Dandelion Chocolate

Alright, my original headline was supposed to be Chocolate Renaissance Redux. But then I got to thinking, I’ve probably used redux before. And I know I’ve used Chocolate Renaissance as well. So mind you, I’m writing this on St. Valentine’s Day eve, when I come across all these movie reviews about Fifty Shades  of Grey, which debuted this day.

Seems the pre-opening publicity about the movie that’s based on the book of the same title has generated a bit of mini hysteria amongst the ladies. Or so would the publicists lead you to believe.

So, I haven’t read the book. Nor do I intend to see the movie. Essentially it’s about a young, naïve women swept off her feet by a handsome, filthy rich executive who’s into chains, whips and blindfolds…or so I’m told. Short version: it’s a Harlequins S&M romance novel.

Not sure if women really get excited being dominated by a man using sexual paraphernalia, but then I’m rather old school. In any case, I thought this” sexed up” headline would grab your attention.

And it’s not just a U.S. phenomenon, chocolate that is. Upon attending the International Sweets & Biscuits Fair in Cologne in early February — look for our coverage in an upcoming issue — I walked away just amazed at the amount of innovative chocolate products on the floor.

Thanks to innovations from chocolate suppliers as well as equipment manufacturers, large and small companies have the ability to really create astounding chocolate creations. I actually saw first-hand what such support means when I visited Thorntons in the UK prior to my visit to the ISM show.

There, on a newly installed decorating line, I saw robots performing fairly intricate designs on large, hollow Easter eggs in continuous fashion. Amazing. And what was equally amazing was the accompanying packaging.

A beautiful box with a large see-through panel displays the decorating artistry on the egg. Accompanying the package was a small box of 12 delicious chocolates. All for the great price of 10 pounds or less. Great concept, great execution.

I mean, think of it, a beautiful chocolate egg for the youngsters, equally beautiful and tasty pralines for the adults. Hard to resist I imagine.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s also plenty of excitement. Chocolatiers and chocolate-makers are experimenting with all sorts of techniques and flavors. Be it nibs sitting in bourbon-soaked barrels to absorb the smoke and whiskey or single-sourced chocolate bars using only the rarest of fine-flavor cocoa beans, there’s fine-crafted chocolate springing up across the country.

Be it the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, the Daily Beast, articles about such chocolate-makers are in. And rightly so.

We’ve covered quite a few of them in these pages recently, from Raaka in New York to Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco (pictured). And there are plenty more to come.

And, let’s not forget the chocolatiers, two of which are featured in the March issue:  Chocolat Uzma and Veruca Chocolates. They’re part of the renaissance as well.

And just to show you that this 2.0 version of the chocolate renaissance is for real, there’s even an artisanal confectionery subscription company that delivers not only chocolates but handcrafted confections as well. You can read about Treatsies in the upcoming issue as well.

So let’s celebrate this resurgence by encouraging all to indulge in the sweetness of eating chocolate.