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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Chocolate Bunnies

Handmade Chocolate BunniesEver wondered why we celebrate Easter with Chocolate Bunnies?  Or how they are made?  Or how big the largest one ever made was?   Read on for the answers to these questions and everything else you ever wanted to know about chocolate bunnies.

When was the first Chocolate Bunny made?

Chocolate bunnies were initially created in Germany in the mid-19th century.  They gained mass appeal in 1890 when American shop owner Robert Strohecker created a five-foot-tall chocolate bunny as an Easter promotion in his drug store.

Why Bunnies for Easter?

In medieval Europe the rabbit was a popular symbol for spring because of it’s fecundity.  A German legend said that after a long winter’s sleep an Easter bunny would lay bright-colored eggs in the grass for good children to find.

How many Chocolate Bunnies are made each year?

Popular estimates say that about ninety million chocolate Easter bunnies are produced worldwide every year.

Why are Chocolate Bunnies hollow?

One major reason Chocolate Bunnies are made hollow is that once a piece of chocolate is over about ½ inch thick it becomes nearly impossible to bite into and enjoy.  Making bunnies hollow allows chocolatiers to make them larger for visual impact but still enjoyable to eat.  The practice of making bunnies hollow gained popularity in America during WWII cocoa rationing.  Hollow bunnies could be produced using far less chocolate than their solid counterparts.

How are Chocolate Bunnies made?

To make a chocolate bunny, molten chocolate is poured into a bunny shaped mold.  The mold is then shaken to remove air bubbles and rotated so that the chocolate forms a thin, even shell.  After the chocolate cools it can be removed from the mold and packaged for sale.  Large factories do this all by machine, smaller shops (like us) pour, shake, and rotate all by hand.

How big is the World’s largest chocolate bunny

The largest chocolate bunny ever made was made in 2014 for Chocofest in Brazil.  It weighed over 8,000 pounds and was over 13 feet tall.  If you are interested in purchasing a giant chocolate bunny the largest one we could find comes from Miesse Candies in Lancaster, PA.  Miesse’s giant bunnies weigh over 25 pounds, are 3 feet tall and cost $500 each.  If you’re looking for a more reasonable big bunny we offer a hand decorated extra large bunny in our shop that weighs over 2 pounds and cost $49.95.

How much is the Most Expensive Chocolate Bunny?1

The world’s most expensive bunny was hand carved by a European chef and sells for about $49,000.   Careful when you bite into him, his eyes are made of 1.7 carat diamonds.

What are the different kinds of chocolate bunnies?

These days chocolate bunnies can be found dressed up like cowboys, riding a motorcycle, getting married, playing sports and just about anything you or your local chocolatier can imagine.  The Bortz Chocolate Company in Reading, Pa. is credited with being the first company to introduce bunny personalities with its accordion playing bunny in 1934.   You can check out the bunny personalities we offer here.

What’s the most popular kind of Chocolate Bunny?

While chocolate bunnies can be found in milk, dark and white chocolates hollow or filled with a variety of nuts, caramels, and ganaches; the most popular bunny is still a hollow milk chocolate bunny.

 

How long does it take to eat a 1.25 pound chocolate bunny?

At the Wolfgang Candy Company’s annual chocolate bunny eating competition the record is about 9 minutes.  We suspect it will take you a little longer.

Weirdest Chocolate Bunny?

We can’t decide which is weirder, Benedict Cummberbunny or the Zombie bunny.  Leave your comment below and let us know what you think.

Other fun bunny facts

87% of parents will buy or make Easter baskets for their children—and 81% will then proceed to steal candy from them.

89% of Americans think chocolate bunnies should be eaten ears first.  5% prefer to begin with the tail.

A Fluffle is a group of bunnies… if you are in Northern Canada.

An Easter Poem

It’s spring time in Asheville and we’ve got Chocolate Bunnies on the brain.  We couldn’t resist sharing this Easter poem written by one of our team members.  Did you know that in Northern Canada a group of bunnies is called a Fluffle?  If that is the case I wonder what you call a group of chocolate bunnies?

A Ruffle Among the Fluffle Over a Chocolate Fetish Truffle

I’d like to tell you all a story,
Of an occurrence, a few years ago
That involved a bunch of bunnies
Who were scampering, to and fro.

I saw them hopping everywhere,
Here and there and yonder.
Sniffing, scratching and digging ‘round,
Their antics made me ponder.

And I finally realized, it must be food
That they were searching for.
But little did I realize
What lay ahead, in store.

