- Published on April 25, 2017
- Written by TCHOsen
The chocolate industry has come a long way.
While big companies still dominate the chocolate industry, small quality focused chocolate companies are rapidly growing their sales and influence. And that’s had a profound impact on the industry as a whole. Here are just some of the ways in which chocolate is changing in 2017.
Premium chocolate is on the rise.
Artisan chocolate has been on the scene for several years now, and this trend is on full display in 2017. People are more and more invested in the quality of the food they purchase—and that includes their favorite sweets. As a result, people are becoming more willing to pay a little extra for a better quality bar. This helps explain why premium chocolate—which includes single-origin, organic, high-cocoa, and ethical chocolate options such as TCHO—while less than 5% of the market, is growing faster than any other sector in the confection market.
Dark chocolate is increasingly popular.
For decades, milk chocolate reigned supreme. But as people started to learn about the health benefits of dark chocolate, they opened up their palettes to giving it a try—and they discovered it wasn’t so bitter after all. As a result, dark chocolate has been steadily gaining popularity over the past few years, and this trend is expected to continue in 2017. In fact, growth of dark chocolate sales recently surpassed the growth of milk chocolate sales for the first time ever.
Chocolate products are getting more flavorful.
Now that they have a taste for dark chocolate, people are getting curious about other, more distinct chocolate flavors. The premium chocolate industry is happily meeting this demand. Major flavor trends so far have included everything from espresso to figs, turmeric, cardamom, and hibiscus. This year, chocolate makers will be expected to top these options with even more inventive flavors.
TCHO has been at the cutting-edge of flavorful chocolate production for years. It’s why our product line boasts a wide range of flavors to appeal to every taste bud, from Mint Chip Gelato to Orange + Toffee, Mokaccino, and Triple Berry.
The industry is getting more ethical.
For several years now, people have been growing increasingly concerned with how their food is produced—so it was only a matter of time until this ethos came to their treats. A combination of consumer demand and brand priorities is driving the craft chocolate industry towards a more ethical focus. More and more consumers want ethical products from authentic and transparent companies.
At TCHO, we embody this ethos every day. Through our TCHOSource program, we partner with farmers to create ethically and sustainably grown chocolate that helps maintain farmers’ livelihoods and enhance their wellbeing. We’re part of a broader movement toward more ethically sourced chocolate across the board, we go beyond Fair Trade
Production is becoming more environmentally friendly.
Conventional cocoa production has gotten a pretty bad rap in environmental circles for provoking soil erosion, the overuse of fertilizers, deforestation, and other not-so-eco-friendly effects, not to mention cocoa breeds and depth of flavor. But that’s starting to change. Just as brands are adopting more ethical practices when it comes to farmers, they’re also getting more ethical when it comes to their eco-footprint by adopting more sustainable agricultural practices and reducing waste and energy consumption throughout the supply stream.
At TCHO, we’re committed to minimizing our impact on the environment by producing organic and Fair Trade chocolate whenever possible, providing bulk purchasing options so customers can cut down on packaging waste, and partnering with our farmers to promote sustainable growing practices.
Brands are becoming more transparent.
As brands like TCHO commit to eliminating the old ways of chocolate sourcing in exchange for more farmer- and earth-friendly practices, they’re seeking to get the word out about their efforts. Companies that have nothing to hide are driving a trend toward greater brand transparency in the chocolate industry as a whole. For example, we at TCHO make no bones about where our chocolate is produced, how our chocolate is sourced, and the values we bring to the chocolate production process. This transparency empowers consumers to choose from brands whose values align with their own.
From eco-friendly farming to innovative flavor combinations, chocolate is boasting some impressive transformations in 2017. As for where the industry goes next? That’s up to the people who eat chocolate!
- Published on April 23, 2017
- Written by Alana Buckley
TCHO Choco-Coffee Cupcake Recipe
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup TCHO Chocolate 60.% dark chocolate discs
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1.) In a small bowl whisk together the cocoa powder, instant coffee, vanilla extract. Melt the chocolate discs in the microwave (10 second increments at a time) and pour the chocolate cover the cocoa powder mixture along with the hot water. Set aside.
