Archive for September, 2008

Help Wanted

Posted in Uncategorized on September 30, 2008 by Brian

I’ve been incredibly busy at Kakao over the past few days: two big wholesale orders, two markets, a great time at the Taste of St. Louis, and a wedding on Sunday, not to mention the usual gift boxes and shop visits and deliveries. Which is how I’ve come to the point that I need to get some help in the shop. More on that in a bit.

But first, the Taste! Thanks to everyone who stopped by and said hey, and who picked up some caramels and tried our homemade hazelnut-chocolate spread. The spread was such a hit we’ve decided to start bottling it and selling it at the markets, so look for it at Maplewood on Wednesdays and Tower Grove on Saturdays.

To keep up with everything, though, I really need someone to help me package chocolate. Labeling bags, putting truffles in paper cups, and sealing bark and bars and dragees and truffles and caramels in bags. Might also need some help cleaning up with the ocassional broom or mop. The key is that someone can help me do that while I continue making chocolates.

Right now I really need someone for a few hours a week, during the day. I know a lot of you have offered to help, but I also know that no one person will be available each time I need someone. So I want to assemble an “on-call” list that I can reach out to when I know I’m going to need help. First come, first served.

For payment, I’m offering $10/hour in cash or $20/hour in chocolate.

If you’re interested, send me at note at brian@kakaochocolate.com. If you know someone who might be interested, please have them send me a note.

Oh, and this week I’ll need some help at the shop on Thursday, October 2, starting in the afternoon around 2, or on Friday morning between 8 and noon. Let me know!

Brian

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A Very Unexpected Honor

Posted in Uncategorized on September 25, 2008 by Brian

I was blown away last night to discover (thanks for the tip, Claire!) that Kakao Chocolate has been named Best Chocolate by the Riverfront Times in their “Best Of” issue. Here’s what they said:

Best Chocolate

Kakao Chocolate
2837 Cherokee Street
St. Louis 63118

This past spring Brian Pelletier dared to do what most of us only dream: When he heard Kakao Chocolate was up for sale, he promptly ditched his corporate desk job, rented space on Cherokee Street and devoted himself to mastering the art and science of chocolate-making. Using only natural ingredients — and no corn syrup! — and taking care to dip each truffle by hand, Pelletier has been experimenting with a wide range of flavors: vanilla, lavender, mint, chili pepper, Turkish coffee, sea salt, chai, rose petals, Maker’s Mark. He has learned how to make marshmallows and dragées (chocolate-coated almonds). He has explored the frontier between caramel and toffee. Most miraculously of all, he’s discovered how to make a half-inch cube of chocolate melt on the tip of your tongue and suffuse your entire body with pure joy. 

 

This is an incredible and unexpected honor, especially because we’ve only been in business for a few months, and the RFT didn’t have a category for chocolate in the balloting. Thank you to whoever may have sent them the suggestion. And many more thanks to all of you who have been so supportive of Kakao.

To those of you just discovering Kakao (and of course to all our loyal chocolating friends!), we invite you to sample our chocolates at the Taste of St. Louis this weekend. Yes, that’s right, Kakao will be at the Taste, albeit in a small way. We’ve been invited to offer our chocolates through Cherokee Street Catering, owners of the kitchen where we make our chocolates. CSC will be selling our famous chocolate-covered caramels (with a touch of sea salt), two in a package for $3. They’ll also be selling crepes with either Nutella or a special Kakao-made hazelnut and chocolate spread — be sure to ask for Kakao!

I’ll be working at the booth on Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon, and will be at the Tower Grove Market on Saturday morning. Please stop by and say hello!

