The Chocolate Life

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Landen Zernickow's Blog (30)

Root Chocolate - Roasting Cocoa Beans with the Behmor 1600 PLUS

This weekend we took our cocoa bean roasting to the next level: we christened our newest tool, the …


Added by Landen Zernickow on December 15, 2014 at 7:00pm — No Comments

Root Chocolate - Thanksgiving Chocolate Tasting

Last weekend, we were thankful to have Richard’s parents in town to celebrate Thanksgiving. For the occasion, we hosted a true blind chocolate tasting adventure. We pulled out Eagranie Yuh’s The Chocolate Tasting Kit (Tasting Kits) , Richard conducted a dramatic reading of the…


Added by Landen Zernickow on December 11, 2014 at 7:40pm — No Comments

Root Chocolate - Marketing or Education

Occasionally, while I sit at a Vietnamese restaurant, cautiously eating my standard Pho, I can’t help giggle to myself as Richard sweats and guzzles water to counteract the powerful sensations coming from his inevitably extra spicy dish. Similarly, I pass on the japapeños in Mexican cuisine and the Sriracha at Thai places. A coworker’s kid only eats food that is white and my cousins, while growing up, ate solely …


Added by Landen Zernickow on December 8, 2014 at 5:42pm — No Comments

Root Chocolate - To cocoa butter or not to cocoa butter?

To cocoa butter or not to cocoa butter?

That is the question...

We did an experiment to provide an answer to this time old question (ok, sure, we’re borrowing from Shakespeare). For this experiment, we used our favorite Madagascar beans. I think we’re now about halfway done with the giant bucket!

Let’s post some hypotheses about the two batches...

Read more here:…


Added by Landen Zernickow on December 6, 2014 at 10:34pm — No Comments

Root Chocolate - Matching the Roast

Last month, we visited John Nanci, the Chocolate Alchemist in Oregon. It was a lot of fun and we learned a ton about his process, ingredients, and recommendations!

One of our favorite parts of the visit was roasting a batch of cocoa beans with him. Check out our previous posts on roasting …


Added by Landen Zernickow on December 4, 2014 at 6:16pm — No Comments

Root Chocolate - Sorting Cocoa Beans

What is the absolute first step in making chocolate? Sorting! See if I made sorting more exciting than it seems!

This step in making chocolate does not usually get a lot of attention. Perhaps that’s because it’s such a tedious, manual process in most cases. Perhaps it’s because until recently, it seemed uncontroversial.

Well, let me try to make this topic as exciting as possible for our readers. I promise it’ll involve threat of violence, betrayed trust, and the…


Added by Landen Zernickow on December 1, 2014 at 6:25pm — No Comments

Root Chocolate - Making Chocolate Friends

Over the weekend, we had the exciting opportunity to meet up with another local chocolate maker. Dave Huston of Confluence Chocolate, who lives up in Sacramento, agreed to come down to the Bay Area for a visit. We met atBittersweet Cafe, and drank some absolutely delicious hot chocolates (similar to what’s offered at Dandelion). I recommend the Spicy hot…


Added by Landen Zernickow on November 26, 2014 at 6:31pm — No Comments

Root Chocolate - A Chocolate Shortage?

There has been a lot of news recently regarding the world chocolate shortage. Some sources are stating that there will be a 1 million MT deficit in chocolate by 2020. The …


Added by Landen Zernickow on November 24, 2014 at 6:28pm — No Comments

Root Chocolate - Chocolate Factory

Ever wonder what the Root Chocolate Factory looks like? Check it out!

It’s been about 8 months since we starting playing around with chocolate. And in that time, we’ve collected quite a bit of equipment, tools, and ingredients that now fill an entire area of our apartment. We like to call that area our Chocolate Factory.

We started with just a bag of cocoa beans from the …


Added by Landen Zernickow on November 18, 2014 at 7:18pm — No Comments

Root Chocolate - chocolate certifications and labels

"Organic" "Local" "Single Origin" "Fair Trade" "Rainforest Alliance" "UTZ" "Direct Trade"

What do these all mean and which ones should you pay attention to when you're choosing your chocolate? Good question! Some relate to labor practices, others relate to the environmental circumstances surrounding the farming.

Here at Root Chocolate, we've discussed where cacao farmers fit into the picture, the complications of importing cocoa beans, the benefits of slowing down our…


Added by Landen Zernickow on November 14, 2014 at 12:30am — No Comments

Root Chocolate - Venezuelan Batch & Bloom Challenge

Last week, we made a batch of chocolate from some very special beans. They are Carupano Corona from Venezuela, 2014. The Chocolate Alchemist describes them as “Criollo/Trinitario with clove and soft fruity high notes and very low bitterness.”

