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Omnom Caramel Milk

Omnom & Reykjavik Pride 2017

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We think that all craft chocolate is magical. It tastes like nothing else, the simple ingredients mean its better for you, and open, sustainable supply chains means its better for farmers.

But sometimes craft chocolate can be even more magical.

This year Omnom is sponsoring Reykjavik Pride. For the festivities Omnom has whipped up 2000 bags of its rainbow Omnom Popp – a special popcorn coated in chocolate and available in five colourful flavours.

If you’re unable to attend the festivities then never fear! Omnom has distilled a little Pride magic into a limited edition batch of its Caramel + Milk flavoured Pride bar. As we’ve come to expect from Omnom, this bar is a feast on they eyes as well as the tongue. The beautiful packaging features prancing unicorns and of course a rainbow background. But this is just the start – open the packet to discover the delicious chocolate beneath.

Omnom will be donating all the proceeds from Omnom Popp and the Caramel + Milk bar to Reykjavik Pride. We are delighted to fly the flag and support our Icelandic friends.

And whether you’re on Brighton Beach or at home, you can taste some of the magic yourself. We’ve a very few of the limited bars for you so we recommend you grab yours while you can (rainbow unicorns are famously hard to catch).

OMNOM – CARAMEL + MILK 2017

 

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Omnom Caramel Milk Pride bar

A joyful celebration of diversity, Icelandic unity and pride.

The sweet chocolate uses Omnom’s fudgy, malted-tasting Nicaragua Milk as a base.

Enhancing the caramel notes in the chocolate, the bar’s surfaces is sprinkled with caramel pieces that have been coated in even more milk chocolate.

As you unwrap the bar you might just discover an extra bit of sparkle…

New Bars We’re Enjoying this Month

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Five of The Best New Chocolate Bars

Every month, we allow you to discover four new chocolate bars with our monthly subscription. The chocolate world is a big one, with makers sourcing beans from all around the world from Peru to Africa to Papua New Guinea and the Dominican Republic. We’ve tasted chocolate from every corner of the globe and we love to try new bars, whether it’s dark chocolate or milk. Each bar tastes different in its own unique way and it’s surprising how different each bar cam taste and it’s all dependant on the beans used and how the bar has bean created from the tree to the shelves.

Here at Cocoa Runners, it’s our job to discover the world’s best chocolate bars. We have tried thousands upon thousands of chocolate bars; some we’ve disliked, some we’ve liked and some we cannot live without. We have carefully rounded u our favourite new chocolate bars that we think everybody should try.

GEORGIA RAMON

R.A.W

This special addition bar is made with unroasted Trinitario cocoa beans from Peru, and at maximum temperature of 55.55° C, it tastes incredible. This chocolate gives notes of fruity acidity with the aroma and taste of an earl grey tea with a hint of orange.

There is no definition of raw, there is no get hold of raw. How are the fermented beans? That’s handiwork and the temperatures can be very high. How the beans are dried, that there is quite a difference, or it is on a concrete slab in the burning sun, or on grates in a tunnel with shade cloth. And if cocoa butter is added, this component is by definition not raw.

MORIN

LAIT JAMAÏQUE MARAVIA MILK

Jamaican beans have a history of being one of the first cacaos to be imported to the United Kingdom, though at the time chocolate was primarily a drink rather than a bar for eating.

These beans from Jamaica carry natural flavours such as fruit, nutty hints and sometimes, even an earthy tone all at the same time. A relatively hard to get hold of origin, the beans are primarily Trinitario. This classic milk chocolate has a fresh cream quality and a gentle pannacotta note which deepens into caramel with every bite.

FRUITION

CORAZON QUINOA CRUNCH

This bar made by Fruition is limited edition. Using beans from San Martin and Maranon in Peru. Fruition have created a truly delicious milk chocolate bar with a surprising crunch. With every bite, you will notices notes of passion fruit, berries and lime salt.

Fruition is a small batch bean to bar chocolate workshop located in the Catskill Mountains of New York. With tremendous attention to detail, they slowly roast and stone grind carefully selected cocoa beans to accentuate their inherent flavour. Sometimes being a perfectionist really pays off when the chocolates tastes this good.

