaches


Posted in: Tasting Notes

I am needing to put a database together for all of us that don't have extensive knowledge of which liquor is the best flavor for it's kind, i.e., which one of all the orange liquors has the truest orange flavor, which of the raspberry, etc. I have found a list of all the liquors, from wikipedia. Their list is extensive. After looking at the list, is there a way to do a poll on which ones are the favorites of users? Perhaps this list is not all that there is out there, but, I would like to know the favorites from members who have knowledge in this area. If this could be moved to a more appropriate area, Clay, please change it's location. And, can we put a polling box with it somehow? Also, if there is a favorite that is not listed, please email me and I will include it.Thanks!Here is the list:Chocolate liqueurs* Afrikoko (coconut and chocolate)* Ashanti Gold* Cadbury Cream Liqueur* Creme de Cacao* Dwersteg's Organic Chocolate Cream Liqueur* Liqueur Fogg* Godiva Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate and Cappuccino liqueurs* Mozart Gold (milk chocolate), Mozart White (white chocolate),Mozart Black (dark chocolate), Amade ChocOrange (dark chocolatewith blood-orange distillate) liqueurs* Royal Mint-Chocolate Liqueur* Vermeer Dutch Chocolate Cream Liqueur* VandermintCoffee liqueurs* Allen's Coffee Brandy* Vibe Robusta Coffee Liqueur* Bols Coffee Liqueur* Cafe Britt Coffee Liqueur* Cafe Oriental* Caffe Borghetti* Coloma* Copa De Oro* Duchalet Cafe Liqueur* Dwersteg's Organic Coffee Liqueur* The Evil Monk* Kahlea* Kamora* Keuck Terkisch Mokka* Kona Gold* Kosaken Kaffee* De Kuyper Creme de Cafe* Mokatika* Sabroso* Sheridan's* Starbucks Coffee Liqueur* Tia Maria* Toussaint Coffee LiqueurCream liqueurs* Amarula (sugar, cream, and the fruit of the African marula tree)* Baileys Irish Cream* Carolans* Dooley's* Drumgray Highland Cream Liqueur* Dulce de Leche Liqueur (Caribbean rum, caramel and cream)* Dwersteg's Organic Coffee Cream Liqueur* Hare Turkish Coffee Cream Liqueur* KeKe Beach (lime cream)* McCormick's Irish Cream* Merlyn Cream Liqueur* Mozart Gold Chocolate Cream* Mozart White Chocolate Cream* O'Leary's Irish Cream* Ponche Caribe* Ponche crema* Ponche Diva* Ponche Kuba* Sangster's* Saint Brendan's Irish Cream Liqueur* Spirit of Liberty America's Cream Liqueur (1/3 less caloriesthan Bailey's)* Starbucks Cream Liqueur* Vermeer Dutch Chocolate Cream Liqueur* Voyant Chai Cream (a chai-flavoured liqueur containing oak-agedrum, cream, black tea, vanilla, and spices)* Kk Beach Key Lime Cream LiqueurCreme liqueurs* Creme de Banane* Creme de cacao* Creme de cassis* Creme de Cerise* Creme de menthe* Creme de Noyaux* Creme de Rose* Creme de violette* Parfait d'AmourFruit liqueurs* Amabilli (banana)* Aurum (rum, tea, and tangerines)* Bajtra e Maltese liqueur (prickly pear)* Cosa Gialla (citrus fruits)* Cointreau (orange)* Cuarenta Y Tres/Licor 43 (citrus, vanilla)* Curaeao (bitter orange)* DeKuyper Pomegranate (pomegranate)* Destinee (tropical fruit)* Dwersteg's Organic Orange Liqueur* Espiritu del Ecuador (20 Ecuadoran fruits, including peach,chocolate, cherry, and almond)* Grand Marnier (orange)* GRAPeRO (pink grapefruit)* Hideous (potato neutral spirit, with added natural flavorsderived from berries