And the exciting part – John Nanci roasted them right there in his workshop with us watching (and smelling) on! In his homemade roaster with temperature gauges inside the drum roaster and in the oven itself, these beans smelled amazing. I’ll…


Added by Landen Zernickow on November 7, 2014 at 12:23pm — No Comments

Root Chocolate - New Ingredients

One of the areas of innovation in chocolate where we have not yet ventured is that of ingredients. Well, that’s not totally true… When we first started out, we tried a bacon batch, but we added way too much bacon. Another time, we tried a salted chocolate batch, but we added way too much salt. (Noticing a trend?) We’ve strayed away from new ingredients since then.

However, our visit to John Nanci in …


Added by Landen Zernickow on November 3, 2014 at 7:42pm — No Comments

Healthy Halloween with Root Chocolate

Happy Halloween!

You may expect a rant about Halloween chocolate or a self-righteous monograph about how I don’t eat junk candy. But, to be honest, I love candy corn and Swedish fish and even Milky Way bars! We don’t eat too many sweets, but every once in a while, the candies from my childhood provide that comfort of sugary deliciousness.

Our apartment complex didn’t get any trick-or-treaters last year, so we don’t expect many (if at all) this year either. Still, we have our…


Added by Landen Zernickow on October 31, 2014 at 6:45pm — No Comments

Root Chocolate - 85%

Last week, we finished another batch of delicious chocolate. This time, we tried four distinctly new ideas: a new roasting profile, a higher percentage cocoa, a longer refining time, and finally, a different temperature range for tempering. And the result? Smooth deliciousness!


Rather than our typical 400 degree hit, followed by 15-20 minutes at 250, we tried a roasting profile inspired by some comments …


Added by Landen Zernickow on October 20, 2014 at 9:00pm — No Comments

Root Chocolate - Where do Cacao Farmers Come In?

Shout outs to SPAGnVOLA and Askinosie in today's Root Chocolate post...

Most chocolate consumers don’t consider where their chocolate is coming from. Those of you reading this blog are already ahead of your peers, because you’re educating yourself about the process, about what it takes to bring those tasty bars of chocolate to your tongue.

Even then, the majority of what I’ve covered so far involves the processing end of chocolate, once it’s considered cocoa. However,…


Added by Landen Zernickow on October 9, 2014 at 6:26pm — 4 Comments

Root Chocolate - Advice from experts

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with two true chocolate experts. The first was Chloe Doutre-Roussel, author of The Chocolate Connoisseur. We sat at Dandelion in San Francisco, where she was doing a book signing on her way up to the Northwest Chocolate…


Added by Landen Zernickow on October 7, 2014 at 12:39am — No Comments

Root Chocolate - Madagascar batch

We wish we could be in two places at once this weekend. We're enjoying our visit to Kansas City for a wedding and spending time with family. We wish we could also be at NW Chocolate Festival!

Instead of meeting us in person, learn more about our most recent batch of homemade chocolate!

Check out our most batch of Madagascar chocolate at Root Chocolate!…


Added by Landen Zernickow on October 4, 2014 at 1:25pm — No Comments

Cottage Food Operation & Chocolate

You may be wondering when we’re going to get on with making this delicious hobby into a business. Well, we’re not quite there yet, but I’ll share one option we’re considering: the CFO or Cottage Food Operation.

First of all, to operate a food business is no easy task, particularly in this litigious society of ours where McDonalds needs to label coffee as hot and Nytol has to label sleeping tablets with “…


Added by Landen Zernickow on October 2, 2014 at 4:52pm — 2 Comments

Importing Cocoa Beans

One of the implications of wanting to partner directly with cacao farmers is learning how to import cocoa beans.

My first ever post on The Chocolate Life was a naive call for small-scale farmers to send me their beans. Little did I know that one of the biggest hurdles to starting a “from the bean” chocolate…


Added by Landen Zernickow on September 25, 2014 at 5:34pm — 2 Comments

Root Chocolate - Chocolate Texture

At Root Chocolate, we've learned a lot since our first batch of chocolate and are starting to churn out more professional chocolate. However, we love the accessibility of our first recipe and its simplicity. Learn more about the biggest difference between our first and most recent batch, and what we have to say about keeping chocolate-making accessible!

Added by Landen Zernickow on September 22, 2014 at 4:35pm — No Comments

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