I saw one of the rabbits
Tear open the paper bag,
And pull out a chocolate truffle,
As his little tail began to wag.

No sooner had he done this,
When all the other rabbits jumped
On top of this one little bunny,
Who staggered, tipped, then slumped.

A tremendous tug of war ensued
As each one tried to hold the treat.
After several minutes of wrestling though
Each and every one seemed beat.

They seemed to reach an understanding
As each one took just a bit.
All got some of the special morsel
Their satisfaction looked legit.

They skittered off as I reached down
And picked up the bag, so tattered.
Chocolate Fetish is what it read
And I thought, that’s all that mattered.

They had argued, fought and compromised
When their will was put to test
And they saw fit only to fight
When the prize was simply best!

~Special thanks to author Sonny Treadway!

6 Fun Things to do in Asheville in Spring!

While every season is beautiful in Asheville spring is definitely one of my favorites.  It may not offer the majestic grandeur of falls leaf season but along with the subtle beauty of soft green buds on trees come less crowds and less brush and briars to wade through while hiking in the woods.  Here are 6 fun things to do in Asheville in spring that you may not be able to do, or enjoy quite as much during other seasons.

A Dahlia sculpted from chocolate. As beautiful as it is delicious.

Check out some amazing flowers at the North Carolina Arboretum.

The North Carolina Arboretum offers a variety of ways to enjoy springs blooms.  You could check out the Western North Carolina Orchid Society’s Annual Show on March 29th and 30th, or the Dahlia and Mum show on May 10th, or just stroll around the cultivated gardens and hiking trails.  Whatever you decide to do at the Arboretum will be very affordable as admission is just $12.00 per vehicle (even to the plant shows!).

Hike!
The wonderful thing about early spring hiking in Asheville is the dense underbrush and foliage hasn’t had a chance to grow yet so everywhere you hike you can still get a nice view.  Save the mountain balds like Black Balsam and Max Patch for summer and fall and get out now to enjoy the last few moments of winter and spring views while you can!  A favorite close to town hike I recommend that will afford nice pre-leaf views is Rattlesnake Lodge.  An added bonus of this hike is that its access is not on the Blue Ridge Parkway which is often still closed this time of year.  Other good spring views can be found all over Hickory Nut Gorge.  I recommend hiking the Florence Nature Preserve a recently opened section of trail managed by the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy.

Zip Line at Navitat.

Beat the summer crowds and explore the forest in a new exciting way!  Navitat, located a short drive north of Asheville, features an amazing zip line experience including sky bridges and rappelling.  A great way to enjoy the outdoors and catch some mountain views… especially fun for kids.

Everything in our Easter display is edible! The “desert sand” is made of brown sugar, graham crackers crumbs, and finely ground chocolate. Maybe we should call it “dessert sand?”

Check out the Easter Displays at The Chocolate Fetish.

Occasionally spring can be a little rainy in Asheville so when your outdoor adventures are stifled by April showers come downtown and check out the Easter displays at The Chocolate Fetish.  From chocolate bunnies riding motorcycles down a road made of sprinkles to a Cowboy bunny shoot out in a brown sugar dessert our whimsical chocolate bunnies and hand decorated Easter Eggs are sure to bring out the kid in everyone.  While you’re here be sure to walk around to the back and check out the chocolatiers at work in our glassed in kitchen.  If you’re lucky you’ll get to see one of our talented artist/chocolatiers hand sculpting a one of a kind Smash Cake or Chocolate Sculpture.  Best hours to see chocolatiers at work are between 11 and 3.
Enjoy a meal on an Asheville Patio.
Once summer’s heat soaks in and droves of tourists descend on Asheville enjoying a meal al fresco losses its allure.  A cool spring day with ample sun shine affords the perfect opportunity to enjoy an outdoor meal in one of Asheville’s myriad patio dining establishments.  For patios with great atmosphere and cocktails I recommend The Southern or Mayfel’s courtyard.  For fabulous food try the patio at Carmel’s.
Attend the Asheville Herbal Festival.
In its 25th year the Asheville Herbal Festival is the place to find all the seedlings and starts you need for your herb and vegetable garden.  Held at the Western North Carolina Farmer’s Market on May 2, 3, and 4 the Herbal Festival hosts a plethora of vendors from around Western North Carolina featuring culinary and medicinal herbs, veggie starts, a beekeeping demonstration, master gardeners and more.  It’s a great place to find a Mother’s Day present (to go along with a box of chocolate from The Chocolate Fetish) and it’s free!
Valentine's Day Chocolate Bar

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

If you know you want to savor your way to a romantic evening this Valentine’s Day then you’ve made the most important decision: that our award winning handmade chocolates are the perfect gift.  But now what?  How to choose the right gift to indulge their desire?  From your first crush to your forever gal The Chocolate Fetish has got you covered!  We’ve put together this easy Valentine’s Day Gift Guide to help make sure you get the perfect gift for whoever is on your Valentine’s Day gift list.


