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Throughout the year, Lake Champlain Chocolates offers a myriad of chocolate tastings; an attempt to share our passion for chocolate with all of our fans. We offer chocolate tastings every Friday from 10 to 2 on the hour at our Pine Street location. And on occasion host special tasting events such as next Saturday 6/27.

I thought I’d take a few moments to share with you some of our tasting guidelines. For those of you outside of the Vermont area or for those who just can’t make it to a tasting, these instructions should help you conduct a chocolate tasting of your own. A good place to start would be with our Chocolate Journeys which contains 10 chocolate squares ranging from 34% milk chocolate to 80% dark. Start with the milk chocolate and slowly work your way up, savoring each bite.

Tasting Steps:

  1. Appearance: Study the look and color of the chocolate. If tempered, it should have a smooth, high sheen look. If grey/white, then the chocolate has bloomed – the fats or sugars have migrated to the surface of the chocolate leaving a whiteish residue. This is due to a change in humidity or temperature.
  2. Break: properly tempered chocolate should have a good, clean snap.
  3. Aroma: Smell the broken piece. Identify the fragrances. Milk chocolate may have a milky, vanilla smell. Remember, that you cannot smell “sweet.” Dark chocolate may have more of a chocolate aroma. Unfermented beans smell like burnt rubber. Beans stored in humid areas can smell like grass or burlap. Beans dried over wood fires smell smoky.
  4. Texture: How does the chocolate feel in your mouth? Quick melt or slow melt? Smooth or chalky?
  5. Taste: What different “notes” do you taste in the different stages (Beginning, Middle, and Finish)?
  6. Evaluate: What did you like or dislike about the product?


Four Basic Tastes:

Sweet: at the tip of your tongue
Sour: along the front sides of your tongue
Salt: along the back sides of your tongue
Bitter: at the back of the tongue

Sweet, sour, salt, and bitter can not be smelled.
Usually when someone says something smells sweet, they really mean vanilla.

Commonly used Terms in Chocolate Tasting:

  • Fruity/citrus/berry
  • Buttery/sweet(cashews)
  • Moldy/musty/earthy
  • Floral/spicy
  • Brown fruit (raisings/prunes/dried cherries)
  • Nutty/buttery (macadamia nuts)
  • Lactic sour (sour cream/cream cheese)
  • Caramel/caramelized/burnt/astringent (unripe fruit)


Difference in Chocolates:

Chocolate melts at body temperature, at the moment you put it in your moth.
Compound coatings do not melt at body temperature and lack high cocoa butter content.

Desirable Qualities in a Chocolate:

  • Quick flavor release (vs. slow)
  • Quick melt
  • Well blended, even notes
  • Aftertaste that dissipates after about a minute
  • Bitter is not necessarily a negative attribute in a chocolate, especially in dark chocolate. It can be positive when talking about coffee, tea, fruits, and arugula.
  • Sour can also be positive (tart apples, ginger, lemon)


Let us know how your chocolate tasting goes. Which one was your favorite?

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Chocolate Ties for Father's Day

Posted on June 11, 2009 3:18 PM by Jason

Don’t buy Dad another tie this year. Buy him a chocolate tie instead!

This year Emily Walton, Lake Champlain Chocolates’ famed chocolate sculptor, is again whipping up our chocolate take on this traditional Father’s Day gift. I spoke with Emily to find out some of her sculpting secrets and to learn about the process.

“The process starts with our tie molds which come out but once a year. The molds are filled by our chocolatiers with either dark or milk chocolate, and then moved into the cold room held at a constant 50 degrees. What’s the difference between a cold room and refrigerator? Unlike a refrigerator, a cold room has zero humidity. Humidity is a natural enemy to chocolate storage and can easily affect the stability of the chocolate often times leading to bloom (the term for the white crystals that can form on the surface of chocolate). It takes about 30 minutes for the chocolate to set.  Once this is complete, the chocolates are removed from the mold and are ready for the last step, designing the pattern.  This is the hardest step of all! Coming up with new designs each year for tie patterns can be a struggle”.   Each tie is personally handcrafted by Emily using Milk, Dark and White chocolate highlights. A pastry bag filled with 90 degree chocolate is her paintbrush. I asked Emily if she needed to draw out the designs before she attempts to paint them. Impressively Emily responded “I just do it by eye”.

