- Published on April 19, 2013
- Written by Ashleigh Papp
Pastry Chef Elaine Smyth, of New York’s famous restaurant Per Se, recently joined TCHO’s sourcing team on a trip to investigate the origins of chocolate. Usually she can be found creating chocolate-inspired culinary masterpieces, but when an opportunity to explore her interests in chocolate through the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group experiential scholarship, she knew there was no better way to learn then seeing where it all begins, enter TCHOSource. I had the chance to learn about Elaine’s adventures while in Peru. Between visiting cacao farms, spending time with co-op leaders and even leading a truffle making class with fresh chocolate – it sounds like she had quite the learning adventure!
While many talented professionals incorporate chocolate into their creations, seldom do they take an interest in learning where the chocolate actually comes from. What inspired you to learn more?
For as long as I can recall I have had a fascination with chocolate from baking chocolate cakes with my mother as a little girl to the first time I tempered chocolate. I have always wanted to explore it further, to know more. I was eager to explore the journey from the cocoa farm to our kitchen by investigating the various links in its supply chain.
TCHO as company interested me because of their focus on growing the best beans possible through partnering with farmers. I admire the way the company strives to make the world a better place while making the best possible chocolate. With its distinctive focus on flavor profiles, true innovation and TCHOSource program, TCHO seemed like the ideal partner- a chocolate company as obsessed with chocolate as me.
Tell us about an experience that left a lasting impression!
Meeting the farmers and visiting their farms was particularly special- listening to their stories, seeing the fruits of their hard work and sharing the baba fruit right off their trees was the opportunity of a lifetime. I think one of my favorite moments was during the truffle class held at Oro Verde’s chocolate lab. The General Manager of the cooperative who had excitedly participated in the class said to me that he felt he understood so much better how to move forward and improve their cocoa beans now that he saw the end product and how we were using it. Likewise for me I now have a much greater appreciation and understanding of the chocolate and how to use it because I have seen where it comes from. Now I have experienced each step in the process and the hard work of those who make it all possible.
Elaine grew up in Dublin, Ireland, and has worked for Gordon Ramsay and Michelin star restaurants in London and Paris. She is currently responsible for the production of all chocolates at Per Se. When not playing with chocolate, she takes full advantage of living in The Big Apple: exploring new neighborhoods, restaurants and its many museums.
- Published on November 23, 2012
- Written by Greta Miersma
The concept for 99% started with a simple quest: to make a chocolate bar without sugar that didn’t taste like all the other chocolates without sugar — namely like dirt. But that instead tasted like what we imagined it could — like the purest essence of cacao.
We packaged our first release on an extremely small scale, literally! The Limited Edition 99%, introduced nearly a year ago, was a mere 15 grams, because we had no idea how you’d react. We soon came to realize, however, that even though a little goes a long, long way, you wanted more!
Enter 99% TCHOIntense. A full 58 grams (2 ounces) of insanely rich, not bitter, completely unsweetened chocolate. With no added sugar, our 99% blend is an intense, bold expression of pure cacao. Like a fine espresso is to coffee, this is the purest expression of the bean itself.
Creating a chocolate this good with no added sugar is no small feat; the cacao beans have to be the best and the processing perfect.
The result, we have discovered, is surprisingly addictive. In this dark, dark, dark chocolate, you will discover pleasingly deep fudgy and roasty notes, balanced by hints of berry and cherry that linger through a long finish.
The cacao for this chocolate is a complex and complementary blend from two separate origins. Cacao from an organic, fair trade cooperative in the Amazonian rainforests of Peru (Pucacaca, pictured at left) contributes the bright, fruity notes. Deep chocolatey and roasty notes derive from an organic, fair trade cooperative in the coastal region of northwest Ecuador.
The cooperatives behind this blend are part of our TCHOSource Program. Investing directly with these growers, we have installed solar-powered data arrays, a Flavor Lab (allowing farmers to make chocolate with their own cacao), and advanced solar drying systems.
We have also performed technical sensory training to educate growers on how best to optimize specific flavor notes through careful attention to fermentation and drying practices.
And then we have connected them to our chocolate makers back in San Francisco so that we can synchronize our palates.
Unlike many other unsweetened bars on the market, our 99% bar is notable for its rich flavor, smooth mouth feel, and marked lack of bitterness.
Come over to the (really) dark side. Taste the latest New American Chocolate for yourself! Get your very own 99% TCHOIntense bar now at www.tcho.com.