Shopping For:  Your THeart Shaped Box Handmade Chocolaterue Love

Get the:  Romeo and Juliet Collection

This seemingly endless assortment will earn you some serious Valentine’s Day points.  Includes bite-size Chocolate Hearts, Chocolate Truffles, Sea Salt Caramels and an exclusive “Big Love” bar that weighs almost half a pound.  After all, when it comes to matters of the heart, it’s better to be over rather than under-prepared.


Chocolate Heart Shaped Box

Shopping For: Your Mom

Get the : From the Heart Collection

Nothing compares to a Mother’s Love – except maybe your Mom’s love of chocolate.  This year be sure to let her know how important she is to you with the ultimate in edible elegance.  Our From the Heart Collection features a variety of handmade chocolates including our award winning chocolate truffles.


Shopping For: Your First DateChocolate Heart Shaped Box

Get the: Sweetheart Collection

Sweet talk your crush with this classic heart shaped box of chocolates sure to make any chocolate lover swoon.    Chocolate hearts, award winning Chocolate Truffles and a hand foiled “Love” heart.  Not too big, not too small, just the right size to say “Will you be my Valentine?”


Shopping for: The Special Guy in Your LifeSpicy Chocolate for Valentine's Day

He’ll love: Hearts on Fire Collection

When it comes to Valentine’s Day most guys like to spice things up a little.  Our award winning Hearts on Fire Collection is sure to do just that.  Consider grabbing a cold one to go along with the chocolate – this collection pairs well with beer, especially a pilsner.  As intense in flavor as your love for him.


pinkpolkashoeShopping for: Your Galentine

Get her : Chocolate High Heel Shoe

February 13th is also known as Galentines Day.  A day to treat your best girlfriends to the sweeter things in life.  And what could be sweeter than a Chocolate High Heel shoe?  Each shoe is hand decorated in variety of unique Valentine inspired patterns from hearts and lips to lace and roses.  There is no such thing as too many shoes, especially when they are made of chocolate.


Valentine's Day Chocolate BearShopping for: A Special Teenager

Get the: Chocolate Bear

So adorable they’ll eat it right up, each chocolate bear includes nearly a pound of chocolate!  You can’t go wrong with this chocolate work of art that is as beautiful to admire as it is to eat.


Valentine Sea Salt Caramels

Shopping for: You Co-Worker

Get the: Sea Salt Caramels

Our crave worthy Sea Salt Caramels are a perfect office gift.  Good for sharing (or stashing) they are casual enough to give your co-worker and classy enough for your boss.


What Makes Great Chocolate Covered Strawberries?

Strawbtuxedo strawberrieserries and chocolate – always a delicious combination!

No matter the occasion, you simply can’t go wrong with a classic display of love and affection like chocolate covered strawberries. You can find these delectable treats just about anywhere, but what makes a quality chocolate-covered strawberry?
Chocolate lovers know that all chocolate is not created equal. In fact, there are two types of chocolate – real chocolate and compound chocolate. The difference lies in the fat or oil used. Compound chocolate also known as compound coating contains vegetable oil instead of the cocoa butter that is used in real chocolate. This makes compound chocolate less expensive than real chocolate, and with a lower price you have  lower quality.
While real chocolate contains cocoa butter, the quality of the cocoa beans and the actual quantity of cocoa butter included in the recipe also plays an important role in determining the best chocolate to use for chocolate-covered strawberries.

Chocolate Couverture

Chocolate couverture has a high quantity of cocoa butter, excellent quality cocoa beans and melts smoothly – a process known as tempering. This is a fine, professional chocolate that is perfect for candy making and molding.  Due to the difficulty of working with this type of chocolate it’s best left to professional chocolatiers – like our team at The Chocolate Fetish. This is why when you get chocolate-covered strawberries from us, the taste is worlds above those that you get in the grocery store or even make at home.

