I just got back from Food Blog Forum in Asheville, North Carolina (full recap coming as soon as I can wade through all my photos), and by just I mean nearly two weeks ago (my how time flies). Overall an amazing event, one to remember, but without a doubt one of the highlights of the trip was getting to know Asheville’s French Broad Chocolates, a bean-to-bar chocolate company dedicated to having a positive impact on their community and chocolate world at large.
Owner Jael Rattigan attended the conference and provided plenty of tasty treats along the way, from one-bite chocolate espresso cupcakes to decadent salted honey caramels to strawberry balsamic truffles and blueberry beet macarons (I die). I enjoyed speaking with her over the course of the two-day event, her passion and dedication to her craft apparent in everything she said.
But the thing that made my heart flutter more than anything was the Lindsay-sized bar of baking chocolate she so generously provided to all of the attendees. It reminded me of the “Pound Plus” bars from Trader Joe’s, except so much better.
But just what to DO with a gigantic bar of beautiful chocolate? The decision was harder than I thought. I have a tendency to ‘hoard’ the good stuff, opting for decent but lesser-expensive chocolate and ingredients for my everyday baking. The problem is that I’m always saving the good stuff for something special, and my definition of “special” is, apparently, too lofty. I’ll admit, I’ve let some amazing ingredients expire, and for that I should be ashamed (believe me, I am).
Not wanting to let one of Jael’s chef tablets to go to waste, I immediately started scouring recipes for the perfect use for this gorgeous chocolate. The 68% bar is sustainably sourced from Nicaraguan cocao beans, and has a bright, fruity flavor, and sultry molasses undertones that left me perplexed until I finally figured out what I was tasting. It’s definitely not your ordinary chocolate baking bar, and I knew it deserved something special. After an exhaustive search, I stumbled upon this Chocolate Bourbon Tart from Food & Wine and, given my penchant for boozy baking, it seemed like the perfect recipe.