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How To Tie Ribbon Like a Pro

Posted on November 28, 2012 8:32 AM by Caitlin

The holiday season is fast approaching, and that means it's not only time to buy gifts (and if you're looking, we have a great selection of holiday chocolate,) but it also means you have to wrap all of those gifts.

In our chocolate shops, we know a thing or two about how to create a beautifully packaged box, and we thought we would share some of these tips with you. Watch the video below to see how we do it, and if you want to see our beautiful wrapping in person, visit one of our stores!


How To Host a Chocolate Tasting

Posted on November 20, 2012 12:44 PM by Caitlin

Like it or not, the holiday season is fast approaching. To many, this means the joy of being surrounded by friends and family, be it for a Thanksgiving feast or for a carol-singing session around the Christmas tree. One thing is for certain, though: the season is full of opportunities to entertain. Hot cocoa and cookies is still a great traditional way to placate the grandkids (and we do have some delicious hot cocoa, if you’re so inclined,) but if you’re looking to become the host that everyone is talking about this season, read on.

For the true foodies out there, chocolate is more than just a delicious confection. Sure, it comes with health benefits, but it also comes packed with a variety of different tones and flavors that can be parsed and paired with everything from beer and wine to cheese. To impress your guests, host a chocolate tasting or pairing party. Here’s what to do:

First, you’ll want to make sure to learn how to taste chocolate. As tempting as it is just to eat it, to truly gain an understanding of all of the varieties of flavor in each different chocolate, you will want to make sure you involve all of your senses in the process. Here’s what we suggest you look for when tasting chocolate. And if you want to know how we do it, read our notes on our Sensory Panel.

To host a chocolate tasting party in the purest form, try looking at our single source bars. The beans in these bars come from just one location, so the flavors vary tremendously. You always want to start with the lightest chocolate first, so:

  1. 54% Dark ChocolateStart with our 54% Dark Chocolate. This isn’t a single source – it’s a combination of beans from Ghana, Sao Thome (an island off of the west coast of Africa,) and Tanzania – but it’s a great place to get your chocolate bearings, since this is the dark chocolate we use most frequently to make our truffles and other treats. Try and think about all of the flavors involved. What do you taste under the “chocolate” flavor?

  2. Sao Thome 70% Dark ChocolateMove on to our Sao Thome. This should taste quite different from the 54%, and not just because it is a little more bitter due to the higher cocoa percentage. Can you discern some earthy flavors? Maybe a slight hint of vanilla? Some people even taste a bit of olive.

  3. Peru 70% Dark ChocolateNext try our Peru. This is the same cacao percentage as the Sao Thome, but the beans come from the other side of the world. Can you taste the difference? It is much creamier, and has much fruitier tones than the Sao Thome. Can you taste a slightly unripe banana? There are also some nice floral tones in there. One thing to note about our Peru, is that, unlike most of our chocolate, which is made with about 20% cocoa butter, our Peru has 40% cocoa butter, making it deliciously smooth and creamy.

  4. Tanzania 75% Dark ChocolateNow taste our Tanzania. This is a 75%, so it’s a little higher in cocoa than the last two you tried, but again, for something so close in cocoa content, it tastes surprisingly different. How does this compare to the Peru and Sao Thome? What types of flavors can you pick out? Perhaps a ripe banana? We use this one to make our delicious fudge sauce (available only in our retail stores) because the fruity tones blend deliciously with ice cream.

  5. African Blend 80% Dark ChocolateAs a penultimate step, move on to the African blend. At 80%, this is the highest cocoa content chocolate we produce. It is made from the same blend as the 54% (Ghana, Sao Thome and Tanzania). How does this compare to the others? What can you taste?

  6. And finally, we have worked our way through higher and higher cocoa percentages so now go back and try one more bite of the 54%. Has the taste changed from what you originally perceived? Are you surprised?

 

Of course, doing an entire tasting like this means two things: first, that, by the end, unless you take very small bites of each (which I suggest you do!) you’ll most likely have had enough chocolate to last you the rest of the evening. Second, you will also realize quite quickly that it is important to have water on hand, if only to cleanse the palate a little.