Duffys Dominican Republic

DUFFY’S

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TAINO 65%

This bar is made from fine organic “Hispaniola” cocoa beans. The cane sugar and cocoa butter are also completely organic, with the latter coming from the Dominican Republic. When Duffy’s are making this chocolate the whole factory smells of pineapples!
Duffy’s produce single origin artisan chocolate bars made from cacao sources for various different regions located all over the world. Duffy’s have complete control of their roasting and processing of the cocoa beans they use because they do it all themselves in Lincolnshire.
Damson

DAMSON

BUFFALO MILK BLEND

Before founding Damson in 2015, Dom Ramsey was a prolific chocolate blogger, as well as a founding member of Cocoa Runners. In between crafting bars in Islington, Dom managed to find time to write his own book. Simply titled Chocolate, the book covers everything from the history of cacao to how you can craft your own. This bar combines cocoa beans from Ingeman in Nicaragua, Akesson in Madagascar and buffalo milk from Laverstoke Farm in Hampshire.

This bar gives rich dark milk notes with sweet flavours of dark caramel and fudge. There is also a subtle hint of red berries which adds depth.

Whittard Tea & Chocolate

Welcome Whittard

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Earlier this year we were delighted to spend time with the expert tea tasters from Whittard, tasting their fine loose leaf teas and sharing some of our favourite bars.  It was fascinating to learn so much about  the origins of different teas, and all the care and attention that goes into preparing the perfect cup.  Perhaps it was inevitable that we would eventually find ourselves trying out different pairings of teas and bars.

Along with the fantastically knowledgeable Bethan Thomas, Tea Buyer & Manager at Whittard, we presented our three favourite combinations at the Chocolate Show London in October 2016. We were delighted to share our pairings and hear other people’s notes on the teas and chocolate. You can also discover each combination for yourself. Read on to find out more. Mao Jian & Marou Ba Ria, £18

Mao Jian & Marou Ba Ria £18

Whittard Chocolate and tea 1For those looking for a more robust taste to their green tea, this famous variety from China’s Hunan Province might be just the ticket.

The elegant blue-grey leaf takes its colour from the silvery buds picked early in the spring, while the infusion itself produces rich, roasted notes and a vibrant nutty complexity. There’s even a floral sweetness to the finish, far from the bitter, tannic taste which you might associate with lesser green teas.

The name itself is a reference to the quality of the leaf: ‘Mao’ refers to the youthful, downy quality of the barely opened buds, while ‘Jian’ refers to the peaked tip of the young leaves, delicately picked and gently rolled by hand.

Ba Ria is a rich and fruity chocolate, made with beans from the Bà Ria province of south eastern Vietnam. This bar is a sublime and intense chocolate experience that tastes as good as it looks. This is the kind of chocolate that makes you look twice at the ingredients to see where the intensely fruity flavour is coming from. Of course, there are no added flavours, and the deep, red fruit notes in this chocolate come entirely from the south Vietnamese Trinitario cocoa beans.

When tasted together, they transform the separate flavours in a most unexpected way.  Whittard’s tea expert said “We’d always considered our Mao Jian as a typically ‘nutty’ fired green tea, but it transformed into something altogether more floral when set against Marou’s intense 76% Vietnamese dark chocolate.”

Keemun Mao Feng & Solomons Gold £18

whittard chocolate and tea 2Keemun Mao Feng – aromatic notes of sweet plum and smoked pinewood.

This smokey pairing brings together a Keemun from China and a dark chocolate from The Solomon Isles.

One of our most prized Chinese teas, we’ve sourced this exceptionally high grade of Keemun from Anhui Province, the home of Chinese black tea. While ‘Keemun’ refers to the region of ‘Qimen’ where this tea was first produced using specialist techniques learnt in AnHui, ‘Mao Feng’ gives a clue to the superb quality of the young spring leaves. Skilfully picked and processed by hand, the result is an extraordinarily smooth, plummy sweetness, tinged with a subtlest touch of Lapsang-style smokiness.

Comparable to a fine Burgundy in the tea-tasting world, this is the sort of tea connoisseurs dream about. We’d recommend using slightly less leaf, brewing lightly and drinking without milk to bring out the notes of plum, black pepper and smoked pinewood.