2.) Combine the eggs and sugar with a whisk attachment and whisk for 5-10 minutes until frothy and white in color.
3.) Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and whisk until well combined.
4.) Sift the cake flour over the liquid mixture and fold the flour in gently. Make sure not to over mix.
5.) Line the cupcake pan with cupcake liners and scoop the batter into the cupcake liners. Bake at 350*F for 20-30 minutes.
6.) While the cupcakes are baking, let’s prepare the whipped cream topping!
7.) Whisk the cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form.
8.) Let the cupcakes cool until applying the toppings then decorate the cupcakes as you wish!
- Published on April 20, 2017
- Written by TCHOsen
If you’ve been baking for some time, it’s easy to rest on your laurels. Once you’ve mastered the basics of breads, cakes, and cookies, you run the risk of getting stuck in a baking rut. That’s because sticking to the basics is a surefire way to start growing bored in the kitchen.
What’s the best way to fight back against the baking doldrums? Adopting new habits, skills, and tools in the kitchen to elevate your efforts. Here are four straightforward ways to take your baking up a notch.
Get to know your ingredients.
When most people set out to improve their baking, they think about expanding their knowledge of different techniques. While this is a necessary aspect of growing as a baker, it’s equally important to expand your knowledge of the ingredients themselves. That means understanding the role ingredients perform in different types of recipes and the chemical processes that occur when various ingredients are combined. Take these examples:
- Knowing the different ways cocoa powder is made can help you choose the highest-quality option for your bakes. For example, using TCHO’s Natural Cocoa Powder will improve the flavor of your bakes, because we don’t expose our cocoa beans to alkalizing (commonly known as dutch cocoa powder) processes that can strip them of their rich flavor. If you didn’t know that non-alkalized cocoa beans were a thing, you wouldn’t know to look out for natural options.
- Knowing the role that baking powder plays in a recipe can allow you to swap in a different, similar-performing ingredient if you realize you’re out of baking powder before starting in on your bake. This can save you time, money, and headaches in the kitchen.
- Knowing that cocoa powder performs best in brownies and cakes and chocolate chips perform best in cookies and breads is an incredibly simple way to improve each of those bakes. If you didn’t know this, you’d be missing out on a simple opportunity to elevate your baked goods.
- Knowing how different ingredients should be stored helps ensure you’re cooking with the freshest possible ingredients, which will improve the quality of your bakes every time. For example, if you store chocolate in the fridge it could lose some of its flavor or texture. But if you store it in a cool, dry, place out of direct sunlight, it’s going to provide you with a consistent blast of chocolatey goodness whenever you bake.
These are just a few examples, but the list goes on. The point is this: The more you know about common baking ingredients, the more empowered you’ll be to identify quality products and whip up delicious baked goods in the kitchen.
Invest in a scale.
This is a quick way to let everyone who enters your kitchen know you’re serious about baking: Start using a digital scale to weigh out your flour, sugar and so on instead of relying on volume measurements. There are several benefits to doing so:
- It’s faster than filling up and leveling off a measuring cup.
- It means you won’t have to wash said measuring cup when you’re done baking.
- It makes it a lot easier to modify the recipe for larger or smaller batches (for example, it’s much simpler to divide up three eggs by weight rather than volume).
- Most importantly, it’s much more accurate than using a measuring cup—and that means you’ll be able to achieve more consistent results with your bakes. For example, flour can compact causing one cup of densely packed flour to weigh more than a “fluffed” flour.
A common term used in the culinary industry is, “mise en place” which means “putting everything in it’s place”. Measuring out ingredients ahead of time helps you stay organized, helps make sure you have everything before you start baking and makes you a more efficient baker!
Commit to reading recipes right.
