getting fresh: Serious about chocolate
One of the great perks about being editor of Candy Industry is that -- on occasion -- I get to visit and interview people who are truly passionate about chocolate. Their level of intensity about sourcing and processing cocoa beans into chocolate, and then turning that chocolate into delectable creations continues to amaze me.
The Agostoni family, which heads up ICAM SpA, a midsized farm-to-bar cocoa and chocolate company based in Lecco, Italy, belongs to that cadre of passionate professionals.
Last week, I had the opportunity to tour their newly built, incredibly sophisticated, 50-million euro plant located in Orsenigo, about 30 minutes’ drive from their existing manufacturing facility and headquarters.
Although I could share some of the details with you today, I won’t, since the company will be featured in our upcoming November issue of Candy Industry. Must reading, let me tell you.
I will, however, relate just one vignette from my visit, which was time spent with Mario Magni -- a local chocolatier and member of the famed Magni family of pastry chefs and chocolatiers who handle instructional courses for ICAM.
In arranging my tour with ICAM, the organizers thought it might be interesting for me to spend some time with Magni as part of my instructional visit. Franco Cibinetto, the company’s export brand manager and suave translator, assured me I would be tasting a multitude of chocolates. Okay, if I must, I must.
But first, let me backtrack a bit. Mario Magni, along with his brother Riccardo and father, Pierpaolo, teach professional chocolate courses at ICAM for the benefit of customers and consumers. The “Choco Scuoloa” or Chocolate School typically meets every other month and holds classes that focus on various aspects of chocolate. Duration varies from one to three days. To help me with my knowledge of chocolate, Mario provided me with a practical refresher course on where chocolate comes from and how it’s processed, tempered, moulded and demoulded. He also showed me how to make a to-die-for chocolate ganache.
Granted, during my past 10 years as editor of Candy Industry, I’ve picked up some knowledge about cacao, cocoa and chocolate. Nevertheless, as so many of the industry professionals I admire have pointed out to me, learning about chocolate is a lifelong journey.
In his opening comments, Mario pointed out that chocolate is a “suspension of elements.” I had never heard theobroma described as such, but it works for me. In doing some checking on this definition, I came across a technical paper written by Anisha Gorty and Sheryl Barringer on the “Electrohydrodynamic Spraying of Chocolate.” Sure enough, there were Mario’s words: “Molten chocolate is a suspension of particles of sugar, cocoa and/or milk solids in a continuous fat phase.”
Thus, when working with chocolate, Mario emphasized that adhering to prescribed times and temperatures is critical to ensure that this suspension remains in force. Discipline is key. It also applies to making ganache, particularly if you want it to be “to die for.”
Mario then went through all the steps involved in making a dark chocolate truffle featuring a chocolate ganache. We were pressed for time, so he had to hurry part of the process. Let me tell you in advance, it’s never a good thing to hurry a chocolatier.
Luckily, this Mario was a bit more understanding. At the end of the session, Mario demoulded the chocolates and presented them to me after topping each one off with an edible silver flake.
Ah, that’s what I love, edible art! Being the good sport that I am, I brought most of the chocolates home with me, somewhat implying to my family that I had “helped” make them. At the Pacyniak clan’s barbeque last Sunday, the chocolates disappeared before I could even embellish the story. I guess a passion for edible art runs in the family. Ciao, baby!
Enstrom's marks 50th anniversary
Grand Junction, Colo.-based Enstrom’s Almond Toffee is celebrating 50 years in the confectionery business.
Three generations ago, Chet Enstrom perfected the art of blending the finest natural ingredients to create batches of almond toffee as gifts for family and friends. By 1960, his almond toffee was gaining a reputation. At the urging of family and friends, Chet and his wife, Vernie, founded Enstrom Candies.
Through the years, the growing business was passed down from generation to generation. The family still follows the same original recipe for hand-crafted almond toffee that Chet perfected years ago. It also has created a selection of fine chocolates; like the toffee, they are blended with only the freshest ingredients to create luxurious and unique confections that are shipped around the world.
Today, Chet’s granddaughter, Jamee, and her husband, Doug Simons, oversee the operation out of Grand Junction, while Chet’s grandson Rick and his wife, Linda, managed the Denver stores. This third generation continues to take pride in creating exceptional confections and still operates with the philosophy begun by Chet more than 60 years ago -- that they’re just making a little Almond Toffee for a few of their friends.
Under their leadership, two plant expansions have been constructed and innovations have taken place in the form of technological advancements to both mail-order and manufacturing. The family’s quest for innovation eventually led to the development of cutting-edge machinery to allow for continuous-production of Enstrom’s premiere product, World-Famous Almond Toffee.
“Enstrom’s success is due, in large part, to our unyielding commitment to quality” Simons says. “You can sell anyone once, but premium quality products will keep them coming back time and time again”.
For more information about Enstrom’s, visit www.enstrom.com.
Brand Passion Index reveals Halloween candy favorites
NetBase, an Insight Discovery company, has announced the latest Brand Passion Index, which measures consumer insights on candy brands Nestlé’s Butterfinger, Brach’s Candy Corn, Hershey’s Kit-Kat, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, and Mars’ Snickers for Halloween.
Butterfinger is associated with the most positive passionate feelings, according to NetBase’s ConsumerBase tool, which reveals emotions and passion levels associated with brands using Natural Language Processing technology.