Emily’s one piece of advice “you need a steady hand.” 

Emily really nailed it this year!  There are many different ties to choose from, including sail boat ties, golf ties, fishing ties, tool ties, money ties, paw print ties, traditional #1 Dad ties, and numerous graphic patterns. Also, new for this year and Emily’s favorite is the grilling tie, featuring a couple of burgers on the grill with white chocolate smoke rising above.

Still don’t see one your Dad will like?  Post a comment here, and I’ll pass it along to Emily…who knows, maybe yours will be her new favorite!

Right now, Emily is showcasing/selling her creations at our Pine St, Church St and Waterbury locations.  Each tie is about 8 oz of chocolate and can be bought for $18.  And best of all, these ties won’t end up in the back of Dad’s closet!
 

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More Ice Cream, More!

Posted on June 3, 2009 11:53 AM by Jason

In the last Blog post I shocked and amazed you with the mention that Lake Champlain Chocolates now makes Ice Cream. Since the post I’ve been inundated with questions about our ice cream so here are a few facts for you.

Our Lake Champlain Chocolates Ice Cream is a Super Premium all natural ice cream. That’s right. Not just premium but Super Premium the top tier of ice cream, meaning that you are getting the creamiest ice cream available. We craft it in small batches, sourcing all of our milk from right here in Vermont. Just like our chocolates, we only use the finest ingredients available. To say the least, this ice cream is delicious.

We first starting crafting our Ice Cream in 2001, 2 years later we decided we had perfected the recipe enough to start selling it in our retail stores. And now 8 years later we have really dialed it in, expanding flavors and distribution.

2009 spells good news for Ice Cream lovers as this year Lake Champlain Chocolates is offering our Ice Cream Pints at several retailers in the Burlington area. Right now customers can pick up pints at:

o    Shelburne Supermarket
o    City Market Coop
o    Healthy Living Natural Foods
o    Lake Champlain Chocolates Pine Street Retail Store

Pint flavors offered:
o    Vanilla
o    Belgian Chocolate
o    Vanilla Chocolate Chip
o    Vanilla Almond Buttercrunch
o    Chocolate Hazelnut

Wait, you need more flavors?

 At our 3 retail locations we offer 9 flavors:

o    Vanilla
o    Belgian Chocolate
o    Mocha Chocolate Chip
o    Vanilla Chocolate Chip
o    Coffee
o    Chocolate Banana
o    Maple Pecan
o    Vanilla Almond Buttercrunch
o    Chocolate Hazelnut

We also offer the Hands Down Best Malted Milk Shakes I’ve ever had in my life as well as other favorites such as Ice Cream Sundaes covered in our Tanzania Dark Chocolate Sauce.

What flavor will we come up with next? Why not give us a few suggestions?

p.s.
Catch Eric offering samples at Healthy Living today from 3-5:30 to give our Ice Cream a try.

 

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Ice Cream & Jazz!

Posted on May 26, 2009 9:46 AM by Jason

After our long Vermont winter, summertime is finally just around the corner and what better way to celebrate than with Ice Cream and Jazz! That’s right the Burlington Discover Jazz Fest is fast approaching. This is one of Burlington’s great events and a lot of fun for the whole town. With free Jazz shows as you walk up and down Church Street and concerts at the waterfront, it’s no wonder why so many travel guides sing its praise.

For over 10 years, Lake Champlain Chocolates (LCC) has been a sponsor of the Discover Jazz Fest…just one of many ways we like to support our community. LCC will be making appearances throughout the festival selling Ice Cream at several events/locations. That’s right, Lake Champlain Chocolates not only crafts luxurious Chocolates but for those of you who did not know, we have also been perfecting our small batch Ice Cream for the past 8 years.  Ice cream was a natural progression for us and another great excuse to support our local dairy farmers.  We have developed some really excellent flavors, including Belgium Chocolate, Vanilla Bean (boring maybe, but still my favorite), Chocolate Banana, Coffee, Mocha Chip, Vanilla Chip, Maple Butter Pecan, Almond Butter Crunch, and Chocolate Hazelnut.  To sample some during Jazz Fest, catch us at the following events:



June 6 – City Hall Park, Big Joe Burrell Day
June 11 – Waterfront Park Funk Tent
June 13 – Waterfront Park World Tent

In Vermont, we may endure some long, cold winters but that just gives us an excuse to celebrate the warm seasons a little bit more. Come join us at this year’s Jazz Fest which runs from June 5th to the 14th. For more information, check out www.discoverjazz.com.