One of the absolute simplest ways to ensure better bakes is to make a habit of reading recipes the whole way through before lifting a finger in the kitchen. This achieves several things:
- It allows you to double-check that you have all the necessary ingredients so you don’t get halfway through the recipe only to realize you’re not able to finish it.
- Similarly, it allows you to confirm that you have all the tools necessary to complete the recipe.
- It allows you to develop a sense of how much multi-tasking is involved, which pieces of the dish need to be ready when (and for what purpose), and so on.
- It allows you to do all the necessary prep work so your hands are free when it comes to more time-sensitive steps.
If you decide to experiment with changing a recipe, make sure you only change one step or one ingredient at a time so you can accurately assess if and how it changes the final result.
Experiment with embellishments.
Once you have the baking basics down, you can start elevating your baked goods by experimenting with different add-ins, toppings, and decorations. Not only will this make your baked goods look more polished, but it’s also a great way to use up leftover ingredients that would otherwise go to waste. For example, you could melt down leftover chocolate flakes or shavings to create decorations for cookies, sauces for ice cream or baked goods, and so on.
In addition to the tips outlined above, one of the quickest and most surefire ways to improve your baking is to simply… bake more. Entice yourself to the stove by working with ingredients and recipes you truly enjoy eating. (Shall we suggest chocolate?) Utilizing high-quality, delicious ingredients is a guaranteed way to enjoy donning an apron on a regular basis. Ready to get started? Check out our recipes for some delectable ideas.
- Published on April 18, 2017
- Written by TCHOsen
Think of your body as the hardest worker you’ve ever met. When you’ve finished up a tough workout, it keeps on working by repairing the damage done to your tissues and building up extra muscle growth.
There’s just one caveat: In order for your body to do this job effectively, it needs the proper fuel. And that’s why post-workout milkshakes are perpetually popular among the athletic crowd.
Drinking a healthy shake after a workout can help your body repair itself faster and achieve greater strength gains. But a regular milkshake probably won’t cut it. Instead, you want to pack your shakes with nutrient-rich ingredients that give your body the nutrition it needs to get stronger.
That’s where these post-workout milkshakes come in. Each of these shakes serves two purposes: They will provide your body with fuel to recover from a workout and generate new muscle growth. And they’ll taste like a delicious milkshake while doing it.
These shakes also share one more thing in common: They all contain chocolate. Adding chocolate to post-workout milkshakes (whether in the form of cocoa powder or chocolate discs) is a great idea for several reasons.
For starters, it’s delicious. (We should know—at TCHO, we make some of the most flavorful chocolate around.) It’s also good for you. Chocolate boasts a wide array of nutrients including magnesium, copper, potassium, iron, and flavonoids, which are loaded with antioxidants that reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and may help ward off a variety of diseases. These nutrients are beneficial to athletes of all types. And when you consume TCHO’s Natural Cocoa Powder, you can rest easy knowing it was produced on cooperative farms and without the use of processes that strip the beans of their rich flavor.
Whenever your body is in need of some post-workout fuel, turn to one of these delicious, chocolatey shakes.
Few flavor combinations are more classic than chocolate and banana. This post-workout shake includes these two delicious ingredients along with protein-packed hemp hearts, vanilla extract, heart-healthy cinnamon, and fresh spinach. The chocolate takes the form of cocoa powder to ensure plenty of rich, chocolatey flavor comes through. The final product boasts 10 grams of protein and an impressive number of nutrients (especially given that it tastes like a thick chocolate-banana milkshake).
As the name suggests, this post-workout shake packs a serious punch. That’s thanks to the use of flavorful ingredients such as peanut butter and cocoa powder along with other healthy add-ins like almond milk, spinach, fresh fruit, and hemp protein powder. The end result? A nutrient-rich, flavorful, and filling shake that will help you build the lean muscle you’re after.
Don’t let the green color fool you into thinking this shake tastes like spinach. While the healthy green is one of the primary ingredients, this shake boasts full-bodied flavor (and tons of nutrients) in the form of chocolate protein powder, ground flaxseed, fresh banana, peppermint extract, almond milk, and a liberal topping of dark chocolate. Don’t be surprised if one sip takes you back to the mint chocolate chip ice cream of your childhood.
