If you can believe it I awoke once again desiring the taste of chocolate. And this comes on the heels of a weekend participating in the New York Chocolate Show. What did I enjoy, you may inquire? Black cocoa almonds that were dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in black cocoa – but not from the show, nor from my own chocolate cache of products, but from an outside shopping source of excitement…Trader Joes!

My trusty ally in cacao crime— dark chocolate covered mallomar sales expert Miss Elli Aston-Reese— and I stopped at Trader Joe’s on the way from the show to raid their frozen hors d’ oeurves foods for holiday entertaining. After all, chocolate turkey day approaches. However, I found my cart filled with panned products, blueberries, cherries, ginger and almonds, that were darker than the darkest chocolate dream I ever had at night. For those of you not privy to the slang of chocolatiers, panned products are best described as “how raisinettes are created.” The nut, fruit or candy center is rotated and rolled around in a drum similar in shape to a cement mixer, as melted chocolate is slathered in and it begins to create a coat that builds up around the center. The last coat can be a shiny finish sprayed on to create an appetizing shine or a sugar or cocoa powder to create a dramatic delicious completion.
The very dark color comes from black onyx Dutch cocoa powder that has been alkalized to the extreme, producing a dark, purplish black cocoa. When used in baking, this black cocoa creates an impressive black-as-coal colored product. Because black onyx cocoa has less fat, it does tend to create a drier taste on the tongue. This means it is not as creamy a taste as that used for hot cocoa, but it’s perfect for a dramatic look on truffles and almonds.

To produce the powder, cocoa beans are fermented, dried, roasted, and cracked. The nibs are then ground to extract most of the cocoa butter, leaving a rich brown paste called chocolate liquor, which contains about 25% butter fat. This liquor is dried again and hardened into a mass that is finally ground into a fine powder known as unsweetened cocoa. This is an intense process, but for the chocolate lover, it’s worth every minute. Visit Choclatique.com to find black cocoa powder.

Panning products is not for the neat and tidy as you will find cocoa powder on everything related to the process including inside your nose. Skip the process and enjoy the selection process of deciding what to taste first at your favorite chocolate locale.