Perhaps one of the most interesting chocolate phenomena, this ‘smoked chocolate’ note is something we are seeing more of. There are a number of cocoa-producing islands in the South Pacific and many of the bars that hail from them have a similar profile. At the same time, each different plantation and islands’ own micro-climate has a huge impact on the beans’ flavour. So far Solomons Gold has the most pronounced smokiness  of any bar we’ve tasted.

This is a seriously intense and savoury dark bar. The chocolate has little to no fruit but instead is infused with a seriously smokey aroma. The flavour is not so much nutty or roasted as a big blast of wood smoke.

Imperial Puerh & Pacari Sea Salt & Nibs £12

Whittard Tea & Chocolate 2Imperial Puerh – Strong and earthy, yet clean and refreshing.

This pairing brings together a fine Puerh from China and a dark chocolate from Ecuador.

Our Imperial Puerh is a particularly fine variety from the home of puerh tea, Yunnan Province in China. Unlike many lesser quality puerhs which tend to be heavy and musty, this is a clear-tasting and richly flavoursome tea, substantially full-bodied without a hint of heaviness. You’ll find the earthy notes are beautifully balanced by a fresh, clean sweetness, and the result is surprisingly refreshing.

There’s no tea quite like puerh. It’s the only tea to be fermented alongside the usual oxidation process using healthy microbes and microflora: the bacteria required for a healthy digestive system. As a result, puerh has long been viewed as an aid to digestion and weight loss – over the centuries, it has been claimed to reduce cholesterol, combat ageing, reduce the risk of heart disease and help with circulation, to name but a few of the reputed benefits. However, a good puerh is far more than just a medical brew.

The unroasted dark chocolate has an earthy green flavour and unusual grainy texture. The Ecuadorian nibs give a satisfying crunch bar and further bring out the wooded vegetal notes in the chocolate. The hints of salt give a distinctive contrast, refreshing the palate.

Ecuadorian cacao is known for its earthy profile, and tasting this alongside the highly aromatic yet earthy Puerh makes for a satisfying and somewhat savoury pairing.

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New Craft Chocolate As Seen On Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch

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On Sunday 10 October, Cocoa Runners co-founder Spencer returned to Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch to share four of the newest & most exciting craft chocolate bars in the Cocoa Runners Library. Click here to buy the full collection or read on to explore the individual craft chocolate bars for yourself.

 

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Original Beans – Cru Udzungwa 70%

Original Beans Cru Udzungwa

First is a brand new addition from Original Beans. Its Cru Udzungwa dark chocolate has been crafted using beans from the edge of Udzungwa Mountain National Park in Tanzania. Locals grow the cacao trees in special village gardens. This gives locals a good source of income and thus supports local communities and their stewardship of Udzungwa National Park which is home to a number of endangered species, including African elephants.

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Georgia Ramon – Philippinen 80%

Philipinen Black 80

 

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Next is a Georgia Ramon’s Philippinen 80% bar. Cocoa Runner’s first German maker, the company was founded by Georg Bernadini and his partner Ramona Gustman. Georg has worked in the chocolate industry for over 20 years and has now put his years of knowledge and experience working for others to good use. The beans are sourced directly from the Puentespina family in the Philippines.

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Luisa Abram – 70%

Luisa Abram 70%

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Then travel to the Amazon with Luisa Abram’s 70% dark chocolate bar. Luisa and her father Andre travel up through the Brazilian rainforests and up the Amazon river looking for rare cocoa beans and long-forgotten or undiscovered varietals. They buy their beans directly from the local communities who harvest, ferment and dry the beans. These are then shipped down-river to Luisa’s workshop where she transforms the precious cacao into incredible chocolate!

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Chocolat Bonnat – Javan Dark Milk

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Finally we have a decadent Chocolat Bonnat Javan Dark Milk from one France’s oldest chocolate makers. Chocolat Bonnat has been crafting chocolate in Voiron, France for over 130 years. The company is currently headed by the sixth generation of Bonnat chocolatiers Stephane Bonnat. Javan cacao has a particularly fine flavour and the island’s cocoa trees are believed to trace their roots all the way back to Venezuela.

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Click here to buy the full collection or discover the individual craft chocolate bars for yourself.

Menakao Cocoa Nibs

What Are Cocoa Nibs?

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There has been a lot of buzz about cocoa nibs recently, but what exactly are they?