This shake is packed with healthy carbs, fats, and a whopping 54 grams of protein to help your body recover from even the toughest workouts. All that protein is thanks to chocolate protein powder, rolled oats, and cottage cheese. Lest you be worried that doesn’t sound like a very tasty combination, fear not: The recipe also calls for vanilla almond milk, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and dark chocolate to ensure this drink tastes more like a milkshake than a health food.
Adding high-quality cocoa powder and/or chocolate discs to your post-workout shakes is a great way to ramp up both the nutrient content and the deliciousness quotient. And that’s enough to make anyone smile wider—even after a grueling workout.
- Published on April 11, 2017
- Written by TCHOsen
What Beginners Need to Know About Baking with Chocolate
Chocolate is unequivocally delicious, which means it’s worth sneaking it into as many different recipes as possible. (We should know: At TCHO, our core product principle is flavor.) From brownies to cakes to cookies, the decadent treat goes well in a wide variety of baked goods.
The only downside is that baking with chocolate requires some technical know-how in the kitchen. Before tackling your next chocolatey baking project, beef up on these tips.
Not only does proper procurement ensure a better bake, but it also helps you do your part for the planet.
To that first point: Whenever you’re baking with chocolate, different forms are more conducive than others to specific baking projects. For example, baking discs (drops, coins, couverture, wafers, etc) of chocolate or cocoa powder may fare best in anything that requires melted chocolate such as, brownies and cakes, while chips are often well-suited to cookie and bread recipes. The percentage of the chocolate also matters—bittersweet chocolate is well-suited to rich tarts, for example, while milk chocolate does well in muffins. (The percentage you choose is also partly a matter of personal taste.)
All of this explains why TCHO offers a wide selection of baking chocolates so you can utilize the right product for your recipe. If you’re not sure which type of baking chocolate will perform best, it’s time to put on your scientist cap and do some experimentation.
When selecting chocolate for baking, it’s also important to look at where the chocolate comes from in order to determine its quality and environmental and social impact. At TCHO, we partner with cocoa farmers to help them develop sustainable practices and improve their livelihoods. Many of our chocolate products are organic, and many are Fair Trade certified. You can learn more about our sourcing and production methods on our FAQ page.
If you’re using large chunks, blocks or bars of chocolate in a recipe, a long serrated knife is the best tool for chopping up the chocolate quickly and easily. If you’re going to melt the chocolate (and if you’re baking, you probably will), this is a necessary step before the actual melting process because it helps the chocolate melt more evenly. Which brings us to the next point…
The trickiest step in most baking projects that involve mixing chocolate into the recipe is melting down the chocolate.
Once you’ve selected the proper form of chocolate (see above), it’s time to melt it. One of the most beginner-friendly methods for melting chocolate is to use a water bath. This allows you to observe the chocolate as it’s melting so you can keep tabs on the process. It also gives you more control than a double broiler or microwave, which decreases the risk of burning the chocolate.
No matter which melting method you choose, keep in mind the following:
- Chocolate is not a fan of heat. It’s important to melt the chocolate gradually on a low temperature so it doesn’t separate or get grainy.
- Be very careful not to get water on or in the chocolate. This can cause the chocolate to become thick and lumpy as it melts. (This is called “seizing.”) To avoid seizing, be sure to use bone-dry utensils and bowls, use a rimmed bowl to help ward off water droplets, and wipe off the bottom of the bowl as soon as you remove it from the pan of water.
- Once you’ve melted the chocolate, avoid adding it to very cold ingredients—doing so will cause the chocolate to harden up before you want it to.
- Be aware that milk and white chocolate are more prone to burning, so go extra slow when working with these products.
