Monday, February 6, 2012
A Beautiful Valentine: Passion That Melts
I had first learned of Patricia’s Chocolate when I received a box as a gift several years ago. They were the most beautiful chocolates that I had ever seen (and truly since). They are actually decorative. The company tag line – Art that Melts – is spot on. I could hardly bear to eat one. But, as I started, I realized that they are too delicious to only look at them. (And, eating them means that I can buy more to admire.)
I met Patricia Christopher and her husband Paul at a tasting at Art of the Table in Grand Rapids. The event allowed me to taste small pieces of chocolate – along with getting a taste of her passion and enthusiasm. There, I learned that she recommends cutting the chocolate square in quarters or halves to eat them in small pieces. I had been eating the whole thing – but just one per day - when I had them on hand. Selecting my daily chocolate was an event that I looked forward too. They should be stored at a coolish room temperature.
Patricia, a former Grand Rapids Public School District psychologist, is a chocolate chef who trained at the French Pastry School in Chicago and at Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Montreal and Chicago. She blends cocoa, fresh butters and creams, imported spices, fruit purees, coffees, teas, and fine liqueurs. They are handcrafted from only the finest domestic and imported French couverture cocoas with absolutely no artificial flavorings, additives, or preservatives (all dairy products are rBST free). She then applies various colors and designs to individualize the chocolates; some with an airbrush or colored appliques, others with French dipping fork impressions. The chocolates are created in her Grand Haven, MI 200-square-foot, stainless steel kitchen that was approved for commercial food preparation in 2005. Each recipe produces about 100 square chocolates and takes days to complete.
The collection is now up to 28 premier ganache and caramel chocolates, as well as a collection of extraordinary specialty confections. Patricia is also one of only a few chocolatiers in the world entrusted with Fortunato No.4 - the Pure Naçional 68% dark cru. This is made from an extremely rare cacao thought to have been extinct but recently rediscovered growing high in the Peruvian Andes' Maranõn River Valley.
Many of the chocolates include products specifically from Michigan; they are:
Apple Cinnamon Caramel
Maple Star Anise
Ultra Dark and Cognac
Strawberry Balsamic Caramel
Patricia’s latest projects are dipped candied orange and lemon peels and the development a new line of individually wrapped soft caramels (many will be with fruit purees like raspberry and blackcurrant), a line of tea chocolates, and another line of chocolates that will be paired with red and white wines. Click here for the Patricia’s Chocolate event listing.
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