An invitation…

At Patric Chocolate we diligently work day in and day out to bring innovative and delicious bars that satisfy and impress all of your chocolate craving hearts and mouths. Your feedback is always important to us and with the start of the New Year we want to have a more interactive space to share all of our exciting developments with you from inside our workshop. The three of us that make up Patric Chocolate are passionate and proud of the work we do and want you, our valued customers and friends, to join in our passion with us. Not only do we want to share our chocolate with you, we want to tell our stories, explain our work, and spread our knowledge to each of you on a new level. This is your invitation to take a peek inside our workshop, meet the people behind the chocolate, and truly understand what makes Patric Chocolate unique.

I’m Sara Trikenskas, 1/3 of Patric Chocolate and well, I’m a chocolate maker. I’m going to be the primary voice behind the blog and I intend to try my best to bring you (virtually) inside our factory. I will be answering your questions, sharing recipes (for uses of Patric Chocolate in your kitchen), photos, and many other fun things!

I want to hear from you! What do you want to know about us?

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, concerns, and or winning lottery tickets at: SaraT@Patric-chocolate.com

To Blog or Not To Blog

So, since I started this blog, Facebook has really taken off, and I am far more active at communicating in that medium. I haven’t posted to this blog in well over a year, and I don’t anticipate continuing it. Still, I hesitate to delete the posts as I believe that they have a great deal of relevant and useful information for chocolate lovers. That being the case, at least for now, I’ll be leaving the blog running, but inactive.

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Single-Malt Scotch Whisky: The Fine Chocolate of the Beverage World

Since I have been scarcely old enough to consume alcoholic beverages, I have had an interest in Scotch Whisky. At the age of 21 as I tried to figure out what in the “spirits” category appealed to me, I kept feeling drawn, again and again, to Scotch. At first I just ordered whatever was affordable, but gradually I became more interested in pricier blends, and upon arriving in Columbia, MO to finish my B.A., I was introduced to the multifaceted world of single malts. I’ve never looked back. Now I have enough familiarity with the whisky-making process, various distilleries, and their geographical locations and styles, that I don’t feel completely lost, but at the same time, I realize that there is a great deal left for me to learn, and so I persevere–let me tell you, it’s a tough life. 😉

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Working at Patric Chocolate: Guest Blogger Ilene

I started working for Patric Chocolate when I moved to Columbia about seven months ago. As a self-professed dark chocolate lover, I was looking forward to my new gig, though I would quickly learn I didn’t quite realize what I was getting myself into. It didn’t take long to recognize that my narrow view of fine dark chocolate and the reality of it were quite different. Below I shall relay my thoughts and experiences here at the factory (my coming of age story, if you will) in an informal blog for your reading pleasure:

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Chocolate: The New Fine Wine?

Those of you who have heard me speak, who follow this blog, or my tweets at http://www.twitter.com/PatricChocolate, know that I always dwell upon the many similarities between fine chocolate and other fine foods, with a specific emphasis on wine. I do this not because I want to charge more for fine chocolate, but because I truly believe that the similarities are clear when carefully considered, and that my comments will help people to think about chocolate in new and different ways. Of course, I work with chocolate each and every day, so this is something that is on my mind more than it will be for the average person, but lately the issue has been on my mind even more than usual.

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Patric Chocolate Nib-Chip Cookies

What is delicious, buttery, chewy and chocolatey all at once?

That’s right, Patric Chocolate Nib-Chip Cookies.

Here is the recipe that will become a staple in your home:

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ lb unsalted butter (two sticks)
1 cup dark brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1 egg
¾ cup Patric Chocolate’s Roasted Cacao Nibs

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Adjust oven rack to middle position.
  2. Combine flour, salt and baking soda in bowl.
  3. In a mixer cream the butter and mix in sugars.
  4. Add the vanilla and egg to the butter mixture and beat to combine.
  5. Beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined.
  6. Stir in the Patric Chocolate Cacao Nibs.
  7. Refrigerate dough until cool and stiff.
  8. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto a good quality baking sheet (thin black baking sheets are not good options).
  9. Bake for about 10 minutes and remove from oven. After several minutes remove to a rack to cool.

 

Patric Chocolate Takes on the New Web

When Patric Chocolate first started we had a website, and shortly thereafter a blog. At the time, it felt like I was “hip” and “with it,” but times soon changed.

Now Facebook, Twitter, and sites such as Flickr allow companies a way to tell their stories with passion and to build a connected community and fan-base. So, with the excellent advice of a couple of good friends, Patric Chocolate has taken the leap into the New Web:

The Patric Chocolate Facebook Page
— If you are on Facebook, please spread the word and become a fan. We have a review system as well so that you can tell everyone what you think about our chocolate and other fine chocolate products. I’ll be posting new chocolate-related videos and photo albums from cacao sourcing trips, and giveways will be available for Fans.

The Patric Chocolate Twitter feed
— Follow my daily chocolate-making process, learn about special events, and interact!

Thank you for your support; during these tough economic times, it really does mean a lot!

Very best,

Alan
Patric Chocolate

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up on our mailing list on the top-right of the page. I send out a monthly newsletter with product specials, new products, events, and educational chocolate information. If you change your mind later, it is easy to unsubscribe with one click. No worries

P.P.S. By the way, if you’ve never seen what your mild-mannered chocolate maker looks like, there is a story in the Kansas City Star, just out today, that has quite a few good photos.