If you’ve purchased more chocolate than you can use in a single recipe, then you’ll need to find a place to store it until your next culinary adventure. To store chocolate properly, keep it in a dry place that stays relatively cool (below 75°F) and is not exposed to direct sunlight. Avoid storing chocolate in the fridge, as this has the potential to alter the chocolate’s texture and flavor.
Chocolate can be used to add flavor, texture, and decorative elements to any manner of baked goods. (Need some ideas? Check out our array of delicious, chocolatey baked goods recipes.) Armed with these tips, you’ll be well on your way to working comfortably with chocolate in the kitchen.
- Published on April 9, 2017
- Written by Alana Buckley
Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 1/4 cups (or 2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt
- 3 1/2 cups plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour (sounds strange, but necessary!)
- 1 1/4 pounds of TCHO dark 60.5% couverture or TCHO 39% Classic milk couverture
- Dash of Sea salt (we used 39% milk chocolate for this recipe)
1.) With a hand or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy (3-4 min).
2.) Add eggs, one at a time, and mix to combine. Add vanilla, mix, then scrape down bowl.
3.) Sprinkle baking soda, baking powder and salt over dough and mix it until fully combined.
4.) Add flour all at once and mix it in short bursts until it almost completely disappears, but no longer. Try not to over mix the dough.
5.) Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 3 hours.
6.) Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a couple large baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.
7.) Scoop dough with a large ice cream scoop to form dough balls. If any chocolate pieces are right across the tops or sides of the balls of dough, try to bury them back in the dough so they don’t burn in the oven. I find pockets of chocolate exposed puddles of them. Arrange balls of dough about 3-4 in apart on sheets (these cookies will be up to 3-4 inches wide once baked) and sprinkle the tops of each with a few flecks of sea salt.
8.) Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until golden all over.
9.) Cool cookies on trays for 10 minutes, then transfer them to racks.
- Published on April 7, 2017
- Written by TCHOsen
Americans are becoming more and more aware of the ways our food choices can harm or hurt the environment. But “caring” and “being able to do something about it” aren’t always the same thing. Even the most well-intentioned grocery shopper can struggle to know how to reduce their food’s eco-footprint.
So let us make it easier for you. The following four tips aren’t the only ways to green your grocery shopping. But they are some of the simplest. What’s more, each of these strategies is proven to have a major impact. If you’re trying to purchase more environmentally conscious food, here’s how to get started.
Purchasing produce and other food products from local providers is a great way to reduce your eco-footprint. Shopping at local farmers markets or farm stands and purchasing local products from natural food or chain grocery stores means the products don’t have to undergo as much chemical processing. It also sustains small farmers and helps ensure that land isn’t converted for development. That’s a big reason why we at TCHO partner closely with farmers to help them sustain and improve their livelihoods. While cocoa beans are not found locally in most of the USA, they can be sourced responsibly and made into chocolate locally.
As an added bonus, shopping locally helps you develop a sense of place. Locally produced foods are more likely to be packed with flavors and characteristics that are unique to your region, which can help you learn more about the land where you live. We’ve learned this through our own experiences sourcing chocolate from Peru, Ecuador, Madagascar, and Ghana—cacao beans from each country boast their own distinct flavors!
Cut down on packaging.
Food packaging accounts for nearly 45 percent of all the materials in U.S. landfills, so it’s one of the most important elements to target if you’re looking to green your grocery shopping. Here are several strategies for reducing packaging waste:
- Buy whole, unpackaged foods whenever possible.
- Say no to paper and plastic and bring your own reusable shopping bags to the store instead.
- Buy in bulk whenever possible. Bonus points if you bring along your own recyclable bags or containers for storing bulk food items. You might be surprised at how many products can be purchased in bulk—even chocolate! Check out our three-kilo bags if you’re looking to satisfy a sweet tooth while reducing your ecological footprint.
- Skip individually packaged items whenever possible.
- If you do use plastic bags to cart home your groceries, research whether you can recycle them at any local establishments.
