It had been too long since we last convened our chocolate tasters to gather at The Secret Chocolatier. We attempt to do this at biannually as both a celebration to our fans and a great way for us to see how we’re doing, trial out some new products and get open solicitation for new ideas.
This September (yes I’m backlogged on posting) we had a group of 30 to 40 chocolate denizens stop by and work through 8 delicious confections.
Chocolate cherries, 3 chocolate barks, pumpkin bon bon, chocolate molasses caramel, pecan bar, and s’more bars. Oh it was a smorgishborg!
The point of the exercise is open critiquing. We realized after this year we might have had a few too many things–palate burn occurs somewhere along the way. We also had a lot of competitive style commentary like product X was better than product Y, when really it’s supposed to be about each thing subjectively not comparatively. It’s all good though, people have a great time and we learn a bit about our customer, their thoughts, tastes, and the feedback is great for us.
There were forms our tasters could leave commentary on. For each product we received around 30 notes which was quite helpful. The following are some excerpts from those tasters.
Our pumpkin spice bon bon last year was a blend of spices and pumpkin, frozen in balls, then dipped quickly in white chocolate. It was messy and hard to control. This year we modified the recipe just a hint, and then pipped it into bon bon shells we made of white chocolate. It gave us a much better consistency.
Excellent! Fall in a bite sized form.
Good flavor & blend. I liked this and I’m not a white chocolate fan.
Love Love Love! Perfect as is!!
White Chocolate Pecan Bar
A new product to us but an old recipe of Chef Bills. We still haven’t mastered how to productize it but it is such a delicious treat we’re going to find a way.
Absolutely delish! Small bite was all I needed to be satisfied
Don’t change it! It is absolute perfection! Perfect size with an absolutely phenomenal taste.
I might like it a bit (tiny bit) firmer. Delicious!
Better than any pecan pie I’ve tasted!
We had a trial of these cherries in a lot of forms in the shop. The pink ones were a tiny and on their own a bit scary to the palate. Coated they became more tolerable–but who wants to tolerate anything. Enjoyment is what it’s about! The bordeaux cherries were rich, plump, and meaty. A good value and taste but not as bright as the classic marachinos. They’d be great paired with a red wine. Since we had both in the house I coated them and let the public try them like we did. What we found was interesting and sometimes contradictory which just shows us how much of a unique palate each of us have.
Loved the combo with the dark chocolate. (Bordeaux)
Not my preference (Pink)
Like commercial offerings of others but a lot more intense. (Bordeaux)
Light, juicy, sweet. (Pink)
My personal favorite. Great cherry flavor. (Bordeaux)
My favorite of the two, just simpler and delish. (Pink)
My vote is here. Deeper and more lush. Better balance with the chocolate. (Bordeaux)
We’ve been trying, repeatedly, to figure this one out. Chef Bill used to make a divine S’more when he worked as an Executive Pastry Chef. It was large, and gooey, torched to perfection and made on demand. Perfect for a sit down establishment but not perfect for portability or to be stocked. We’ve tried really since last year to find the right balance. This enrobed chocolate treat is a real nice treat. I like to say that if you enjoy it cold it’s like a smoked Moon Pie, but if you zap it in the microwave until the marshmallow cracks through the side you’ve got a classic s’more–ooey, goey, finger lickin!
Campfire memories in a bite! Loved it!
Too soft, needs some crunch.
Nice flavor, maybe toasted more?
Has texture like a moonpie. Dark chocolate, good!
More creamy filling!
From these and other notes we’ve continued to tinker with our recipe and have increased the scorching of the marshmallow. It was losing its punch when coated in chocolate. That’s been recovered. As well explaining a little heating action goes a long way into making this a wonderful product.
Molasses Chocolate Caramels (Old Fashioned Molasses Pull)
This was one that took people by surprise. Chef Bill loves digging through old cook books. In an 1860′s book he found a chocolate caramel recipe, but it was made with molasses. Pretty neat, right? He had a lot of tweaking to do, the cook times weren’t translating. We’d get something like taffy to lollies and in the end it was a 5′ difference that was creating the havoc. During the event we had people suggest names, we then had a poll on Facebook that helped decide the name. It’s being worked on this week and should be ready soon the new, Old Fashioned Molasses Pull.
So much fun! Nice change from the rich chocolate.
Very classic, great chew.
New to my palate. I like that it lasts a long time. Chewy!
Lovely blend. Molasses isn’t my fave, but these are very good.
So unique, please develop this!
We’d love to pan our own espresso beans but the equipment outlay is not in our cards for now. We were struck that using espresso as an inclusion in a bark would be a great compromise. However I like thinks to have harmonies, rarely does a solo performance in a bark thrill me. In truffles, it’s about all we do, and it means something there. Here though a roasted and caramelized cacao nib made a great compliment of crunch and chocolate to what might have been overtly espresso driven.
Nice bark, a little bit thick, and didn’t notice the cacao nib flavor.
I love the crunch (without nuts!) Didn’t taste nibs.
I really liked — perfect crunch.
Stunning. Keep it chunky & rustic. Consider salt.
Love the fine crunchy texture. Very toasty.
There were more ‘hard to taste cacao nib flavor’ within our notes so I basically flipped the numbers on our espresso to nib ratio and that helped considerably. I am also try to make this as thinner bark which has created a nicer bite.
Roasted pecans, chewy tart cherries, a pinch of cyprus sea salt. What could be better? I’m addicted to this bark and I found that quite a few others might be as well. It was my first foray into chocolate barks and I’m quite pleased.
Perfect blend of salty and sweet. Like a great trail mix.
Wonderful blend of sweet, “bitter”, crunch and chew.
Loved this! Just enough of everything! One of my favs!
Perfect, don’t change a thing!
Oh my yum!
Pistachio and Apricot Bark
Our families Aunt Joan and a local fan both came up with this one to try. I really liked how the flavor profile changed based on the clean bright acidity of an apricot and the pistachio’s…pistachioness (yea–take that tasters–ok ok.. a buttery, mild nutty, cashew almond hybrid!)
I love the pistachio/chocolate combination but it’s great with the apricot.
Pistachio flavor was light and maybe overpowered by the apricot. Try pumpkin seeds?
I really liked this, but not enough pistachio flavor.
Needs more apricot!
A bit flat, not my favorite.
Wow, this is a great combo. Tasty!
To say the least this is still being worked on. Lots of polarities in peoples likes. I’m going to keep this in research and probably release a refined version in January. It has the taste of a new year and I’m sure I’ll have something we can all celebrate then.
That’s a Lot of Chocolate!
As you can see we had quite a party and everyone left with a bit of a chocolate induced buzz. If you’d like to be invited to our next gathering just make sure you are on our Parties segment of our mailing list.
All of this is an effort to stay connected and transparent with our consumers. We’re a business that likes your involvement and cherishes a relationship. We hope you’ll stop by the store or order some goodies from us soon.