Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holiday Cheer Begins with Fine Flavor Chocolate

Raising The Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate (Wilmor Publishing Corporation; October 2012) has consumers dreaming of a chocolate Christmas, but not just any chocolate. The new book is an inside look at fine chocolate products and documents the global journey from cacao gene and cocoa bean to chocolate bar and bonbon. When paired with a box of fine chocolates, Raising The Bar will help your favorite people discover the sweet truth about chocolate.

While many people around the world would consider themselves “chocoholics,” there is actually a great deal of information that consumers don’t typically know about chocolate, especially fine flavor chocolate. According to the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, here are the five ways to differentiate a fine flavor chocolate product:

1. Cacao origin and post harvest processing: Chocolate is an agricultural product whose character and flavor are dependent on genetics, climate, soil and processing practices to yield a finished product. The higher the quality and care taken along the route from bean to bar, the better the finished product will taste.
2. Chocolate manufacturing practices: Both traditional chocolate manufacturers and craft chocolate makers control the quality and flavor of their chocolate products by bean selection and methods of roasting, milling and conching.
3. Non-chocolate ingredient quality: The quality of the added ingredients in both bars and bonbons is an important component of flavor.
4. Technical expertise: A combination of passion, training and experience enable the chocolatier, craft chocolate maker or chocolate manufacturer to make the proper technical and flavor decisions that produce fine chocolate.
5. Artistry and presentation: Whether they are bars or bonbons, fine chocolate products will be well-crafted and perfectly made.

All this and more are discussed in greater detail in Raising The Bar, and craft chocolate makers featured in the book such as Theo Chocolate in Seattle and Askinosie Chocolate in Springfield, Missouri, are furthering this consumer education by offering tours to guests and leading Chocolate University programs for local high school students.

“They soaked it up,” says Askinosie Chocolate Founder Shawn Askinosie of the students who participated in his Chocolate University. “I don’t know that there has been anything more gratifying for me as a person.” Raising The Bar looks at the future of the world's finest chocolate as seen through the eyes of people like Askinosie who live chocolate every day and strive to preserve its richest, most complex and endangered forms for future generations. An ideal gift for the foodie who has everything, this book will help readers appreciate where their cocoa comes from and discern the true chocolate artisans.

About Raising The Bar:
Co-authors Pam Williams and Jim Eber educate and entertain through interviews with the world's top chocolate experts, and scientists from the Cocoa Research Unit and the USDA weigh in with the latest in genetic research. Discussions cover almost every fine flavor growing region including stories and interviews from Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia, The Dominican Republic, Madagascar, Peru, Southeast Asia, Costa Rica, and more.

Williams has been involved in the industry since 1981 and founded Ecole Chocolat Professional School of Chocolate Arts in 2003. Most recently, she has been instrumental in promoting the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative (HCP), a partnership between the Fine Chocolate Industry Association and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service to create the first-ever genotype map with a focus on flavor cacao trees. Along with Eber, a veteran writer and collaborator specializing in food and business marketing, Williams has indeed raised the bar, and our awareness, of the promises and pitfalls ahead for fine flavor chocolate, while unwrapping the possibilities for the millions and millions of us who believe that life without the very best chocolate is no life at all.

Raising the Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate (Wilmor Publishing Corporation; October 2012; Hardcover; $19.95; eBook; $9.95; ISBN: 978-0-9691921-2-1 (Print); 978-0-9691921-3-8 (eBook).

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