Everyone knows that craft chocolate is made directly from the cocoa bean. But did you know that these cocoa beans are a delicious treat all by themselves?

Cacao nibs are pieces of fermented, dried, roasted and crushed cacao bean. Once roasted, winnowed and cracked the nibs are generally made into chocolate. But these crunchy bits of cocoa nib can also be eaten just as they are. This is ‘chocolate’ at its purest – no added sugar, no milk, no flavourings and almost no processing. And just like the chocolate they are turned into, cocoa nibs have been shown to have many different nutritional benefits.

Cocoa nibs naturally contain a significant amount of fibre (about 9g per ounce) as well as magnesium, potassium and more calcium than cow’s milk. Cocoa beans are a plant-based source of iron. On top of this cacao contain high levels of flavonoids, particularly epicatechin which studies have shown to have a beneficial impact on cardiovascular health. Of course all this can also be said of chocolate, but without any added sugar or milk cocoa nibs are the best way to get these benefits.

It’s not just about eating something that’s good for you however, it’s about eating something that tastes good. Cocoa nibs have a slightly nutty texture, comparable to cashews or macadamia nuts. The nibs aren’t as bitter as you might expect as the flavour is less intense and generally fruitier.

Our Madagascan nibs by Menakao have a particularly pronounced fruity aroma with a roasted undernote. Sharp citrus mixes with orange and cranberries. The profile is similar to Menakao’s dark bars but with a raw, unprocessed edge: the same flavours are present but haven’t been focused and refined as in a bar.

So what to do with these delicious and diverse cocoa nibs? Nibs are a wonderfully versatile cooking ingredient that you can use in both sweet and savoury dishes. Below we highlight some of our favourite ways to use cocoa nibs.

  1. Start your day with a crunch. Add a sprinkling of cocoa nibs to your morning porridge, giving it a little more texture and a roasted chocolatey note. For a deliciously fruity breakfast, why not use Menakao’s roasted nibs and add in a handful of dried fruit to bring out the beans’ own flavours.
  2. Bake to perfection. Described by some as ‘nature’s chocolate chip’ cocoa nibs can be added into cakes, cookies, biscuits, brownies, muffins and more! Cooking will soften the nibs a little but they’ll still retain some of their crunch. Remember that while the nibs are bursting with intense flavours, they’ve none of the added sugar that chocolate does. So you might need to adjust your recipe accordingly.
  3. Top everything. Don’t stop at porridge and baked goods. We think a liberal sprinkle of cocoa nibs can improve any number of dishes from your superfood smoothie, to yogurt and granola, to rice pudding or pancakes.
  4. Be bold. Chocolate might be regarded as a sweet treat, but nibs don’t have to be. Just like nuts and seeds cocoa nibs make a great addition to salads.
  5. A simple snack. Instead of munching on dried fruits or nuts, why not try a handful of cocoa nibs to keep you going throughout the day. Keep a little sachet by your desk for when you need a sugar-free chocolate fix.

How do you use cocoa beans? Let us know your favourite recipes.

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/02/cacao-nibs_n_3695571.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocoa_bean#Health_benefits

Father’s Day At Cocoa Runners

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Father’s Day is just around the corner on Sunday June 19th, so we’ve rounded up a selection of our favourite gifts that are sure to make any chocolate-loving dad’s day.

The Whisky Loving Dad – £24.95

Together with Good Things Magazine we’ve chosen four chocolate bars to match with whisky.
As with chocolate, the world of whisky has seen a boom in recent years as a new wave of drinkers have re-discovered the classic spirit. As with chocolate, distilleries both new and old all over the world are creating wonderful whiskys.
With the team at Good Things Magazine, we tasted our way through the Chocolate Library to find some bars the pair perfectly with this fantastically fashionable spirit.

Buy the Whisky Lover’s Collection

The Father’s Day Collection – £24.95

This collection brings together four fantastic small batch craft chocolate bars from makers around the world. This classic collection of milk, dark and textured chocolate is a veritable tour of the world of craft chocolate. The cocoa nibs in Menakao‘s Salt & Nibs bar enhances the fruity notes of Madagascan dark chocolate with a satisfying crunch. Crafted in Barcelona, Blanxart’s 72% Dominican Dark chocolate bar is incredibly rich, and has a ganache like quality.