Among the five brands analyzed in ConsumerBase from a number of online sources (public Internet and social media) between Oct. 1, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2010, Snickers was the most talked about candy brand. Surprisingly, Brach’s Candy Corn was the most polarized brand and generated the most negative feelings from consumers.
With 70% of its total conversations associated with “love” feelings, Butterfinger generated the most positive emotions of the five candy brands. Conversations referenced its great taste and recognized Butterfinger for its effective use of social media.
Snickers received the highest volume of total conversations with 50%of those included in this index. In those conversations, consumers referenced its historic legacy. The popular candy bar also was associated with energy and wellness, which reflects Snickers’ popular advertising campaign from the 1980s.
While candy corn is synonymous with Halloween and trick-or-treaters, conversations bore less enthusiasm than other candy favorites. While purchased for its festive colors and long-term affiliation with Halloween, emotions expressed for the candy by consumers are divided.
For more information, visit www.netbase.com.
Dreams candy line to benefit Shriners Hospitals for ChildrenThis month, St. Louis-based chocolatier Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Co. is introducing a line of chocolates that begins with fresh fruit puree, enrobed in pure milk or dark chocolate. The new product, dubbed Dreams, was created to replace “creams” -- the oozy, fruity, oft-ignored chocolates that are frequently left in the box. Using a century-old candymaking process known as starch casting, Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Co.’s chocolatiers have perfected a recipe that results in a fruit-and-chocolate blend unlike anything on the market.
To celebrate the launch of Dreams, Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Co is helping to make some very special children’s dreams come true. Throughout the month of October, the company will donate 20% of all Dreams sales to the St. Louis branch of Shriners Hospitals for Children, which is dedicated to providing medical and rehabilitative services to children with congenital deformities and conditions, problems resulting from orthopaedic injuries and diseases of the neuromusculoskeletal system.
In 1912, candymakers developed a chocolate shell that could be filled with a variety of soft centers, creating the first chocolate truffle. Truffles, of course, have since become widely known and extremely popular. The Abel family, which owns Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Co., believes Dreams are equally unique.
“In the world of chocolate technology, there have been some key product development milestones that have changed the way people think about and consume chocolate,” explains Dan Abel Jr., second-generation candymaker and vice president of Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Co. “We think that the launch of Dreams is one of those innovations … and it’s definitely very exciting if you’re a chocolate enthusiast.”
Initially, Dreams will be available in about 12 flavors, including strawberry, key lime, orange, blackberry, pomegranate and lemon as well as a mint version. Each flavor has a signature swirl on top, applied by hand, to identify it. The process of making Dreams allows for virtually any flavor, so the company plans to debut additional varieties in the future. The Dreams Collection -- available by the pound, half-pound and in an 8 Dream Sequence assorted box -- is available at all eight Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Co. stores and online at www.chocolatechocolate.com.
Chuao Chocolatier announces nationwide launch of limited-edition Origins Chocolate Bar
San Diego-based Chuao Chocolatier, an award-winning chocolate company renowned for its culinary-inspired chocolate confections, has announced the official nationwide launch of its limited-edition Origins Chocolate Bar. Featuring premium dark chocolate made with cacao from the legendary region of Chuao, Venezuela, Origins offers a 77% cacao content and contains no extra ingredients, including vanilla and soy lecithin. Chuao Chocolatier originally debuted Origins in 2009 exclusively for Dean & Deluca stores.
“Cacao has been an important part of our family since the 1900s when our ancestors owned Aguasanta, a small Criollo farm in Venezuela,” says Master Chef Michael Antonorsi, co-founder of Chuao Chocolatier and a native of Venezuela. “Origins has a special place in my heart because it embodies everything I love about chocolate -- the source, the heritage and the quality,”
Made solely from cacao mass and very little sugar, the Origins Chocolate Bar gives a glimpse into the ancestral essence of Chuao -- considered to be the best cacao in the world. It features a pure, yet complex profile of dark red fruit and a smooth textural finish.
According to Antonorsi, Origins arouses the senses as soon as the bar is unwrapped, unveiling aromas of dried wild flowers and earthly, fibrous jute. And after the first bite, flavors of tobacco and roasted coffee melt on the center of the tongue. As the chocolate further dissolves, an acidity becomes apparent as the sides of the tongue begin to salivate. Slowly, the presence of fruit notes -- such as bing cherry, raisin and mission fig -- begin to take center stage. The experience finishes with a soft, yet lingering bitterness and a hint of malt aromas. To Antonorsi, Origins offers True Taste of Chocolate.
The Origins Chocolate Bar will be available for a limited time and has a suggested retail price of $14.95. It is available at all Chuao Chocolatier Cafes and online at www.chuaochocolatier.com. It also will be offered by exclusive retailers nationwide.
sweet of the week: ZonePerfect Cookie Dough Bars
Abbott Nutrition, Columbus, Ohio, has added a full line of cookie dough-inspired nutrition bars to its ZonePerfect Cookie Dough Bars product lineup; the collection will include three flavors with a soft cookie dough texture: Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Raisin. Each bar is an excellent source of protein (10 gm.) and a good source of 17 vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants (Vitamins C & E and Selenium). Abbott is supporting the launch through a month of “Cookie Doughlicious Surprises” on Facebook (www.facebook.com/zoneperfect), where fans can win a new surprising prize each week, including samples, music downloads and more. The company also is sampling the bars at art walks in select cities throughout October. The suggested retail prices are $1.25 for a 1.58-oz. bar and $5.99 for a 7.9-oz. box of five-bar multipacks.