If you’re looking to do a pairing, though, alcohol is also a great way to refresh your palate. The natural acidity, particularly in beer, will help rid your mouth of some of the fat residue left from the chocolate. To find beer and wine that pair nicely with chocolate, use the flavors you discerned in the chocolates to find drinks with similar or complementary tones. Here’s what we came up with when we hosted a party.

We also have a history of pairing our chocolates with beer. Look through what we’ve done in the past here.

Finally, why not progress a little further, and involve another Vermont specialty: cheese? You can find some of our pairing suggestions for chocolate and cheese here.

Have you thought of a good chocolate pairing, or discovered an interesting flavor in one of our chocolates? Post your ideas for a chocolate pairing on our Facebook Page


Whole Planet Calendar

If you have ever wondered where you can find our chocolate outside of our three retail stores in Vermont, you’ll know that, in addition to the option of ordering our chocolate online, our products can be found in Whole Foods Markets as well as more than 1,500 specialty stores across the country.

This year, for the first time, we’ve agreed to be a sponsor of the Whole Planet Foundation’s 2013 calendar, which is currently being sold at all Whole Foods Markets. The calendar sells for $3.00 and all of the proceeds go towards empowering entrepreneurs around the world by providing them with micro-credit loans.

Last year’s calendar raised $143,000, and this year it's expected to raise over $200,000 for the cause. So if you’re in the mood to get inspired by small-business owners across the world, and if you want to support their efforts, stop by your local Whole Foods Market and buy a calendar!

Oh, and if you’re wondering what’s in it for you besides the joy of helping to promote the ideas of bright minds across the globe, there are over $40 in coupon savings inside the calendar, including, of course, a coupon for 50 cents off of our Five Star Bar, redeemable at any Whole Foods Market.


Did you know that Lake Champlain Chocolates is the official chocolate of Stowe Mountain Resort? To celebrate this, last Saturday we gave away Five Star Bars at the Boston Ski and Snowboard Expo with Stowe.

There’s nothing quite like hitting the slopes (which you can do soon – Stowe is opening to the general public this weekend) but even better than skiing or snowboarding on its own is doing it with enough fuel (read, chocolate) to keep you out there for a long time. To celebrate the joys of skiing with our Five Star Bars (the granola really does the trick,) we wanted to see what people’s Five Star Moments were while on the slopes.

Obviously, fresh powder was on many people’s minds:

Fresh Powder and LCC Chocolate

But so were family, friends, and loved ones:

Loved Ones

And there were also a few accidents:

Crashes and Breaks

But at the end of the day, the best part was avoiding anything major:

No Trees No Children

For more five star moments, check our facebook album. See you on the slopes, and let us know if you have a five star moment!


A turkey at Thanksgiving is more than just a tradition, it’s almost mandatory. Fortunately, we’ve expanded your scope of turkeys and their uses by adding our chocolate versions to the mix. We have milk and dark placesetting turkeys as well as a centerpiece turkey, and they all look lovely on a table setting at Thanksgiving, but we’ve also been able to find a few other ways in which you might also try using our chocolate turkeys this Thanksgiving:

Chocolate Turkeys on a Plate

1. Start the meal off with a chocolate turkey: Instead of getting angry at grandpa for “tasting” the mashed potatoes one too many times, give him a chocolate turkey to tie him over. A little chocolate can go a long way to help to warm your palate before the feast!

2. When you bring out the real turkey, give a chocolate turkey to your vegetarian guests. Nobody should be without turkey on Thanksgiving!

Turkey Dessert Topper

3. Make our turkeys your dessert-toppers! What happier place could there be for a few turkeys than on top of a Pumpkin Pie or in the midst of scaling an ice cream mountain?

4. Can’t be with all of your loved ones on Thanksgiving? Let them know you’re thinking of them: send them a turkey in the mail.

5. Hold a Thanksgiving Turkey Coloring Party (with or without children) with Edible Food Coloring Markers.

Snowman vs Turkeys

6. Stage an Epic Battle Between our Centerpiece Turkey and our 2.5 Pound Santa. Get creative. Make a backdrop and film it. Let us know who wins!