The Burned Sugar in Omnom’s Dark Milk chocolate bar gives this sweet Icelandic offering a pleasing caramel twist in the tail. Finally, it felt only right to include a bar from Orford’s Pump St Chocolate in our Father’s Day Collection. Chris Brennan set up Pump St Chocolate with his daughter, Joanna. And this earthy Ecuadorian bar is true to the smooth and creamy style we’ve come to love from Pump Street’s award winning craft chocolate.

Buy the Father’s Day Collection

Omnom Sharing Board – £39.95

We spend a lot of time talking about how quality matters more than quantity. That being said, we can’t think of a dad we know who wouldn’t be seriously impressed by this super sized bar.

Created exclusively for Cocoa Runners, Omnom has handcrafted the bar, made from only the finest Madagascan beans, at its small batch workshop in Iceland.

This particular bar is Omnom’s award-winning Madagascar 66% dark chocolate. The wonderfully fruity bar is a perfect example of a Madagascan dark chocolate. Made with beans from Bertil Akesson, it has a balance between acidity and jammy notes that you would expect from Madagascan beans. However, we detect a slight sharpness with hints of cherry instead of the more familiar berry notes.

If your dad is more of a milk chocolate guy, you’ll be pleased to hear that the sharing board is also available with a 500g block of Omnom’s Milk of Madagascar.

Buy the Omnom Sharing board

Tasting Events – From £20

Treat your Dad to an evening spent chocolate tasting in London. Each month we hold a chocolate tasting salon at London’s Winemakers Club where we share a dozen or so craft chocolate bars from around the world with our fellow chocolate lovers.

Get Tickets Here

Chocolate Tasting Courses – From £49.95

Share the gift of craft chocolate with your father for months to come. Treat your dad to 3, 6 or indeed 12 months of deliveries from Cocoa Runners. He’ll discover the world’s best small batch, single estate craft chocolate, receiving a curated collection of four new bars each month, along with tasting notes to unwrap the story behind each bar. He’ll also be one of the first to try the newest makers in our Craft Chocolate Library.

Buy A Gift Tasting Course

 

Order by noon on Thursday June 16th for UK delivery in time for Father’s Day.

Monthly box

The February 2016 Collection

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This month we are delighted to introduce Chapon as well as a host of new bars from old favourites Pump Street Chocolate, Zotter and Marou. Don’t forget if you like to buy another of this month’s collection, either as a gift or to relive the joy yourself you can find it here.

Patrice Chapon started his career just down the road from our London office (well sort of) at Buckingham Palace, crafting ice-creams and sorbets for the Royal Family before returning to Paris to open up his atelieut after growing demand and numerous requests he opened his own shop next to his atelier in Chelles. In 2010, Patrice set himself a new challenge. He wanted to craft his own chocolate directly from the bean. To him this meant more that just the best quality quality chocolate and a guarantee of the product’s sustainability (although both of these were important considerations). More than anything, Patrice felt that for his creations to truly represent his own creativity and personality they had to be 100% his own.

Chapon EcuadorChapon – Ecuador 70%

On first tasting we were surprised – we detected none of the earthy or vegetal notes we have come to expect of this origin. The smooth chocolate has a delicate, almost aromatic note that hints of fior di latte and vanilla. A sweet and gentle spice permeates the bar and gives a flavour strangely reminiscent of cinnamon milk. The intriguing tasting notes are given an indulgent quality by the smooth and creamy chocolate.

Chris Brennan and Rob of Pump Street Chocolate have also been winning awards galore for their bars and their packaging. Already they have won Silver at the Academy of Chocolate Awards 2015 for their Honduras bar. This new bar is made using the 2015 crop of beans from the Finca Tres Marías estate. This is family owned plantation located in the mountains of Northwest Honduras.

Pump Street Bakery HondurasPump Street Bakery – Honduras 80%

Instantly you are met with an delicious smell full of chocolate and yeasty notes. The light coloured chocolate has a delicate flavour and not even a hint of bitterness. The chocolate seems to almost have been infused by the aromas of the bakery. The smooth chocolate is full of sweet buttery flavours and caramelised currants. The bar reminded us of a toasted tea cake or thickly buttered slice of burnt toast.

