November 14, 2010

Something Exciting is Going On Over At Theo Chocolate

As many of you know, I am a Theonista (although I still have yet to fill out my "Who Is Theo?" of these days!). I've been with Theo Chocolate since T and I moved back to Seattle....which has been a little over a year now. (update 2013: worked for Theo 10/2009-12/2011)  There's always a lot of excitement around this time of year with new creations in our confections kitchen and holiday offerings.

Seven of the west coast's leading chefs spent a day in the Theo Chocolate kitchen collaborating with our Theo chocolatiers to create a confection that portrays the individuality of each chef by using the finest ingredients available as their inspiration.

Each chef furnished Theo with their very own wish list of ingredients. Goodies filled our kitchen shelves awaiting each Chef's arrival. Candied beets, St. Germaine, Vin Santo, pine resin, tamarind, smoked tea, bouquets of fresh basil, locally forged huckleberries, Armagnac, corn and capers......just to name a few.

The result of this collaboration is now known as Chef Sessions Confection Collection. A collection unlike any other I've personally seen at Theo. Theo Chocolate and the chefs will donate enough money from the sale of each box to help feed 60 people in Western Washington. This donation is given directly to the non-profit Food Lifeline, an affiliate of Feeding America.

The Chef's and their Confections

Location: San Francisco, California
Confection: Agro Dolce Brittle

Location: Seattle, Washington
Restaurant: Tilth
Confection: Tamarind Lime Caramel

Location: Portland, Oregon
Restaurant: Beast
Confection: Armagnac Prune Ganache & Green Peppercorn Caramel

Chef Gabriel Rucker
Location: Portland, Oregon
Restaurant: Le Pigeon
Confection: Carrot Caramel

Location: Kirkland, Washington
Restaurant: Cafe Juanita
Confection: Candied Beet & Almond Praline

Location: Seattle, Washington
Restaurants: Lark & Licorous
Confection: Pine Resin Ganache

Chef Jerry Traunfeld
Location: Seattle, Washington
Restaurant: Poppy
Confection: Huckleberry Pate du Fruit & Cinnamon Basil White Ganache

The Confections & Flavor:

Pine Resin Ganache
Reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest's landscape; Evergreen forests and the Pacific Ocean. Earthiness from the pine resin, saltiness from the sea, smokiness from the tea, all enrobed with dark chocolate.

Chef Sundstom's inspiration...."I'm interested in capturing the essence of the forest."

Tamarind Lime Chile Caramel
Starts off salty and finishes with a stunning buttery caramel with hints of sour tartness from the tamarind, warmth from the chile and floral sweet citrus from the lime.
The spiciness is not over powering it's quite warming at the back of the throat. A slight pucker on the sides of the tongue from the lime and tamarind and overall coating of caramelized buttery sweetness. Beautifully balanced.

Chef Hine's reflection...."Being in the Theo kitchen was like being a kid!"

Agro Dolce - Caper, Currant & Pine Nut Brittle
Capers, Capers & More Capers.
Capers and chocolate, who would have thought?.....An addictive combination.
Sweet, pine nut brittle pairs brilliantly with the briny saltiness of the capers...something chewy? Capers and something sweet and a touch tart....currants enrobed in bittersweet chocolate and dusted with rasped un-roasted cacao bean.

Chef Cosentino's description...."It is a bit rough around the edges, with a play on bitter and sweet, very common in Italian food."

Carrot Caramel
Buttery, caramelized carrots with a whisper of curry sea salt.
A gorgeous confection garnished with a beautiful blushing carrot puree & a sprinkling of curried sea salt.
Simple and yet ultrasophisticated, sweet and delicately vegetal.

Chef Rucker's reflection...."I left that day with a huge respect for the process of making chocolate."

Armagnac Prune Ganache & Green Peppercorn Caramel
Smoky, fruity green peppercorn warmth, Armagnac soaked prunes offer up more warmth and pairs beautifully with the traditional deep golden Theo caramel.

Chef Pomeroy's description...."I really wanted to create a confection that reflected traditional French flavors."

Beet Pate du Fruit & Almond Praline
PB&J for grownups. Sweet beet red pate du fruit adds a modern touch to this traditional flavor pairing. My favorite bit is the crunchy feulletine folded into the almond praline.
The candied beets are a playful addition to this cheery creation.

Chef Smith's reflection...."When I arrived, the table had so many vessels filled with ingredients and trials from my wish list. The candied beets were my favorite surprise!"

Huckleberry Pate du Fruit & Cinnamon Basil White Chocolate Ganache
If words could only describe my delight! I must admit I had the privilege of tasting this confection last week. And saved it for the last of my tasting today.

Jerry Traunfeld is truly a culinary artist....herbaceous sweet basil and juicy huckleberries. This is a stunning creation, a lasting taste of summer. Chef Traunfeld has created something magical here; Luscious local huckleberries meet creamy white chocolate spiked with candied basil & kissed with cinnamon.

Chef Traunfeld's reflection...."I loved touring the factory, seeing how the extraordinary old machinery operates and seeing the journey of cocoa beans to confections."

Top to Bottom & Left to Right
Carrot Caramel, Beet Pate du Fruit & Almond Praline,
Armagnac Prune Ganache & Green Peppercorn Caramel, Pine Resin Ganache,
Huckleberry Pate du Fruit & Cinnamon Basil White Ganache, Tamarind Lime Chile Caramel,
& Agro Dolce Brittle.

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