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For Mom...

Posted on May 5, 2009 11:16 AM by Jason

This Mother’s Day you may be asking yourself: “Should I get Mom flowers or chocolate again this year?” You probably got Mom flowers or chocolate for the past 20 years, ever since you graduated from your macaroni pasta and glitter cards you made in grade school. So if you’re having doubts of whether to send Mother's Day Chocolates again this year I have one thing to say…

…Your Mom loves chocolate and flowers, why ruin a good thing?

To help you decide on a unique chocolate gift to get for Mom this year, I’ve enlisted the aid of the most knowledgeable Lake Champlain Chocolates gift givers. I’ve taken an informal poll of which products our Lake Champlain Chocolates employees will be purchasing for their Mother’s (or loved ones). Just in case their Mother’s are fans of the LCC Blog, I will not be naming names.

Here are the Lake Champlain Chocolates that our employee’s Mother’s love:

Nonpareils – she loves them!

My mother only likes milk, so I’m going to do a bouquet of Milk Flower pops.  And maybe a Peanut Butter Cup or Sea Salt Caramels.

For my Mother-in law, the 16 piece Chocolate Truffle Candy Box.

Since my mom doesn’t have a huge sweet tooth I like to get her something she can bring to the office to share. I’m going to send her the 15- piece Chocolate Gift Box. She likes the variety.

Raspberry Vienna’s, Lake Champlain Chocolates Ice cream, & Gourmet Hot Cocoa.

My mother just loves our truffles!  I would buy her the 5-piece Organic Truffles since the design is so beautiful but that would not be enough artisan truffles for her.  I believe only the 16- piece everyday box would be acceptable.

For something special for Mother’s Day, I’m going to give our Signature Chocolate Gift Basket (and a pint of LCC ice cream!). 

Got a better idea? Leave us a comment and tell us what you’ll be getting your Mom for Mother’s Day this year
 


Raffle for Ronald McDonald House

Posted on March 31, 2009 10:46 AM by Jason

Ultimately, around Easter time we are all looking for the same thing…the perfect chocolate bunny. Here at Lake Champlain Chocolates, we work hard to make this existential search easier. With over 25 years of experience, we have crafted some of the finest chocolate bunnies available. We have Classic Milk Chocolate Rabbits and Dark Chocolate Bunnies, a traditional favorite; we have smaller Placesetting Easter Bunnies, perfect for that Easter Sunday meal; we have Cruisin’ Bunny Rabbits, speeding away in their chocolate sports cars; beautiful White Chocolate Bunnies; and last but not least the Mr. Goodtime oversized Chocolate Bunny, weighing 3 lbs and standing an impressive 16.5” tall! So what I’m saying here is consider your search over. Lake Champlain Chocolates has all the wonderful Easter Chocolates you’ve been looking for!

Now, if it’s a truly enormous bunny you’re craving (even bigger than the Mr. Goodtime), then we may still be able to help you out.  Each year Lake Champlain Chocolates raffles off a bunny of epic proportions. The Ha Ha Bunny is its official name and we have three of them. He is 23 pounds of Semi Solid Milk Chocolate (34% cocoa) and stands 2 feet tall! Stop by one of our 3 retail stores on Pine St, Church St or at the Cabot Annex in Waterbury to pick up a $1.00 raffle ticket for your chance to win one these unique bunnies. The best part is that all proceeds go to the Burlington Ronald McDonald House. So not only do you get a chance to win the Ha Ha Bunny, but you also get to help a worthy cause.

Three tickets will be selected on Good Friday, April 10th at 4pm.

Good luck and Happy Easter!


