Chocolate Week 2009 blog

October 16, 2009

Bean To Bon Bon?

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Written by: The Chef

What was I thinking? I mean making micro-batch chocolate is a great experiment. I appreciate the nuances and the art of making a great chocolate. There are many venerable institutions who have  and will continue to make great chocolate. So why am I embarking on this venture? Its not like I cant just buy Felchlin, Valrhona, Domori, Amadei, and their ilk to craft my confections. Hell, I do.

So this obsession with roasting, cracking, winnowing, grinding, conching and refining my own should have been left on the back burner of my feverish mind for eternity right? No. Thats not how I operate. I go all in, everytime.

I have been scouring the planet for beans. Not literally, just electronically, and the results have been as scattered as the fall leaves on my farm. But once in awhile I get a hold of some exceptional beans and I manage not to burn them. Then my fever kicks in. We spend hours shelling the beans by hand the ancient way. We grind them slowly and melange them slowly with great care. We check temps continuously to insure we arent going to far off the reservation of acceptable technique.

When we deem the product edible and exceptional we temper it and check it’s viscosity and flavor notes. Sometimes, depending on the bean, we let it rest for a few weeks and then temper it again to see how it tastes and reacts to some simple oxidation. Its an amazing science that is easily dismissed by some and under-appreciated by many.

We will never achieve perfection here. What we do achieve, however, is a quality product of our own design. My current Ocumare was recently incorrectly compared to anothers very famous ”porcelana”. I blushed and told them no, I made it myself. But it was a telling moment that some stranger thought enough of the flavor and balance to think it was someone elses Cadillac.

I have no intention of jumping on the current American “Bean To Bar” train. Art, sean, alan, and a few others are welcome to hash it out for shelf space in  the over saturated premium bar market amungst themselves. I wish them well and enjoy their efforts. But I am not to be deterred in my quest for the perfect bon bon. My customers come in time and again want the “new”.

I dont blame them. My staff and myself are tireless perfectionsists always falling short of our goals due to our own overly lofty expectations. Its what drives us. The bons bons we made today from our own chocolate though? Fucking amazing!  Maybe we are onto something.


About the Author

The Chef
I am the owner/chocolatier of Lillie Belle Farms Hand Made Chocolates in Oregon. I am in my 7th year of hand crafting chocolates and it is an all consuming passion.



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