Back to School

Posted in Uncategorized on September 24, 2008 by Brian

It’s been a busy week here at Kakao! We’ve got a big wedding this weekend where the bride and groom have wisely decided to have — in addition to a traditional cake — a chocolate table that will feature Kakao truffles in three flavors, our chocolate-covered caramels, and our tasty dragees. We’ve got two big wholesale orders to fill. (Indeed, Local Harvest keeps running out, and we’ll soon announce our second retail location!) We’ve got the markets in Maplewood this afternoon and in Tower Grove Park on Saturday. And we’ve got a huge event this weekend, where you’ll be able to Taste those famous caramels…more later on that, too. 

So it was a refreshing break to visit the Beginning Foods class at Clayton High School. We were invited by Nicole, niece of our landlord and kitchen-mate Andrew of Cherokee Street Catering, who thought it would be fun for the class to learn about chocolate and candy-making. And fun for us, too!

Kakao Chocolate demonstration at Clayton High School

Kakao Chocolate demonstration at Clayton High School

I started out showing them how to make caramels, and got some volunteers (not a difficult task!) to help stir watch the temperature. Then we talked about chocolate — how it grows, how it’s processed, and what makes “traditional” candy bars different from fine chocolate. The students even tasted the unprocessed cocoa nibs, which have a wonderfully bitter chocolate taste (although not everyone agreed on the ‘wonderfully’).

Pouring the Caramel

Pouring the Caramel

 We all had a good time, and the students and Ms. Williams were great. Funny — we got a lot of volunteers to help us at the shop!

Scoring the Caramel

Scoring the Caramel

 

Eating the Caramel

Eating the Caramel

Thanks to Ms. Williams, Nicole and the rest of the class for inviting us!

And a reminder to everyone else that we’ll be at the Maplewood Farmers Market tonight, with fresh truffles (including our new “smoke” truffle), dragees and lots of those caramels!

Behind Bars

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 19, 2008 by Brian

In amongst the lavender-vanilla truffles and the marshmallow pies and the chocolate-coated caramels with sea salt have been, all along, the simple chocolate bars.

Yes, we make them. Straight-up chocolate, either milk or semi-sweet. (And we can make you a bittersweet if you like, but not many do.) We make them with the same special blend of three different brands of chocolate — two from California and one from France — that we use in the rest of our recipes. And we have beautiful one- and three-ounce molds with the Kakao logo.

We also make bark, a thin piece of chocolate with delicious things sprinkled on top. Think ground coffee (an excellent morning treat) or crystallized ginger (a superb after-dinner digestive) or toasted almonds (really, this is great anytime).

But what about flavored bars? Could you not add those delicious things to the bars? Certainly. But how, exactly?

Let me first explain how to make a bar. You need tempered chocolate, which has been prepared in such a way that it forms the cocoa butter crystals that give quality chocolate a hard snap and a shiny finish. In tempering you heat the blended chocolate to a certain temperature, ‘seed’ it with already tempered chocolate to stir in the crystals you want to start forming, and then cool it down to a certain temperature. Then you pour this tempered chocolate into the mold to form a bar.

My first thought was to sprinkle the mold with the flavoring and pour the chocolate over it. I tried that with the ground coffee, and ended up with something that reminded me of The Terminator’s face at the end of the movie. Not a good idea.

Maybe if I poured the chocolate into the mold, and then sprinkled the flavor on top. That worked, but only gave me a layer of coffee on the bottom of the bar — good, but not great.

The method I knew would work (and seriously, you knew it would be the best way as soon as you understood what I was doing, right?) was to blend the flavoring into the chocolate, and then pour it into the bars. A bit more complicated because you need separate batches for each flavor, but well worth it.

Except for the almonds. You really need to pour the chocolate into the molds, and then push the almonds into the chocolate. It’s the only way. Truly.

Ready to try some? The barks and bars are available at Local Harvest grocery at 3148 Morganford, 63116, and directly from Kakao at the Tower Grove Market on Saturday mornings and Maplewood Market on Wednesday evenings. See you there!

