October 27, 2010, by CocoaZilla
Northwest Chocolate Festival Seattle
Cocoazilla was lucky enough to get to go to the NW Chocolate Festival during the weekend of October 24th and meet several chocolate vendors, sit in on a demonstration (vegan ganache making) and sample. Oh did we sample.
Cocoa-Heaven sampled the following:
Hot Cakes Confections– caramel sauces (Seattle based and distributed). We bought the vegan salted caramel sauce.
Chocolates by George– hot and spicy truffles (Whidbey Island)
Divine Chocolates– milk and dark chocolates (sponsoring the Equal Exchange Fair Trade Chocolates)
Peaks Frozen Custard– chocolate custard (Seattle based.)
Blissful Wunders– truffles, look for a separate post on this (Olympia, WA based.) We bought 4 different truffles to try: Lilikoi, Lavender Mint, Goat Cheese Cheesecake and Pumpkin Spice Marzipan.
Intrigue Chocolates– basil truffles, apple cider truffles, grappa truffles (Seattle based.)
Forte Artisan Chocolates– Aztec Soul- a spicy chili, White Swan (white chocolate and espresso) and White Chocolate Cloud. (Mount Vernon, WA based.) We bought a bar of the White Chocolate Cloud.
Chocolate Affairs– didn’t try anything, but was intrigued by their Harry Potter inspired collection including gneiss mice, turtles (with almond leggs), owl pellets, yellow snow (yellow rock candy) and exploding chocolate frogs (they have Pop Rocks in the belly). They were also representing for the NW Chocolate Guild.
So what did we learn?
Hot Cakes Confections
Besides the cute briefs hanging on the wall with “hot cakes” emblazoned across the toosh, the Hot Cakes themselves are take n’ bake molten chocolate cakes, but what interested Cocoazilla the most was the caramel sauces. The regular salted caramel sauce was delicious, but it was the vegan salted caramel sauce that got Cocoazilla to part with $8 for the treat. Made with hemp milk, organic sugar and ? this sauce was outstanding. It will be shared with Vegan Chocoholic for further review, but for someone that doesn’t like hemp milk much…the times are a’ changing.
Chocolates by George
George himself and Mrs. George were present and he gave us quite a few to sample. The best for Cocoazilla was the flourless chocolate cherry cake: Chocolate Cherry Truffle Torte, their signature cake. It was outstanding- the flavor of the cherry really came out without being too sugary or sickening sweet. They will be at the Ballard Market during the weekend of Nov. 5th, selling that very same cake.
Their focus of the festival was the hot and spicy truffles- like the Hot Lips and Balls of Fire. Cocoazilla tried the Syrah truffle which really tasted like red wine, the Modena which is balsamic vinegar and honey- to which George said “you’ll either love it or hate it.” (Cocoazilla hated it.) But- George definitely wins for having the freakishly spiciest chocolate she’s ever had: Caffeine. Coffee and hot sauce truffle. It started off smooth like any other truffle and then burnt the face like a 5 star Thai meal. George prides himself (and has the awards to back it up) on his pepper/hot sauce blends that he purchases and incorporates into his truffles.
Their purpose was mostly Divine samples and educating the public about fair trade and the Equal Exchange program to make sure you understand what it is and what they do. That’s an entirely separate post, but I can tell you that their milk chocolate and dark chocolate samples were indeed divine.
Peaks Frozen Custard
What’s the difference from ice cream? Yeah, we asked. Custard comes from a difference in the churning process, it’s slower which also means less air is in it and it also doesn’t undergo the temperature drop that ice cream does that forms ice crystals. As a result, it’s creamier and denser, smooth and rich. The chocolate tasting wasn’t enough and an entire cone should have been had.
“Brother Bliss” gave the demonstration on vegan chocolate ganache and allowed us to interrogate him on his process, his ideas and his ingredients. Look for that in a separate post where we enjoy 4 different kinds of truffles- the dairy based kind. We didn’t even get into his non-dairy vegan friendly selection.
“Fresh truffles crafted in the French tradition” had out samples for truffles in Saint Basil, Apple Cider and Grappa. The basil one really did taste just like if I were to wrap a basil leaf around a piece of chocolate. The apple cider sample finished strong with a vinegary apple taste at the end and the grappa piece is not for those that don’t like the taste if alcohol. It’s strong…to say the least. Started 4yrs ago the Intrigue way is to take a high quality dark chocolate and add the flavorings (basil, cider, etc;) to the heavy cream and make wine pairings a focus. They’ve found a nice niche with pairing their truffles and truffle flavors with wines and truffle bars, where guest slice off a piece of truffle to go with their meal or wine. Best bet? Truffle of the month club. The gift that gives all year to your favorite chocoholic.
Forte Artisan Chocolates
We’ll examine Forte closer in another post when we dive into the White Chocolate Cloud bar we picked up. They had samples out for some excellent sounding names: Aztec Soul- a high quality dark chocolate with a slight burning on the end, spicy but not overpowering. (It’s good to know what a spicy soul tastes like.) White Swan is white chocolate with espresso which as a non-coffee person (I’ve been known to toss a good mocha truffle simply because the coffee taste was too strong) was excellent. Creamy and pleasant, it encouraged me to try the White Chocolate Swan and purchase at $6 a full bar for further investigation.
Overall at $12.50 per ticket, it was a pretty small event, fun though. Chocolate tastings were excellent, even Stumptown Coffee Roasters were there with samples, but the demos were an hour long and the time investment to see more than one was just too steep, particularly if the ones you wanted to see weren’t back to back.
More to come!