Perfect Strawberries

In addition to choosing the right chocolate, it is important to choose the right berry when making chocolate covered strawberries. The fruit should be just as high of quality as the chocolate. We select only the freshest strawberries for our delectable treats, making sure that they are stored at room temperature to stay fresh, and they are dipped many times throughout the day to maximize freshness.

Freshness

The final key to creating the best chocolate covered strawberries is freshness.  When a strawberry is covered in chocolate the moisture in the berry immediately begins to degrade the quality of the chocolate.  That is why we always dip our berries fresh throughout the day in very small batches.  We also recommend that you consume chocolate covered strawberries within 24 hours for best quality.
Now that you know the complex creation of chocolate-covered strawberries, don’t just grab off-the-shelf berries for your next treat – turn to the professionals at The Chocolate Fetish for your next Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift. Our chocolate covered strawberries are available Fridays and Saturdays from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day. We have created award-winning chocolate creations for 30 years, and you can trust that every delicious creation we make will taste amazing and impress all the loved ones in your life. Stop by our store in Asheville, North Carolina, today or give us a call at 828-258-2353 today!

In Honor of Elaine Gonzalez, chocolatier.

Noted chocolatier, Elaine Gonzalez, passed away this July.  Our owner Sue, and myself both had the opportunity to attend some of her classes and learn about chocolate with her.  Elaine’s passion for chocolate, mastery of chocolate, and kind unassuming nature was an inspiration to both of us as well as countless other chocolate lovers.  Here are excerpts from an article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune commemorating her life and work.

Noted chocolatier, Elaine Gonzalez, passed away this July.

Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune

3:18 p.m. CDT, July 26, 2014
Elaine Gonzalez of Northbrook, an innovative chocolatier noted for transforming chocolate into edible bowls, plates, ornaments, flowers and much, much more, died July 25. She was 79.
“She was an artist and took chocolate to new places,” said restaurateur Ina Pinkney. “Everything she did had this artistry. She was more comfortable with that ingredient than anyone I ever saw with any other ingredient. It was like she was one with the chocolate.”  “I never saw anyone roll, twist and coax chocolate like she did,” Pinkney added. “I was always in awe and always learned something.”
Judith Dunbar Hines, formerly Chicago’s director of culinary arts and events, agreed that Gonzalez was a chocolate trail-blazer who could create all sorts of “fantastical things.” But what Hines remembers most is a recipe for chocolate rice pudding.  “It was a Mexican recipe…and she made it her signature,” Hines recalled. “Her style was more like the chocolate pudding. She was very quiet and calming….There was no drama out of this woman – ever.”
While Gonzalez trained with some chefs, she told the Chicago Tribune in 1983 that she most of what she learned came from family. Her mother, the late Mary Garcia, was a cooking teacher noted for elaborate cakes, the Tribune wrote in 2001 in reporting Mrs. Garcia’s death, and “whose lessons in the 1960s and ’70s opened an era of specialized cooking at home.”
Gonzalez modestly attributed her success to timing and fate in a brief biographical passage included in “Chicago Cooks,” a book of food history and memories by members of the Chicago chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a professional group.  “I was there when the chocolate craze hit this country in the late 1970s and early 1980s,” she recalled, crediting an assignment to teach a chocolate class – a subject she claimed to knowing “next to nothing” – at The Complete Cook, a North Shore cookware shop owned by the late Elaine Sherman, for getting her in the chocolate game.
“Using skills from my party-food and cake-decorating experiences, I taught what turned out to be my first class in chocolate artistry: edible, chocolate-mint-flavored place cards, personalized lollipops, and a few fancy confections,” Gonzales remembered. “Nobody had ever seen anything like that before and neither had I. I must have had an angel sitting on my shoulder that night because in spite of my lack of chocolate experience, everything worked and the excitement in the classroom was beyond description – mine as well as theirs.”
Described in “Chicago Cooks” as “an accomplished teacher of ‘all things chocolate,'” she taught at local cookware shops; became a master chocolatier; launched in 1983 a chocolate consulting firm called Chocolate Artistry; served as a consultant for Peter’s Chocolate and, in 2006, was inducted into the Candy Hall of Fame. She also wrote two books on chocolate, 1983’s “Chocolate Artistry” and “The Art of Chocolate,” published in 1998.
Chocolate rice pudding recipe
Makes: 8 servings
Elaine Gonzalez demonstrated and shared this recipe with students in the now-defunct city of Chicago’s World Kitchen program. The director, Judith Dunbar Hines, added the following headnote: “This recipe is a favorite from friend and author Elaine Gonzalez, who like the dish, has roots in Spain but a heart in Mexico, where the large production of fine cooking chocolate with cinnamon is reflected in this dish. It takes a bit of patience to make, but is well worth it!”
2 quarts milk
1 ounce coarsely chopped unsweetened chocolate (use Mexican chocolate if possible)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 4-inch piece Mexican cinnamon bark
1/2 cup short-grain rice
2 large egg yolks
Cocoa for dusting the final dish before serving
1.) In a large, deep saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk, chocolate and 1 cup of the sugar plus the cinnamon bark to a boil, stirring frequently. Lower the heat and add the rice. Stir with a wooden spoon to prevent the grains from sticking together. Don’t be concerned if the milk at first appears to be speckled with chocolate, as this will change as the cooking progresses.
2.) Simmer, uncovered, over very gentle heat for 1 hour, stirring the mixture most of the time. Check for doneness by squeezing a grain of rice between your fingers…it should feel completely tender with no hard part in the center.
3.) Whisk the egg yolks and the remaining tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl until well mixed. Remove 1/2 cup of cooked rice from the pot and stir into the eggs, stirring vigorously to avoid scrambling the eggs. Add this mixture to the pot, stirring for 5 minutes. The pudding should now be the consistency of soft custard (it will continue to thicken as it cools). Discard the cinnamon bark, transfer the pudding to a metal bowl set over ice and let cool, stirring occasionally. When it is room temperature, it may be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for several hours.
 4.) Dust the pudding with cocoa powder and serve with lots of hot coffee, also flavored with Mexican cinnamon.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