- Published on October 21, 2012
- Written by Greta Miersma
We asked for a name suggestion at the conclusion of every round of TCHOJoe Beta. Our BetaTasters, of course, delivered! They gave us all kinds of ideas for names, such as, but most definitely not limited to:
Mochalicious, Espresso with Benefits, TCHOfee, Cacaofinated, TCHOFFEINE, Wake Up Call, Smooth Speed, Two Beans, Mouth Orgasm, Oh My Joe!, The Endorphinator, Cloud 9, Mochalicious, Mountain High Morning, Javarific, Cafe con Leche, All American Mocha, Rich Reverie, MoMoMocha, Keen Bean, Crema, Jitters, Buzz, Toasty Espresso Trip, Espresso Yourself, and TheoBREWmine
But, in the end, one was a clear winner: Mokaccino!
Mokacinno encompasses everything the finished TCHOJoe recipe is — creamy and smooth, luscious and chocolatey, with the perfect amount of freshly roasted Blue Bottle coffee.
So it’s with great pride we introduce to you the latest member of the New American Chocolate family, Mokaccino!
- Published on October 15, 2012
- Written by Greta Miersma
We didn’t tell the BetaTasters much about each round going out during the TCHOJoe Beta program. But we weren’t just sending out random samples. We did, in fact, have a method to our madness:
Each round we tested something different. First we tested which chocolate would be best, then we asked which coffee was preferred and, finally, what ratio of coffee to chocolate was most more-ish. Here’s what our BetaTasters had to say, and how we co-created this bar with them.
Round 0.4: The Right Chocolate
In Round 0.4, we wanted to know which of our SeriousMilk™ chocolates would be best paired freshly roasted coffee.
0.4A was a very classic tasting milk chocolate, close to our 39% “Classic”. 0.4B was a darker milk chocolate, more similar to our 53% “Cacao”.
Which one was liked best? Turns out our BetaTasters were pretty split! And we had to agree. Somewhere right in the middle of a classic milk and darker milk was just right, and this became the basis for the next round.
Round 0.6: The Best Beans
Next, we set out to find the perfect coffee. We turned to our tried and true coffee partners — Blue Bottle. But which blend would be best? We left that one up to our BetaTasters.
The coffee in 0.6A had a kick, with bright flavors and notes of dried fruit. 0.6B had a lighter roast — more mild and pretty chill on the palate.
BetaTasters said A was good, but B was better. We took the hint. Our chocolate makers created a winning blend of the two Blue Bottle roasts, with more of 0.6B’s coffee than 0.6A.
Round 0.8: The Perfect Balance
We’d found the right chocolate, we had the best beans. The final step was to find the perfect balance between the two.
Beta 0.8A had a greater coffee to chocolate ratio, like a triple-shot mocha latte. 0.8B decreased the amount of coffee by just a tad.
More chocolate? More coffee? Our BetaTasters were completely split — exactly 50 / 50. So we did the same; we mixed 50% of 0.8A and 50% of 0.8B to make a 100% balanced TCHOJoe bar. The chocolate makers found a ratio of coffee to chocolate most definite to please any pro palate.
And, with that, we had the final recipe for our next New American Chocolate.
- Published on October 10, 2012
- Written by Greta Miersma
Beta is TCHO’s obsession with co-creating our chocolates with our customer. This past Spring we ran TCHOJoe Beta, giving subscribers to the program, called BetaTasters, the unique opportunity to help co-create our first-ever inclusion bar.
After an intensive R&D process of our own, we sent three rounds of pre-production prototypes to BetaTaster. BetaTasters used their pro palate skills to taste and give online feedback for each round. We took their valuable feedback to craft the very best next New American Chocolate. What did they have to say? Take a gander at the snazzy TCHOJoe Beta infographic!
- Published on October 1, 2012
- Written by Greta Miersma
International Chocolate Awards declared TCHO’s SeriousMilk™ the Best Milk Chocolate and Flavored Milk Chocolate made in America. Actually, TCHO’s chocolates were named the best in all of the Americas — North and South, since the competition included the entire hemisphere. Yes, your favorite milk bars are officially the best milk chocolates made on this side of the planet!
Over 200 chocolates were entered into the competition. Each chocolate was rigorously evaluated on a number of characteristics: aroma, flavor, and personal taste impression. The result? TCHO’s “Cacao” and “Classic” swept the top two spots as Best Milk Chocolate and “Mokacinno” won the Silver for Best Flavored Milk Chocolate.
