Did you know that this coming Monday, October 28th, is National Chocolate Day? I’m here to tell you to not just celebrate it with any old chocolate, but try something new. Bar & Bean is an online marketplace for small-batch craft chocolate (less than 250 tons annually). The makers of the chocolates they stock are working to reintroduce and redefine a flavor that has been dominated by large producers.
I was sent Bar & Bean’s Baker’s Set which is a mix of 5 craft chocolate bars:
(2) Poco Dolce – based in San Francisco, CA and started by Kathy Wiley. “Poco Dolce” literally translates from Italian as “not too sweet”, which aligns with the company’s mission of staying on the “savory side of sweet”. Bittersweet with Sea Salt – light sprinkling of Grey Sea Salt.
(3 & 4) Escazu – based in Raleigh, NC and started by Hallot and Danielle. Uses an antique roaster and stone grinder to make chocolate in a more traditional method to bring out flavor complexity. Chipotle Chili & Vanilla – 74% dark chocolate that is complemented with a spicy kick of chipotle chili. Pumpkin Seed and Guajillo Chili – 73% dark chocoloate with roasted pumpkin seeds and guajillo chili.
(5) Dick Taylor – based in Aracta, CA and started by two college buddies Adam Dick and Dustin Taylor. Dick Taylor uses only organic cacao and organic cane sugar in its bars. They roast their beans in their modified Royal #5 coffee bean roaster. Aged for at least 2-4 weeks to further develop and stabilize flavor. Fleur de Sel – 74% Dominican Republic with hand harvested sea salt.
The first bar I tried was the Escazu Pumpkin Seed and Guajillo Chili Dark Chocolate bar, and it inspired me to incorporate pumpkin seeds into the pumpkin peanut butter cups I had been planning to make for today, which is National Pumpkin Day (and also the usual PB+Choc Saturday). Then I went after the two sea salt bars because that’s one of my favorite things in special chocolate. And as a result the pumpkin peanut butter cup with pepitas then got a sprinkle of sea salt on top as well!
Unfortunately, I did not leave enough leftover to make these cups completely out of the chocolate I was sent, but the recipe was inspired by all the craft chocolate I got to try. These little cups are the perfect combination of pumpkin, chocolate, and peanut butter in order to fully celebrate. To make the celebration even better, be sure to find the Rafflecopter widget after saving the recipe in order to enter to win your own set of craft chocolate.
As for the PB+Choc portion of today’s celebration, today Ohio State plays Penn State which means many people in my life are enemies on this day. Hopefully it will only last the day. Penn State is coming back after a 4OT win against Michigan, so it should be a really good game. They are still not eligible to play in the B1G or National championship games, so it’s really to the benefit of the conference as a whole if we win O:-). However, I don’t particularly want to go to the Championship game either because as good as I do believe we are, I am not sure we are at the same level as Alabama or Oregon. As much as I hate to admit it.
SEA SALT PUMPKIN PEANUT BUTTER CUPS
Makes 2 dozen
2 cups dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup pepitas, plus more for garnish
Coarse sea salt
- In a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate. Microwave on high for 20 seconds, stir and repeat until melted. Line a mini muffin tin with mini muffin papers. Add about 1-1/2 tsp of melted chocolate into each cup (make sure to leave enough to top them later). Using the back of a spoon, gently coat the chocolate up the sides, making sure to leave enough on the bottom for a sturdy base.
- Place muffin tin in the refrigerator and chill until set, about ten minutes.
- Place the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until well combined. If desired, add more honey to taste.
- Once the chocolate has set, divide the filling amongst the cups, making sure to avoid the top edges.
- Remelt the remaining chocolate if necessary. Stir in pepitas until well coated.
- Top the cups with chocolate mixture using the back of a spoon to spread. Tap the muffin tin lightly on the counter to evenly distribute chocolate. Make sure the pumpkin filling is completely covered. Sprinkle a couple more pepitas on top of each cup and a little sea salt if desired.
- Chill until set, about 10 minutes.
Source: Adapted slightly from Domestic Fits.
Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary Baker’s set of chocolate from Bar & Bean and they are providing the giveaway. I was not compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Some informative and interesting facts about craft chocolate:
The FDA only requires that milk chocolate only needs to contain 10% actual chocolate in order to be called “chocolate” – so all artisan/craft makers exceed these standards.
Craft chocolate is much more time consuming and labor intensive to make than the chocolate we can buy in grocery stores. From the source of the chocolate, the beans, to how the product is actually made – every step is intentional and has its place in the process.
It is not uncommon for artisan chocolate makers to pay 2-3 times above fair trade prices for the beans they use to produce their chocolate. This shows just how much they actually care about the quality of their product – each bar is a true representation of who they are as individuals and a brand as a whole.
- Craft chocolate is more about listening to cacao, respecting cacao, and using the skills and resources to bring out the flavors instead of masking them with sugar and pure sweetness.