Your Questions About Owns Sweet Candy Company

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Richard asks…

Who is the best chocolate company in the world?

I want to host a chocolate tasting party this summer but I live in a lower culture area so I don’t have alot of information about higher end chocolate. What companies offer top of the line chocolates? I’m hoping for something VERY high end that I wouldn’t be able to find or afford for anything other than a special occasion.

financi4 answers:

La Maison du Chocolat
What Tiffany did for jewelry, La Maison has done for chocolate. There may be no other store that makes as luxurious sweets as La Maison du Chocolate.

La Maison chocolates are exquisitely arrayed in caramel-colored leather boxes fine enough to hold your grandmother’s estate jewelry. Its dark- and milk-chocolate truffles, marrons glaces, caramels, and mendiants (slices of chocolate sprinkled with dried fruits, assorted nuts or orange peel) contain no more than 65 percent cocoa, so they’re more sweet than bitter. Ganache fillings are made with cocoa butter, not milk fat.

Each year, La Maison introduces a limited-edition gift to mark Easter. This year, the company is selling leather-bound, egg-shaped boxes crammed with 39 dark- and milk chocolates and a big chocolate egg. This one-pound treat costs $78; the two-pounder runs $110. (www.lamaisonduchocolat.com 800-988-5632)

Dagoba Organic Chocolate
For years, the prospect of organic chocolate usually boiled down to carob, that largely tasteless impostor that left real chocolate lovers hugely disappointed. Then along came Frederick Schilling, a former chef with a mind for experimentation.

After learning that most cocoa growers relied on pesticides to get beans growing, Schilling founded Dagoba, whose name means “temple of the gods” in Sanskrit. The company buys handpicked, organic beans and cocoa from co-ops in the Dominican Republic and Central America, paying full price for the ingredients to comply with certified “Fair Trade” practices.

Chocolate bar choices include such offerings as hazelnut, milk chocolate, roseberry (a blend of raspberry and rose hips), mint/rosemary, lime and macadamia nut, chai (a mixture of milk chocolate infused with cardamom, anise, black pepper, cinnamon and clover), and a lavender/blueberry bar. A gift box of one dozen assorted bars runs $36. (www.dagobachocolate.com; 541-664-9030)

Ganache Chocolates
After 30 years in the pastry business, Norman Love decided to walk away from it all.

The former corporate pastry chef for Ritz Carlton, Love spent 42 weeks a year traipsing around the world to oversee the hotel chain’s operations. Though he gave up a stellar career – his honors include a bronze medal from the biennial Coup du Monde de la Patisserie (World Cup of Pastry) competition in Lyon – it wasn’t difficult for Love to switch gears.

“Chocolate is my passion,” said Love, who dreamed of making a chocolate that was as visually stunning and delicious. So Love and partner Judy Limekiller founded Ganache.

The duo has perfected a technique in which the colored designs for each candy are hand-painted or airbrushed into chocolate molds, then filled the finest chocolate important from Belgium, France and Switzerland. They contain fresh ingredients like pureed raspberries, bananas, ginger and hazelnuts.

Call the shop directly to inquire about Easter treats such as the hollow, multi-colored chocolate eggs that hold eight truffles ($25) or any one of the pastel, galvanized tin buckets that have been filled with a solid bunny, truffles and other sweets. ($45) (www.ganachechocolates.com; 239-561-7215)

Garrison Confections
Andrew Shotts was the pastry chef at La Cote Basque in New York when he started making a line of colorful, intricately designed chocolates to serve to the restaurant’s patrons after their meals. He then continued to experiment and create chocolates for subsequent employers, including the Russian Tea Room in New York and Guittard Chocolate in San Francisco.

During his stint at Guittard, Shotts created the company’s signature couveture, a chocolate used to make truffles and pastries like molten chocolate cake and that is sold to pastry chefs across the country. Today, Shotts uses E. Guittard couveture at his own chocolate company, Garrison Confections, which he opened in 2001 with his wife, Tina Wright.

His current Vernal collection includes chocolates flavored with fresh herbs and honey, a mint-flavored mojito and a “spring trio” bonbon that’s layered with almond, hazelnut and macadamia nut praline. (A box of 24 vernal chocolates runs $30.)

Easter offerings include edible white, milk or dark-chocolate postcards adored in colorful designs and holiday messages inspired by classic French greeting cards. Each, separately wrapped card costs $8 and is shipped in temperature-controlled packaging to prevent melting. (www.garrisonconfections.com; 212-929-2545)

Richard Donnelly Fine Chocolates
In 1998, just 10 years after he opened his chocolate shop in Santa Cruz, Calif., Richard Donnelly won the Best Artisan award at the prestigious EuroChocolate Festival in Perugia, Italy.

Donnelly learned his craft in Paris and Brussels before opening his own shop, where he produces no more than 50 pounds of chocolate a day.

His selections can be roughly divided into two groups: “American” chocolates filled with familiar tastes such as caramel and marzipan, and what Donnelly calls “more interesting” exotic chocolates suffused with herbs like cardamom, Chinese five-spice and lavender.

One pound of Donnelly’s assorted sweets runs $65. For that price, Donnelly is happy to custom-fill orders for finicky clients who want a box filled with nothing but their favorites. (www.donnellychocolates.com; 888-685-1871)

Thomas asks…

Is there a milk chocolate that is made with a vegan non-dairy milk?

Does anyone know of a company that sells a creamy type chocolate bar made with rice, almond, hazelnut or some other type of plant based milk? If so can you provide a link? Also if there are no companies that sell it but you have a recipe that would be helpful.

financi4 answers:

I have had the terra Nostra chocolate and it is REALLLY good.
I make my own chocolate candy at home all the time.
I grind together cashews, cocoa nibs, coconut oil, carob powder, and agave nectar. Sometimes I’ll add a little maca powder, although, frankly, I’m not sure what it does. It’s supposed to be a ‘superfood”. I pour it into molds and freeze it, then keep it in the freezer for a quick, sweet treat. It is a lot creamier and sweeter than dark chocolate because of the cashews.

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