The Chocolate Fetish Wins Over a Dozen Awards at National Competition

For the third year in a row we entered the international Chocolate Salon’s Award Competition and we are delighted to announce that we earned 15 medals!   The awards won include one Gold Medal, eight Silver Medals, seven Bronze Medals, and two Honorable Mentions.  The medals recognize excellence in a variety of categories including Most Artistic Designs, Most Luxurious Chocolate Experience, and Best Taste.  Awards are decided by a panel of esteemed judges including culinary experts, respected magazine and newspaper editors, and food and lifestyle gurus.

Among the many products that received awards at The International Chocolate Salon was our Four Piece Favor Box featuring Velvet Sin Ecstasy Truffles and Hand Decorated Dark Chocolate Hearts.  The Four Piece Favor Box features a long time customer favorite, Velvet Sin Truffles.  Velvet Sin Truffles are a decadent blend of four European Dark Chocolates; the ultimate dark chocolate experience.  One judge mentioned that The Chocolate Fetish was among their favorite in the competition while another commented on the Velvet Sin Truffles saying, “The dark chocolate ones were amazing!”  Another judge mentioned us as one of their favorite overall chocolatiers!

We also won a variety of awards for our Custom Bride and Groom Wedding Toppers.  These are one of my favorite products that we are currently offering.  We can customize these including skin tones and hair colors to make them truly individualized and perfectly match the real bride and groom.  These chocolate Bride and Groom cake toppers don;t just have to go on top of a cake… they would also make great gifts for the bridal party or bride and groom’s parents.

Here is the full listing of each of the awards we received and the products we received them for:

Luxury Caramel Awards

Sea Salt Caramel Collection – Bronze Best Ingredient Combinations

Habenero Sea Salt Caramel – Honorable Mention Best Taste & Most Unique

Top Chocolate Bar Awards

Hazelnut Crisp Bar – Bronze Best Milk Chocolate Bar

74% Cranberry Pistachio Bar – Bronze Best Taste

Bridal Luxury Chocolate Salon

Custom Bride and Groom Cake Topper – Silver Best Bridal Gift Set, Silver Best Traditional Chocolates, Silver Most Artistic Designs

Four Piece Favor Box – Silver Best Dark Chocolate, Silver Most Luxurious Chocolate Experience, Silver Best Flavored Chocolate, Silver Best for The Wedding Reception, Silver Best in Salon

Best White Chocolate Awards

Midsummer’s Dream Ecstasy Elite Truffle – Silver Best Ingredient Combinations, Bronze Best Texture

Chai Moon Ecstasy Elite Truffle – Bronze Best Taste, Bronze Best Texture

 

 

 

Chocolate and Beer Pairing Round 2

Some days my job is pretty sweet.  Venturing out of the shop to do another round of research about chocolate and beer pairing is precisely one of those days.  My retail manager, Joe, was a little disappointed the other day when he didn’t get invited to the first beer and chocolate pairing so knowing that he is a beer connoisseur I offered for him to join me.  The Thirsty Monk seemed like a good choice, not close enough to the shop to run back and grab more chocolates but with their large selection and offering of half pours, a great place to sample and pair.  If you have never been to the Thirsty Monk, I would highly recommend it.  Upstairs is an American Ale House with an impressive number of beers on tap.  You may have to flag down a bartender to get service but once you get there attention they are happy to make suggestions and offer samples before you commit.  Downstairs is a Belgian style pub, which is always a little quieter than upstairs and has a cool cave like atmosphere that is fabulous if you want to escape a hot summer day.