grown in the state of Washington, includingraspberries and other berries and citrus fruits)* Hpnotiq (tropical fruit)* KeKe Beach (lime cream)* Kruekovac (pear)* Kwai Feh (lychee)* Ly Shan (lychee)* Lichido (vodka, cognac, lychee and guava essences, and whitepeach juice)* Limoncello (lemon)* Mandarine Napoleon (mandarin)* Manzana verde (green apple)* Medronho (strawberry tree/arbutus)* Midori (melon)* 99 bananas (99-proof banana-flavored schnapps)* NUVO (fruit nectars and sparkling chardonnay and pinot noirwines)[16]* PAMA (pomegranate)* Passoe (passion fruit; also comes in mango, pineapple, andcoconut flavors)* Pisang Ambon ((banana)* Pucker (apple)* Triple sec (orange)* X-Rated Fusion Liqueur (blood orange, mango and passion fruit)Berry liqueurs* 99 Berries* Blueberry* Buckthorn* Cherry Heering (cherry)* Chambord (raspberry)* Cloudberry* Ginjinha (cherry)* Guavaberry (guavaberry)* Guignolet (wild cherry)* Hare Ahududu (raspberry)* Hare Vine (sour cherry)* Hideous (potato neutral spirit, with added natural flavorsderived from berries grown in the state of Washington [includingraspberries and other berries and citrus fruits)* Lakka (cloudberry)* Lillehammer (lingonberry)* Lingonberry* Maraschino (cherry)* Murtado (Ugni molinae berries)* Polar Cranberry* Prunelle (plum)* Razzmatazz (raspberry)* Sloe gin* Damson gin* Whidbeys (loganberry)Flower liqueurs* Creme de Rose (rose)* Creme de violette (violet)* Creme Yvette (violet, vanilla)* Fior d'Alpi (alpine flowers, herbs)* Lavender Liqueur (lavender)]* Liqueur de Rose (rose)* Liqueur de Violette (violet)* Meikueilu Chiew (Mey Kwei Loo Liqueur) (rose)* My Rose (rose, with a whole rose in the bottle)* Rosolio (rose)* St-Germain (elderflower)* Shan Hibiscus (hibiscus, coconut)* Shan Lotus (lotus, passion fruit)* Shan Rose (rose, lychee)* Xaica (Hibiscus)Herbal liqueursNote: the exact recipes of many herbal liqueurs (which may contain upto 50 or more different herbs) are often closely guarded tradesecrets. The primary herbal ingredients are listed where known.Anise-flavored liqueursNote: Absinthe, Arak, Rak, and similar anise-flavored beveragescontain no sugar and thus are flavored liquors rather than liqueurs.* Aguardiente/Aguardente e Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Portugal* Anes e Spain* Anisetta e Italy* Anisette e France* Alpestre - Italy* Cosa Nera - Italy* Arquebuse de l'Hermitage - France* Galliano e Italy* Hierbas de Mallorca e Majorca* Herbsaint e United States* Mastica e Bulgaria* Mistre - Italy* Oghi e Armenia* Ouzo e Greece* Pastis e France* Passione Nera - Italy* Patxaran e Spain* Pernod Fils* Pernod Ricard* Sambuca e Italy* Vespetre - Italy* Xtabenten e MexicoOther herbal liqueurs* Amaro* Becherovka (anise seeds, cinnamon, and other herbs)* Beireo (seeds and herbs from around the world)* Benedictine (cognac with 27 plants and spices)* Canton (spirits, brandy, six varieties of ginger, ginseng, andhoney)* Chartreuse (130 herbal extracts)* Demenovka (14 herbs and honey)* Everglo (tequila, vodka, caffeine, and ginseng)* Danzig Goldwasser (gold leaf, roots, and herbs)* Goldschleger (cinnamon, with gold leaf)* Jegermeister (56 herbs)* Krupnik (honey and up to 50 different herbs)* Kemmel (caraway seed, cumin, and fennel)* Mastichato (mastic resin)* Menta (peppermint