Chocolat Frederic Loraschi, a business he has operated out of his basement since 2005, distributing his products to hotels and political figures all over the country. His elegant chocolates are labor-intensive, but he gives advice for handling chocolate, which he claims is not at all temperamental. "It's like dealing with somebody who has a strong character," he says. "You just need to know how to challenge this character and how to kind of work it out in a way." There's a lot of science that goes into it, which is why Loraschi advises home cooks to leave artisan chocolate–making to the chocolatiers. "If I need my sink fixed, I call a plumber," he notes by way of analogy. But he does offer advice for home chefs who are up for the challenge: Be gentle with it, understand it, and never, ever mix it with water. Chef Eric Cayton, chocolatier for Derry Church Artisan Chocolates in Mechanicsburg, holds a similar philosophy. "It's beyond the home cook," he declares. "It's complicated to do correctly because it gets into science." He says it took him two years to master chocolate tempering. Cayton is a self-taught chef and chocolatier who grew up in Hershey. His respect for Milton Hershey carried him through living on the streets and working in kitchens until he found an investor for his chocolate-making business in 2009 after 10 years of searching. A short conversation with Cayton shows he takes chocolate seriously. He references culinary textbooks and has even written a collection of articles on blending spices with chocolate. For him, it's all about figuring out what you like."> Chocolat Frederic Loraschi, a business he has operated out of his basement since 2005, distributing his products to hotels and political figures all over the country. His elegant chocolates are labor-intensive, but he gives advice for handling chocolate, which he claims is not at all temperamental. "It's like dealing with somebody who has a strong character," he says. "You just need to know how to challenge this character and how to kind of work it out in a way." There's a lot of science that goes into it, which is why Loraschi advises home cooks to leave artisan chocolate–making to the chocolatiers. "If I need my sink fixed, I call a plumber," he notes by way of analogy. But he does offer advice for home chefs who are up for the challenge: Be gentle with it, understand it, and never, ever mix it with water. Chef Eric Cayton, chocolatier for Derry Church Artisan Chocolates in Mechanicsburg, holds a similar philosophy. "It's beyond the home cook," he declares. "It's complicated to do correctly because it gets into science." He says it took him two years to master chocolate tempering. Cayton is a self-taught chef and chocolatier who grew up in Hershey. His respect for Milton Hershey carried him through living on the streets and working in kitchens until he found an investor for his chocolate-making business in 2009 after 10 years of searching. A short conversation with Cayton shows he takes chocolate seriously. He references culinary textbooks and has even written a collection of articles on blending spices with chocolate. For him, it's all about figuring out what you like."> Chocolat Frederic Loraschi, a business he has operated out of his basement since 2005, distributing his products to hotels and political figures all over the country. His elegant chocolates are labor-intensive, but he gives advice for handling chocolate, which he claims is not at all temperamental. "It's like dealing with somebody who has a strong character," he says. "You just need to know how to challenge this character and how to kind of work it out in a way." There's a lot of science that goes into it, which is why Loraschi advises home cooks to leave artisan chocolate–making to the chocolatiers. "If I need my sink fixed, I call a plumber," he notes by way of analogy. But he does offer advice for home chefs who are up for the challenge: Be gentle with it, understand it, and never, ever mix it with water. Chef Eric Cayton, chocolatier for Derry Church Artisan Chocolates in Mechanicsburg, holds a similar philosophy. "It's beyond the home cook," he declares. "It's complicated to do correctly because it gets into science." He says it took him two years to master chocolate tempering. Cayton is a self-taught chef and chocolatier who grew up in Hershey. His respect for Milton Hershey carried him through living on the streets and working in kitchens until he found an investor for his chocolate-making business in 2009 after 10 years of searching. A short conversation with Cayton shows he takes chocolate seriously. He references culinary textbooks and has even written a collection of articles on blending spices with chocolate. For him, it's all about figuring out what you like."> Raising the Bar on Chocolate – A La Carte Food Column, February 2011 | A La Carte | witf.org
Food

Raising the Bar on Chocolate – A La Carte Food Column, February 2011

Written by Alexia Miller | Jan 24, 2011 3:20 PM

Chocolate has come a long way since the ancient Aztecs sipped the bitter drink from a gourd. First a currency, then a confection, chocolate has recently become a work of art in gourmet chocolate shops in Central PA.

