Meet a Chocolate Maker: Byrne and Carlson

At the Meadow we are mesmerized by anyone with the audacity and alchemical craft required to turn a humble cocoa bean into a noble chocolate bar, which is why the bulk of our chocolate collection focuses on the work of chocolate producers, rather than chocolatiers. And with good reason. Producing bean-to-bar chocolate gives the artisan the greatest ability to control the taste and texture of his or her chocolate. But there is also skill and craft in confectioneering – the art of combining chocolate made by others with new ingredients. Then through tempering, mixing, shaping and coating a brilliant chocolatier may produce something truly transformative.

Ellen Byrne and Christopher Carlson are such artists. “Everything we make is hand-produced in small quantities,” says Byrne and Carlson co-founder Ellen Byrne. “Each chocolate is hand-dipped, each chocolate bar is produced and decorated by hand. This is a method rooted in the elegant chocolate houses of Europe, and American seaside candy shops alike.”

Ellen founded the company along with confectioner Christopher Carlson in 1999 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Christopher makes Byrne and Carlson’s line of Pates des Fruits, caramels, and chocolates. Ellen, a French-trained chocolatier, creates the designs and hand-decorates the chocolate bars. In Ellen’s hands, the chocolate bar becomes a blank canvas for calligraphic designs inspired by art nouveau botanical motifs.

Because they aren’t wedded to any single method of chocolate production, Byrne & Carlson can take advantage of the many different styles of chocolate produced by bean-to-bar manufacturers. “The couvertures we use are incredibly diverse. We use many different cacao percentages, matching the chocolate with each recipe we are creating.” Byrne and Carlson uses couvertures made by many Meadow favorites, including Valrhona, Michel Cluizel, and El Rey. Their ingredients are sourced from around the world. Cocoa beans in their couvertures come from Central and South America, Madagascar, the Dominican Republic, and West Africa. Other ingredients include Australian glacé fruits, crystallized pansy flowers, Italian hazelnut paste, and mint from their own garden.

Buy Byrne and Carlson chocolate at The Meadow.

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