And then we’ve ventured further afield to Vietnam to offer you a taste of one of Vincent and Sam’s classic bars – their Lam Dong. As ever the flavours are strong and distinct – while the bar is great enjoyed by itself we think one the joys of Marou is comparing the different Vietnamese regions. Try some alongside the Ba Ria or Dak Lak and the impact terroir has on flavour.

Marou Lam DongMarou – Lam Dong 74%

From the province of the same name, the thick bar has the rich smooth quality we’ve come to expect from Marou.  The inital aroma had a lightly roasted quality with some nuts and fruity coffee. We tasted notes of spiced blasamic and raisins, with a yeasted hint. A kick of black cherry on the finish.

Moving back across the channel, we’ve another example of Austrian wizardry from Joseph Zotter. Zotter is an Austrian bean to bar chocolate maker with a penchant for the wacky. Founder Josef Zotter loves to experiment with flavours. His filled chocolates include everything from cheese to bacon and vodka to frankincense. But at the heart of everything Zotter does is a simple, ethical approach to chocolate making. Don’t worry though – the Labooko bar in your box focuses on the fine flavours of the cocoa beans rather than unusual inclusions.

Zotter Nicaragua 50% Milk ChocolateZotter Milk Nicaragua 50% (Mixed Collection)

This particular milk bar was described by chocolate tester Georg Bernardini as ‘the world’s best milk chocolate’. We’ll leave it up to you to see whether you agree. This creamy and fragrant milk has a higher cocoa content than most. We were struck by the strong chocolatey flavours of the Nicaraguan cacao, which are complimented by delicate fruit notes. A very well balanced dark milk bar with a good melt.

Zotter India 62%Zotter India 62% (Dark Only Collection)

So far this is the only bar we have that uses Indian beans, but we are sure we will be seeing more from this origin in the future. These particular beans come from Kerala in the south west of the country. An incredibly smooth with a quick melt and sweet flavour. Fragrant and honeyed spices dominate. We detected hints of mace and strongly roasted coffee but little earthiness and almost no fruit. A surprisingly high acidity contrasts with the sweeter tones. Zotter’s characteristic touch of salt finishes the bar, picking up the spice.

 

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Craft Chocolate With Inclusions On Sunday Brunch

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If you were up bright & early this Valentine’s Day you might have seen Cocoa Runners co-founder, Spencer making his third appearance on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch. This time he was talking to Simon, Tim about craft chocolate bars with inclusions.

As Spencer explained on the show, when we talk about “craft chocolate bars with inclusions” we don’t mean adding a bunch of whacky flavourings to create sickly chocolate confectionery. This is not about covering up cheap chocolate with artificial flavours.

This about using great singe estate, craft chocolate and adding to this carefully chosen ingredients that bring out nuances and flavours that aren’t otherwise apparent. Think strawberry and balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, salt and olive oil, maple syrup and bacon, espresso and vanilla ice cream (affogato), rum and raisin, apples and cheese or gin and tonic. Think 1+1 to make 5.

For those of you who missed it or want to learn more, here we give our detailed notes on why each inclusions bar works. If you want to try the bars for yourself, you can buy the collection by clicking here.

Menakao – Sea Salt & Cocoa Nibs 63%

Menakao - 63% With Nibs & SaltThe chocolate is full of the typical berry notes of Madagascan cacao. The added cocoa nibs (what the chocolate is made from) give a powerful crunch, bursting with fruit and tannins.

The hint of sea salt serves a double purpose. It opens the palate, helping you to get the full flavour of the berries and red fruits. At the same time, the salt cuts through some of the nibs’ intensity, revealing their roasted fruit and raisin notes while reducing the bitterness.

The sea salt or ‘Fleur de Sel’ comes from the salt marshes of Morondava in South West Madagascar. It forms naturally on the surface of the clay basins as sea water evaporates. You don’t collect the Fleur de Sel, you pick it in small quantities. Naturally very pure it has a delicate taste, which makes it perfect for bringing out the cacao’s fruit without overpowering the chocolate.

Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé – Venezuelan Dark Chocolate with Cardamom 77%

Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé Dark with CardamomVenezuelan cocoa has a naturally creamy and rich profile, with a delicate aromatic edge. Their flavour is best described as ‘chocolate pudding’ but with just a hint of subtle spice. The bar’s deep chocolatey notes provides a perfect base for the Cardamom. The butteryness also helps to absorb some of the spice so the flavour doesn’t overwhelm the palate.