Starting with the lighter beers today we started with a pilsner.  There selection of pilsner’s was somewhat limited so we choose something local and readily available, Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils and paired it with the recommended dark chocolate with spice.  I was actually surprised at how many times the ‘experts’ recommended dark chocolate with spice for so many different styles of beer.  We do offer a few different spicy flavors so I attempted to pair a different one with each different beer.  I thought that the rich spiciness of our Ancient Pleasure truffle would be a nice compliment to the refreshing flavor of the pilsner.  The combination brought the spice in the Ancient Pleasures to the forefront in a very pleasing way.  I think Joe would have been happy to end the tasting here and just throw back a few more Pilsners and Ancient Pleasures but I reminded him we were still working.

The next beer on the list is a personal favorite, IPA.  The experts recommended an IPA with crisp hoppy bitterness and we decided to go with the bartender’s suggestion of the Green Flash Citra Session IPA, which fit the bill perfectly.  Again here the recommendation was a dark chocolate with spice or salt.  Unfortunately I forgot to bring a Sea Salt Caramel although I think that would have been a successful pairing so we tried our Chili Cocoa Nib Round with the IPA.  The Chili Cocoa Nib Round is a thin disc of dark chocolate accented with pasilla and ancho chilies and finely ground cocoa nibs.  This was delicious and one of my favorite pairings so far.  I was surprised at how much the beer really enhanced the flavor of our Chili Cocoa Nib Round.

Our final beer upstairs (we were sharing half pours so total beer consumption was pretty minimal) was a Stout.  Last week we had tasted an Imperial Stout but didn’t come up with a successful pairing so we wanted to revisit the stout category and I am glad we did.  Another successful pairing!  The experts suggested coffee with chocolate so we tried our Dark Chocolate Espresso Round and our Mocha Magic Truffle with a rich stout that had undertones of tobacco.  While I am normally a dark chocolate fan I found the sweetness of the milk chocolate in the Mocha Magic to pair very well with the bitterness of the Stout, the dark chocolate was much less successful.

Next we headed downstairs to tackle a few Belgian style ales.  Initially we were planning on trying a Dopplebock and another Lambic but were quickly steered to other flavors on the suggestion of a very excited bartender that seemed to know what he was talking about.  We discussed the chocolate flavors that were left in our box and he made a handful of suggestions.  First we tried the Merry Monks Belgian Triple with our Mountain Sunrise Ecstasy Elite Truffle.  The classic flavor of dark chocolate and orange in this truffle paired very nicely with this classic Belgian style ale.

Finally we tried the bartender’s suggestion of Nostradamus, a Belgian Strong Ale.  This paired very nicely with two of our pure dark chocolate truffles, Velvet Sin and After Midnight.  Perhaps the 9.5% alcohol content was starting to get to me because the only note I took down was that it was good… I guess you’ll just have to try it yourself.

My conclusions after more than a dozen chocolate and beer match ups?  Beer and chocolate pairing is an art that is defiantly worth exploring.  If you plan on embarking on a beer and chocolate tasting I would recommend taking a large variety of chocolate and finding a bartender that has the time and knowledge to make suggestions.  You can repay them like we did with your leftover chocolates (and a generous tip).  I’ve also created a handy chart that you can reference for some starting points but I encourage you to explore and find what works for you… and let us know what you discovered!

Style of Craft Beer/Characteristic Flavor Type of chocolate recommended Chocolate Fetish Product Pairing
IPA with crisp hoppy bitterness Dark with spice/salt Chili Cocoa Nib Round, Sea Salt Caramel
Pilsner Medium body dark chocolate Ecstasy Ancient Pleasures Truffle
Brown Ale Almonds + dark chocolate Almond Caramel Cup
Oatmeal Stout Milk chocolate with coffee Ecstasy Mocha Magic Truffle
Fruit Lambic with peach Dark chocolate + spice Crystallized Ginger in Dark Chocolate
Belgian Strong Ale Dark chocolate Ecstasy Velvet Sin TruffleEcstasy Elite After Midnight Truffle
Belgian Triple Dark chocolate + citrus Ecstasy Elite Mountain Sunrise Truffle

Pairing Chocolate and Beer in Beer City USA.