Kakao Retail Arrives!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on September 12, 2008 by Brian

No need to worry about how to get Kakao Chocolate if you can’t make it to one of our farmers’ markets. We’re pleased to announce that Kakao Chocolate can now be purchased retail at Local Harvest Grocery, 3148 Morgan Ford Road, St. Louis, just south of Tower Grove Park off Arsenal.

Our first delivery included an assortment of truffles, almond dragees, coffee and ginger bark, marshmallow pies, and our famous chocolate-coated caramels with a touch of sea salt.

 

 

 

The 2008 Sauce Readers’ Poll named Local Harvest the best gourmet grocery in St Louis. And right across the street at 3137 Morgan Ford is the Local Harvest Cafe, serving breakfast and lunch and dinner, all using fresh and local ingredients. 

Here’s what Local Harvest newsletter said:

KaKaO, how we missed you…

We are thrilled to announce the return of KaKaO Chocolate! After several months of withdrawal, our favorite truffles, caramels, barks, and drageesare back under new ownership. We’ve managed to sample everything already and we can attest that the quality has not diminished one bit. To sweeten the deal, this week all KaKaO Chocolates are 10% off when you mention this email.

Local Harvest is only a short distance from our chocolate shop, so we can be sure they always have a good supply of fresh delectables. Stop by and check it out, and pick up some Kakao Chocolate!

Beer Market

Posted in Uncategorized on September 10, 2008 by Brian

Today is Kakao’s first second market, which is to say that it’s our first time at our second farmers’ market.

Wednesday afternoons from 4:00 to 7:00, now through the end of October, you’ll find Kakao Chocolate at the Maplewood Farmers’ Market at Schlafly Bottleworks (and, thus, a beer market).

Here’s what we’ll have on our menu:

  • Truffles! Mint with candied lemon peel, Rose Petal and Red Tea, Chile-Vanilla with cocoa nibs and Maker’s Mark Bourbon
  • Dragees (dra-ZHAYS), those amazing almonds, toasted in caramelizing sugar and coated three times with chocolate, then dusted with cocoa powder
  • Caramels — made with real cream, honey and vanilla beans, dipped in chocolate and topped with a touch of sea salt
  • Marshmallow Pies — toasted pecans and chocolate, layered between homemade marshmallow and coated with chocolate (seriously, these are decadent)
  • Brownies — three kinds made from vanilla ganache, mint ganache, and caramel
  • Dark Chocolate Ginger Bark and Milk Chocolate Coffee Bark

For our blog readers, we’ll also have some French Raspberry Liqueur Truffles — be sure to ask for them!

Four Weddings and Two Showers

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 8, 2008 by Brian

This weekend we had the first of four weddings over the next couple of months, and the first two of a several bridal showers.

The wedding this weekend wanted our handmade caramels, dipped in chocolate and with a touch of sea salt on top, as favors at each place setting. We recommended putting them in a clear bag tied with a woven red ribbon to match the roses on the table. They looked fantastic, and we got lots of great complements, including on the previous blog post. (Thanks, Karen!)

Next up is a wonderful wedding at the end of the month with a really fun “chocolate table” that will include Kakao caramels, dragees, and a variety of truffles — Lavender-Vanilla, Chai Tea, and Turkish Coffee with Cardamom. These will be alongside an assortment of chocolate pastries. Plus cake!!

In early October we’re doing a large wedding with two-piece truffle boxes. The bride and groom have some adorable white boxes engraved with their name and wedding date, and we’re making them Lavender-Vanilla and Single Malt Scotch truffles, along with a bowl of dragees for each table.

And the first of November is my cousin’s wedding in St. Paul! We’re providing two-piece boxes of chocolates, flavors to be determined. Still need to connect with my cousin on the flavors and colors.

And showers! We’ve done several bridal showers this season, with two-piece boxes of truffles and bagged truffles and caramels, in boxes of assorted colors and with woven ribbons.

The chocolating possibilities are endless with weddings, showers and other events. You can find more information about how we can make your special occasion even more special by checking out our special event fact sheet on our website.