liqueur)* Metaxa* Minttu (peppermint)* Paan (betel leaf, betel nuts, saffron, cardamom, sandalwood, andother herbs and spices)* Riga Black Balsam (Rigas Melnais Balzams)* Strega (70 herbs, including mint, fennel, and saffron)* Unicum (more than 40 herbs)* Zen (matcha green tea from Kyoto, Japan, with lemon grass andother herbs.Nut-flavored liqueurs* Amaretto (almonds, or the almond-like kernels from apricots,peaches, cherries, or similar stone fruits)* Dumante (pistachio)* Frangelico (hazelnuts and herbs)* Kahana Royale (macadamia nut)* Nocello (walnut and hazelnut)* Nocino (unripe green walnuts)* Ratafia (brandy flavored with almonds, fruit, or fruit kernels -also a flavored biscuit)Whisky liqueurs* Bruadar (Scotch whisky, honey, sloe)* Cock of the North (single malt, blaeberry)* Drambuie (Scotch, heather honey, herbs, and spices)* Eblana (Irish whiskey, coffee, honey, almond, peanut)* Famous Grouse liqueur (Scotch, bourbon, citrus, spicrs)* Glayva (Scotch, Seville oranges, herbs, and honey)* Glenfiddich Malt liqueur (Scotch, citrus, pear, brown sugar)* Glenturret Malt liqueur (Glenturret single malt, honey, spices)* Irish Mist (aged Irish whiskey, heather and clover honey,aromatic herbs, and other spirits)* Jeremiah Weed (Bourbon whiskey, orange, vanilla)* Lochan Ora (Chivas, honey, herbs and spices)* Murray Scottish Highland Liqueur (Scotch, honey, sloe)* Old Pulteney liqueur (Old Pulteney single malt, prune, spices)* Orangerie (Scotch, oranges, spices)* Rock and rye (American rye whiskey, citrus, rock candy)* Stag's Breath (Speyside malts and fermented comb honey)* Sundakanchi (rice-based)* Wallace Liqueur (Deanston single malt, Scottish berries, Frenchherbs)* Wild Turkey American Honey (Wild Turkey (bourbon, honey,spices)* Yukon Jack (Canadian whiskey, honey)Other liqueurs* Advocaat (egg yolks and vanilla)* Aftershock (several varieties, most popular of which is cinnamon)* Aurum (rum, tea, and tangerines)* Baczewski* Berenjeger (honey)* Campari (bitter and aromatic herbs, plants, and fruit)* Cynar (artichoke and other herbs and plants)* Damiana* Genepi* Izarra (numerous herbs and other flavorings)* Jumbie (rum liqueur)* Licor de oro (whey, saffron and lemon peel)* Kajmir (vanilla, brandy, and vodka)* Patxaran (sloe berries, coffee beans, and vanilla pod)* Pimento (not the peppers stuffed into olives, but Allspice.* Qi (lapsang souchong tea, fruits, spices, and Chardonnay brandy)* Qi White (orange, ginger, clove, other herbs and spices, and white tea)* Rumpleminze (peppermint)* Sabra liqueur (dark chocolate and Sabra oranges)* Salmiakki Koskenkorva (Salmiakkikossu, salmari) (salmiakki eOriginally Turkish Pepper salty licorice)* Southern Comfort (neutral grain spirits with whiskey, peach,orange and spice flavorings)* Tsipouro* St. Germain (elderflower)* Tuaca (brandy, vanilla, and citrus)* TY KU (Asian spirit base (sake and soju), with yuzu, honeydew,mangosteen, green tea, wolfberry, and ginseng)* Vana Tallinn (rum, citrus oil, vanilla, cinnamon, and other spices)* Voyant Chai Cream (a chai-flavoured liqueur containing oak-agedrum, cream, black tea, vanilla, and spices)* Y Chilli (cinnamon, chili peppers, and other ingredients)
updated by @Annette Jimison: 04/09/15 11:47:58PM
Annette Jimison
@Annette Jimison
12/08/08 04:58:05AM
14 posts

