Friday, April 4, 2014

Hedonist - Orange Peel chocolate - April 3, 2014

Chocolate of the Day:

Hedonist Artisan Chocolates
Orange Peel
Very Good
Weight: .8 oz. (22.64 g.) (estimate) in 2 pieces
Calories: 115 calories (estimate) for 2 pieces
Cost: N/A - sample
Purchased from: N/A - from Hedonist Artisan Chocolates, Rochester, NY

Today was Day #3 of Chocolate and Orange Theme Week.

These smooth, dark chocolate domes from Hedonist Artisan Chocolates (Rochester, NY) were loaded with flavorful bits of Italian candied orange peel. The orange taste and texture was well balanced with the dark chocolate.

Hedonist Artisan Chocolate Interview

Today's Orange Peel chocolate was part of a Hedonist Fruit and Nut Clusters Assortment box. (A Cranberry Pecan chocolate from this box was featured last week.) I've enjoyed Hedonist flavors so much, I wanted to find out more.

Where does Hedonist Artisan Chocolates get their inspiration for all their great flavors? I recently had a chance to put this question and others to the company. Qs and As (Answers) from Head Chocolatier and Ice Cream Maker, Nathaniel Mich, appear below.

Q: Where does Hedonist get their inspiration for their flavors?

A: We get our inspirations from all over the place. Sometimes, they're based on foods that we love to cook with in other settings (like Porcini Thyme). Sometimes our customers suggest flavors, or it's whatever's fresh at the farmer's market (especially our ice cream shop). We like to have seasonally appropriate flavors as well. Many of our confections came out of designing chocolates to pair with local wines and beer. And, sometimes, flavors come to us in dreams (no joke).

Q: Tell us more about Hedonist's Fruit and Nut Collection?

A: The Fruit and Nut Collection is one of our original collections, dating (back) to the first days of the shop. The owner, Jennifer Posey, was inspired by the platters of dried fruit and nuts that her parents and grandparents would serve when she was a child in southern California. We wanted to create something that was dairy free, and the molded fruit/nut cluster(s) are visually very striking.

Q: Do you also use local ingredients, flavors?

A: Upstate New York is one of the best agricultural regions of the country, and Rochester, NY, has a rapidly growing craft and artisanal food scene. Consequently, we work extensively with other local producers, as we build a network of small businesses based on collaboration rather than competition. We use local wine, beer, coffee, bread, honey, fruit, dairy and cheese.

Partners include Ravines Winery, Hunt Country Winery, Casa Larga Winery, Bully Hill Winery, Women's Coffee Connection, Rohrbach's Beer, Roc Brewing Co., Black Button Distilling, Hurd Orchards, The Little Bleu Cheese Shop, Lively Run Goat Dairy, Pittsford Farms Dairy, and Davis Honey Farms. These ingredients are among the primary animating forces of our chocolate and ice cream.

Q: Anything else about your company that you'd like to share with ChocolateBanquet?

A: I really love the connection that the handmade food forms between and among people. Our customers recognize that we put our hearts and souls into these confections, and it builds an enduring bond that goes beyond the chocolate. Really, what we're doing isn't growing a customer base, it's building a family.

We do a lot of customer education. First it was centered around just teaching people what it meant to be artisanal and to be Hedonists, and why those were important things to bring to your food. Now we focus a lot on the next steps for chocolate, especially wine/beer/coffee, etc. pairings and entertaining with chocolate. As we've grown, our customers have grown with us, too, and there's an increased willingness on their part to try our new, funky and experimental flavors.

Thank you to Trevor and Nathaniel for this peek inside the flavors and creative process at Hedonist Artisan Chocolates. It's working...The proof is in the chocolate.

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