- Published on September 18, 2012
- Written by Greta Miersma
TCHO is excited to announce our first artisan confections, created by our own confectioners Zohara Mapes and Ryan Holmes, affectionately known internally as The Pro and The Rookie. They are available exclusively at our Pier 17 Beta Store in San Francisco — and will be available online to Tasters Circle members at our webstore starting this holiday season.
TCHO is known for making bars and professional products that reflect our obsession with exploring the inherent flavors of chocolate. TCHO Artisan Confections take our acclaimed PureNotes Dark and SeriousMilk chocolates and blend them with meticulously sourced ingredients from local provisioners to create irresistible flavor pairings.
These are our first four confections:
99% TCHOIntense + Marshall’s Farm Bay Area Honey Blend
Incredibly rich Organic, Fair Trade 99% TCHOIntense becomes insanely light and pleasantly bright when sweetened entirely, and only, with Marshall’s Farm Bay Area Honey blend and fresh cream. The best no-sugar truffle you’ll ever taste.
“Nutty” PureNotes Dark + Woodford Reserve Craft Bourbon
TCHO’s mellow Organic, Fair Trade “Nutty” PureNotes dark chocolate marries perfectly with Woodford Reserve’s bright and complex craft bourbon. TCHOPro 68% shell adds deep chocolatey notes for a complete flavor journey.
“Fruity” PureNotes Dark + Yerena Farms Fresh Raspberries
Bright, jammy organic, Fair Trade “Fruity” PureNotes Dark chocolate couples with freshly picked organic raspberries for bursting-with-ripe-berries flavor.
“Cacao” SeriousMilk + Blue Bottle Coffee
Luscious 53% “Cacao” SeriousMilk chocolate masterfully pairs with Blue Bottle’s famous organic, freshly roasted coffe. Like a rich, creamy TCHOmocha you can eat!
Meet the Minds Behind TCHO Artisan Confections
Zohara Mapes, The Pro
Zohara actually made confections before she became a member of TCHO’s Bean Team and TCHO Chocolate Maker. After spending years tramping through Mayan jungles and studying chocolate technologies, Zohara began her own artisan confection company selling all sorts of seasonal flavors. When she finally came to TCHO in its early days as a Chocolate Maker, she was instrumental in helping to design our PureNotes, SeriousMilk, and TCHOPro product lines. With the opportunity to create TCHO’s very own line of confections, Zohara returns full circle to her roots.
Ryan Holmes, The Rookie
Ryan Holmes, Confectioner, is truly obsessed with chocolate. He studied baking and pastry at CIA (Culinary Institute of America) Hyde Park, then became a production baker and pastry cook at CIA San Antonio. As his skills deepened, so did his obsession: Ryan has a large tattoo on his right side of Quatzalcoatl, the Aztec god rumored to have brought cacao to mankind. Initially recruited as a Store Associate, day after day he made confections on his own time in his small home kitchen to share with other TCHOsen. When it came time to start TCHO Artisan Confections, he leaped at the chance to work with Zohara.
- Published on May 20, 2012
- Written by Greta Miersma
Seriously? If I eat more chocolate, I can get rid of that extra 5, 10, 50 pounds? Seriously?
According to a recent study (3), “Seriously.” “In our study,” says Dr. Golomb, “people who ate chocolate more often actually ate more calories…but in spite of that they had a lower [body mass index]”. (Body mass index, or BMI, is a measure of body fat.) The self-proclaimed chocoholics did not even eat fewer calories or exercise more.
Best diet ever, right? Bring on the chocolate covered cashews, 68% discs, and drinking chocolate shots! Time to stock up on cookies and cakes and tarts and gelato! Chocolate mousse for breakfast, chocolate chip mint ice cream for lunch, and salted caramel cupcakes for dinner! I am so ready to drop some poundage!
Okay, not so fast. The study refers to “people who ate chocolate more often”, not “people who gorged themselves on all things containing some form of chocolate”. Frequent chocolate eaters tend to be thinner, people who eat a bit every day.
So I can’t have a chocolate binge and lose weight, but I can consistently eat chocolate and drop a few pounds. How does that work?
“It isn’t just the number of calories that matter,” says Dr. Golomb. “It’s the composition of the calories.’
Cacao beans contain all kinds of super-food-esque compounds. The compounds at work for this study are polyphenols and epicathethin. Polyphenols help digest dietary fat (2). “This means that the fat in chocolate may exit our bodies before it has a chance to be absorbed. Or, in other words, these compounds in cocoa may help us fend off fat.” (2) Epicathethin “appears to boost the energy-producing elements of the body’s cells.” (1) Essentially, cocoa helps your body process certain fat.