For almost 90 percent of its domesticated life, chocolate has been consumed without sugar. It wasn't until European explorers were introduced to the drink that they began to sweeten it. In the early 1800s, a Dutch chemist discovered a way to make powder from the chocolate liquor (a thick, very pure chocolate liquid made from ground cocoa beans). Called Dutch-process cocoa, it is now a gourmet ingredient. Twenty years later, a man named Joseph Fry found that by adding back some of the melted cocoa butter, he could make a paste that would harden. Thus the chocolate bar was born.

These days, artisan chocolate-makers such as Frederic Loraschi in Hummels­town have taken that humble bar and created art. Originally from southwest France, he has been in the culinary industry since he was 14, and began focusing more on pastry arts in the last decade.

"It's one of the rare businesses where you can see the evolution of the product," Loraschi says. He prefers a small business like his to a big corporation because he likes to be involved in every step — as in the evolution of a signature confection, the Swirl chocolate.

The molded candy is shaped like a tall cinnamon roll with a creamy center reminiscent of Cinnabon goo. It started as a caramel, but that wasn't good enough for the perfectionist in Loraschi. He wanted to capture the scent of a cinnamon roll without any chemicals. To the caramel he added Sri Lankan cinnamon, brown sugar and a little bit of magic and created the Swirl.

Loraschi is the owner of Chocolat Frederic Loraschi, a business he has operated out of his basement since 2005, distributing his products to hotels and political figures all over the country. His elegant chocolates are labor-intensive, but he gives advice for handling chocolate, which he claims is not at all temperamental.

"It's like dealing with somebody who has a strong character," he says. "You just need to know how to challenge this character and how to kind of work it out in a way." There's a lot of science that goes into it, which is why Loraschi advises home cooks to leave artisan chocolate–making to the chocolatiers.

"If I need my sink fixed, I call a plumber," he notes by way of analogy. But he does offer advice for home chefs who are up for the challenge: Be gentle with it, understand it, and never, ever mix it with water.

Chef Eric Cayton, chocolatier for Derry Church Artisan Chocolates in Mechanicsburg, holds a similar philosophy.

"It's beyond the home cook," he declares. "It's complicated to do correctly because it gets into science." He says it took him two years to master chocolate tempering. Cayton is a self-taught chef and chocolatier who grew up in Hershey. His respect for Milton Hershey carried him through living on the streets and working in kitchens until he found an investor for his chocolate-making business in 2009 after 10 years of searching.

A short conversation with Cayton shows he takes chocolate seriously. He references culinary textbooks and has even written a collection of articles on blending spices with chocolate. For him, it's all about figuring out what you like.

"Taste the chocolate first," he advises. "If you wouldn't eat it out of hand, then don't bake with it."

In tasting, you should first listen for a good snap when you break it. When you put it in your mouth, it should melt smoothly on your tongue with no graininess, then have a deep, complex chocolaty flavor that lingers on your tongue.

"American chocolate's taste is all about sugar; good-quality chocolate is about the cacao flavor," he says.

Cayton enjoys experimenting with flavors. His passion inspired him to research ingredients from around the world, while his background in savory cooking taught him to blend them. All of his chocolates are named after cities. His favorite is the San Francisco, an unusual blend of fig, roasted walnut and molasses.

"It's more like a fine dessert than a piece of chocolate," he admits.

The bite-size desserts are made two ways: molded and enrobed. Molded chocolates use a mold for the outer shell of chocolate, which is filled with a soft paste, then closed with a thin layer of chocolate for the bottom. Enrobed chocolates have a filling that holds its shape and is then covered with couverture, a smooth chocolate with high cocoa butter content that creates a thin coating.

No matter the form, creating chocolate is both a science and an art, with a lot of hard work.

"There is more work involved in a $2 confection than a $30 main course," says Loraschi, but the end result is always worth it. "Artisans like me give people the chance to offer their vision of the product."

recipes to go!

