Archive for February, 2014

Drinking Chocolate with Taha’s Vanilla Salt

Dark Chocolate is every bit as complex and satisfying as wine. Each cacao bean reflects the unique genetic heritage, terroir, growing conditions, and horticulture of the Theobroma cacao tree, and every cacao farmer and cacao buyer has a gastronomic perspective and level of skill that hugely influences the resulting chocolate. For this reason, eating a dark chocolate bar is one of the purest, most satisfying ways to experience the unbounded intricacies of chocolate itself.

Another way to experience the power and revel in the versatility of chocolate is to drink it. The history of drinking chocolate dates back to the deepest shadows of pre-civilization; for hundreds of years, and possibly for thousands, French, Spanish, Aztecs, and Olmecs have consumed it as a drink. When melted down, superbly crafted dark chocolate reaches its fullest expression. It is complex and stimulating; an entire jungle of Theobroma cacao chocolate trees spring up from your taste buds, revealing before you unexpected textural dimensions and infinitely varied flavors.

Choosing the bar is your opportunity for adventure. Let your imagination run free and your personal tastes deliver you into the wild. Nothing is off limits here; use your favorite dark or milk chocolate. If you crave intense red fruit and berry notes with a pleasant tartness, try the bold, ripe flavor of Dandelion Madagascar 70% Dark Chocolate. If you’re in the mood for intense red wine and tobacco flavors, use the agile Dick Taylor Dominican Republic 74% Dark Chocolate. Melt it down, stir in a finishing salt, like Taha’a Vanilla or Halen Mon Gold, and taste the beautifully deep flavor your favorite chocolate was destined for.  It’s your turn to explore.


Drinking Chocolate with Taha’a Vanilla Salt

Recipe adapted from the “Drinking Chocolate with Taha’a Vanilla Salt” recipe in Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes.

Serves 2


1 1/2 cup hot water

6 oz dark chocolate, such as Dandelion Madagascar 70% Dark Chocolate or Dick Taylor Dominican Republic 74% Dark Chocolate, chopped or broken into small pieces

Two 2-finger pinches Taha’a Vanilla Salt, plus more for rim


Heat the water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the water begins to steam (you don’t want it to boil), add in the chocolate and stir until melted. Remove from heat, let thicken for  5 minutes, and then stir in salt. If desired, rim glass or mug with additional salt, then serve.


You can also try The Meadow’s recipe for Hot Cocoa, or find a sweet selection of drinking chocolates from Guittard, Askinosie, Cafe Tasse, and Michael Recchiuti at The Meadow’s online shop.


Madecasse Sea Salt & Nibs

Cacao from Madagascar has inspired some of the great chocolate makers due to the unique combination of tree genetics, climate, and terrain. Perennial favorites like Patric Chocolate, Dick Taylor, Dandelion and Woodblock know this well, and use cocoa from Madagascar to create some of the most bright and satisfyingly lush chocolate on the market.

Yet one of the only companies committed to sourcing, making, and packing chocolate exclusively in Africa is Madecasse, a bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Madagascar. Roughly 70% of cocoa comes from Africa, yet only 1% of chocolate is made there. Fueled by their Peace Corps experiences in Madagascar, Madecasse founders Brett Beach and Tim McCollum set out to make chocolate on the island. What they discovered along the way was some of most flavorful cocoa, vanilla and spices, all hidden on the remote countryside of Madagascar.  By partnering with local farmers, chocolatiers, and package manufacturers, Madecasse created a sustainable model that benefits the local economy of Madagascar.

Each Madecasse Sea Salt & Nibs bar is made with cocoa from Madagascar, truly some of the best in the world made only better by heirloom ingredients, like cocoa, vanilla, and spices and sustainable farming techniques.  This is a complex, rich, and smooth 63% bar for lovers of dark chocolate with a crunch. A dusting of sea salt opens up the acid and fruity complexity, and the cocoa nibs add an intense crunch to an otherwise smooth finish. The bar is hand-packed in a 100% recyclable paper wrapper and finished off with a tie of raffia. A great tasting chocolate bar and a better life for those who make it.


A Sweet Note from Madecasse:

“No one made chocolate in Africa, they said it was too hot or no one was skilled enough locally. But living there, you realize it’s not true. You can make chocolate with love and energy, and Peace Corps helped us realize that. So, by making and packaging the chocolate in Madagascar, we go beyond Fair Trade and enter the realm of Equitrade.”


You can find Madecasse Sea Salt & Nibs and other Madecasse Chocolate at The Meadow’s online shop.