When creating a new website there are all kind of things one has to develop.  Some things you expect like new product pictures and descriptions.  Some are a bit unforeseen like what picture am I going to pair with the word Fetish in the dictionary? (We’re still working on that if you have ‘appropriate suggestions’)  Most things end up taking more time then you expect, some are easy, some are difficult, and some are downright fun.  Case in point writing the Beer and Chocolate pairing section.
The first step was to do some research to find out what the experts suggest.  I was surprised to find so much information out there about pairing beer and chocolate.  After compiling a list of about eight different beer styles and the experts suggested chocolate pairings I began to identify items in our product line that may work well for the pairings.  For instance the experts suggested that a dark chocolate with spice would pair well with a Peach Lambic.  Knowing that a Peach Lambic has a sweet fruity flavor I determined that a spicy chocolate like our Ancient Pleasures (dark chocolate + cayenne) would probably not pair well, but perhaps a piece of chocolate covered crystallized ginger would go well?
Finding the perfect beer and chocolate pairing at The Bier Garden.

Finding the perfect beer and chocolate pairing at The Bier Garden.

The next step was to grab a beer loving co-worker (and chocolate loving but that’s a given for anyone that works at The Chocolate Fetish) and head to the nearest bar.  We choose to begin at The Bier Garden for our first round of pairings.  The Bier garden is the closest bar to The Chocolate Fetish and they also offer a large selection of specialty beers so I knew we would have no problem finding all the different beer styles we were looking for.  The Bier Garden is also home to Jackson Zoeller who has been voted as the best bartender in Asheville for multiple years so I knew we would be able to pick his brain for lots of beer details.  The proximity to The Chocolate Fetish proved helpful, as I was able to run back when a flavor I hadn’t anticipated was needed.

It’s recommended that when paring chocolate and beer that you start with the lighter beers and work your way to the darker so we started with a Peach Lambic.  When I was in Belgium I actually had the pleasure of visiting a Lambic brewery where the brewing process uses wild yeast fermentation!  An interesting process that includes letting the beer sit in giant open vats in an historic building with slats for a roof that allow the wild yeasts in… but that’s a whole other blog post.  This pairing turned out to be pretty delightful.  I wouldn’t say that either product was really enhanced by the other but they did pair quite well.  The slight spiciness of the ginger complimented the sweetness of the Lambic and all the flavors worked well together.  A refreshing pairing that would be great at the end of a hot summer day.  My tasting partner said that when tasting the Lambic and ginger together it really reminded him of drinking a hard cider, but better.
Next on the list was a dopplebock with subtle spice notes.  The only thing the Bier garden had to offer here was a rather large bottle that we didn’t feel like taking on at the moment (I can’t let a good beer go to waste) so on the suggestion of one of the bartenders we tried a wheat beer that was listed as having subtle spice overtones of cinnamon and banana peel.  It was recommended to pair this with a sweet spiced chocolate so we tried it with our Chai Moon Truffle (White and milk chocolate with Chai Tea Spices, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, etc) and with our Diamond Griottine (dark chocolate with a French brandied cherry and white chocolate ganache).  After taking a couple of bites and sips I looked over at my co worker’s tasting notes to see “No! No! No!” written boldly next to this line.  Maybe they didn’t pair well because we substituted the wheat beer for the dopplebock, maybe it just wasn’t a good pairing, either way I wholeheartedly agree neither of these were successful.
Moving into beers with a bit more color next on the list was a brown ale.  We stuck with the classic and readily available Newcastle Nut Brown Ale here and the recommended pairing was almonds and dark chocolate.  Thankfully we had a little more success with this pairing.  Almond Caramel Cups are one of our lesser known products that are high on my personal favorites list.  A delicate dark chocolate surrounds a liquid caramel accented with lightly salted slivered almonds.  We both thought this paring was quite nice.  A little of the rich chocolaty flavor was lost when pairing with the brown ale but the saltiness of the almonds went quite well with the sweetness of the caramel and beer.  We both thought that when tasted together the chocolate really brought out the complexity of the beer.
The final beer for the evening (by the way we were sharing so total consumption was about two pints) was an Imperial Stout.  Here we went with a classic micro brew imperial, Old Rasputin.  This beer has a rich dark color – as dark as our dark chocolate – and a strong heavy flavor.  This is the kind of beer that connoisseurs love and that makes others swear off beer altogether.  The recommended pairing was Raspberries and dark chocolate so I had selected our America’s Best Raspberry Truffle to taste.  While doing my research I had read that when tasting beer and chocolate together to try taking a sip of the beer then the chocolate and then taste the chocolate first then the beer second.  In no other paring was the ability of the order in which one tasted to change the flavor more apparent!  When I started with the Old Rasputin and then tasted the truffle it was actually quite pleasant.  Somehow the raspberry flavors did compliment the rich dark earthiness of that beer, but when I did it the other way around, chocolate first then beer it was, well gross.  I would have left this pairing on our recommended pairing list but didn’t feel in good conscious that I could since it was so dependent on the order in which one tasted the chocolates.
I am planning on stealing another co-worker away early next week to taste the final four pairings on our list, which include an IPA, a pilsner, a raspberry Lambic, and an oatmeal stout so stay tuned for the continuation of our beer and chocolate pairings!.  We may consider trying a dooplebock as well since we missed it the first time.  If you have ever had a great chocolate and beer pairing we’d love to hear about your experience and suggestions!

