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I was a little perplexed a few months ago while doing a joint chocolate and wine pairing event. The neighbor next to me, a chocolate maker whom shall remain nameless, kept on informing the patrons that they were not re-melters. She made it a point to inform people that their chocolate company actually makes chocolate from the bean. Her insistence on giving out this piece of information and using such a degrading term as 're-melter' didn't sit well with me. By using such an adjective, it belittles the craft of truffle-making and bar blending.

I would love for this young company to go up to a guy like Recchuiti and say, 'Hey man, sit back, you're just a re-melter.'

I make it a point to inform my customers of who's chocolate I use. I do not pretend to be a chocolate maker. This company in question, however, fails to see how they may lose business by the use of such a derogatory word. Do they plan to only make a living my selling direct to the end user (chocolate consumer), becuase I would never endorse any chocolatier to do business with such a company.

What are your thoughts?

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There's no conflict here - milk and sugar are ingredients that chocolate manufacturers purchase to make finished chocolate, whether they start from wet beans (seeds), dry beans, nibs, or liquor. Sugar and milk are added during what is usually called the refining step, irrespective of type of refiner used (e.g., roll refiner or integrated refiner/conche).

The entire purpose of conching is to make the chocolate edible on two fronts: physical (texture) and taste (removing unwanted flavors, developing desirable flavors).

AW: In the UK, most people use the word bonbons or chocolates, not confections? No worries, for the purposes of this context they are equivalent terms.

BC: You think these are hard, try moving people off of "single origin" which is meaningless when the "single" origin is an entire country. I prefer to use "named origin" (or just "origin") where the origin that is being named can be huge (a blend of beans from an entire country) all the way down to a single plantation.
Clay;

I'm not even going to go there. For 25 years here in Calgary the predominant chocolatier has been Bernard Callebaut (grandson of the founder of the Callebaut factory in Belgium).

The average consumer here in Calgary is still reeling from the bomb I've dropped by publicly stating that Mr. Callebaut does NOT make the chocolate he uses in his confections!

Just the fact that I have bars made with the same recipe but from different cocoa beans has been enough of an uphill battle here in Calgary. To try and differentiate region and plantation would send our customers into a full out tailspin - at least for now.

To give you and the general public an idea of what I'm up against, I've uploaded an advertisement that he put in a local, very popular food magazine here in Calgary. This is the kind of misconception that I LOVE to preach about, and while it doesn't say specifically that he makes chocolate..... well.... I'd be interested in your opinion given the fact that he buys bulk chocolate and has absolutely no control over the beans or cacau used in it.

Happy Viewing All!
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Hi Brad,

That does seem pretty blatantly misleading. We have had a couple of companies down here try similar marketing, but so far, they have been called out on it, and they have also been much younger companies, which makes it easier to do so.

I can see how an established larger company marketing in that way can be very troublesome for you.

Best,

Alan
P.S. Just out of interest, why do you spell cacao with a "u"? To the best of my knowledge, "cacau" is Portuguese and not English.
Alan;

I use cacau as the plural term in reference to "a ton of cacau" as opposed to "a ton of cocoa".

For some reason I have it stuck in my head that when I hear cocoa by itself, I think of cocoa powder. I guess I believe that if I think that way, I'm sure others may possibly as well.

As a result I use "cocoa bean" as singular, and "cacau" as a plural reference.

One of my quirks, I guess.

Best Regards
Brad.
Brad:

Bernard C has chocolate made to his specs by the Barry-Callebaut company. I would be interested in knowing whether the chocolate is made in Belgium or in St Hyacinth which is where B-C has a manufacturing plant in Canada (they also have one in St Albans, Vermont).

However, it may be true that Bernard C DOES get involved in selecting the beans for the chocolate he has made. However, the language is ambiguous and leading.

I don't know how much it's worth fighting this but figuring out a meaningful point of differentiation that the consumer can quickly and easily comprehend that does not directly compare you with this icon. Not easy I know, but more valuable to you in the short run than fighting the misconception.
Hi Clay;

To the best of my knowledge Bernard C doesn't have control over the beans used. A couple of his staff were in my shop the other day buying some bars, and were complaining about the latest shipment of chocolate and the smoky flavour it has. They were also mentioning that there was talk in the company of finding another supplier due to the inconsistency they have been receiving in the last while.

I am also aware that in the past he's purchased chocolate from Qzina when his main supplier has run low. Apparently a couple of the varieties of chocolate Qzina offers for sale are very similar to what BC uses.

At the end of the year I will in fact switch my strategy, and begin explaining WHY making one's own chocolate is better than buying a bulk product, regardless of whether or not the purchaser has control over the cocoa/cocoa butter content.

In fact, even to that extent, I don't believe he has control over the type of cocoa butter used either. There are many different qualities of cocoa butter on the market, and even differing qualities from a single company! I know of 3 types alone from Cargill - my current supplier - and each smells different and imparts a different flavour in the chocolate when used. I HAVE to specify the exact type when I place my order.

With regard to "fighting the icon", it's a strategy that has required effort and careful use of terms and phrases in order to not step over the slander/libel line, but is making a big difference in the cash register. It appears that people like to learn, like to think of themselves as ethical and moral purchasers, and for the most part like how open and honest we are about the industry. In fact that curiosity can be directly translated into the 2.5 million hits to my website in just the last 9 months.
Brad,

I agree that Bernard Callebaut has stepped over the line in the advertisement you linked and it's good to educate the public. We are the professionals - so that's our job. Heck, we don't know everything there is to know about pet food ingredients (or maybe you do... but that's not the point!) so we rely on people who are in the know.
All that being said, I went to your website and browsed your 'our difference' heading. I must say I got a few twinges. For example:

"In fact, the same company that sells bulk chocolate to Bernard Callebaut here in Calgary also makes a considerable amount of Nestle's chocolate, and is under contract to supply 80,000 tonnes of chocolate to a Hershey’s plant in Mexico."

