We have passed the halfway point in our 100 gifts, and here we are at numbers 61 to 70! As always I only benefit if you happen to purchase something from my shop. I am just happy to share these great ideas with you. Let me know if you find these helpful or have an idea of something that should be on this list.
Cacao grows on trees and a book I recently enjoyed while doing some diving into flavour was The Flavor of Wood by Artur Cisar-Erlach. This book dives into the flavours that trees can produce, talking about pine, spruce, maple and so many others. I have been fortunate enough to try many chocolate bars with various forms of ingredients from trees included in their ingredient list. If you follow along on Instagram, you may also know that one of my favourite ingredients that comes from trees is maple in any form. This book was such a great read with each chapter diving into a different story of a wood and its flavours. Amazing how flavours of chocolate can be found in some woods. If you love wood, it’s a great read.
62 Wood and chocolate
One of my go-to bars is E’rable and fleur de sel from Qantu Chocolat, it is one of the few bars that disappears rather quickly in my home, as once I open it, it is so easy to eat. Qantu Chocolat is in Montreal, Quebec and all their bars are a delight. They launched a bar with a woodsy flavour earlier this year and it was a hit, so it now has been added to their lineup of bars. Their Palo Santo bar has a delicate smoky woodsy flavour to it and is quite lovely. Their new packaging for this bar also features an orange tree!
63 Silver Cacao Beans
Speaking of Qantu Chocolat, the sterling silver cacao bean necklace I have for sale in my shop is made by casting one of their Chuncho beans using the lost wax casting process. These solid sterling silver cacao beans are a perfect gift for any chocolate lover. I delicately peeled away some of the husk of the bean allowing one side of the pendant to show off the cacao bean’s texture while the opposite side showcases the texture of the husk. This piece has been a fav in the shop for the last few years. It shines nicely, is in my opinion the perfect size, and has just the right amount of weight to it. It is one of the first pieces I made in my line of chocolate jewellery. You can also read more about it here. (link to blog on making it)
64 Cacao Nibs
Have you ever tried cacao nibs? If you have a friend who loves chocolate a bag of cacao nibs is a great gift. 100% chocolate, nibs are made of broken up cacao beans and can be added to almost anything you eat. Perfect for adding a crunch to cookies, as a topping on yogurt, mixed into granola, added to trail mix or if your chocolate loving friend is adventurous, ground and made into a chocolate bar. It is easy to find cacao nibs, look for them at your local chocolate maker, online, or in health food stores.
65 Cacao Pod
Cacao beans grow on trees, in cacao pods. A wooden cacao pod that is hand carved and hand painted by Beltran Cacao Maker makes a perfect gift for any chocolate enthusiast. I have a pod that is orange, opens and shows the pulp covered beans inside. I use it for chocolate tastings and when explaining cacao and how it grows to others. It is a beautiful piece to have on my chocolate shelf and I love that it is handcrafted. Several varieties of cacao pods and colours are available. You can find more info @BeltranCacaoMaker on Instagram.
66 Dive into a good book about cacao
The New Taste of Chocolate by Maricel E. Presilla is a great book to learn more about chocolate. It is a deep dive into all things cacao related and has some great history and pictures in it. It talks about different varieties of cacao, how cacao is made into chocolate, tasting chocolate and has a great selection of recipes. Great for anyone wanting to learn more about chocolate.
67 Looking to learn?
If you or a chocolate friend are really into chocolate, the International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting offers education in chocolate tasting, flavours, and so much more. Honestly there are always new things to explore in chocolate and you will learn some of that here. Their courses are currently being taught online; however I was lucky enough to take 2 of their course in person in September of 2019 pre covid. I got a lot out of the courses (levels 1 & 2) and think they are a complement to anyone who enjoys and wants to work with or make chocolate.
Earlier I talked about chocolate with salt in it. Salt can help bring a pop and enhance the flavour of so many things, including chocolate, but have you ever had chocolate salt? Salt Spring Sea Salt has a Fleur de Sel with chocolate in it. You can find it here. Perfect for sprinkling on almost anything, especially brownies!
69 Salty and sweet
Do you have a favourite bar of salted chocolate? Maybe a favourite caramel bonbon that has a flake of salt on top of it? Salt and chocolate pair so nicely. There are so many bars that have just that added touch of salt that makes the chocolate sing. Chocosol Traders in Toronto has a Sea Salt Vanilla bar, Sirene Chocolate uses some fleur de sel in one of their bars, earlier I mentioned the Maple and fleur de sel bar from Qantu, French Broad has a sea salt bar, Nearly Nogs Chocolate has a sweet and salty bar that incorporates salt as well. There are so many ways salt is incorporated into chocolate, it’s especially lovely for folks who really like salty flavours.
70 Ecuador Bars
Pacari Chocolate has a bar with salt in it. Their chocolate is made in Ecuador working with more than 3500 small scale farmers. I had friends who lived in Ecuador for 6 months and their children decided they needed to bring me back a Pacari tasting box of four bars of different bars, my favourite was the rose bar!
Want to catch up on the first few parts of this mini series?