Xocolatti rose hip-pistachio

By Curtis Vreeland
Vreeland & Associates

Chocolate’s versatility still seems to be limitless, and it was in full swing during New York Chocolate Week.

Drawing on Wisconsin’s vibrant craft beer culture, Madison-based Gail Ambrosius has paired local beers with her chocolate to create the Beerific Taster’s Box. For example, Gail suggests pairing a stout, such as Furthermore’s Three Feet Deep, with her Blueberry truffle.

“The earthiest of the blueberries married well with the smoky qualities of the beer, bringing out the best of both,” the tasting notes exclaimed.

Meanwhile, Xocolatti chocolatier Shaineal Shah sought inspiration from his Bombay heritage and family’s precious gems trade to create such east-west flavor combos as mango-paprika, rose hip-pistachio and orange-hazelnut “slates” or bark.

His truffles are sold in gorgeous jeweler-style boxes, prompting urbandaddy.com to call Xocolatti the “Cartier of chocolate shops.”

A number of other companies also displayed their latest created chocolate concoctions.

Chuao Chocolatier brought out its Potato Chips in Chocolate bar, a riff on the salty and sweet taste combo; Lindt introduced a new bar in its Excellence line, Cranberry, a 48% cocoa dark chocolate studded with tangy cranberries and crunchy almond slivers; and Madison Chocolatiers West displayed Chocolate Indulgent Evening, a chocolate-themed, three-course meal that starts with a Provolone Cheese with Black Garlic and Parmesan Pesto Seasoning Truffle, followed by the Jinju (Black Garlic Pearl) Truffle.

“Imagine a smear of the Jinju next to a grilled lobster, king crab or salmon with a drizzle white chocolate rum sauce” suggests chocolatier Ricky Sanders. Dessert choices include the Fall Harvest (a pumpkin ale beer truffle) or the Guilty Pleasure (a crème brûlée milk stout beer truffle).

Meanwhile, innovation and craft continue to expand and improve the American artisan chocolates.

Some credit is due to the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, a non-profit association founded in 2007 that sponsors educational programs, develops industry standards and bestows excellence awards. A first-time exhibitor at Food Fête, the organization has been growing 15% to 30% a year, says President Mary Jo Stojak.

Obviously, more and more American consumers are embracing the sophistication and innovation that American artisan chocoatiers are providing.