At the same time, the Venezuelan beans’ own scented aroma mixes with the cardamom, subtly altering the spice’s flavour. The spice has been so well conched in that the bar’s texture is incredibly smooth without any graininess.

Because of the strong and vibrant flavours of many beans (e.g. Peru & Madagascar) it can often be hard to find beans that will carry the strong flavours of the inclusions well. Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé have achieved just the right balance.

Zotter – ‘For Those In Love’ Ecuador Dark 60% and Raspberry White Chocolate

Zotter For Those in LoveA delicious double treat. The first bar is a single origin dark from Ecuador. Smooth with a quick melt, the bar has a hint of the vegetal flavours typical of Ecuador with more sweetness – think pumpkins rather than asparagus.

The second bar is a white chocolate. It’s still made from cocoa beans but just from the cocoa butter (the natural fat in the beans). The cocoa mass (the chocolatey part of the bean) has been removed and replaced with finely ground raspberry powder.

The result is intensely fruity and sweet with a deep pink colour. The bar’s flavours, mostly come from the tart and vibrant berries. It’s a great example of how chocolate can be used as a base to create incredible confections.

Akesson’s – Brazil Fazenda Sempre Firme Plantation with Coffee Nibs 75%

Akessons Brazil Dark Chocolate With Coffee NIbsA classic combination – this bar came about because Bertil so enjoyed having a piece of his chocolate with his morning coffee. The chocolate has light tropical fruit aroma but is dominated by stronger roasted flavours, with woody notes and a hint of tobacco on the finish.

The bourbon Arabica coffee beans have a light roast to bring out the subtleties of the bean. The coffee’s roasted flavours blend with those of the chocolate. A whisper of fruit in the coffee provides an intriguing undernote for the stronger flavours. The crunchy coffee bean pieces release bursts of flavour into the smooth chocolate.

Made in France from Brazilian cocoa & coffee beans. In April 2009, Bertil Åkesson and his Brazilian partner Dr. Angelo Calmon de Sa, purchased the historic Fazenda Sempre Firme in Bahia, Brazil. The coffee is from a neighbouring plantation in Bahia Brazil, so both ingredients were grown under similar conditions (soil, climate etc.)

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Soma Chocolate Maker

Introducing Soma

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If you are a Cocoa Runners subscriber, then you might just be lucky enough to get a bar from Canadian maker Soma inside your next box. A modern craft chocolate pioneer, and a makes whose chocolate we have long admired, we are delighted to finally be able to welcome Soma and its wonderful bars to the Cocoa Runners Chocolate Library.

We spoke to Cynthia and David, the couple behind Soma.

What’s your background? Why and how did you get into chocolate?

David was working as a pastry chef and Cynthia was working as an architect. We really wanted to start something small together that would combine our skills.

Being huge chocolate fanatics with a natural curiosity to invent and explore- we got bit by the cacao bug. In 2003 our little chocolate shop was conceived. We made truffles, cookies, hot chocolate, and spun gelato- but the heart of our business was making small batches of chocolate from the cacao bean. Back then we called it micro batch chocolate the term “bean to bar” had not yet surfaced.

In a small 400 square foot space in an old whisky distillery with a refurbished refiner/conche and a modified coffee roaster, we dug deep into the world of cacao and went for it. Today the fascination continues- there are big smiles on our faces every morning knowing our work day involves chocolate.

There are 2 sides to our world- the science and technical side of making a single beautiful bar that makes a specific origin of cacao sing, and the exploratory playful side of finding new ways to enjoy chocolate with new products new techniques and new ingredient combinations.

What mission have you set yourselves for making chocolate?

Our mission has always been to explore the possibilities of chocolate. In the most basic sense this means discovering new sources of great cacao, but also how different chocolates interact in a blend, or the impact of a new roast profile or technique. Craft chocolate making is a continuous experiment.

Cynthia and Dave SOMA

When did you start your company — and with whom?  How many are there of you?

We started in 2003 and Soma is Cynthia Leung and David Castellan.

Where do you want to go next?  New bars?  New beans?  New markets?