Buy from transparent brands. In order to determine whether you’re buying an eco-conscious food item, you’ll need to learn about the brand (and the product) in question. This starts with learning to identify environmentally related food labels such as “organic,” “natural,” “fair trade,” “B-Corp,” and the Leaping Bunny and purchasing certified products whenever possible.
It’s also valuable to dive deeper by visiting the website of the brands whose products you’re considering. Brands that don’t have anything to hide are more likely to be transparent about their business practices.
(It’s why we at TCHO have a detailed FAQ page that honestly addresses how we source and manufacture our products as well as a information about our unique program, TCHO Source, dedicated to partnering with our growers to help them produce great cacao beans and sell for fair prices. We’re proud that many of our products are certified organic and/or Fair Trade, and we go above and beyond Fair Trade whenever possible.)
If you notice a product doesn’t include any of the above labels and the brand isn’t forthcoming about how its products are made, that’s a good sign that you may want to take your business elsewhere.
Purchase less meat.
Sorry, steak lovers: Purchasing lots and lots of meat can be damaging to the environment. The good news is you don’t have to forego carnivorous habits completely in order to be more respectful of Mother Earth. Green your meat eating by:
- Eating less meat in general. This doesn’t mean you have to go 100 percent vegetarian or vegan, but do consider adding in a few meatless days each week. (Don’t worry, you can still eat organic chocolate on these days.)
- Choosing ethical options whenever you do eat meat. Your best bet from an environmental standpoint is to look for meat options that are free-range, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and organic. (Bonus points if you can find all of these elements at a local farm.)
- When it comes to seafood, look for wild-caught and/or locally caught fish and try to avoid purchasing endangered species.
The most eco-conscious purchases in the world won’t mean much if you throw away whatever you bought. So in addition to these strategies, remember to never buy more than you need. Americans currently waste 30 to 40 percent of our food supply each year, which means eco-conscious eating requires using what you purchase.
Combine this attitude with the strategies above, and you’ll become part of the global solution to environmental challenges. When the food you eat is better for the planet and better for growers, you’ll find yourself smiling wider in the grocery store and every time you eat!
- Published on March 31, 2017
- Written by Laura Ann Sweitzer
TCHO Chocolate sources cocoa beans from several cooperatives in Peru, which help make our delicious Peruvian Organic Fair Trade chocolate. TCHO has had direct relationships with these cooperatives in Peru since TCHO first began making chocolate in 2008. Our cooperative partners- their farmers and employees- are in our thoughts as heavy rains and flooding plague Peru.
According to Reuters, At least 62 people have died and more than 70,000 have become homeless as Peru’s rainy season has delivered 10 times more rainfall than usual. About half of Peru has been declared under a state of emergency. The country is bracing for another month of anticipated rain fall and flooding.
Below are several photos our partners in Piura have sent us and more photos can be seen here:
- Published on February 28, 2017
- Written by Alana Buckley
- Published on May 19, 2016
- Written by Laura Ann Sweitzer
A flavor obsessed, discerning, and creative culinary expert that creates exquisite cuisine using only the finest ingredients- including TCHO Chocolate.
A chef who knows the best chocolate around when they taste it and thus proudly uses TCHO chocolate in their cakes, mole sauces, ice creams and more.
Greatness attracts greatness. The flavor obsessed attract the flavor obsessed. At TCHO we have a long history of partnering with some of the most discerning and innovative chefs in the business. These TCHOPros are constantly amazing us with their culinary creations made with TCHO chocolate. We recently caught up with TCHOPro Russell Jacskon.
Jackson just released a new digital series on BravoTv.com – Going Off the Menu. Jackson describes Going Off the Menu as “the new paradigm in food television”. The show features the best of the underground food and restaurant scene and encourages people to get out there and explore.
We asked Jackson what he thought about TCHO’s 6 new chocolate bars. He’s loving the Hazelnut Chunk, Sea Salt & Almond and the 81% Extra Dark.
Finally, here is his delicious recipe for Healthy TCHO Chocolate Panakes. We love what this man makes with TCHO!