Tag Archives: chocolate news

Small shop goes to the ICAs and brings home the gold

At the 2015 International Chocolate Awards Americas competition:

Two thousand entries.

Over 65 judges.

Four days of trying, tasting, selecting and deciding.

And it came down to three major awards for Stuart’s Castronovo Chocolate:

  • A gold and silver award in a single category (Micro-batch – plain/origin milk chocolate bars; the gold for their Columbia, Sierra Nevada Dark Milk 63% and the silver for their Dominican Republic Dark Milk 50%).
  • An overall gold award in the specialty category for their Rare Cacao Collection (Columbia, Sierra Nevada Dark Milk 63%).

Looking over the extensive list of gold, silver and bronze award winners, it’s obvious that Castronovo Chocolate is in an illustrious league with the world’s best: the winners’ list includes names like Soma (Canada), El Rey (Venezuela), Pacari (Ecuador), and many U.S. micro-batch chocolate makers, such as Amano, Rogue, TCHO, Chuao, Dick Taylor and Dandelion. It’s a big deal to get this far, and it’s the constant attention to the literally small details that bring a chocolate maker to the ICA: making 100-pound batches, using single-origin beans that are sorted by hand, a bean at a time, roasted in small amounts and crafted into bars and confections that are sold in their shop, online and in select stores in the area. And doing that every day, experimenting with different beans, different roasts, different flavor combinations and the hard part: painstakingly convincing the three-bars-for-a-buck crowd that your artisan product is not just better-tasting, it’s better quality and better for you. It’s going to greenmarkets, coffee bars, specialty markets and gourmet grocers and getting your product out there.

This achievement isn’t something done by the dilettante or the part-time candy hobbyist. To get to this prize-winning level, you have to live with and work at this far more than full-time. You have to love it, and want everyone you come in contact with to love it, too.

Oh, and there’s one more stop on the awards trail: the International Chocolate Awards’ World Finals, coming up in October and taking place in London. We’ll be watching.

Castronovo Chocolate, 555 Colorado Ave., Stuart, FL. Phone (561) 512-7236 . Hours: Mon-Sat 2:00 pm-8:00 pm.


Two bars from my stash, both from Italy, both from my Chicago trip:

La Baretta Di Golosi di Salute Luca Montersino 72%: It certainly deserves a salute! Creamy, buttery and sharp with notes of raisins and berries.It’s a lot of name for a chocolate bar, but worth the purchase.

Domori Morogoro-Tanzania 70%: Four squares of elegant, slightly smoky, roasty goodness. Neither sweet nor bitter, but somewhere in between. The kind of chocolate I want after a large meal.

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Posted by on August 4, 2015 in Uncategorized


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What’s New and Trending in Chocolate

I admit I’m not a regular reader of Confectionary News. The international publication, part of the William Reed Business Media group and based in the United Kingdom, covers the world of sweets and candy worldwide on a daily basis, and much of their content is technically beyond my understanding or outside my relatively localized interests. But a recent article on up-and-coming trends in chocolate caught my attention.

Lu Anne Williams of Innova Market Insights recently presented a seminar on what’s next for chocolate consumers of the world. Some of it will sound familiar to you, but some of it will be new:

  • “Pure” is the new “natural,” with shorter lists of ingredients (I’ve got a chocolate review to follow that fits this perfectly).
  • “Green” goes with chocolate, meaning that Fair Trade, organic and Rainforest Alliance certifications will become more sought-after, for both ethical and economic reasons.
  • Location matters, not just in terms of country of cacao origin, but which specific plantation.
  • We may be getting older, but we still want our chocolate: as the senior population booms, chocolate manufacturers are paying attention to the wants and needs of the older consumers, in terms of fat, calories and nutritional value of their product.
  • Antioxidants any tasty way we can: dark chocolate, which contains a high level of antioxidants, is seen more and more as a viable part of a healthy diet, particularly for women seeking any means possible to stay young-looking.
  • Want a little protein with your chocolate: as the worldwide need for protein grows with the populations, chocolate makers are looking for new ways to use their products: in bars, cereals and other combinations.

There is likely no end to the way you can use and combine chocolate with other foods; even the choco-purists among us will usually concede to enjoying a good trail mix with dark chocolate, freshly roasted nuts and good-quality dried fruit.

I’m happy to say that my trip to New York last year proved that there are plenty of niche manufacturers, happy to make tiny batches of bars in a few varieties and sell them in limited quantities. I’m chasing down a few of those now; in the meantime, here’s two more reviews from my stash:

  • República del Cacao 75% Los Rios Single Origin: definitely a bar to savor, with citrus and floral notes from the start, and sweet notes on the end. It’s a rich bar that you can enjoy eating all of, but not at one sitting. That would spoil the fun.
  • Patric Madagascar 75%: an American-made bar, (the company is based in Columbia, MO), this bar isn’t divided into squares. Rather, it’s a single pour with owner Patric McClure’s name cut into it. A work of art to look at and to eat. This is the epitome of simple in its ingredients (cacao, cane sugar and cocoa butter), yet complex in taste. Winy, floral, slightly nutty. I wish Patric was in my kitchen, making these bars for me every day.

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