On the path to new chocolate.....exciting!
Chocolatier Diane Pinder
When I started The Chocolate Path 7 years ago, I was excited about the journey to find new chocolates, meet amazing people and have wonderful chocolate experiences. Since then, I have learned a lot about chocolate, where it comes from, how it is made, and its amazing history.
Now I am excited to be on the ground level with one of my favorite chocolatiers, Diane Pinder of New Jersey's Donna & Company. We have carried Diane's chocolates for a number of years. I first tasted her products at The Chocolate Show in NYC a few years ago and was particularly impressed with her balsamic truffles, honey caramels and pistachio brittle bites. I have become good friends with Diane.
Recently, Diane called to ask my opinion on a new chocolate that she is creating, her Fundamental Chocolate. Although it meant I would have to sample her work and give her feedback (a tough sell!), I readily agreed. Diane is proud of the fact that she sources all of her ingredients locally. With this new chocolate, she is using a local New Jersey honey as the sweetener. We met last week and sampled 3 different pre-release versions of her Fundamental Chocolate using 70% cocoa mass from Ecuador, Peru or The Dominican Republic.
The Ecuador bar had a very clean "snap" (breaking a piece off the bar) and melted nicely in my mouth. It had good "mouth feel" (gritty, smooth, etc.), while being a bit granular. I do tend to like a bit of granularity in my chocolate and am a big fan of stone ground chocolates. As the chocolate melted, I tasted red fruits, including cherries and lots of chocolate. Really good.
We then moved on to the Peru bar. Again, a nice snap. The dominant aroma sensation was nuttiness. There is a lot going on with this chocolate, and it showed different attributes as was smelled, melted in the mouth, etc. It was buttery, contained lots of florals, some orange undertones and a bit of coffee. This chocolate continuously surprised me with different flavors, including a bit of vanilla added by Diane only to this bar. The mouth feel for this one was consistent but again a bit grainy (we talked about the finished product needing to be a bit smoother).
The final chocolate used beans from the Dominican Republic. What a wonderful chocolate. It had a great snap and light fruit notes of mango and kiwi. The flavors blended nicely and the chocolate melted quickly. As with the others, there was that bit of granularity in the texture, but the flavors were great.
After the tasting, Diane and I talked about all three chocolates. We both agreed that the Peru bar revealed the broadest flavor variety, no doubt helped by the vanilla in the recipe - it was accentuating all of the undertones. Although I am partial to a bit of granularity and texture to my chocolate, we agreed that they could all be a bit smoother.
Diane's take aways for the next batch were to "conch" (smoothing process) all three a bit more and try removing the vanilla from the Peru bar. I'll get to try the next batch later this week.
I think Diane is on the right "path" with this and I am so excited to be on a part of this journey with her!! We look forward to having you be part of this journey, too.