Craft chocolate, bean to bar chocolate, small batch chocolate, micro-batch chocolate, DesBarres Chocolate is all of these, and maybe a bit more. Founded by Erik and Ariane Hansen in mid 2015, they have quietly gathered a local cult following in Uxbridge Ontario, a small town just on the north-eastern fringes of the GTA. First the name – DesBarres is an old family name that is French in origin and came to Canada through Switzerland and England in the early 1700’s. It's pronounced “de-bar” with the “e” sounding like the “oo” in “look” and it’s also Ariane’s middle name.
Erik and Ariane have been into dark chocolate for some time, in fact it even made an appearance on their first date, along with a bottle of Italian red wine and some really great pasta! They would often purchase fine dark chocolate from France in 5kg blocks to transform it into truffles, Easter eggs, flourless chocolate tortes and chocolate chip cookies. In Ariane’s words “We never passed up an opportunity to try a new dark chocolate”.
So how did they come to make the transition from chocolate consumer to chocolate maker? “It was a number of elements coming together”, said Erik, “We were looking for something we could do together. We have always been into food, preparing our own and avoiding anything processed. I guess you could call us devout do it yourselfers. When looking for recipes, I came across a website on chocolate making, that mentioned the growing number of people making their own at home.”
In a matter of days, they had sent away for cacao bean samples and started looking for equipment to process them. In a few more weeks they had their first batch of chocolate and to their great surprise it was really good!
Since that first batch, Erik and Ariane have continued to expand and now offer chocolate made with cacao beans from Ecuador, Tanzania, Madagascar, Dominican Republic and Trinidad in percentages from 72% to 85%. They primarily make two ingredient chocolate starting with organic cacao and adding only organic cane sugar. Recently they introduced two new flavoured bars: Black Pepper Cardamom and Orange Spice.
The chocolate is available directly from their website, www.desbarreschocolate.ca where retail locations, local and across the country, are also listed.
Sirene Chocolate, a pillar of the Canadian bean to bar elites, often described as “the best chocolate I have ever tasted”. Every package is a beautifully designed tasting experience that compares two origins of chocolate within a single package. This month, we are extremely excited to share with you, Sirene, one of the most exciting and unique chocolate experiences all the way from Victoria BC.
Taylor Kennedy, the founder of Sirene Chocolate, was a world traveler for most of his life. He previously worked for The National Geographic Society in photography, writing and photo editing for more than 18 years. Naturally, he was brought to countries with rich agricultural heritage where he began to make the connection between food and the growing demand for ethically sourced products. With a life-long obsession of wanting to know how things work and why, Kennedy combined his business acumen, interest in sustainability, and love of food and the planet into Sirene Chocolate.
Today Taylor is able to oversee production from the cacao bean to the bars on the shelves and feel good about each of the steps along the way. And secretly, he wanted a way showing his young family the world through chocolate. Currently his wife and their twin daughters serve as official chocolate samplers while they look forward to their first plantation visits.
The beans are carefully selected exclusively from farms that nurture each bean with the utmost care to bring out the fullest chocolaty flavour in all of their chocolate. The beans come from Ecuador, Tanzania, Brazil, Guatmela and Madagascar. Their Bean-to-Bar technique is more of an art than science but they know exactly what flavours they want to bring out in each type of bean. Sirene chocolates bring out the complex range of natural flavours inherent in each bean and transform it into the chocolate of your dreams. They describe their chocolate as “The universe is unfolding.” It is pretty mind blowing.
They are also one of the few chocolate makers that make an amazing 100% bar. It's not an easy task there are no other flavours or sugars added so there nothing distracting you from the full flavour of the beans. But Sirene make it work, the bars have that velvet texture and distinct bitter flavour that can be enjoyed time and time again. Simply Amazing.
Since opening in September 2008, MoRoCo’s vision has been built around crafting a multi-sensory chocolate experience. With superior hand-made chocolates and confections exclusive to the retail boutique as well as a unique French-inspired salon du chocolat.
MoRoCo’s proprietor and brand soul, Kelly Kimel, has traveled to nearly every corner of the globe absorbing life’s experiences – especially those involving chocolate. Her main goal is to offer the best luxury chocolates to be enjoyed by all. Creatively marrying modern yet classic, playful yet grown-up and exclusive yet accessible, Kelly achieves this in ways that suit a multitude of customer needs and desires.
In the initial stages of developing her dream, Kelly’s son Rory spent his time after school happily sampling products to help perfect the original line of chocolates and confections. Montana, her daughter, often accompanied her on research trips and encouraged the young, cheeky tone that is still a huge part of the brand. It was that consistent support and encouragement from her children and her love of all things chocolate that inspired her to create the brand – and the brand name: Mo is for Montana, Ro is for Rory, and Co is, of course, for cocoa.
We invite you to join us on a journey to discover some of her finest creations through this month’s chocolate subscription.
This bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Southern Ontario is our latest and greatest discovery in the craft chocolate world. They offer a full range of single origin bars made from cacao sourced from around the world. Each bar took us on a journey through our taste buds with flavours that stay true to the regions. On the top of our list was the 64% Belize with a velvety smooth creamy finish made from Criollo beans. There was a level of refinement that delighted us with every piece. Amazing.
It was to no surprise to learn that Ambrosia was created by two veteran culinary connoisseurs. It all started when they met at the culinary program at George Brown college, Tim Simpson and Aura Hertzog has since done it all from high-end hotels, large-scale restaurants, small pastry shops, farmer’s markets, international supermarkets and catering companies. And now, they turned their years of experience into a passion for chocolate through Ambrosia.
Any chocolate connoisseur would appreciate the extra time and care dedicated to studying the best roasting methods and precise percentages of cacao it takes to highlight the bean’s characteristics. If you are interested in learning more, their chocolates will be a part of this month's collection or you can contact them on their website at ambrosiapastry.com.
Mary Oliveira embodies the true essence of Brazil, you can taste the passion and hard work that goes into every hand-rolled piece of Brigadeiro she makes. With Brazil’s recent explosion of popularity on the world stage, Mary’s Brigadeiro is a refreshing luxury to all curious chocolate lovers in Canada.
If you didn’t know, Brigadeiros are similar to traditional truffles in that they are beautifully designed chocolate spheres, but the twist is that they are much lighter and creamier without compromising the decadence of a truly amazing chocolate experience. Of course, Mary pushes the boundaries of tradition and adds a modern gourmet finish to her mother’s original recipe. Infusing Belgium chocolate along with cacao nibs, pistachios and vanilla pearls, every piece is pure indulgence.
And in true artist fashion, Mary puts as much as attention to detail into the presentation of her Brigadeiros as she does with the flavours. Every box of her confections is simple, elegant with a variety of colours waiting on the inside – ready to inspire every gram-worthy moment.
Whether you need some alone time to enjoy the weekend or surprise someone with a uniquely special gift, Mary’s Brigadeiros are the perfect option to enhance any moment.