Easter Chocolate Sculpting

Posted on March 19, 2009 2:49 PM by Jason

Looking to amaze your loved ones on Easter morning? What if along with chocolates, baskets,and jellybeans the Easter Bunny left behind a beautiful chocolate Easter centerpiece? What’s that? The Easter bunny needs a quick brush up on chocolate sculpting. Not a problem because Lake Champlain Chocolates will be offering a free chocolate-making demonstration at 1:00 PM at our 750 Pine Street Factory Store & Café on Saturday, March 28, 2009. 

Our own chocolate artist, Emily Jones, will show attendees how to make a completely edible chocolate centerpiece for their Easter celebration.  Chocolate sampling and take-home recipes will be included.  In addition to showing confection making, Emily will convey an understanding of how anyone can turn untempered chocolate into delectable design right in their own kitchen.  Attendees will learn in a relaxed atmosphere, with the opportunity to have their chocolate-making questions answered by a professional.

Emily Jones has trained at the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy and Notter School of Pastry Arts.   Her specialty is chocolate sculpting and artistry, with her work featured at the Vermont Chocolate Show and by Mastercard, on www.priceless.com. You can also see some of Emily’s work on her flickr page.

There is no need to register, but space is limited.

Hope to see you there!


Irish Hot Chocolate

Posted on March 16, 2009 4:18 PM by Jason

We look for just about any excuse to celebrate with chocolate and St. Patrick’s Day is no exception. After a long day of watching your local Paddy’s Day parade why not take the chill off with this Irish Hot Chocolate recipe:

Place 8 ounces of milk and 1 heaping tablespoon of our traditional hot chocolate mix into a saucepan.

Heat while stirring until piping hot (not boiling).

Add 1oz Bailey’s® Irish Cream and continue to stir.

Serve plain or top with homemade marshmallows or whipped cream.

Have a happy and safe St. Patrick’s Day!

 

 


Free Chocolate Tasting This Weekend!

Posted on March 3, 2009 11:35 AM by Jason
 

Do we ever get tired of talking about chocolate?

That answer is decidedly no. With all its flavors and varieties how can anyone get tired of chocolate? To a true chocolate connoisseur a great piece of chocolate has all the intricacies of a fine wine. Now I hear some of you wine snobs scoffing at that comparison but while many of us eat chocolate on a daily basis we often forget to notice the details and complex flavors of chocolate. This Saturday, Lake Champlain Chocolates is offering a way to rediscover the essence of chocolate.

Can a plain piece of chocolate really be described as fruity, buttery, or spicy? Stop by the Lake Champlain Chocolates Factory Store on Pine Street this Saturday from 1pm to 3pm to find out.

Lake Champlain Chocolates will be offering free chocolate tastings. Learn how chocolate is made and how to really taste and appreciate the different varieties – from single origin beans like those used in our 75% Tanzanian Dark Chocolate Bar to special blends such as our White Raspberry Truffles made with milk, dark, and white chocolate. By the end of the tasting, you will have become a true chocolate connoisseur.

Do we ever get tired of eating chocolate?

That answer is decidedly no. See you there!


The Big Easy Comes to Burlington

Posted on February 27, 2009 9:06 AM by Jason

This Saturday marks Burlington’s 14th Annual Mardi Gras Parade presented by Magic Hat.  It’s New England’s biggest Mardi Gras celebration, with over 30 floats tossing out beads, Louisiana Moon Pies, trinkets and of course Lake Champlain Chocolates.  This is the perfect event to knock that long winter cabin fever out of your system!

The festivities begin at 3pm but be sure to get there early so you can get a good spot (and remember to wear a warm jacket!). To help take the chill off, Lake Champlain Chocolates’ Church Street store will be serving up Hot Chocolates, as well as preparing Mardi Gras Fudge (from 1 - 4) and authentic Louisiana Pralines!

With the combination of music, floats, and revelers, this is truly one of Burlington’s greatest winter events. For the past several years, I’ve stood on Church St to witness the smiling faces and beautiful floats created by many of our local businesses. Even though Magic Hat (a local brewery) organizes the event, it is unquestionably a family affair and Magic Hat uses the event to raise funds and awareness for the Rape Crisis Center of Chittenden County.

So if you don’t have any plans this weekend, get out there!  Grab some beads!  Have some fun while you support a great cause!