I eat chocolate every single day. And now, eating chocolate can help me lose weight. I’m sold!
How will I know for sure? Seems like the proof is in the (chocolate) pudding!
- Published on January 9, 2012
- Written by Nina Luttinger
The highly acclaimed journal Nature has just published a fascinating study on the science of flavor and food pairing. Turns out Western cuisines differ from Eastern cuisines in how they pair ingredients. Check out the nifty infographics.
- Published on December 19, 2011
- Written by Greta Miersma
On Sunday, December 18th, the slickest TCHO Pros in San Francisco joined us for our first ever Holiday TCHOcase. We got to enjoy a few of our favorite things from Auntie Fruf’s aahsome fudge, Biscotti Bari, DeLise Cafe, Le Dix-Sept, Modern Cookie Co., Skylite Snowballs, Snyder’s Honey, and Three Babe’s Bakeshop. Treats included mini chocolate pies, scrumptious chocolate fudge, melt-in-your-mouth (literally) chocolate snowcones, classic French indulgences like délice au chocolat noir and TCHO’s own peppermint bark. Mouth water yet? Keep reading to learn more about what went down at the TCHOcase. <!– more –>
auntie fruf’s aahsome fudge
We met auntie fruf on Twitter. Yes, seriously. On Twitter. Also known as Christine Hanson, auntie fruf got our attention by tweeting about using TCHO in her Raspberry Truffle and Chocolate Chip fudge. Sounds seriously scrumptious, right? We thought so, too.
A few weeks later, a beautiful box of aahsome fudge arrived at TCHO. It was love at first bite. And second. And third and fourth and fifth! We nommed away Espresso, Raspberry Truffle, Chocolate Chip, Caramel Pecan and Milk Chocolate fudges. After finishing the grand feast of fudge, we knew auntie fruf’s aahsome fudge needed to come to San Francisco.
Now, aahsome fudge has arrived! You can find these gorgeous, giftable boxes in our Pier 17 Retail Shop.
Want the tasty treat but can’t stop by Pier 17? Give auntie fruf’s TCHOcolate brownie recipe a go (available on the “Recipes” section).
We are nothing short of obsessed with Stacey Bruno Migale’s Biscotti Bari. Taking a bite out of her handcrafted biscotti brings your tastebuds on a whirl-wind of a trip to Italy and back. The only thing we could love more than the taste of her biscotti is the story behind it.
Her love of making this traditional Italian treat goes all the way back to her Nonie’s kitchen. There, in that kitchen, she experienced the pure bliss of sitting in the morning light, enjoying Nonie’s biscotti dipped in the perfect latté.
Fast forward a few years, and Stacey meets one of the founders of TCHO. She shares her dream of recreating this simple pleasure, of making enough homemade biscotti that everyone can enjoy dipping that Italian treat in their morning latté. TCHO’s co-founder encouraged her to go ahead! Do it! And, of course, to use TCHO!
So, Stacey did it! She went ahead! And, of course, she used TCHO! Now, Biscotti Bari is available for wholesale, retail and to buy directly online.
Even with all that TCHO/Biscotti Bari love, we couldn’t pry the top-secret biscotti recipe out of Stacey. Instead, she’s shared her “flippin’ crazy good” recipe for Chocolate Budino. Well, if it’s “flippin’ crazy good”, Stacey, we’ll definitely have to give it a try!
DeLise Dessert Cafe
DeLise is the epitome of what a dessert cafe should be: pure delight! DeLise, named for the two owners Dennis and Catherine Eloise, is committed to offering only the freshest, most delicious, and most nutritious selection of sweets and treats. Yes, you read that correctly: most nutritious. DeLise seeks out organic and local ingredients, without artificial flavors or preservatives.
Based on this criteria, Dennis and Catherine Eloise sought out TCHO. And we’re so pleased they did! DeLise worked with the TCHO Store Manager to develop a Kinder Bueno mousse cup. Kinder Bueno is a German candy bar, kind of like a Kit Kat filled with hazelnut cream. For the mousse cup, think Nutella-like whipped, creamy goodness on the bottom, then a layer of chocolate ganache and sprinkled with candied hazelnuts on top. Tasty! Or should we say “schmackhaft” (German for “tasty”).
Another delight DeLise has so skillfully crafted is their World Peace Cookie. This cookie is one schmackhaft treat you’ve got to try!