chocolate flowers


Posted in: News & New Product Press

do you have a question on how to make them? what is this discussion about?
Annette Jimison
@Annette Jimison
12/08/08 04:57:07AM
14 posts

Cool Tool: Chocoflex Spherical Truffle Mold


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

HI Clay,Their website is funny. If you go to an individual page, they all have the same address in the location bar. So, that is why I noted where to fine them in my post. The locator is the heading Tools of the Trade gumpaste/fondant. They don't make it any easier. I tried copying the url and it just shows up as www.sugarcraft.comsorry!
Annette Jimison
@Annette Jimison
12/06/08 05:36:14AM
14 posts

Cool Tool: Chocoflex Spherical Truffle Mold


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

There are fondant items that are disposable on the market that do this. I found them at www.sugarcraft.com when I was learning the art of porcelana fria, and making flowers and foliage out of fondant. You can see them on their site under "TOOLS of the TRADE GUMPASTE / FONDANT". Got to be frugal where I can, and these worked great for me.
Annette Jimison
@Annette Jimison
11/14/08 02:56:54PM
14 posts

Advice on packaging please


Posted in: Opinion

Another thing to think about, Joey, is what you are saying about the chocolate with the packaging. Do you remember the market studies that I posted? They took the leading brands of a particular category, say coffee, and they researched the packaging, the colors, texture and size of fonts, where they were placed on the shelf and who bought them? There are lots of questions to ask yourself that you can glean from that article. One that I was greatly challenged with was the placement of my product against another. Mine had to be different, unique, speak to the consumer that I was targeting, and do it thru the packaging. If you want, post a picture of what you are doing, and we can do a collaborative consult for you, free here, and everyone can learn. I have found that a lot of "food" people can be awesome cooks and bakers, but, we all need help when it comes to understanding positioning of our products and packaging.
Annette Jimison
@Annette Jimison
11/14/08 01:16:09AM
14 posts

Advice on packaging please


Posted in: Opinion

Joey,I am going to be making my own chocolate tray inserts. Yes, it takes a bit of time, but, not much. And I am not totally sure of the outlay. I have different shaped chocolates that I am producing. I, too, want what you want. So, since I can't find a tray or cushion that is a stock item, I am going to make my own. You vacu form it yourself. I do it myself, cause my run is so small, I would never burden someone else, a company, to do it for me. It would be too costly for me, and not worth their time. Making a vacu form machine is a snap, really. I am currently looking for a supplier of the plastic to make the inserts out of. There is a company in Michigan that has the plastic, and a friend advised me of them. You make your own shapes to put on a board, and vacu form over that. Take the plastic off and put it in your box. Viola! You got it! My pictures won't be up on my blog in time to help with this, and you might think of this for the future, not now. If your chocolate can fit into a stock tray, get a chocolate one, as it plays up the richness of the item. The person opens that box and it just says "Enjoy!!!!". What do you think?
Annette Jimison
@Annette Jimison
11/13/08 12:11:34AM
14 posts

Advice on packaging please


Posted in: Opinion

Joey, unless someone sees the item that you want to package, they can't rightly answer. What is the mold of? Could that hold a key to the way to package it? What is the occasion that the chocolate will be given for? Who to? All these have a bearing on an item.What are you "saying" with your chocolate? What kind of font do you want to use? What shape box? What color? How is it to be distributed?You can see on my blog the fun that I had with developing "Nawtees Chocolates" and the ideas that went behind the label design. You can also see what led up to the "Fournier" laber, too. You have to tell us what you are trying to do with this chocolate...who is it you are offering it to...what they want...what they will buy.With "Nawtees Chocolates" I want to create the idea that one is having a very intense chocolate experience...one that is so good, it's got to be bad!!! Bad meaning good...anyway,...the double entendres with the name is so cute" A Nawtee Moment is a Good Moment!"...so, I want sexy packaging...I looked around to what I thought would be sexy and asked friends of their opinions.You might remember me asking on the other list, how can I make someone pick up my chocolate and not want to put it down? How can I set my chocolate apart from others, so that it does not look like I am a hobbyist, or weekend crafter? I want a totally professional look to the chocolate, too. That is when I decided to start sculpting masters and create my own unique molds. They are so beautiful and charming, and they convey the "thought" that I want to...the shapes even present a reason for someone to give them as a gift...I think I am onto a winning thing here...a product that is irrestible and makes them want to pick it up and eat it...a product that gives them a complete chocolate experience...wrapped/boxed in packaging that they would even want to collect.I love packaging. It's so much fun to figure out how to position yourself against all the others on the shelf and stand out...and make sales!Let's just continue this here, the moldmaking and such. I do want to let you know that I am making a mold that is going to be a biscuit/biscotti/snap with chocolate in it. Wait till I post the pics. In a week!!!
Annette Jimison
@Annette Jimison
11/12/08 07:01:56PM
14 posts

