Archive for June, 2009

Chocolate Trends 2009

Posted in Uncategorized on June 25, 2009 by Brian

First, congratulations to Kakao Confetioneer Teresa and her husband Rex on the birth of their baby boy on Tuesday morning. Hooray!

The rest of us at Kakao have been busy, too, getting the shop ready. We’ve got a few new chairs in the cafe (and more on the way) from IKEA (our fave!). Also on its way is our new counter, followed closely by a display case for our chocolates and pastries.

Lots of chocolate and treats on the way, too. The weather here in St. Louis has been beastly hot, but we’ve got the perfect foil for the heat — frozen fruit bars! All-natural, of course, and made with real fruit — strawberry-lemonade and blueberry-mango-passion fruit. We’ll have them at the shop on Friday afternoon (noon to 6:30) and (if there are any left) at the Tower Grove Market (8:30 to 12:30) and the shop (9:00 to 4:00) on Saturday.

Yes, right now we’re open just on Fridays and Saturday — but also by appointment! We’re here pretty much every day, so you can just drop by and ring the bell, but to make sure you can call 314.489.5617 and let us know when you’ll be here, just so we can make sure we’re not out making a delivery or something.

So, chocolate trends. I got to attend a chocolate conference with Retail Confectioners International and, among other things, picked up on the Top 10 Trends in Chocolate. I was pleased to see that Kakao is on the cutting edge!

1. Chocolate With a Purpose. Not just chocolate that’s tasty, but treats that are also good for the planet — natural, sustainable, organic. Fits perfectly with our all-natural imperative.

2. Bean to Bar. There are about 20 individuals in the U.S. who take cacao beans and turn them into delicious chocolates, and two of them do it in Missouri! We’re proud to work with Alan McClure’s Patric chocolate in our truffles. (Speaking of which, I need to make some more of those soon…0

3. Hot Chocolate. Well, not in the summertime, but it’s definitely still hot! Kakao has been offering our special mixes of both traditional and Mexican hot chocolate, and we’re excited about being able to offer hot chocolate in a glass in our cafe starting this fall.

4. Salt Caramels. Gee, who woulda thunk?

5. Comforting Classics. This was really about bigger and smaller versions of traditional convenience store candy bars, but we get a lot of comments about our marshmallow pies as quite the comfort food, so we think we have this covered. But speaking of…

6. Big Fat Marshmallows. “Grown ups want to be kids,” and what better way to do that than with a gooey Kakao Marshmallow Pie? Seriously, these things make grown men giggle.

7. Healthy Chocolate. Yes, it’s true: chocolate has more antioxidants than anything that grows on the planet. And Kakao is working on some new chocolate blends and barks that will be even healthier with nuts and dried berries and other good-for-you bits.

8. Make it Fresh. Um, well, certainly. The big candy companies are DONE making chocolate for Christmas right now. Can you believe it? They’re working on Valentine’s Day 2010! We won’t start making Christmas chocolate until early December, so, yes, it will be fresh.

9. Super High Cacao. People are starting to get into chocolate with upwards of 80% cocoa, both for the health benefits (less sugar) and the taste (extremely bitter). So far we haven’t done anything above 72% — should we?

10. Value. We really work hard at this. Everything we do is handmade, right here in our shop, with all-natural ingredients. We use organic when it makes sense, and local whenever we can. That’s the value we put into our chocolates, confections and pastries, and we hope that works for you, too. 

See you soon!

The Cat is Away

Posted in Uncategorized on June 12, 2009 by Brian

The last thing Brian said to us before he left to go to the candy conference was “Have fun. “ That was immediately after he said “Don’t burn the shop down.”

And three days later, we’ve managed to achieve both goals.

Yes, Brian left us, Shannon and Teresa, the tireless Kakao workers, to our own devices this week while he attended a confection conference in Detroit. So we wanted to shake things up a little bit, seeing as how the Kakao shop has been open all of two weeks. But those party poopers at the Health Department nixed our idea about bringing in live monkeys and apparently you need some sort of licensure to do tattoos. Who knew?

We didn’t know that, but what we do know is ice cream. And sorbet, brownies and cookies.

So on Friday and Saturday, we’ll be all set to offer made-to-order ice cream sandwiches with our very own handmade ice cream. We’ve got chocolate sorbet paired with our very own ginger snap cookies, and chocolate chip ice cream sandwiched between two layers of homemade bittersweet brownies. (Don’t worry, even though Teresa is nine months pregnant, there’s nary a pickle in sight.)

Now, does anyone know what to do with a truckload of monkeys?