Although this is true, isn't it misleading to the consumer? Joe Public thinks there is 1 type of Callebaut chocolate. "I use Callebaut chocolate in my brownies". Isn't this leading them to think they can buy Nestle or Hershey's chocolate and that would be the same as Bernard Callebaut's chocolate?

Also:

"Unlike chocolate itself (which has a very long shelf life), the delicate and smooth buttercream centers of high quality chocolates, have a shelf life at room temperature of approximately 7-10 days before beginning to go rancid or mouldy. If refrigerated, they can last up to 14 days before becoming inedible."

I don't make buttercreams - I make ganache centers but you mention that folks should ask the chocolatier if they are using fresh cream and/or butter implying that the above statement would then be true. But that statement isn't accurate. That's why we enrobe. My chocolates last a lot longer than 14 days under refrigeration. Maybe you're talking about truffles dusted in cocoa powder? But they wouldn't last 7 - 10 days at room temp.... What exactly do you mean? I'd like to know where you got your information.
Lana;

Thanks for asking the questions.

In answer to your first question, it isn't misleading at all. In fact it furthers my point about the incestuous nature of the chocolate industry. Hersheys is supposed to be a chocolate maker, yet they are purchasing bulk chocolate from someone else... What's up??? In fact without looking at the recipe, who's to say it isn't the same?

With regard to your second question, confection centers that do not have preservatives, or at least 75% sugar, or alcohol, will go bad regardless of whether or not they are enrobed. I've actually bitten into mouldy enrobed truffle centers. When you have a cream and butter mixture sitting at room temperature for 7 days, take a whif. You'll find that in many cases it's gone bad, IF your sugar content is less than 75% of the content. In our case we don't recommend that people refrigerate their confections OR their bars. Chocolate is notorious for absorbing odors and moisture from its surroundings. It won't take more than a day or two for a real nice truffle to smell like left over roast beef, or that plate of garlic fettucini you thought was covered. In fact even Bernard C himself says that his confections should be consumed within 14 days of purchase. Again, the sugar content is the magic key, and that number is standard in commercial food preparation.
Actually Its mostly about the water activity of the center. Unbound water will definitely cause troubles at the 2 week range, but confections can certainly have a much longer shelf life than that. Although its not my thing, many famous chocolatiers use corn syrup in a ganache which lowers the water activity dramatically and extends the shelf life without the use of preservatives. The Joseph Shmidt confections that Whole Foods used to sell had a 2 month shelf life with no preservatives. No Idea how they accomplished that. Knipshildt also has a very long shelf life without preservatives.

The easy way is to say "eat it within a week" so that you are covered. However, when you learn the science behind the food you learn that there are proper techniques to creating high quality confections in a way that protects against mold growth.
From what I hear using "invert sugar" is another way of extending the shelf life of ganache. Wikipedia tells me that invert sugar has lower water activity than sucrose and this is why it imparts a longer shelf life.
Not sure what "longer shelf life means". Two months for Joseph Shmidt without preservatives seems surprisingly long. I would love to see their list of ingredients.
Yes confections will still go bad - even when enrobed. But to say "if refrigerated, they can last up to 14 days before becoming inedible" is inaccurate. If the Aw is in the normal range for a ganache - enrobed ganache should last 3 weeks UNREFRIGERATED. Of course the fresher the better but that's not what we're talking about - we're talking about 'inedible'. Many chocolatiers in NA freeze their products - before or after enrobing. In Italy, where the law dictates that if a product is frozen it must be labelled as such, many chocolatiers keep their products at 0 degrees C and do so for a 6 month period!
I think you should take another look at your info Brad. Like Hallot says - it's much more about water activity than sugar content and the timelines you're stating just aren't accurate. What source is your info from?
One of my sources is a book by Minifie called Chocolate, Cocoa and Confectionary - considered by many in the confectionary industry as the standard reference "bible". I also have others.

This discussion is going sideways. Until you can tell me definitively that the total sugar content of a BUTTERCREAM truffle center I refer to in my internet material is less than 75% and still has a shelf life of longer than 14 days, I stand by what I say.

You seemed to miss the part where I write about reducing the dairy content. I've pasted the text here for your reference:

"Chocolatiers can get away with extending the shelf life of their product by lowering the dairy content, increasing the amount of sugar in the product, adding alcohol, in the center, and even using preservatives."

At no point do I say they all must use preservatives, and once again, I reiterate that I refer to BUTTERCREAM and not ganache. Ganache does not contain butter, and has MUCH less milk fat to go rancid. In fact, a ganache can easily be made with skim milk and no cream at all, thereby extending the room temperature shelf life.

Further to that you mention that an enrobed ganache "SHOULD" last 3 weeks. The term "should" is synonymous with "hypothetically". So... Sure. Maybe under the ideal conditions. However, can you guarantee that every customer is going to keep their confections in ideal conditions?? Why risk it? Why even tell your customer that??

The first person who eats a bad chocolate, gets sick, and complains to the media and/or health department because they were told it "should" last that long will play a big part in finishing your business off. It's not worth the risk.

My educated 2 cents for what it's worth.

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