Advice on packaging please


Posted in: Opinion

Hey, Joey! Glad to see you on the board!When it comes to packaging, it is very much a personal taste thing, I think. You have to know who you are wanting to have buy your chocolates and what they would like the item packaged as. You could ask some people for their opinions, people in your target group, what they like. Also, find out what your target group buys, what other brands and see what their packaging is like.When will you post the pics of the new mold that you made? I think I should post more pics of mine. Hey, maybe we could start a different thread for moldmaking and chocolates. That would be of interest to lots of the readers, Joey!!!Talk to you soon!!!Annette
Annette Jimison
@Annette Jimison
11/11/08 01:49:01AM
14 posts

Which pieces of equipment do/can you use for small productions?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

For small batches of chocolate, can an Indian wet grinder, such as the Ultra Pride +, http://www.innoconcepts.com/prideplus.htm, work as a small melangeur? I think that this is a smaller unit than ones I have seen offered on other websites.Oh! I also am interested in anyone's comments on a Corona grain mill for cracking the beans. I understand that it can sufficiently crack the roasted cacao beans. Again, I do not do a large load of beans, so a small item is sufficient for me. I don't want to put the beans in a bag and hit them with a hammer, which is why i am opting for a Corona.Has anyone tried a roasting drum from this vendor on Ebay? http://cgi.ebay.com/COCOA-CACAO-BEAN-ROASTER-DRUM-fits-RONCO-SHOWTIME-6000_W0QQitemZ320264638202QQcmdZViewItemQQptZBI_Hot_Beverage_Brewers?_trksid=p3286.m20.l1116It looks like a fellow chocolatier has found a good niche product. Anyway, he says "Why purchase an expensive Cocoa (cacao) Bean Roaster when you can buy this extremely easy to use and very inexpensive Cocoa Bean Roaster Drum to roast cocoa beans with your RONCO SHOWTIME 6000 Pro Rotisserie appliance!!"Has anyone tried roasting this way? I like the inside of the drum, and think that it would do a better job than roasting in an oven where I have to go burn myself while I turn the beans while they roast. I think this could work. Anyone with experiences in using these items?I think those are the three pieces of equipment that I need input on. The roaster with drum, the Corona grain mill, and the Spectra Ultra Pride +. Thanks for giving me your advice! AnnetteOh! One other question. Compared to the quality of commercially made chocolate, how do you rate your chocolate's taste, look, aroma? What differences do you really see?Thanks!
updated by @Annette Jimison: 04/20/15 01:37:52AM
Annette Jimison
@Annette Jimison
11/11/08 01:31:30AM
14 posts

Tempering with Beta 6 crystals


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Is there a taste difference? Can you tell a difference in the product with the beta crystals? Sounds interesting. Nothing more has been developed in this vein, has there? It's been years since some of the articles I have read online. Any more input?
Annette Jimison
@Annette Jimison
11/09/08 02:47:16AM
14 posts