7. Have you been invited to a friend's place for your Thanksgiving feast? Don't bring a bottle of wine or a pumpkin pie! Bring a set of chocolate turkeys to your gathering! It's original and you can be sure it will be a crowd pleaser.

8. Hide a few away for stocking stuffers. Yes, our chocolate snowmen are awfully cute, but I’m sure there are a few animal lovers out there who would rather get a turkey! And pure milk chocolate keeps for 16 months (dark chocolate lasts for 20), so no worries on that front!

Chocolate Turkeys and Chocolate Snowmen

Whatever you do with our turkeys this Thanksgiving, they are a great tradition to have, and infusing a little Vermont (and Turkey, and Chocolate) charm into your Thanksgiving festivities is sure to be a success!


Vote in Chocolate

When you think "Election Day," the first thing that your mind jumps to is probably not chocolate. But here are three ways in which Lake Champlain Chocolates has something in common with Election Day:

1. Feeling patriotic while you choose your leaders for the next four years? Lake Champlain Chocolates is an American company that is locally owned and operated. We were founded thirty years ago by Jim Lampman in Burlington, Vermont and we’re still right here. We run our factory on Pine Street and we also have a packaging facility in Williston, Vermont. As much as possible, we incorporate local flavors into our chocolate, getting our cream from Monument Farms and our butter from the Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery. We source our honey from a beekeeper in Hubbardton Vermont, and a neighbor of our founder and owner provides us with our maple syrup.

2. Politicians always promise to do good. We can show that we do. From our membership in the World Cocoa Foundation to our commitment to carrying a fair-trade sourcing certification (with some of our organic hot chocolates already carrying certification,) we care about treating everyone with dignity and respect. We donate 10% of our pre-tax dollars to charities, and we are members of many local community groups, including the United Way of Chittenden County and the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. We also offer chocolate donations to support local groups’ events.

3. We believe that voting is important, and we can prove it: If you live in the area, you can stop by one of our stores with your “I Voted” sticker for some free chocolate.

Happy Election Day!


The Health Benefits of Chocolate

Posted on November 1, 2012 12:12 PM by Caitlin
Heart Healthy Chocolate

If you’ve ever looked for an excuse to eat more delicious dark chocolate, I’m sure you know about some of the health benefits that come along with its consumption. For one thing, a recent study found a correlation between countries with higher chocolate consumption and countries with a higher number of Nobel Prize winners. Does this mean that in order to win a Nobel Peace Prize you need to eat more chocolate? Well, maybe not, but you might as well use the study as an excuse to try!

People have been looking into eating chocolate for their health for many years now, and the studies are piling up to show that dark chocolate in particular can be good for you in a number of ways:

Heart and Circulation

Many studies have shown that chocolate is rich in a particular antioxidant called flavinol. Over the years, scientists have found that the flavinols in chocolate can reduce blood pressure and have an aspirin-like effect on blood circulation (thinning the blood and thereby improving circulation). It has even been shown to improve endothelial function (helping the lining of the blood vessels work better) in smokers and in non-smokers. Overall, these studies show that chocolate, like red wine and tea, can help to keep you heart-healthy.

Energy

Chocolate does contain a minimal amount of caffeine, but the majority of the energy that comes from chocolate is from a very structurally similar molecule, called Theobromine. Theobromine causes much less of a reaction in humans than it does in say, horses or dogs (which is why dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate,) but it does still cause a mild sense of happiness, and it tends to give you a small boost of energy. That is to say, if you’re trying to minimize your caffeine intake, you shouldn’t worry about chocolate, since it contains so little, but if you’re trying to stay awake, chocolate may still help you. (On the other hand, Theobromine metabolizes differently in horses, giving them too much extra energy, and consequently, chocolate is banned in horse races!) Speaking of Theobromine, some studies suggest that the presence of this chemical in chocolate may be one of the reasons why we like it and crave it!

Happiness

Theobromine is not the only part of chocolate that gives you a sense of elation. Researchers have found that chocolate might slow down the destruction of a natural chemical in our bodies called anandamide, which gives us a natural high. Usually this chemical binds to receptors in our brains and makes us feel happier, but it naturally breaks down very quickly. Two chemicals in chocolate (N-oleoylethanolamine and N-linoleoylethanolamine) are postulated to slow down this process, causing us to be happier for longer when we eat more chocolate.