Patric Chocolate now Twittering

That’s right. I’ve given in. I’m now twittering for Patric Chocolate. Follow my chocolate-related micro-blogs here:

http://twitter.com/PatricChocolate

Alan

Chocolate-Myth Busters #4: Organic Chocolate Tastes Better (or Worse)

Potential Myth To Be Busted:

Organic chocolate tastes better (or worse) than non-organic chocolate.

Long Response:

I have responded to similar questions in several interviews, and most recently spoke about the issue at a chocolate forum hosted by Charles Chocolates in San Francisco during Slow Food Nation.

An interesting thing to note is that while the most flavorful chocolate that many people might encounter on a daily basis, especially when we are talking about a grocery store, is organic, there is also another tier of chocolate bars, in terms of quality and price, with which most people are generally unfamiliar. This higher tier includes bars that are more expensive per ounce than the average organic chocolate bar at the grocery store, in some cases by multiple factors.

The interesting fact is that most of these more flavorful bars are not certified organic, and do not mention organic on their labels in any way. To add more to the story, though most of these companies have not been marketing organic bars, it is generally the case that when they have ventured into this part of the chocolate market, the resulting bars have been looked down upon by chocolate connoisseurs in terms of the quality of their flavor. This is not to say that they have been considered to be as uninteresting as their organic, grocery store-bound cousins, but only that when compared to the best bars on the market, these organic bars have generally not been nearly as good. So, with the relatively low quality of flavor of some of the initial organic bars that came to market, and then the overall low opinion by chocophiles, of the newer, higher-end organic bars, it seems that some chocolate connoisseurs have begun to form an opinion that great chocolate cannot be made from organic cacao.

There have been various reasons given for this newly found rule of thumb, from organic cacao being wild and untamable to the supposition that there is simply not any good cacao being grown organically. On the other hand, there has also been a more or less unspoken, and completely contradictory assumption on the part of other chocolate lovers–that some chocolate makers may have furthered–which is the idea that all fine cacao is basically organic anyway, and that this is part of the reason that fine chocolate has such a good flavor. If a reason is given for believing this, then it is usually that the small farmers who grow cacao are too poor to purchase the fertilizers and pesticides that would turn organic produce into non-organic produce in the first place. As one might imagine, none of these claims are the whole truth and nothing but the truth; things are more complex than they appear, and the complexity has grown as new and existing fine chocolate companies have just fairly recently begun to release brand new organic bars that are finally starting to destroy the belief that no organic chocolate can be really good chocolate.

In the US alone, there are several bean-to-bar companies with certified organic products, and others who list “organic” in their ingredients list. Furthermore, there are definitely other companies that don’t advertise organic cacao in any way, but who do use it in some of their products; so far Patric Chocolate fits into this final category as our Madagascar cacao is certified organic. When combined with some of the newly emerging organic bars from fine chocolate companies in Europe, specifically France and Italy, it turns out that increasingly, there are bars on the market that many of those who take chocolate very seriously would recognize as serious contenders in terms of quality.

In closing, however, let me hasten to add that it is not a safe bet to believe that all, let alone most, fine chocolate is made with organic cacao if it isn’t listed on the packaging. Also, judging a book by its cover, or a bar by its label, when it comes to the word “organic” either being present or absent, is bound to lead to you purchasing chocolate that is not what you expect in terms of flavor. Better would be to ask your local retailer for a sample of something that you would like to try. You’d be surprised how often they have sample bars sitting around for just such occasions.

Short Response:

The presence or absence of the word organic on a chocolate bar label does not speak to its quality in terms of flavor.

Very best,

Alan
Chocolate maker and myth buster

Got some chocolate myths that need busting? Send them my way by posting a comment below (even anonymously), or emailing me directly at:
customer.service@patric-chocolate.com

Chocolate Aftertaste and Microbes in Your Mouth

Hi all,

Yes, I know it is an odd title for a blog post, but I came across an article at Science Daily that really got me thinking about the impact of our invisible little friends on the flavor of chocolate. Of course I’ve already talked about the impact of bacteria and yeasts on the flavor of chocolate as regards post-harvest processing of cacao such as fermentation–where I’ve compared the result to wine and beer–but the flavor impacts that I’m thinking about now have nothing to do with changing the chocolate itself, and everything to do with what happens after the finished chocolate is in your mouth.

The authors of the study cited in the article above have noted that certain chemical compounds that are normally tasteless, when exposed to microbes that are naturally present in the mouth and/or throat, are transformed into aromatic compounds that impact flavor in interesting and unique ways, in some cases giving off what we would consider to be the “characteristic odor” of a particular food. Specifically, the paper focuses on what we often call “aftertaste.” The idea is that it takes some time–maybe 20-30 seconds–for the bacteria to carry out the transformation from the odorless compound to the aromatic compound, so it isn’t until the end of a tasting experience that certain flavors become obvious.

Thinking back to all of the chocolates that I’ve tasted, some with magnificent, long-lasting finishes, and others that seem to spiral so quickly to an unsatisfying demise, it makes me wonder once more about the reason for the differences, and whether the microbes in my mouth had any say in the matter. There are a million implications to all of this, including whether the compounds that these bacteria might be processing are naturally present in cacao or not, and if not, how they get there–fermentation, oxidation during drying, roasting??

Lots of food for thought, so to speak, and speaking of thought, who knows, maybe they’ll find out that there are microbes that change the way we think as well.

‘Til next time,

Alan