Enjoyable story behind Amedei Chocolate


Posted in: News & New Product Press

I am late to this. Searching for the top rated chocolate blogs and chocolate websites I ran across this story:"Appeared in the May 2006 Issue of Food and Wine"http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/the-worlds-best-chocolateThe World's Best ChocolateAfter trying a chocolate so good it leaves him speechless, Pete Wells goes on an urgent tasting mission to cult Tuscan chocolatier Amedei.By Pete WellsLate last year, I grew curious about an Italian chocolate brand called Amedei. I mean curious in the same sense that sharks are curious about surfers. Amedei, founded in 1990, is the joint project of a 42-year-old Italian named Alessio Tessieri and his younger sister, Cecilia; he buys the cacao and she turns it into dark, glossy bars. In November, a competition in London awarded a gold prize to one of Cecilia's handiworks, a single-plantation chocolate called Chuao. Two other Amedei products tied for silver.Both the visionary French ptissier Pierre Herm and the visionary Spanish chef Ferran Adri have said that Chuao might, in fact, be the world's greatest chocolate. And yet Amedei is sold in only a handful of stores in the U.S., andwhile a new importer has big plans for the brandfew Americans have heard of it.How had the Tessieris vaulted from obscurity to produce chocolate in the same rarefied league as Cluizel, Scharffenberger and even the mighty Valrhona? And, more urgently, where could I get some?The second question had an easy answer: Chocosphere, World Wide Chocolate and other very handy Web sites for people who care about cacao content. A carton from Chocosphere containing just over a half pound of Amedei bars and squares ran me $50, with shipping. The next day, the whole box was gone. In my defense, I've seen engagement rings that came in bigger boxes. I knew that I wanted more, but at $100 a pound it would be cheaper to fly to Italy and go to the factory myself, which is what I did. This might make me the first traveler in history who went to Tuscany to save money on a candy bar.The Tessieris work about 40 miles west of Florence, close to the Arno, and not far from Pisa; the Italian wine and food magazine Gambero Rosso has called this region the Chocolate Valley because of the concentration of chocolatiers who work thereamong them Paul de Bondt, Roberto Catinari and Luca Mannori. The Chocolate Valley is not nearly as famous as other parts of Tuscany. For me, this only increased its allure. While other tourists inched through the vineyards of Chianti staring at the exhaust pipe of the rental car just ahead, I would be lazily bobbing along in a rowboat, dipping pieces of bread over the side into the world's biggest fondue.Amedei sits just outside Pontedera, where they build those stylish Vespa scooters that make even old Italians look young. Amedei's factory, a low brick structure, used to be an iron foundry. Alessio and Cecilia met me inside a tasting room, where a table was set with linen tablecloths and silver chargers. Two large jars were prominently displayed; filled with what looked like water, each held a large, red, heart-shaped object. Cecilia wore a severe suit of charcoal gray, a no-nonsense expression, and a red scarf; the factory was cold that day. Alessio's face was round and rosy, and his rimless eyeglasses made him look more like a graduate student than a chocolate baron.Trying to make small talk, I mentioned hearing that there were many other chocolate makers nearby.Alessio shook his head. "But those other companies do not make chocolate," he replied. "They buy it."In the lofty strata where Tessieri operates, "making chocolate" means that you make the chocolate. You import cacao beans from plantations. You roast them and husk them and grind the cacao nibs into a fine paste. You add sugar and grind some more. Finally you swirl the mixture in open tanks called conches, which smooths the texture while helping to blow off acids and other nasty flavors. It's complicated, demanding work, and few small companies even attempt it.Cecilia asked me to put on a hairnet, a plastic jacket and disposable blue booties, then led me downstairs to the factory. The machines, Swiss, Italian and German models painted ivory, clacked and hammered away, sounding like an orchestra of conga drums. A young guy with tattooed forearms strained to push sweetened cacao paste through a screen with a paddle. For some reason, the floor was painted blood red. The chocolate smell was so strong and pure I could barely think. Somehow I managed to remark to Alessio that these antique machines must limit the quantity of chocolate Amedei can make."The problem is not the machines," he said. "The problem is cacao. We can't find enough good cacao." Only by starting with prime cacao, he explained, can you achieve the quality and character that set Amedei apart from the candy makers, who buy bulk chocolate."Everyone said, why do you want to work so hard and invest in machinery?" Alessio explained. "Everyone said to make chocolate, you need to produce tons, not kilos. But this was a desire to do something unique."But that wasn't the Tessieris' only desire. When we simply love something we eat, it's natural to imagine that it was made from the same simple love. And often we're right, but the motives that drive people to work as hard as Alessio and Cecilia can sometimes be a little more complicated.The Tessieris did not set out to make chocolate. In the beginning, like the rest of the Chocolate Valley, they made candy. Their parents owned a business in Pontedera that sold pastry ingredients to bakers. Alessio and Cecilia went off on their own, but they didn't stray far. They rented a small room in town and began to experiment with what they call pralines and we call filled chocolates. Soon enough, they wanted to move to a higher gradethe highest grade they knew. So the brother and sister, who were still in their 20s, went to visit a chocolate maker they greatly admired.In 1991, Alessio and Cecilia made a pilgrimage to Tain l'Hermitage, in the Rhne Valley, for an appointment at Valrhona. The Tessieris were humored for a while, but when they were ready to make a deal, they were sent away with nothing. The French wouldn't even negotiate. According to Cecilia, they were told that Italy wasn't evolved enough to appreciate such extraordinary chocolate.It was a personal slight, a national insult, a call to arms. "Right then and there," Cecilia would later say, "it was war."Chlo Doutre-Roussel, the