As all craft chocolate makers Soma is always looking for and experimenting with new origins. With the rise in chocolate makers there are more small farms growing flavour grade beans. In our factory there are approx 20 samples from new farms right now that will go through testing and evaluation.

This year we will be making deeper connections at the farm level. A trip to the Caribbean will hopefully happen this year to set up a small chocolate making line for a farm we buy beans from so they can make their own bars.

More blends are in the works, with our expanding chocolate library of origins we have a lot of fun creating new flavour profiles from different origins.

On a nuttier level, our new approach to making Gianduja uses hazelnuts from Oregon and cacao beans from Jamaica. Hazelnuts are such a wonderful ingredient (apparently Europeans and Canadians share this love of hazelnuts).

With Cocoa Runners this will be the first time our bars will be sold outside of the Americas. This is a big exciting step for us.

How did you source your beans? 

Sourcing happens in a few different ways. Some of our beans are bought direct from the farms. Some of the rare beans or more difficult to get are bought through a broker who is a specialist in that region of origin. Some beans are bought from fellow makers within the chocolate community or traded to share origins.

What is your favourite food?  Wine?  Other chocolate makers?

Toronto is much like London there are a lot of pockets of exotic food from different countries. We love and eat a lot of different foods.

Current obsessions- David is crazy about Szechuan food his favourite dish is Dan Dan Mein, he makes and seeks out different versions from around the world. Cynthia loves an Iranian spiced lamb stew called dizi, it is meant to be slurped dunked in and shared and will warm the soul. Although we love wine, we love our rum more, in particular El Dorado from Guyana.

So many chocolate makers are doing amazing things. Such a great community to geek out with. Some stand outs- Rogue for his fanatical attention to detail. Domori as a pioneer in microbatch chocolate. Pump Street, we love his sourdough chocolate. Lonohana for the love he puts into his tree to bar chocolate.

Askinosie collaBARation chocolate collection

Introducing the collaBARations from Askinosie

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Chocolate making at Askinosie is anything but simple – but could you expect anything less from bars that ooze quality and extraordinary flavour profiles? It’s a 70 point plan to make an Askinosie bar, which starts with finding the right farmers with the right beans.

 As well as making fantastic single estate chocolate bars, Askinosie also has a playful side. Its CollaBARation™ Bars are the result of partnerships with remarkable companies to create this line of unique chocolate bars. Each bar showcases ingredients as well as techniques and particular styles that make their partners unique.

All the bars in this range exemplify shared passion for hand-crafted, small batch, artisan food and drink, and above all, for directly sourcing the best ingredients from real farmers throughout the world.

These bars bring together so many things we love. Beautiful flavours, a positive, sustainable approach to food – behind every bar is a story of passionate artisans.

Askinosie Dark Milk Chocolate + Black Licorice | £9.95

Askinosie Goat Milk LicoriceFilipino dark milk chocolate gets a seriously strong aniseed kick from Lakritsfabriken’s Swedish Liquorice.  A dash of Fleur de Sel and goat’s milk complete the mix. Salty, sweet with the milk gives a tang and the liquorice lends its distinctive flavour to the mix. Possibly one of the most unusual bars we have ever tasted..

Askinosie Dark Chocolate + Malted Milk | £9.95

Askinosie Malted Milk CollaBARationA much sweeter experience. Tanzanian dark chocolate is infused with malted milk. Created in collaBARartion with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s, Askinosie has recreated the intense creamy experience of an ice cream. Hints of berries, vanilla & honey swirl through the rich dark chocolate. Truly impossible to resist.

Askinosie Dark Chocolate + Coffee | £9.95

Askinosie Dark Chocolate anc Coffee CollaBARationOpen the wrapper and inhale a delicious aroma of roasted coffee. The strong but subtle coffee melds with the red fruits of the Tanzanian cocoa beans. The single origin cocoa and coffee have been perfectly blended to create a smooth bar full of powerful flavours.

 

Askinosie Dark Chocolate + Toasted Coconut | £9.95

Askinosie Toasted Coconut CollaBARationCreated with the sisters behind blog A Beautiful Mess, Elsie & Emma. The honey and red berries from the Tanzanian chocolate are are subtly enhanced by coconut sugar. Pieces of toasted coconut cover the rich dark chocolate. The sweet tropical crunch is the perfect accompaniment to the melt-in-your mouth, buttery dark chocolate.

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