Last week, I officially launched my artisanal confections business that offers handcrafted chocolates, caramels, brittle, and toffee with more to come. When I was considering the flavor profiles for the Signature Collection of artisanal chocolates that will be available year-round, it felt only natural that they should be based on experiences that had shaped me. I decided on these six:
- Tamarind Curry
- Hazelnut Coriander
- Maui Lavender
- Cacao Nib
Tamarind Curry & Hazelnut Coriander
These two flavor profiles, tamarind curry and hazelnut coriander, are inspired by my South Asian heritage. Growing up, I ate my share of spicy foods from an early age. As much as I liked to believe that I could handle the spiciest of foods, I always found myself looking for ways to counter the heat, and that was usually with tamarind chutney. Our Tamarind Curry does the same by balancing sweet, sour, and sassy tamarind with a touch of hot curry powder in a milk chocolate ganache.
Another familiar taste for me is coriander. For as long as I can remember, my mom has made potatoes with a certain blend of spices, including ground coriander (or dhania in Hindi). These potatoes are one of my comfort foods. In Hazelnut Coriander, we add a pinch of ground coriander which pairs perfectly with our milk chocolate hazelnut ganache (the coriander actually enhances the hazelnut flavor).
Dulce & Cafecito
These two flavor profiles are based on growing up in Miami, a city that is influenced by Hispanic culture and its people. I can’t remember the exact first time I tasted dulce de leche when I lived in Miami, but you can add dulce de leche to everything (yes, I exaggerate to make a point)—or better yet, eat it by itself. For Dulce, we make dulce de leche in house and layer it against a deep milk chocolate ganache, all tucked inside a dark chocolate shell.
Cafecito, or Cuban coffee, is inspired as much by the drink as it is by an unforgettable person, Elsa. In college, I interned for a U.S. Senator in Miami, and his office manager, Elsa, a Cuban-American, asked the interns every afternoon at the same time whether we wanted a cafecito. I’d never had a Cuban coffee, but it was an addictive treat, and I wanted to replicate the flavor. Our Cafecito is reminiscent of an authentic Cuban coffee, combining a 35% cacao butter white chocolate ganache with Café Bustelo espresso grounds.
This flavor profile is inspired by a memorable trip to Maui—memorable because well, it’s paradise, and because I had decided that after returning from Maui, I would tell the firm that I was leaving (and jumping into the world of chocolate!).
While in Maui, we drove to the top of Mount Haleakala, which is over 10,000 feet above sea level, and peered down into the crater of the world’s largest dormant volcano (though I later read that it’s classified as active but hasn’t erupted in more than 200 years). Along the drive up, I thought that if we drove straight, instead of curving around Haleakala as the road takes you, that we’d end up falling off the edge of the Earth. Eeeks!!! It was exhilarating to be so high, but I was unprepared for how much colder it would be at the summit.
After making our way down Haleakala, we came across Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. Though lavender is not native to Maui, the farm’s founder, Ali’i Chang, received lavender from a friend in 2001 and from that, created a majestic oasis that boasts tens of thousands of lavender plants. Our Maui Lavender is subtle. We use dried lavender from the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm and infuse the lavender into our 55% cacao dark chocolate ganache.
Cacao Nib was the final flavor profile that I created. Since falling in love with the cacao bean and becoming obsessed with using cacao nibs on a regular basis in my own kitchen, I wanted to find a way to work them into the Signature Collection. For this flavor, we grind cacao nibs, nestle them inside a dark chocolate shell, and top the nibs with a creamy and rich dark chocolate ganache.