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Patric Chocolate: A Chocolate Tasting Experience

Patric Chocolate is one of only 5 or 6 companies in the United States that makes chocolate from bean to bar. Bean to bar means that the one company, in this case one person, is responsible for every step of the chocolate making process. Last night, I had the privilege of attending a Slow Food St. Louis talk and chocolate tasting with the owner, Alan McClure.

The Most Interesting Fact I Learned About Chocolate

I learned so many interesting facts about chocolate at the tasting. I’m just going to highlight a few in this post. This is because I only remember a few.

The smell most people associate with chocolate is actually vanilla.

Most commercial chocolate has vanilla flavoring in it. Alan says this is to cover up the fact that their cacao (cocoa beans) aren’t quality. Go home or to your office vending machine, buy a bar of chocolate, smell, and think vanilla extract. Let me know the results.

The Second Most Interesting Thing I Learned About Chocolate

Chocolate is more of a big business than I had realized. This may be common knowledge, but it certainly wasn’t common knowledge to me so I’m going to pass it on.

Hershey’s owns Scharffen Berger and Dagoba Organic Chocolate.
Cadbury Schweppes owns Green & Black Organic.

Chocolate Tasting is Like Wine Tasting

I can’t taste the notes of oak and fried mushrooms in my wine. I also can’t taste cherries in my chocolate bar unless that’s actually in the ingredient list. Patric Chocolate is just chocolate. Cacao and sugar – that’s it. However, at the tasting we were expected to call out all of the different flavors we tasted. Everyone was playing along and nodding. “Tomatoes!” “Orange!” “Grape!”

I couldn’t taste it. I tasted chocolate. I felt like Morales in Chorus Line. If you haven’t seen it, watch this song:

One Final Chocolate Fact

Although I couldn’t taste all of these other flavors, I did taste some spectacular chocolate. It was a rich and full flavor that hung in my mouth long after my piece had been swallowed. The final interesting chocolate fact is:

A 67% chocolate bar tastes really different than a 70% chocolate bar.

I never would have thought there would be such a dramatic difference.

How Does This Post Relate to Cupcakes?

A Patric Chocolate ganache will be making an appearance on a Cupcake Project cupcake. Consider yourself forewarned.

Learn More about Patric Chocolate and How to Buy Some

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch had an interesting article about Patric Chocolate and what makes it special.

Slow Food St. Louis also did a write-up of the event.

However, your best bet is to go directly to the Patric Chocolate website. Alan says that he considers half of his job to educate the public about what good chocolate is and the website is loaded with chocolate facts. You can also buy chocolate from the website.

Two warnings:

1. As mentioned before, Patric Chocolate just has plain chocolate bars, no fancy flavors like Vosges (the company I raved about when I made Naga Bar cupcakes). This chocolate stands alone. It doesn’t need flavoring.

2. The chocolate is expensive. This should not surprise you.

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15 comments on “Patric Chocolate: A Chocolate Tasting Experience”

  1. Glensays:

    I did not know that Dagoba is owned by Hershey. Very sneaky. I just perused the Dagoba web site and found no mention of Hershey. But the Hershey web site makes mention of Dagoba, through Hershey’s wholly owned subsidiary, Artisan Confections Company.

    This is very much in line with most everything else you buy at Whole Foods or your local natural foods market. The branding is very fancy and pretty, but people should realize that they’re actually sub-brands of the same big companies.

  2. HAH! Welcome to the world of single-origin chocolate obsession. I have this sitting in my pantry:
    I just keep staring at them, determined to figure out the best way to honor them.
    I didn’t realize we had someone more locally working artisan chocolate- thanks for the heads up.

  3. Stefsays:

    Glen – An excellent point indeed!

    TW – Ooh.. I’d love to taste that one too. I can’t wait to see what you decide to do with it.

  4. Katiesays:

    Recently I was given a very interesting type of chocolate that contains Szechuan pepper. It’s made me a Belgian company called Cafe Tasse. It leaves a tingly, snappy taste in your mouth. The combination of sweet and savory reminded me of your blog.

    Another fantastic chocolate company that I’ve run across is Moonstruck Chocolatier. My favorite is their variety with Ancho chile powder and Chipotle chile powder.

  5. What a great blog …and how can I not love a place called “cupcake project” lol….so happy you popped by and enjoyed my cupcake sketches….tonight’s yummy sketch is on the healthy side…but more fun stuff to come…

    I saw a whole show on chocolate tasting once and it was amazing…I am a taster and love experiementing with chocolate from different parts of the world…amazing how different the cocoa bean can be….

    Have a great night…


  6. That is so true about the chocolate smelling like vanilla. I smelled some chocolate liqueur the other day and all I could think about was vanilla! How strange.

  7. Iansays:

    Prompted by this post (and Jonathan’s suggestion), I got 67% and 70% bars of Patric chocolate and brought them to a chocolate tasting party. I had always convinced myself that I don’t like dark chocolate and I only like the cheap crap like Hershey’s milk chocolate, so I was quite skeptical. I decided to dive right in and took one small bite of the 70% and let it melt in my mouth. It was spectacular—like a whole new world unfolding on my taste buds. I went to the 67% and found that I didn’t like it as much. Maybe it’s the cocoa butter that I don’t like.

  8. Stefsays:

    Katie – That Szechuan pepper chocolate sounds amazing. I may have to track it down. Thanks for letting me know about it.

    Diana – Love your sketches. Glad you stopped by the blog.

    HTEAC – I am hyper aware of it now. I’m much more picky than I used to be.

    Ian – Welcome the world of pricey chocolate! Glad you tried and liked it! I actually liked the 67% better. Interesting.

  9. Fun post!
    I knew most of these facts but I do have difficulty getting all the referenced flavors too – mostly by “nosing” the chocolate rather than in the mouth.

  10. Stefsays:

    Paris – Glad I’m not alone, in my difficulty nosing. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Kristensays:

    There’s actually bean to bar chocolate production occurring elsewhere in Missouri as well. A company called Askinosie chocolate is doing it in Springfield. Currently I only know of two bars, a 70% and a 75%, but the 70% is made with a variety of cacao (Arriba Nacional from Ecuador) that has a much more intense flavor than the Mexican Trinitario variety used in the 75%.

    Incidentally, haha, I work in a chocolate shop in Union Station called Cioccolato and we carry Askinosie. The boss had some Patric samples around recently but I guess he decided not to carry them. We have a handful of other good single origin chocolates and a wide range of cacao content levels you can experiment with, if you feel so inclined. (including the Amano chocolates mentioned above, which are another of the few US bean to bar companies, from Utah.)
    (And Vosges bars.)

  12. Stefsays:

    Kristen – Thanks for all that info! I will definitely be stopping by to visit you and trying some chocolate! I haven’t been to Union Station in ages and haven’t seen the store.

  13. Ashleysays:

    Ha! I’m just now discovering your lovely blog. I think the Chorus Line Morales comparison is dead-on. Keep up the good work!

  14. Stefsays:

    Ashley – I’m so glad you got the Chorus Line thing. No one mentioned it in the comments so I began to wonder if I was alone there. Thanks for stopping by!

  15. lesliesays:

    I’ll definitely have to visit there next time I’m in St. Louis!

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