DeAnn and her family started making artisan chocolate in their home using just household items rigged to perfect what is now an internationally acclaimed bean-to-bar chocolate. 5 years later, she is still passionate about chocolate, working from her facility in Murray, Utah. Solstice is named for the traditional practice of harvesting cacao two times a year.
When DeAnn invited me to visit her place for tour and tasting, I was beyond excited to learn some more about the art of a chocolate maker! My sister joined me for the day and we left completely satisfied with a couple chocolate bars of our own.
This is the entrance to the building, where at the far end you can see everything used to finish her milk and white chocolates. It’s the only area where you’ll find things like dairy or vanilla. Her pure darks are created in completely separate areas with nothing but cacao, organic cane sugar, and cocoa butter. DeAnn took us through to see what happens from beginning to end. She explained the process of creating bean-to-bar chocolate and I’d love to share it here. There is so much exactness and detail in each and every step, but I’ll try to simplify it as best I can.
Cacao beans grow in pods on beautiful trees around the world, in humid and tropical weather. More specifically around this narrow band that is actually called the Chocolate Belt extending from about 20 degrees latitude both north and south of the equator.
The farmers pick the ripe pods from the cacao trees and open them to remove the wet beans. At this point the beans look like raw chicken, which isn’t very appealing, but they are covered in their pulp. That pulp is what helps them to ferment when it is put into boxes or all laid out and covered with something like banana leaves.
Once the beans have been fermenting for the correct amount of time, they are ready to be dried and roasted. Correctly roasting each different type of cacao bean is an art in and of itself. The temperature and time is specific, and each chocolate maker has their own preference for the perfect result.
After roasting the beans, the nibs are removed from inside the husk and then conched and refined. The sugar is usually the last part added to the masterpiece.
After our fascinating tour, DeAnn had a table prepared with samples from all of the bars they make from different beans that came in from around the world. Each dark bar was made with those same 3 ingredients, but as I mentioned in my previous post about the health benefits of chocolate, each one tastes drastically different depending on where it came from.
Here are a few of my favorite bars, each with its own incredible taste:
This last Bolivian bar is actually created from wild cacao, which is essentially even better than organic. DeAnn gets these beans from a man named Volker Lehmann, who harvests wild cacao in the Amazon. Wild cacao pods are different from other cacao, they’re yellow and smaller, but the taste is unbelievable. It is much more difficult to acquire these, Volker travels from area to area, with weeks of travel between them, to make these harvests happen. So much work and passion goes into creating the perfect bar of chocolate.
Cache Toffee is an example of how Solstice chocolate is used. We tried a couple samples of their insanely delicious bars and my favorite one was the Blondie. It had Solstice white chocolate, mango, macadamia nuts, toasted coconut, and ginger. Be sure to keep at eye out for them at the Farmer’s Markets this summer and give it a try! Or visit there website HERE.
DeAnn, thank you so much for having us! We had such a wonderful time and I learned so many fascinating new things.
You can visit the Solstice Chocolate website here! Life changing chocolate warning.