Love Life

Finally, there have been some suggestions that there is a correlation between one’s love life and the amount of chocolate one eats. Namely, that chocolate is a form of aphrodisiac. Certainly, it has been thought of as one throughout history (even the Mayans ate cocoa beans to enhance their romantic experiences). Now, some research has shown that methylxanthine, a basic substance in the body (both theobromine and caffeine are examples of a methylxanthine), can help increase arousal, by blocking receptors in your brain that receive adenosine, which is what helps to make you sleepy and less aroused. So, chocolate (or just plain coffee for that matter) may indeed help your love life!

Teeth

One more thing: the extra sugar in chocolate – even dark chocolate contains sugar and fat – can potentially have an adverse effect on your teeth. One study of workers at a Danish chocolate factory found that they had more teeth issues (including gingivitis) than a regular population would have. In other words, if you work at a chocolate factory watch out for your teeth! On the other hand, if you work in a chocolate factory, you’re probably eating more than the recommended “dose” of chocolate (three ounces a day.) Plus, another study shows that our old friend theobromine (found in chocolate) can do more than just give us a bit of energy and make us feel happier. It actually is shown to help reduce cavities! So there you go. Maybe the theobromine in chocolate will counterbalance the sugar! At any rate, the higher rate of teeth issues is not a reason to stay away from chocolate. You just want to be extra sure you always brush your teeth after you take that bite that will make you feel happy, healthy, and maybe even a little romantic.


Blue Bandana in the News

Posted on October 25, 2012 8:28 AM by Caitlin

This past weekend, at our Pine Street Store, we hosted Choctoberfest. Blue Bandana, a fresh approach to making chocolate at LCC, made a splash giving off tastings of our delicious bars, and it was such a hit that the media even came to play. Here's what WCAX had to say about our event:


Missed it? Don't worry, we host plenty of events! Check out our Events Page on Facebook for more info.


Limited Time: $5 Shipping

Posted on October 23, 2012 2:55 PM by Caitlin

What’s better than receiving chocolate in the mail? Receiving chocolate in the mail for less shipping!

Shipping Package

Starting now, and running until November 1, we’re offering a special promotion: $5 flat rate on all ground shipments.

As the leaves begin to fall here in Vermont, we have already started turning our minds towards the holidays (it’s easy to get in the mood when we’re surrounded by chocolate) and we’re extending these thoughts to you with an opportunity to get a head start on your holiday gifts.

If you’re the type to plan ahead, this is a great reason to pre-order gifts for the holidays. If you’re the type to procrastinate, you can use the free shipping to buy some last-minute chocolate for Halloween, and maybe some chocolate turkeys for Thanksgiving while you're at it (it’s just a few weeks away after all.)

No matter what you order, you can choose any date on which to send your chocolate. As we know, storing chocolate ahead of the holidays can be tricky, especially when that standard gift-hiding cupboard is right above the heater — or if a certain someone can’t be trusted with boxes full of chocolate in the house...

Whatever you buy, enjoy the promotion, and remember it ends November 1!


The weather here in Vermont is getting cool (it even snowed a little last week!), and while I still sometimes crave our delicious home-made ice cream, it is most definitely hot chocolate season. To get the DL on the best hot chocolate in town, I consulted our Pine Street Store’s Café Master: Logan Bouchard.

Logan Bouchard

LCC: We offer a lot of different types of hot chocolate in our cafés. Why is that?

LB: We offer a wide variety of chocolate types and confections in our store, so why shouldn’t we do the same with our hot chocolate? We want to make sure that everyone gets the flavors they like the best, so we give our customers the opportunity to choose from a variety of hot chocolate that suits every individual’s tastes. If you’re a milk chocolate fan, you’ll be happy with our regular hot chocolate. If you love dark chocolate, one of our dark, European-style hot chocolates could make your day.

LCC: What is the difference between our “dark” and our “regular” hot chocolates?

