In the past few years, we've seen a sort of chocolate renaissance. But when Kiki's Cocoa first started it was partially in response to a disappointing confectionery landscape. In that spirit, the March collection took popular American candy bars and did them to our standards. Featuring Betwixt bars (Twixt), Bubble bars (Crunch), 3 Amigos (3 Musketeers), KatNibs (KitKat), and Fleur des Rys (Reese's) peanut butter buds.
New year, new chocolates! We kicked off January 2015 with a host of goodies to help take the edge off the heavy holiday palate: tea and herb ganaches (earl grey, jasmine, and lavender honey), shortbread cookies, and almond bark.
The Kiki's Cocoa Club send-off to 2014 was especially elegant, with plays on favorite cozy winter beverages: cognac truffles, a caramel porter with nibs, coffee ganache, and snow truffles. As a bonus, we also included Kiki's Cocoa-exclusive ground chocolate from Dandelion for making hot cocoa. And for stocking stuffers, a bar of holiday spice-infused milk chocolate, as well as some Ecuadorian cacao beans to celebrate our year of cacao tree adoption.
We're celebrated November with sugar, spice, and a big dose of chocolate. This month's collection featured chai truffles, caramels, hazelnut crunch (imagine feuilletine and gianduja had a love child and you got to eat it), and an assortment of seasonal barks. It was our pleasure to make Thanksgiving feel jealous.
Pre-season's greetings, chocolateers,
In between making pralinés and plotting our delicious future, we at Kiki's Cocoa are taking a moment to reflect on a year of cacao farming, tree adoption, intense learning, and of course chocolate making. And you, dear friends and patrons, have been a fundamental part of it. We couldn't ask for better hungry customers.
For half a year, every Saturday, our eponymous Kiki (Kirsten Ritschel) has been volunteering at Dandelion Chocolate, going hands-on on the production floor and learning even more about chocolate. Dandelion has been an amazing organization dedicated to high standards and transparency.
Our very own acre in Belize
At the end of last year, we quietly adopted a cacao tree in Hawaii - a gesture less practical and more symbolic of our commitment to sustainable, fair chocolate. This year, we stepped it up a notch or three. At the Northwest Chocolate Festival, Kiki met Maya Granit of Maya Mountain Cacao. Working together, Kiki's Cocoa sponsored an acre of cacao orchard in Belize — that's over 400 trees!
It's given us a connection to some of the most innovative cacao entrepreneurs of today, and supports training cacao farmers on Maya Mountain's agro-forestry demonstration farm. While it will take several years for these trees to begin producing, they will soon output about 400kg annually, over twice Kiki's Cocoa's projected usage for next year.
Front is a tiny coffee shop with big aspirations for both quality and presentation of food. So we're very pleased to be collaborating with them to serve some of our most popular confections. (A big shout out to our cocoa club beta tasters for their feedback!) Stop by for a sneak preview of our newest joint venture, a seasonal holiday kit.
Members of Kiki's Cocoa Club are getting some fancy wrapping with special month's collection, thanks to our collaboration with Çiğdem “Chi” Michalski of ChiChiLand. We think her lovingly crafted, delightful designs couldn't be a better match.
2014 has been full of amazing growth and exploration for Kiki's Cocoa. We're super appreciative for everyone who's supported us: the crew at Dandelion, the Front team, Chi Michalski, and Kiki's Cocoa's very own writer / lackey, Gregory Schram. But most of all we're thankful for you, our Kiki's Cocoa family. Here's to another chocolatey year together!
There's a bit of supernatural madness at the end of October, with all the ghosts and ghouls that come out to play, so for this month's collection we got nutty too. Club members filled their pillowcases with a variety of nut-filled giandujas: hazelnut, almond, pecan, and peanut. And to help put the inner children to bed, special "ghost kisses" - champagne truffles! And thanks to another partnership with ChiChiLand's Çiğdem Michalski, we wrapped it all up in adorably spooky custom bandanas.
We see the end of summer as the perfect time to go outdoors and gather 'round the campfire – so we're giving you the perfect camper's accessory, a make-it-yourself s'mores kit: dark chocolate bark, marshmallows, graham crackers and a box of truffle and vanilla ganache.
Favorites: Gianduja, Caramel, Coffee Bark
Beta Taste: Chocolate Granola
Ringing in midsummer with Puck's Trio: three mischievously tasty ganaches in vanilla, spearmint and lemon verbena.
Your bag's getting a summer makeover, featuring a selection of Chichiland denizens courtesy of San Francisco artist Çigdem "Chi" Michalski
Beta Taste: Cacaotella
Salty Cramels, Cognac vs. Rum Truffle, Feuilletine, Gianduja
This time our Beta Taste includes wonderful roasted beans from Front (frontsf.com). In white (35%), milk (53%), and dark (70%) we blended freshly roasted and finely ground coffee in two concentrations: 5% and 15%.
And because it goes so well with coffee, we made cookies. All time favorite Gianduja got an extra cacao boost, with a hazelnut blend and 70% dark chocolate. I heard the Cognac truffle where really good.
With the all the profits of the cacao-club we joined into the communal effort to grow heirloom cacao on Maui. Manawei Estate, home of Sweet Paradise Chocolatier, is a 7-acre farm. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the farm will include a mixed-use cacao plantation where cacao, vanilla beans, bananas, chilli peppers, nuts, and vripous tropical fruits will be grown and processed. If you are on Maui - you should plan a visit to the plantation: http://manawaiestatechocolate.com/
What a kickoff: Gianduja, Caramels with a salty corner, some Rum Truffles made with Papa's Pilar Blonde and Dark Rum, Berry Bark, and lastly the Batch of Beta-chocolates: Vanilla Pavés.