A Little Bit of Chocolate with Your Veggies?
By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
As much as we hate to admit it, chocolate is neither a fruit nor a vegetable. But, as Alli and Hank Rose are demonstrating each Saturday at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, it is versatile, somewhat healthy and very delicious.
The Roses own Saratoga Chocolate Co., one of the newest vendors at the farmers’ market. They offer handmade and hand-wrapped chocolate bars, barks, truffles, and hot chocolate mixes.
Chocolate-making began as a “foodie passion” and “kitchen experiment” for Alli about 15 years ago, after her day-job in clean energy was done. She created treats for her family, gifts for friends, and occasionally larger orders for weddings, caterers, and wine bars.
Then, Hank’s job ended. “We always talked about doing something more on our own, where we could work together,” says Alli. “The time was right.”
The couple launched Saratoga Chocolate Co. in November 2016, after a year of structured, conscientious planning.
“We tasted about 500 varieties of chocolates being sold locally,” said Alli, “and tested almost as many blends on our own. We had these enormous spreadsheets where we kept track of the results, trying to get a feel for what tasted best to the palate.”
The Roses are not “bean to bar” chocolate makers, though that is a future prospect. What this means is they do not start to make their chocolate from the cacao bean itself. Rather, they make their chocolates from carefully sourced couverture, which is a high-quality chocolate produced by grinding the bean to a finer texture and adding a higher percentage of cocoa butter to the finished product. Couverture is especially suitable for creating the bars, barks, and truffles that Saratoga Chocolate features.
The Roses’ work with chocolate in a region that does not grow the cacao beans, but this helps convey an understanding of how making local products might convey global consciousness. For instance, they are careful in trying to select chocolate that is not only of a high quality but is responsibly sourced, harvested, and often processed in a single country of origin. From there, the Roses blend their favorite chocolates and ingredients to coax the flavor they seek in each of their confections.
Alli calls chocolate a healthy food in moderation. It lifts the spirits and contains some health benefits. And of course it tastes delicious.
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