LB: Our regular chocolates use our hot chocolate mixes. They are recipes we came up with that we also sell in our store. The difference between how we make them for you in the café and how you would make them at home has a lot to do with our espresso machine’s steaming wand, our home-made marshmallows, and our lovingly whipped cream.

Our dark hot chocolates are created in a more European style. They are much more rich, with a deeper chocolaty taste. To make them, we literally melt down actual chocolate into our milk.

Hot Chocolate With Marshmallows

LCC: Which is the most popular hot chocolate drink among the people you serve?

LB: Our regular hot chocolates are very popular, although there is a dedicated Aztec Hot Chocolate following in our café. The other day, though, I made more Tanzania hot chocolate than any other. It was crazy. I really enjoy making the darker hot chocolates for people, because it allows people to experience a European-style dark hot chocolate right here in the heart of Vermont. It’s something special that sets us apart from other hot chocolate makers out there.

LCC: On the hot chocolate we sell, the instructions say mix with milk, and you do the same in your café here. Why use milk instead of water?

LB: Coming from Vermont, the land of more cows than people, I care deeply about the quality of good milk. When companies tell you to add water to their hot chocolate mixes, it’s because there is already dehydrated milk mixed into the cocoa powder. In our café, we add local Vermont cow’s milk to our hot chocolate, and this adds to the creaminess of the overall mixture. It adds a taste of place, and the hot chocolate becomes a creamy, rich experience instead of just a drink.

Think of it this way: when you drink a cup of hot chocolate, you want something warm and comforting, and there is nothing quite as comforting as a cup of warm milk. Hot water just doesn’t do the same thing.

LCC: Tell me a little about the science of hot chocolate. Why does chocolate and milk work so well together? What do you do to make it even tastier?

LB: In our café, we use the espresso machine’s steaming wand to make our hot chocolate. The constant motion combined with the heat helps to break down some of the lactose in the milk into simpler sugars. When making an espresso drink (like a cappuccino or a latte,) this creates a sweetness that counteracts with the intense flavor of the espresso. When making hot chocolate, this creates a nicer, foamy texture for your drink, and allows the chocolate and the milk to really become unified.

LCC: That sounds delicious, but most people don’t have an espresso machine at home. Is there anything they could do to recreate this?

LB: Sure! If you have a whisk, just heat the milk in a pan on the stovetop while stirring it with your whisk. This will also help to break down that lactose and you may even get a little foam! If you want to heat your milk in the microwave, try heating it in 20 second increments, whisking in between each time in the microwave. What you don’t want to do is heat the milk and then whisk it. The heating and motion have to be concurrent or it won’t create the same effect.

Lake Champlain Hot Chocolate

LCC: What about the Dark Hot Chocolates? What if somebody wants to make a Tanzania hot chocolate at home?

LB: You can do that! We use pistoles to make ours, so to make a hot chocolate like we do, add 4 rounded tablespoons of your favorite type of chocolate, preferable in pistole form (for instance, our Sao Thome Chips) to 8 ounces of milk. We add a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to our dark hot chocolates as well. If you want to experiment further, you can cut up any type of chocolate and melt that into your milk.

LCC: You’re always experimenting with new drinks in the café. What do you suggest folks at home do to try their hand at that sort of creativity?

LB: The key is to start with simple alterations to classics. For instance, try adding cinnamon or cayenne pepper to a traditional hot chocolate (it’s how our Aztec chocolate came about!) Experiment with different spices and infusions (like a mint extract, for example.) You can also mix up the types of milk you use. I’ll tell you one thing: an old world hot chocolate made with coconut milk is out of this world.

LCC: What do you top it all off with to add that final café touch?

LB: in the café, we have two options whenever you order a chocolate drink. You can either get a home-made marshmallow (we actually have the recipe here) or you can top it off with whipped cream. I myself am partial to the whipped cream. It’s made with Monument Farm cream, so it has a higher fat content than most store-bought cream, and it’s whipped with love. We also add a healthy dose of Madagascar vanilla essence to it.

LCC: What is your personal favorite?

LB: I’m particularly partial to the Old World, topped with our home-made whipped cream. It’s the perfect combination of sweetness, richness, and comfort.

Stop in sometime and say hi to Logan, or let us know how your own hot chocolate experiments went at home!