Our R&D department here at Lake Champlain Chocolates is constantly working to come up with new delicious treats for the rest of us. (Sometimes, in the office, they even ask us for our opinions… we’re always happy to try new chocolate!) Our latest creation is a series we’re calling the Revel Chocolates. Arriving just in time for the gifting season, the distinctive flavors in these new truffles are sure to make them a hit with any foodie. The six new flavors are: Bergamot and Honey, Apurimac 70% Dark, Vermont Crème Fraîche, WhistlePig Stright Rye Whiskey, George Howell Espresso and Chipotle Cinnamon.
Our wonderful R&D specialist, Lauren Deitsch, is the brains behind these new delectables, and we asked her to share her creative process with us. Here’s what she said:
LCC: What was your inspiration for this collection of chocolates?
LD: The ingredients were really the inspiration – I wanted to use distinctive, quality ingredients to give life to the chocolates. So, for instance with the crème fraiche I knew I wanted to simply highlight what’s already so great about crème fraiche and give it the spotlight and a chance to shine.
LCC: The flavors in these are a bit more “out there” than some of our more traditional truffles. How did you know that these combinations would work?
LD: Some flavors are pretty straightforward like the espresso or the earl grey tea. Those have been paired with chocolate for years. The 70% Peruvian piece is also a surefire hit – it’s allowing the Peru chocolate to shine on its own. The chipotle cinnamon, crème fraiche, and rye whiskey were less obvious. I tend to draw inspiration from other chocolate shops, pastry chefs, or an experience I’ve had in the past. These I guess were born through that. Also, you have to just trust your palate and be willing to try. I knew they worked when I tasted them.
LCC: I noticed that you were very careful in choosing where your ingredients came from. Why did you choose to work with products specifically from WhistlePig, George Howell, and others?
LD: I personally feel that excellent quality chocolate deserves to be matched up with the highest quality ingredients. You can have the best chocolate in the world but if you’re using a generic coffee in your decadent ganache, the flavor is always going to fall short of stellar. So, I was really careful in selecting ingredients that are real standouts and make the piece shine. I was also very much striving to use as many producers who were local to the area as possible – Crème Fraiche from VT Butter & Cheese, WhistlePig Rye from VT, George Howell Coffee Co from MA. Even though the chipotle, earl grey, and Peruvian chocolate are not local ingredients, we’ve chosen top quality organic with all three, and the earl grey tea is also fair trade. We’ve really stepped up the ingredient game with this box.
LCC: These truffles are a different shape from our traditional ones. How did you come to the decision to make these square? How does it affect the overall eating experience of the truffle?
LD: The square sized chocolates are actually a classic shape you would commonly see in small chocolate shops. We chose to go with this style to give the pieces a refined, delicate appearance. Each piece is cut by hand using what’s called a “guitar.” It’s a frame with multiple strings that will cut even sized pieces. The eating experience is very different than our regular gourmet truffles. Those truffles are larger – about a 3-4 bite piece. These are smaller – 2 bites. Personally, I think eating a thinner piece like this makes the experience more enjoyable – it requires less resistance to bite through and releases flavor differently.
LCC: Who did you have in mind when you were creating these chocolates?
When I was developing these, I really had the food conscious person in mind – those who are interested in food, curious about where their food comes from, appreciates quality, and want to indulge or share that indulgence with someone else. I think if you’re the type who loves to slowly savor and thoughtfully work your way through a box of chocolates, this is for you.
LCC: Which is your personal favorite?
LD: Oh man, can I only choose one? I guess I would have to say it’s the crème fraiche – it’s just the smoothest most melt in your mouth ganache I’ve ever eaten. If you’re letting me choose two, second place would be the earl grey tea. It reminds me of my mom who enjoys earl grey tea more than anyone I know.