It’s only 112 days until Christmas!

It may seem early to be thinking about Christmas but in the world of retail sales its already getting late.  In fact when I called one of our tin suppliers last week to order holiday tins I was dismayed to find that one of the patterns was already sold out for the year!  (Don’t worry we found something else that is even more fabulous!)  We started feeling the holiday spirit a few weeks ago when a couple of our chocolatiers started listening to Christmas Carols.  A few of us weren’t exactly getting in the spirit but its hard to continue being a bah humbug when others are finding so much joy in there daily dose of the Pandora Christmas station.  Not to mention with talented vocalists like Lauren Baker of Sirius B signing along who couldn’t get in the spirit?  Sirius B, an ‘absurdist gypsy funk folk band’ was recently named best local band in the Mountain Xpress Reader’s poll, check them out here http://www.siriusbmusic.com/.

Woodland Santa Advent Calender

Count down the days until Christmas with one of our heirloom quality Advent Calenders. Each one is filled with over 40 pieces of chocolate!

It was a good thing we were in the spirit because shortly after the carols began the advent calendars arrived.  For the past few years we have been offering these calendars and they are the type of thing that tends to take over our already limited space.   Each one stands about 20″ tall and is made of wood and you can imagine when receiving about 30 of them they take up quite a lot of room.  Further more each and every one had to be opened and carefully checked for damages.  We have already had customers asking about these so I’ll go ahead and let you know that we plan to have them available in October and we will have them in the shop and on our website then.  Each calendar has 24 little doors and behind each door we put two hand crafted chocolates in a variety of Christmas themed shapes.  We won’t plan on shipping until mid November so that you get nice fresh chocolate at the beginning of December when you start opening them.  I’ve included a sneak peak photo (of this year’s new design) here just to get your interest peaked.  If you want to reserve one we’ll defiantly do that for you, we usually sell out of at least one design (and I can never tell which one that is going to be).

Vintage Holiday Tin

One of this years NEW special holiday tins. This one is 10″ x 7″ and it sure can hold a lot of our delicious handcrafted chocolates!

The Holiday product pile continues to grow as a variety of special tins and adorable boxes are quickly flowing in.   My job… figuring out exactly what goes in each special assortment.   It can be difficult to build a special assortment, and in years past I have had some that have been surprisingly successful and others that have just flopped.  I usually have a certain price range in mind and I also have the limitation of the size of the packaging but after that the sky’s the limit.  I’m always torn between trying to give the customer one of everything and not giving the customer the one thing they won’t like.  In the end we usually just try to have a good mix of different things and hope that they are appealing.  Here’s where you our valued customer comes in.  What do you want to see in a special assortment?  Special holiday offerings like a hand crafted chocolate Santa or snowman, individual bite size delicacies like truffles and caramels, collections of bags of pretzels and peanut butter bites?  More variety or stick to one kind of product?  Right now we’re playing around with a variety of assortments in special keepsake boxes with prices ranging from $16.95 to $65.95, so let us know what makes an assortment appealing to you!
As we get closer to the Holiday season we will continue to highlight special holiday products and offerings here on our blog.  Check back later this week to hear the details of my recent adventures in Chocolate and Beer pairing in Beer City USA.