author of The Chocolate Connoisseur and one of the world's leading authorities on fine chocolate, uses another word to describe what came next: vendetta. "Everything Alessio does, he does with intensity," Doutre-Roussel says. "So this revenge became his focus. He put everythingthe family money, even his sisteron this project."Within three weeks, the Tessieris decided that they weren't going to buy chocolate anymorethey would make it. Cecilia apprenticed with bean-to-bar artisans around Europe. At first they bought cacao from brokers, but by 1997, Alessio had begun hunting it himself, from Ecuador to Madagascar to the Caribbean coast of Venezuela. This last region was especially rich with cacao of the first rank; a lot of money was at stake, and life could get rough. Four years ago, someone tried to murder a cacao buyer who worked with Valrhona, strafing his car with an automatic weapon and leaving him with a half-dozen gunshot wounds.The most famous Venezuelan cacao of all comes from Chuao. The trees of Chuao are shielded by mountains from all but the warm Caribbean breezes; the soil is naturally irrigated by three cascading rivers. Doutre-Roussel calls the region "one of the jewels of the earth." Besides the microclimate, Chuao has centuries-old traditions of harvesting and preparing cacao. First it's fermented to develop the compounds that will later blossom into rich aromatics, then it's laid out on the parvis in front of the village church to dry slowly in the sun. Because the farmers worked together as a cooperative, Chuao is one of the only places where a chocolate maker could buy, at one stroke, 9 to 10 tons of uniformly excellent cacao. Until recently, that chocolate maker was Valrhona. Today every last kilo of cacao from Chuao goes to Amedei.Alessio went around to the brokers and negotiated directly with the farmers' cooperative, offering to pay off their debts and triple the previous price for their beans. "By the time Valrhona realized, it was gone," Doutre-Roussel says.Cecilia transforms the beans of Chuao into chocolate that packs a sensory wallop I tend to remember for weeks. It's very aromatic, with a clarity and elegance more often found in wine and some single malts. One bar retails for just under nine dollars. Chuao represents just a fraction of Amedei's total output, yet it has made the Tessieris famous.The story of how Amedei eloped with Chuao and sent the wedding pictures to Tain l'Hermitage isn't exactly a vision of sugar plums, but the chocolate industry has a long history of wars, most of them far more brutal. Steve DeVries, a bean-to-bar chocolate maker from Denver, used to say that the Spanish arrived in Mexico and threatened, "Give us your cacao or we'll shoot you." Hunting beans in Mexico, DeVries repeated the remark to an anthropologist. "No, no, no," the anthropologist said. "Before that, the Aztecs came down and said 'Give us your cacao or we'll cut your hearts out.'"Even today, the chocolate trade looks a lot like it did in colonial days: Raw materials bought at generally low prices in the tropics are shipped to the developed world and turned into a luxury product. Today, three of the largest importers of cacao to America are fighting a lawsuit filed by a human rights group claiming that they buy beans harvested by child slaves, mostly in the nation of Ivory Coast. Several journalists have contended that the extent of slavery in the cacao industry has been overblown, but it's hardly comforting to hear that the number of slaves who helped make your afternoon snack has been exaggerated. Without doubt, adults and children on some cacao farms, particularly in West Africa, perform demanding, exhausting work for awful pay.Most chocolate makers know nothing about where their cacao comes from. A former consultant for a well-regarded European chocolate maker told me that until last year, the firm's cacao buyer had never been to a plantation. Farmers sell to brokers who sell to bigger brokers; by the time the cacao reaches the factory, nobody knows its story. Sometimes this arrangement allows growers to mistreat workers without accountability. It also can allow them to get the same price for unripe, rotting or generally trashy beansat their worst, these are known as "dogs and cats"that they get for the good stuff."We became convinced it was impossible to become number one in the world buying beans from brokers," Alessio says. "The broker cannot tell you who grew the beans, or how it was done." I don't take Alessio for a weepy humanitarian, and yet he practices enlightened self-interest when it comes to the people who grow his cacao. He has invested in Chuao, agreeing to pay off the farmers' mounting debts and buying baseball uniforms for the local team. He needs their best work so that he and Cecilia can do their best work.Back upstairs in the room marked Degustazione, I stripped off my shower cap and booties and sat down across the table from Cecilia. For a long time, neither of us spoke."So," Cecilia finally said. "You want to try the chocolate?"She walked to the sideboard and pulled down three trays, each arrayed with a different cru. Valrhona was the first to borrow that wine term and apply it to chocolate; Amadei uses it to describe bars made with beans from the same region. Amedei's Grenada I Cru was quiet and had something about it that reminded me of raspberries. The Jamaica was stronger and made me think of pipe tobacco; so did the Venezuela, but it also had a durable aftertaste of good black coffee. Then Cecilia offered me a tray of the first chocolate she made, called Toscano Black 70 percent. This time, I had trouble picking individual voices out of the choir. I mostly remember the overall sensation of getting all the deliciousness any sane person could want.All the while, I'd been looking at the red heart-shaped objects that were floating in the two big jars. I kept thinking about the Aztecs. At last I asked Alessio what they were. "Cacao pods," he said. "In formaldehyde so they do not dry up." The one off in a corner behind the door was a unique Venezuelan variety called Porcelana. The other, placed on a low table next to all the trays of chocolate, gleamed and glistened like a trophy. That one was Venezuelan too, Alessio said with a smile. It came from Chuao.Find more information about Amedei at amedei-us.com.Pete Wells is a contributing editor to Food & Wine. E-mail comments to him at pete.is.hungry@gmail.com.
updated by @Annette Jimison: 04/09/15 07:35:22PM
Annette Jimison
@Annette Jimison
11/07/08 01:49:26AM
14 posts

