TheChocPro | Chocolate Collaborations: Beyond the Cacao

This month's blog is not about chocolate so much as it is about the the cool associations that happen between creative people. Artisanal chocolate makers seem to have an affinity for others who are trying to craft a quality product in a pure and ethical way and lately many of them have been partnering with these folks to create some very interesting bars. Shawn Askinosie was one of the first and his “CollaBARation” line showed just how far down this path one could go. His bars featuring Lakritsfabriken of Sweden, Intelligentsia Coffee of Chicago and Jeni's Ice Cream of Ohio are still staples of his line many years later. Not only are they great bars but they introduced chocolate fans to makers of similar cool stuff that they might never have encountered otherwise. Everyone who loves great handcrafted ice cream should know about the legendary Jeni Britton Bauer but few outside of the midwest do. Visit her amazing website here and see if you don't instantly crave a dish of ice cream.

Dan and Jael Rattagan at French Broad Chocolates in Asheville, North Carolina have teamed up with Carolina Ground – a small scale local mill which processes heirloom grains into flour for artisanal bakers. They use Carolina's malted barley flour in their dark milk bar and it is an inspired addition, making a profoundly great and delicious bar. Read more about Carolina Ground here and see what fun and inspiring things these folks are doing.

Mast Brothers have been featuring brilliant “inclusions” in their bars for years but their new extra virgin olive oil bar is perhaps their best one yet. Plus, it introduced me to the fun folks at Frankie's and their utterly amazing 457 olive oil. Read their whole story here:

Can't say enough great things about chocolate maker Bryan Graham of Fruition in upstate New York. Crafter of some of our very favourite bars at the moment his brand new Bourbon Dark Milk bar features Dominican beans aged with barrel staves and spirits from Tuthilltown Distillery in the Hudson Valley. If you love spirits and craft bartending you've got to check out this incredible website. And I have a tasty chocolate bar to thank for the introduction!

Bottom line – if you want to know what's happening in the food world – ask a chocolate maker.