Tag Archives: chocolate gifts baskets

Title image with product shot of various chocolates

At Beta 5 Creating Chocolate Is A Work Of Art

14 Jun

You’d be excused for thinking the storefront of a chocolatier hidden in an industrial area of Vancouver wouldn’t be particularly busy on a Thursday afternoon. But the steady traffic of customers showed that people obviously know where to find them.

BETA5 Retail Space

Beta 5 was created by Adam Chandler and Jessica Rosinski, who had a creative vision for pushing the boundaries of chocolate. The name Beta 5 refers to the form-5 beta crystal structure, a stable form of cocoa butter crystallization that is created when chocolate is properly tempered.

I visited Beta 5 to learn about their unique approach to chocolate. As Adam gave me a tour of their kitchens, he shared their philosophy and how they take great care in the process, opting for methods that are more time consuming but yield a better product.

BETA5 Adam Portrait infront of fridge holding tray of choclates

Why did you start Beta 5?

Adam: It was the desire to have a creative outlet.

I had spent 10 years in the industry working for other people and while I still had my own creative vision, it was always being influenced by the people I worked for.

In pastry, you are limited in the opportunities available to you, so the purpose of Beta 5 was to have a space where we could explore our creative vision we saw for pastry and chocolate.

BETA5 CreamPuffs

What inspires your work?

Adam: There’s not really one thing in particular. For a lot of the core product, it starts with the ingredient. We want to showcase the qualities of main ingredient.

For example for the Okanagan dark chocolate cherries, we don’t want either the chocolate or the cherries to overwhelm each other. We search for the best quality cherries we can find and then pair them with chocolate that goes well with those particular cherries.

There’s a lot of stuff we do that is a lot more out of the box. In those instances we pull inspiration from any number of places. An idea like camping, outer space or tropical vacation and then work backwards and try to tell the story. We use textures, flavours and colours that convey the bigger idea and start to tell the story.

BETA5 chocolate production

What makes Beta 5 different?

Adam: The creative approach we take. While we want to do things differently, we really want to challenge ourselves and see what is possible.

A lot of others do what has been done before. We like to push the boundaries, using vegetables and different ingredients that you wouldn’t necessarily think of when you think of pastry and chocolate.

We want to explore the possibilities of those types of ingredients to create something different and add something new to the conversation.

A lot of chocolate is rich and comforting and perfect for winter. We paired cucumber, mint and chocolate because we wanted to come up with a flavour that would be light, crisp and refreshing. Something that people would want to eat in summer.

verdantforce product photo

What are the values that drive Beta 5?

Adam: The two things more important to us than creativity are quality and consistency.

Our creativity has no value if we aren’t putting out a quality product, consistently. We want people to depend on us as a supplier and know that everything we produce is the highest quality. We need to develop that trust so we can push the envelope and have people take a risk and try the new things we create.

Describe a typical day at Beta 5

Adam: There really isn’t a typical day at Beta 5. We designed it that way.

Things are much more repetitive in bigger production environments and we wanted to be inspired to come to work.

BETA5 chocolate production

We run a small, well-trained production team who are trained in everything. Each day there is a lot of variety. The day could be spent making bars or caramelizing nuts or pebbles or polishing and painting molds. The only typical part is that it’s a day spent around chocolate.

For me the variety makes for a more enjoyable experience.

At Saul Good Gift Co. many of our gift baskets include Beta 5’s delicious chocolates. You can see the full section here

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Canadian Craft Chocolate is on the rise

02 Dec

We are delighted to share this guest post by chocolate expert Jasmine Lukuku.

 

 

evr

Photo from East Van Roasters

Canadian Craft Chocolate

There is a revolution happening in the chocolate industry, Craft Chocolate is on the rise. The vast majority of commercially available chocolate is manufactured by a handful of large European and American companies. In the past, small chocolate businesses would buy pre-made chocolate from these large companies, melt it, flavour it and repackage it under their own labels.

 

Unfortunately, many of the large companies supplying this pre-made chocolate have well documented histories of exploitation in cacao growing regions such as West Africa and Central America. This is the chocolate industry’s dirty secret.

 

Palette de Bine chocolate

Photo from Palette de Bine chocolate

 

What is a chocolate lover to do? Fortunately, there is a growing community of chocolate makers committed to ethical sourcing of cacao. They are buying beans directly from growers or trusted brokers and making their own chocolate from the bean. Transparency is important to these makers and they are not afraid to share their sources with consumers and other chocolate makers. This is chocolate you can feel good about purchasing for yourself or as a gift.

 

chocolate - evr

Photo from East Van Roasters

 

The first time you try Craft Chocolate, you may be surprised. Cacao Beans can taste drastically different depending on where they are grown, how they are handled after harvesting and how the chocolate maker chooses to roast and process them. Craft Chocolate makers delight in highlighting the unique characteristics of the beans. You can liken this to the terroir of wine. When I host group chocolate tastings, we often go through a variety of bean origins so we can compare characteristics.

 

We are lucky to have some amazing Craft Chocolate makers in our own backyard. Canada is home to some of the industry’s pioneers as well as talented newcomers. If you are looking for a great chocolate gift or want to treat yourself to something special, I recommend the chocolate makers below.

 

Sirene Chocolate

sirene chocolate

Photo from Sirene Chocolate

 

Chocolate Maker Taylor Kennedy has been scooping up international awards for his well-crafted bars. His genius Tasting Pairs combine two varietals of single-origin chocolate in one package. You can find Sirene’s cheery and sophisticated bars in several of Saul Good’s Gourmet Gift Baskets.

 

Palette de Bine

Palette de Bine chocolate

Photo from Palette de Bine chocolate

 

This Québec based maker is all about the details. Founder Christine Blais crafts elegant, small-batch chocolate from such diverse origins as Vietnam, Trinidad and Belize. The wood-grain patterned bars are packaged in simple kraft card stock with a letterpress logo. The look is simple, rustic luxury with a dose of Canadiana. They make a perfect chocolate gift!

 

Palette de Bine chocolate

Photo from Palette de Bine chocolate

 

Soma Chocolate Makers

soma chocolate

Photo from Soma Chocolate

 

If you find yourself in Toronto, you need to pay a visit to one of Soma’s chocolate cafes. Cynthia Leung and David Castellan have been making chocolate since 2003; that makes them trailblazers in the craft chocolate community. They are lauded around the world for both their bean-to-bar chocolate and their innovative confections. Their CSB Chama bar won a Silver Medal in the World Finals of the International Chocolate Awards.

 

Organic Fair

organic fair chocolate

Photo from Organic Fair Chocolate

If you love flavoured chocolate bars, look no further than Organic Fair’s impressive selection. The Sakura bar with candied ginger and sundried cherries is a personal favourite. This Cobble Hill, BC based operation makes bars that are the perfect size for snacking. They also offer a vast selection of Fairtrade pantry goods and spices.

 

East Van Roasters

evr - chocolate

Photo from East Van Roasters

 

Vancouver residents can get in on the bean-to-bar chocolate action by visiting East Van Roasters. This chocolate cafe is a social enterprise designed to provide training to women living in the Ranier Hotel. Stop in and see how chocolate is made while sipping on a house-roasted coffee paired with some hand-rolled truffles. East Van Roasters’ bars are available in select Chocolate Gift Baskets from Saul Good.

chocolate gift basket 

About the author: 

Jasmine co-founded ChocolateCodex.com as a way to share her enthusiasm for chocolate. She spends much of her time baking and photographing her creations for theblenderist.com and collaborating on design and branding projects with her partner Chris at pleaserxvp.com. Follow Jasmine on instagram: @chocolatecodex

Jasmine