Food, Food Artisans

Emily’s Top 10 Chocolates for 2014

Chocolate News & notes

The holidays are upon us and it is time to start talking gifts! Our chocolate corner is bursting with a worldly array of chocolates and confections, sure to suit most anyone on your gift list. To help spur the sweet spirit, I’ve made a list of a few of my favorites (although it is only a small percentage of our chocolate offerings!)

1. Askinosie Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Askinosie Peppermint Bark

It is no wonder this artisanally made peppermint bark made in Springfield, Missouri is a much anticipated delight in the Deli every holiday season. Shawn Askinosie layers dark single-origin chocolate with buttery single-origin white chocolate and tops it all with all-natural crushed peppermint from Denver’s Hammond’s Candies. Shawn describes his special treat as “bean to bark”, due to the chocolate he incorporates into his recipe. He uses his complex 72% Mababu,Tanzania chocolate, which is a result of a special educational project, Chocolate University. In addition Askinosie is one of the only chocolate makers in the U.S. to produce single origin white chocolate, which he presses in his shop on a machine he had built special for their factory. Makes a cheerful gift or an indulgent confection to keep all for yourself!

2. Veruca Chocolate Grown Up Gelt for Chanukah

Veruca chocolate gelt
Enjoy the tradition of Chanukah gelt a bit more deliciously! Gold and silver dusted disks from Veruca Chocolates in Chicago, are formed to look like Judean coins circa 40 B.C. As Mo Frechette of Mail Order says “The real treasure is their flavor” and this year we have them available in three sophisticated flavors: milk chocolate, dark chocolate with crunchy nibs, dark chocolate with crystals of sea salt. A great gift for every day of Chanukah!

3. Pralus Pistachio Diabolical Bar

Pralus Pistachio Diabolical Bar

A new addition to our shelves from one of France’s premier chocolate makers Francois Pralus. This intense bar is a unique treat made of 75% rich dark chocolate brimming with creamy pistachio paste and speckled with roasted pistachios. This unassumingly packaged bar, weighing in at over a quarter pound, makes for an impressive gift or I recommend slicing in crossed sections for a perfect addition to a festive fruit and cheese plate at your next party.

4. Big Picture Farm Goat Milk Caramels

I am smitten with these handmade caramels from a small family farm in Vermont. These soft & creamy caramels are crafted using rich milk from a happy herd of pasture-raised goats, lovingly tended to by farmers Louisa and Lucas. Originally makers of aged goat’s milk cheeses, the couple soon began tinkering in the kitchen and developed a smooth and buttery caramel with a complex earthy sweetness. You will find them packaged in a gift-worthy box adorned by adorable illustrations of the goats, cleverly drawn to highlight each of the animals’ individual characters.

5. Dandelion Chocolate Single-Origin Chocolate Bars

Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring craft their chocolate in a small factory in the Mission District of San Francisco. They carefully source beans from small farms and use a simple recipe of just cocoa beans & sugar, which highlight the flavor nuances of the bean and specific roast given to each of their single origin chocolate bars. Each unique batch is limited edition, numbered, signed and wrapped in decorative gold-flecked Indian paper.

6. Poco Dolce Toffee Tin

Poco Dolce Toffee Tin

The name Poco Dolce translates from Italian as “just a little sweet”. Owner, Kathy Wiley has created just that – an indulgent and addictive confection with the perfect balance of salty, savory and just the right amount of sweet. The packaging might be modest, but inside each tin you will find a whopping half pound of award-winning hand-crafted buttery toffee, with a sublime texture enrobed by bittersweet chocolate. ‘Espresso’ features toffee infused with house made espresso while ‘Popcorn’ is just that – freshly popped popcorn folded right into sea salt toffee.

7. Mindo Chocolate Makers Ecuadorian Drinking Chocolate

We are incredibly fortunate to have Mindo Chocolate Makers right in our backyard, in Dexter, MI. Our newest addition to our shelves, from our friends at Mindo is a rich drinking chocolate. After several test batch variations, and I’ll admit delicious taste tests, Barbara Wilson at Mindo Chocolate Makers concocted for us at Zingerman’s a decadent 77% dark drinking chocolate which is delicately floral, has a nice acidity and has a pleasant lingering finish. A flavorful and well balanced hot chocolate, perfect for cozying up during the cold wintery evenings ahead.

8. Enric Rovira Bombolas

These flavorful nuggets of goodness immersed in chocolate are crafted by Barcelona’s whimsical chocolate artisan, Enric Rovira. Available in two tempting varieties: Candied orange pieces, enveloped in 70% dark chocolate and gently dusted with confectioner’s sugar or Spanish Largueta almonds caramelized and dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in cocoa powder.

9. D. Barbero Tripolino Chocolate Covered Nougat

D. Barbero Tripolino Chocolate Covered Nougat

Made by the Barbero family since 1883, this traditional treat comes to us from Asti, located in a region of Italy known for its particularly flavorful variety of Piedmont hazelnuts.Their toasty torrone is loaded with the region’s lush roasted hazelnuts (over 51% of the recipe!). Their not-too-sweet treat is crisp and crumbly in texture, delicately aromatic and lightly sweetened with honey from beehives, which are nestled among the hazelnut trees. Once cooled the nutty slabs of torrone are smothered in extra-dark chocolate.

10. A Custom Box of Chocolates!

A Custom Box of Chocolates!

Delight those on your gift list with a custom box of handmade confections. The truffle case at Zingerman’s Next Door’s is brimming with a tantalizing assortment of hand-crafted bonbons, confections and treasures. Come peruse the selection or let one of our staff gather together the perfect assortment of flavors and textures. It is not an easy task to pick a favorite, but let me highlight a few to get you started: Chocolate in Chelsea’s Chocolate Mousse (whipped chocolate ganache, with a divine texture coated in dark chocolate); Sweet Gem’s Chocolate Covered Pate de Fruit (one nibble into the rich chocolate reveals juicy French-style fruit candy made with Michigan fruit); Chocolat Moderne’s Baby Bourbon (milk chocolate & single-grain bourbon whiskey from NY’s Tuthilltown Spirits); and Grocer’s Daughter’s Pomegranate Ginger (oozing with flavor; pomegranate extract, fresh grated ginger all dipped in dark chocolate).

Admittedly, the above list is but a tiny tip of our incredibly alluring chocolate iceberg. As always, if you’re still hunting for that perfect something and need a little assistance, our knowledgeable staff is ready and more than enthusiastic to show you their favorites and help you find a special gift for everyone on your list.

Yours in Chocolate,

Emily Case
Zingerman’s Chocolate Specialist