Baked Chocolate Mousse Cake

7 oz. dark chocolate, 70% cocoa content

5½ oz. unsalted butter

7 whole eggs (big and organic)

8½ oz. granulated sugar

1½ oz. cocoa powder (unsweetened)

Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate. (Caution not to burn it, as always.) Separate egg yolks and egg whites. Whisk egg yolks and half of the granulated sugar until it is pale yellow and has a fluffy texture. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites. When light and fluffy, start to add the second half of the granulated sugar to make meringue. Incorporate the egg-yolk mixture into the melted chocolate, then add the cocoa powder. Stir well. Next, fold the meringue into the chocolate mixture. Bake this cake in an oven at 380-400°F for about 20-25 minutes. The center of the cake should be slightly underbaked. Serve the cake in the mold, family-style. Because the recipe does not contain any flour, it is very moist and difficult to unmold. Scoop it out and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Recipe courtesy Frederic Loraschi

Nutmeg Truffles

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate

5 oz. (1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons) heavy cream

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 oz. (2 Tablespoons) unsalted butter

Start by finely chopping good-quality bittersweet chocolate. Place the chocolate into a mixing bowl and set aside. In a heavy-bottom sauce pot, pour heavy cream. Bring the cream to a scald and take off the heat. Grate in about 1 teaspoon nutmeg, or a bit more if you really enjoy it, and immediately pour over the chopped chocolate. Wait for a minute, and then begin stirring the chocolate-and-cream mixture in small circles with a rubber spatula until very well blended and creamy. While the ganache is still very warm, massage in the unsalted butter, until the entire mixture takes on a high-gloss sheen. Let it sit for about 30-60 minutes, or until you can easily shape it into small truffles using a teaspoon. Plop the truffles right into a bowl of excellent cocoa, and roll them around until well-coated. You can serve these with coffee, tea or a fine cognac.

Recipe from Eric Cayton

Salted Truffles

8 oz. milk chocolate

2 oz. (about 1/2 cup) whole, shelled almonds

4 oz. (1/2 cup) heavy cream

1 oz. (2 Tablespoons) unsalted butter

Gourmet salt, like fleur de sel or Himalayan pink salt

Start by chopping up good-quality milk chocolate into tiny little bits. Put the chopped chocolate aside in a mixing bowl. Then place the almonds on a baking sheet and roast them at 350°F for 15 minutes till they are well-toasted. Pulse the roasted almonds in a food processor until they are well-ground. Do not turn the almonds into almond butter, just make sure they are finely ground. Then bring heavy cream to a scald and pour over the chocolate. Stir the chocolate and cream until very smooth. To this, add in unsalted butter, and stir until very smooth and shiny. Then add the ground, roasted almonds into the chocolate, and stir until well-incorporated. After the ganache sets up to about the consistency of soft clay, form into small balls, and let them reset until very firm. Dip each truffle into tempered milk chocolate, and before each piece has a chance to dry, sprinkle a small pinch of the gourmet salt on top of each one.

Source Eric Cayton

More Local Artisan Chocolates

Here is a sampling of other artisan chocolate sources in the region:

Mount Hill Chocolate

2120 Colonial Rd., Harrisburg

717-540-6840

mounthillchocolate.com

Mount Hill Chocolates are made with gourmet Belgian chocolate at the Mount Hill Tavern Restaurant. Looking for something with bite? Try their raspberry wasabi chocolate. Or if you're more of a traditionalist, the peanut butter crunch is always a winner.

Evans Candy

2100 Willow Street Pike, Lancaster

717-295-7510

evanscandy.com

Known for their molded chocolates, Evan's has been family-owned and -operated for 30 years. They offer classic confections such as peanut butter truffles, raspberry truffles and buttercreams.

Matangos Candies

1501 Catherine St., Harrisburg

717-234-0882

matangoscandies.com

Named for its founding father, Christoforos "Pop" Matangos, the candy company has been producing quality chocolates for more than 60 years. They also sell other goodies such as brittles, caramels, mints and specialty caramel apples

Olympia Candy Kitchen

43 S. Main St., Chambersburg

717-263-3282

olympiacandy.net

The Olympia Candy Kitchen opened its doors in 1903. Will Pananes purchased the business from his father in 1971. It continues to be a family-owned business offering a large selection of chocolates and candy in a turn-of-the-century atmosphere.

Published in A La Carte

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