I’ve tasted artisan dark chocolate candies from shops throughout the Midwest. I’ve savored every bit of every chocolate I’ve nibbled: chocolate infused with flavors like rosemary or chili; beautiful chocolates with a colorful coating painted like artwork; and decadent dark chocolate truffles. But until I discovered Askinosie Chocolate, I had never had an artisan chocolate made completely from scratch, starting with the bean.
Shawn Askinosie, owner and chocolate artisan, buys beans directly from the farmers who grow them in Ecuador, Honduras, Tanzania and the Philippines. He presses his own cocoa butter, the first small-batch U.S. chocolate factory to do so. And he produces each batch of chocolate from a single source.
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Askinosie labels the chocolate bar packages with the country of origin and a photo of the farmer from whom the beans were sourced.
I was amazed at the distinct flavors of each of them. Chocolate lovers are aware that the intensity of chocolate is based on the amount of cacao in it. The higher percentage of cacao, the more intense and bitter the chocolate. However, like coffee beans, cacao bean flavors actually differ based on growing conditions, including climate and soil. The fermenting, drying and roasting processes also make a difference in the chocolate’s flavor.
After tasting a few different dark chocolate bars in the small shop at the front of the Askinosie factory, I decided on the one made with the beans from Tanzania, with 72% cacao. The Tanzania bar had a natural fruit-like undertone. The only ingredients were cocoa beans, organic cane sugar and cocoa butter. The cocoa butter is made from the same bean origin as the cocoa.
I also bought a bar called “Dark Milk Chocolate on My Tongue Mingling with a Sweet Velvety Licorice.” I wasn’t sure how well licorice would complement chocolate. However, the candy was exactly as the name describes it. Inside the label I read that the chocolate/licorice bar is part of Akinosie’s “collaBARation” line. The licorice used in it is a premium gluten-free licorice made in a small factory in Sweden.
Over time I’ve raised the bar on my chocolate expectations quite high. I doubt, though, that it can be raised any higher than the level set by purely indulgent Askinosie Chocolate.
If you visit Askinosie Chocolate
Askinosie Chocolate, located at 514 E Commercial in Springfield, Missouri, is open Monday through Saturday. Visit the web site to check store hours, order online or learn about Askinosie’s fair trade, sustainable and community practices.
Disclosure: Springfield Missouri Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted our Springfield visit. However, any opinions expressed in this post are my own. Some photos in this post were provided by Askinosie Chocolate.
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