First things first. For all those non-French speakers, Le Dix-Sept is pronounced: “lay dis-set”. Michelle Hernandez, food goddess extraordinaire behind Le Dix-Sept, chose the name as an ode to the Parisian quarter she called home while studying classic French technique at the Michelin-starred houses of L’Angle du Faubourg, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, La Table de Joël Robuchon and L’Agape. (You’re on your own for pronouncing all those names!)
Now that you’ve got the basics, we can move on to ogling over the divinity of French desserts. French desserts are like the Aston Martins of the sweets world. Other cars, like a cute Volkswagon Beetle, a sturdy F150, and the ever energy-efficient Prius are great. And in the sweets world these vehicles would probably be a darling strawberry shortcake cupcake, a triple-chocolatey-chunk brownie with extra fudge sauce on top, and a raw, vegan, organic, gluten-free, Fair Trade slice of banana bread, respectively. All of these treats are wonderful in their own right. But there’s just something about French desserts, like sitting behind the wheel of an Aston Martin, that’s beyond blissful, just pure pleasure.
Whatever that extra-special element is, Le Dix-Sept has mastered it—and then some! Le Dix-Sept marries San Francisco food culture with classic French techniques. Michelle uses organic, Fair Trade, and local ingredients in all her dishes. Extra bonus: each Le Dix-Sept treat is made-to-order. So your dish will be much fresher, much faster and much more delicious than waiting for those macarons directly from Paris.
If you can’t even wait that long for pure heaven to reach your tongue, try making Le Dix-Sept’s Délice au Chocolat Noir yourself. Ready, set, nom!
Modern Cookie Co.
Make it. Bake it. Dip it. Roll it. Eat it. Give it. Love it.
That’s Modern Cookie Co.‘s philosophy and that’s a philosophy we’re totally ready to hop on board with! Modern Cookie Co. is like the Coldstone of cookies. The ultimate personalization experience. Of course, we highly recommend TCHO, but the possibilities are truly infinite!
Mod’s top TCHO recommendations? Chewy Fudge Brownie with PureNotes™ “Chocolatey” Bars, Sugar Round with TCHOPro 66% and their Biker Bar with Roasted Cacao Nibs—nom nom nom!
“Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, TCHO?” you’re thinking. “Snowballs in San Fran year-round? You must be off your rocker!”
But please believe, we are still very well situated on our beloved rocker. The snowballs we’re talkin’ ’bout are not only available year-round, but completely edible and ridiculously scrumptious. We’re talkin’ ’bout Skylite Snowballs, a gourmet shaved ice truck roaming around the Bay Area with Baltimore native Katie Baum at the helm. Katie’s driven (pun intended) to bring the tastiness of the traditional Baltimore snowball snack to California. She crafted her fresh seasonal menu with Chez Panisse pastry chef Stacie Pierce. The result? A grand assortment of anything-but-traditional, purely ambrosial snowballs.
Snyder’s Honey & Cristina Liberati
Snyder’s Honey is a family run apiary in the Bay Area. Since it’s a bit of a challenge to have a shop right next to the beehives, the Snyders themselves can be found at different farmer’s markets throughout the week. We love to tromp down to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market on a Tuesday morning and snag a taste of their delectable honey.
Lately, one of our own has become especially enthralled with the concept of honey + chocolate. Cristina, a long-time farmer’s market fanatic, started up a conversation with the Snyders about how the two treats would taste together. The Snyders were immediately intrigued. And so the task of pairing chocolate and honey had begun!
High quality chocolate and honey share a distinct quality: the flavor depends on origin. For chocolate, the origin of the cacao bean gives the distinct flavor notes. At TCHO, we distinguish these notes with our Flavor Wheel (“Chocolatey”, “Fruity”, “Nutty”, “Citrus”). Honey’s flavor depends on the bees, where the bees fly and what time of year the bees are producing honey. Two seemingly totally different foods are really extraordinarily similar!
While the final pairing menu is still underway, Cristina created another glorious way to combine the two heavenly products—the Tuesday Market Granola Bar. Enjoy!
Three Babes Bakeshop
Three Babes Bakeshop is a pop-up pie shop in San Francisco. You can find this skilled trifecta at Stable Cafe every Saturday and Sunday, surrounded by a posse of perfectly prepared, pleasantly palatable pies ready to purchase. (Alliteration, anyone?)
These babes believe in building community. A piece of this community building is a strong devotion to using only organic and locally sourced ingredients. So, for all their chocolatey needs, they come to TCHO. We’re pumped they do, because we could all do with some additional babe-liness in our lives.
Take a slice out of their pie. Craft their Chocolate Cream Pie (recipe below) and amplify your babe factor.