Category Archives: Books on Chocolate

Chocolate Map

Here’s a link to a really neat chocolate map from Bloomberg News (you have to scroll down the page a bit to see it). It’s not complete, but gives you a visual for many of the locations and their predominant tastes.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-08-28/how-to-pick-the-best-chocolate-bar-your-money-can-buy

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Araya Artisan Chocolate

The people at Araya really get it. They make beautiful chocolates that taste fabulous, and present them in lovely boxes designed to keep each little sculptural piece in pristine condition.

I sampled 28 of their luscious line of 35. Each fulfilled my quintessential idea of dessert. The shells were all tempered to a lovely shine and adorned with an appealing array of abstract designs, making them visually tantalizing.

Araya uses El Ray couverture from Venezuela, which isn’t surprising as the three founders, Stefano Zullian, his wife Carla, and her sister Silvana, are from that part of South America. All three quit their day jobs and studied with local chocolatiers before choosing Houston, Texas as their company’s home base.

Araya is the name of a Venezuelan town that straddles the lush rainforest where many of South America’s finest cocoa beans are grown and the parched land across the peninsula where a salt mine stands.

I thoroughly enjoyed every bite from this collection. Some of my favorites were:

Manhattan, a dark ganache infused with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Vermouth and cherry juice. I would happily order a box of those, all by themselves.

Dulce de Leche, the classic caramel blended with milk chocolate ganache. Another winner.

Orange Marzipan, a deliciously tropical riff on marzipan.

Margarita, truly stellar, housed a dark ganache with Jose Cuervo Tequila and lime zest. It was finished with a few grains of salt and couldn’t be better.

Peanut Butter and Berries, an inspired combination of dark chocolate ganache and peanut butter topped with blackberry pâté de fruit.

Chipotle, an ultra silky 61% Venezuelan ganache perfectly balanced with smokey chipotle heat.

Chai Spice, a gustatory trapeze artist poised on the brink of black tea cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. A true melding of flavors where the whole was far greater than the sum of its parts.

Passion Fruit, the essence of this marvelously addictive flavor in a white chocolate mousse.

Strawberry Balsamic, just enough rich vinegar reduction to heighten the strawberry ganache.

Acai Pomegranate, another layered affair with acai berry pâté de fruit atop a pomegranate dark chocolate ganache. Heaven.

Salty Caramel Rum, a sublime deep caramel and chocolate ganache with anejo rum and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Araya aims to please. If the alcohol infused chocolates appeal to you you can order a box of just those flavors. Ditto for the Dark, Milk, or Nuts collections.

They offer a few different package designs. All are lovely and would make a welcome gift.

Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between the World’s Greatest Chocolate Makers by Deborah Cadbury

History was always my worst subject. The way it was taught years ago made it dry as toast, and it bored me to tears. All I could think while reading Deborah Cadbury’s “Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between the World’s Greatest Chocolate Makers,” was how riveting a subject history can be in the right hands, even an account replete with dates and data.

The title is a little misleading, as it lets you believe the main focus is rivalry, when it is just as much about cooperation. These families, the Frys, Rowntrees, and Cadburys, were all Quakers and believed in wealth as a way to uplift everyone. Their philosophy guided them through many decades of expansion, and infused their material success with practical benefits for all their employees. The changes Cadbury’s enacted and the healthy lifestyle they engendered are inspirational.

Ms. Cadbury is an excellent writer who tackles very complicated subjects with aplomb, making even the most detailed material move seamlessly along. Whether it is the rise of chocolate manufacturing in England, and ensuing rivalries between Swiss, U.S., and British companies, or some little morsel about familial relationships, every sentence is worth reading. She peppers her narrative with the most mesmerizing details. There is even a selection of photos from 1824 through the 20th century, which really helps you get a feel for the Cadbury family and life in a bygone era.

So many books start out with a bang and end with a whimper, but this one actually gets progressively more interesting as Ms. Cadbury weaves the Hershey story in America, and possible hostile takeovers of Cadbury’s, into her compelling tale.

If you would like to hear Ms. Cadbury talk about her book check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWq0SJiWJE4.