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Xocolatl Nicaragua 72%We love the single-origin chocolate from Atlanta-based micro-factory Xocolatl. Try the Nicaragua -- it's fruity and floral with a subtle licorice flavor that you'll be thinking about long after you finish the entire bar.
$9 for one 3-ounce bar, xocolatlchocolate.com
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The hot cocoa of many a childhood came from a little paper packet with those tiny, freeze-dried marshmallows that would dissolve before they could even be eaten. Since then, hot cocoa has gotten a significant upgrade, and the quality of bean-to-bar (to liquid) drinking chocolates has simultaneously elevated. But what’s the difference between the two? “Hot cocoa is alkalized cocoa powder mixed with hot water or milk,” says Megan Giller, author of the new book Bean to Bar Chocolate: America’s Craft Chocolate Revolution. In the case of those paper packets, there’s also a hefty dose of sugar, powdered dairy, and usually some sort of hydrogenated fat. “Cocoa has really only been around since 1828, when a Dutch chemist named Coenraad Johannes van Houten patented a process for extracting cocoa butter from chocolate liquor (the ground-up nibs). He discovered that when he mixed cocoa powder with alkaline salts, it would combine well with water. The tiny marshmallows would come much later.”
Drinking chocolate, on the other hand, is just what it sounds like—chocolate you can drink. It’s made from finely grated cacao mixed with sugar, and many chocolatiers even use single-origin cocoa beans to highlight certain flavors. “If you’re looking for bean-to-bar chocolate, the first ingredient should always be cocoa beans, not chocolate or chocolate liquor,” says Giller. “I also avoid any chocolate with other fats besides cocoa butter (like butter oil), PGPR (an emulsifier made from glycerol), and vanillin (the synthetic version of vanillin).”
With more specialty chocolate makers than ever before, quality options abound. So indulge your inner child with a decidedly grown-up treat.
Xocolatl Drinking Chocolate
The single-origin drinking chocolate from Atlanta’s Xocolatl is sourced from Nicaragua and is perfect for those who love the deliciously bitter bite of extra dark chocolate. $14, xocolatlchocolate.com
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’Tis the season to give great gifts.
This Christmas, present bakers with a casserole dish, enroll them in a croissant-making class or purchase something they can use like a recipe book. Some of the following five gifts are local, so you can go get them now (and browse for other gifts) or order others online.
Chocolate spread: Whether you bake bread or batches of sugar cookies, sweeten things up with Xocolatl‘s chocolate hazelnut spread, made with hazelnuts, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa powder, organic cocoa butter, organic vanilla bean and sea salt. $18.
99 Krog St. N.E., Atlanta. 404-604-9642, xocolatlchocolate.com.
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Beer and chocolate at Hop City
Xocolatl and Wild Heaven Beer are teaming up with Hop City Marietta and Krog Street Market Wednesday, December 6 (Marietta) and Thursday, December 7 (KSM) for a free beer tasting and chocolate pairing. Expect to sip on samples of the brewery’s upcoming release of their Russian imperial stout Gravitational Wave paired with the chocolatier’s latest dark chocolate bar Ripple Effect. Pairing sessions both days are from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
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The holidays are BACK BABY. They’re sparkly, cookie-filled, and a bit stressful – am I right? Well, to help relieve some of that stress, I’m back with another gift guide dedicated to the locavores in your life. I’m a fan of the occasional gift card, too, but you just can’t beat the warm and fuzzies that come with giving a gift that’s truly special and personalized. Atlanta is home to so many wonderful producers, artisans, and makers – you’re bound to find something that will make your locavore squeal with joy! And hey, maybe you’ll find a little something for yourself, too.
For the sweet tooth: Xocolatl gift boxes
I’m not sure what sort of magic Xocolatl, based in Krog Street Market, puts in their craft chocolate bars, but they’re soo good! Their bars are made of dark chocolate sourced from sustainable and ethical farms and come in flavors like “Kissed Mermaids” with coconut milk and vanilla-infused sea salt, and more straightforward varieties like 85% Peru. Just in time for the holidays, Xocolatl has incredibly FUN gift boxes, like the Drinking Chocolate Lover’s Dream Box with an eight-ounce package of drinking chocolate mix, a package of Malvi marshmallows, cacao tea, tea strainer, and more.
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It’s never not a good time for chocolate. Here in Atlanta, local chocolatiers have been producing hand-crafted chocolates since the 1970s. Whether passed down from family generations, or as the dream from a traveling couple, these four shops offer exquisite and unique crafted chocolates to eat today or the other 364 days of the year.
The owners of Xocolatl, Elaine Read & Matt Weyandt, have a love story that couples dream of. The pair lived in Costa Rica and worked with cacao farmers and artisanal chocolatiers, and have taken their experiences to open their own micro-factory “bean-to-bar” chocolate shop. The Krog Street Market shop offers a variety of single-origin dark chocolate bars, where the cacao is sourced from Peru, Madagascar, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. It’s rare to find chocolate without cocoa butter, but their chocolate is made with just cocoa and cane sugar. Each bar offers a different flavor profile that ranges from earthy and nutty to buttery and fruity. Or, try something a little on the cooler side.
Xocolatl, Krog Street Market, 99 Krog St. NE, Atlanta. 404-604-9642, xocolatlchocolate.com/
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