Free chocolate for helping kids

Posted in Uncategorized on June 10, 2009 by Brian

We all know — or should — that it’s really all about the kids. The kids are the future, and if we don’t take care of them, then we’re putting the future of everything at risk.

Which is why we at Kakao Chocolate are huge fans of an organization called Discovering Options. The folks there work directly with seriously at-risk kids in the city of St. Louis. These children face, every single day, temptations most of us couldn’t even imagine when we were in school. Discovering Options provides one-on-one mentoring and after-school activities to help these students understand that they have other options than the ones offered by the bad elements on the streets.

(Don’t worry, we’re getting to the chocolate.)

Discovering Options puts on a wonderfully fun fundraiser every year called Cirque de la Vie. This year’s event, Moulin Rouge, will be on Saturday, June 27 at the Four Seasons Hotel downtown, and will feature cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, dinner, and an amazing array of dancers, female impersonators and other circus entertainment. The evening will also include a silent and live auction, and Kevin Steincross of Fox 2 as emcee.

cirque de la vie

Tickets for this night of fabulous entertainment are $175 per person — the food, the wine, the entertainment, plus the opportunity to help Discovering Options help the kids. And did I mention that the attire is “creative black tie,” so there’ll be some great people watching as well as your own opportunity to strut your stuff?

Now, about the chocolate. Because Kakao is a big supporter of this great organization (one of the auction items is a 15-person chocolate tasting party we’ll put on at your place or ours) we’re going to donate a 25-piece box of truffles — a $38 value — to everyone who orders a ticket through Kakao.

We’re not going to limit this promotion. We’ll give a box to chocolate to everyone who orders a ticket through us, no matter how many people come (new purchases only).  And yes, that means if you get a pair of tickets, you’ll get two boxes of chocolate. And yes, you can pick up your chocolates whenever it’s convenient for you, even if you want them a few weeks from now.

To get your tickets, and your box(es) of chocolate, call Brian at 314.489.5617, or email me at brian@kakaochocolate.com. And remember, it’s for the kids.

Sauced

Posted in Uncategorized on June 3, 2009 by Brian

Kakao has had a great media week, specifically with Sauce Magazine, the foodie magazine of St. Louis.

(When I first moved to St. Louis from Chicago four years ago I was enamoured with Sauce. Chicago professes to be a town of great food but has nothing to compare with Sauce. This was one reason I knew the move to St. Louis would be a good one.)

The day we moved Kakao to our new digs at 2301 S. Jefferson, Catherine Neville, editor-in-chief, gave us a call, and a couple days later she was in our shop with a tape recorder, soon after that she was back with a video crew, and not long after that another photographer stopped by. Maybe it was just the chocolate…

(No need to flatter them now that everything has run, but I’ll say anyway that she’s a sweetheart, and her video producer, videographer and photographer were really great.)

And yes, everything did run. First, the June issue of Sauce (on newstands now!) featured Kakao in the Chef Talk column. (There’s a short and probably irrelevant discussion to be had about me being a “chef’ — I don’t consider myself one.)

On Monday, KMOV ran its Sauce on the Street segment, filmed in Kakao’s new shop. You can find that video here.

The next day (these things all happen at once, you know), Kakao was featured on Great Day St. Louis on a live segment.  The taped version, which contains the news clip above, is here.

Yes, live. Nothing like standing there, watching the cameras whirl around the studio, and the hosts and producers and other guests all completely at ease with the chaos around them.

A great start to a fun week, and then it was immediately back to the chocolate. We’ve got the Maplewood Market today (Wednesday) afternoon, and then the Kakao shop will be open Friday from noon to 6:30 and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. And the Tower Grove Market is Saturday morning. Plus we’re providing truffles for a company picnic at the Botanic Garden today, and we have three private chocolate-tasting parties between now and Sunday night. Whew!

Oh, and I didn’t get a chance to mention the special day yesterday — June 2, 2008 was my last day at Fleishman-Hillard, so yesterday was my one year anniversary. In honor of that, this Friday during our regular business hours (noon to 6:30) we’re going to give a free piece of chocolate to every current or former F-Her who stops by the shop. See you then!

Kakao TV

Posted in Uncategorized on June 1, 2009 by Brian

Rumor has it that Kakao will be featured on Sauce on the Street, airing tonight (Monday) at 10 p.m. on KMOV.

And another rumor has it that Kakao will be doing a live segment on Great Day St. Louis, also on KMOV, tomorrow (Tuesday) at 10 a.m.

Set your TIVO!