Falling for the SeasonNovember 11, 2009
The Fall season is well upon us. The leaves have changed and mostly fallen, we are teased now and then with bursts of warm weather followed by the chill that will last until spring. The minute it gets cool, the shop gets busier. Chilly weather and chocolate are a natural combination. All of a sudden, a mug of hot chocolate exerts a primal pull. Biting into a rich dark chocolate feels like pulling out a favorite sweater and wrapping it around you.
Like that comfy sweater, the flavors of fall are all about tradition and comfort. When the leaves are swirling off the trees, I start craving rich, smooth pumpkin. We?re making our pumpkin truffles again, blending chocolate with pumpkin puree and topping it with a candied hickory nut.
Speaking of hickory nuts, we buy ours at the Farmer’s Market from Robert and Audrey Biersach. In retirement, they rediscovered the joy of collecting hickory nuts near their home in Columbus and started Hickory Nut Heaven. Their hickory nuts are heavenly. If you’re at Monona Terrace on a Saturday morning, visit them at the market.
Another very Wisconsin flavor of fall is the cranberry. We combine tart cranberries with a 55 percent Hawaiian chocolate and top with a dried cranberry. The interplay of sweet and tart is deliciously complex.
Another fall flavor that inspires me is chai. I like blending tea/cream infusions into my truffles – from Earl Grey to Jasmine. They can be exquisitely subtle or bursting with layers of flavor. Chai, a blend of black tea and spices, is definitely the latter. I use a chai spice blend from Rishi Tea in Milwaukee and meld it with our signature 65 percent Colombian chocolate. Topped with some freshly grated nutmeg, it?s a flavor that warms you from the inside out.
Fall is always wonderful, but this fall has special significance to me. November 22nd is my fifth anniversary as a chocolatier. That first Thanksgiving, it was just me, friends and family in a tiny warehouse space crossing our fingers and trying to keep up. Five years later, I’m supported by a terrific staff and we’ve launched this new website. Thanks to all of you who have helped make my adventure in chocolate possible. I hope to see you in the store soon.