February 19, 2016
Craft chocolate makers are having a moment right now. And Europe is home to some of the world’s most renowned chocolate producers, including Italy’s Amedei and France’s Valrhona. Even Suffolk’s own Pump Street Bakery is receiving its fair share of acclaim from chocolate connoisseurs.
If Suffolk sounds like an unlikely place for world-class chocolates, Utah probably seems even more far-fetched ”” but it’s true. Chocolate in Utah is a big deal, with local producers creating some incredible, awarding-winning chocolates.
Some of Utah’s notable chocolate makers include Amano, Ritual, Mezzo and Solstice. Nearly all of these companies follow the bean-to-bar philosophy ”” that is to say, they have a hand in every aspect of crafting their chocolates, from roasting the raw cacao beans right down to moulding the chocolate bars. Mezzo is an exception only because they don’t make chocolate bars. They’re in the business of making artisanal drinking chocolate.
Here’s a bit more about each of these Utah-based chocolate makers:
Founded in Orem, Utah by Art Pollard, Amano was lauded by London-based chocolate authority seventypercent.com as one of the top eight companies in the world. This accolade came only after being in business for about three years. More recently, Amano won both silver and bronze awards at the 2015 International Chocolate Awards world finals. One of Amano’s perennial standout bars is their Dos Rios, a chocolate made from beans sourced from the Dominican Republic.
Cacao has been cultivated in the Americas since the pre-Columbian civilizations. Back then, Aztecs and Mayans consumed chocolate as a drink. So what Topher and Shannon Webb at Salt Lake City-based Mezzo Chocolate are doing is sort of a throwback. Mezzo drinking chocolate is nothing like your run-of-the-mill instant hot cocoa. They take the same careful approach as their bean-to-bar counterparts, down to roasting their own beans.
The recently relocated Ritual Chocolate now calls Park City, Utah its home. Previously based in Denver, Colorado, founders Robbie Stout and Anna Davies moved their operations to the picturesque ski town undoubtedly to be closer to Utah’s booming bean-to-bar chocolate scene. Ritual gives tours of its chocolate factory and has a café onsite for patrons to enjoy their goods. Ritual’s 75 per cent Ecuador bar is a favourite among local chocolate lovers.
Scott and DeAnn Querry of Solstice burst onto the Salt Lake City chocolate scene in 2013 and wowed everyone, especially with their Madagascar bar. With its bright, fruit-forward flavours, it’s no wonder this bar, and several other Solstice bars, have become staples in the pantries of local pastry chefs. The celebrated, California-based Chocolatier Blue has even taken notice of Salt Lake’s Solstice and now uses these chocolates for its confections.
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Have you experienced bean-to-bar chocolate in Utah? Have you tried any of these Utah-based products? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Billy Yang