Growing Cacao Trees


Posted in: Travels & Adventures

I so would like to grow my own cacao trees. I guess once smitten by the whole process, you want to look into the feasibility of growing a few of your own. Yes, just to have them, at first. But, what if they take to your area? What parts of the states are good for raising cacao trees? Are there any "hot-house" trees, i.e., greenhouse grown? This would be interesting to me. Where would a person find cacao trees, male and female, and/or self-pollinating (is that the correct term?) to start with?I think once you are truly smitten by this passion, (it's more than a hobby or business, it truly is), having a few trees of your own is understood. Just like wanting to make your own chocolate from bean to bar.At a new job that I started today, I shared that my hobby is "manufacturing chocolate", and the response was just as wonderful as you would expect. This is nice. I even have a few that want to come over when I am roasting the beans to see what is done.I can't wait to start sharing this with them. Perhaps we can develop a group of some sort locally of people who want to explore this together!!! I would so love that, even if I cannot grow a couple of trees where I live right now, I can definitely share this passion with others!


updated by @Annette Jimison: 05/02/15 04:22:05PM
Annette Jimison
@Annette Jimison
11/05/08 05:59:44AM
14 posts

Top 10 Questions You'd Like to ... Ask Norman Love


Posted in: Opinion

I would love to know when he will be having his classes again. Would he ever fly to, say, Phoenix and do a class here? Perhaps in Scottsdale? I bet that there are lots of Chefs here who would love to learn from him. It would be great to have this happen!!! I bet we would fill out that class in record time, too. Maybe he would have to teach several classes?