Monday, August 20, 2012

Weddings and Proposals

        Over the years we’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in some pretty special events in the lives of our customers. As a chocolatier, it’s not unusual for us to be called for wedding favors and treats. We do this on a completely custom basis for what each person wants for their special day.  However, we do have a Wedding Menu (available upon request) with preset options if you need help deciding, all are customizable. It’s also not unusual for us to get a request for something we’ve never done before. These requests are always fun to fill, as it gives us a break from our usual line of chocolate, and allows us to get creative and stretch our muscles, so to speak. 

Sadly, we don’t always think to get pictures when we do this, and we don’t always remember to ask our customers either. But here are a few examples of what we do have record of. These are all well in the past (no worries about ruining any surprises) but they do give you an idea of some of the things we can do.

Some of you might be familiar with our square shaped truffles with the pretty designs on top. Those are called cocoa butter transfers, and they work like a temporary tattoo. We partner with a great transfer company that allows us to choose designs that we can use in the store.  We can have these transfers custom made, and we do, mostly for our corporate customers, but they only come in bulk. They can be done for any occasion though, if given enough notice. For “on-the-spot” orders that need to have a custom look, we can hand pipe on the design. In this case a proposal. 

Here’s another fairly simple request. This gentlemen knew her favorite chocolates, and had us custom make a box and put the ring in the center. This was her dessert after a picnic in her favorite park. 

This is an example of a simple favor box we can do. These are the most common custom orders we get. This is a one piece box, and can be tied with any color ribbon that would most fit your color scheme. We can also order in custom colored boxes of almost any size, if given enough notice. 

We’re always honored to be a part of your special day, and we take great care that our custom orders are delivered exactly as requested. If you are interested in making a custom order of your own, we suggest coming by the shop. Any of our girls can give you suggestions, ideas, or take an order, but for something really special you’ll probably want to speak with one of our managers. They are always happy to help, and will be able to show you examples of what we’ve done in the past, or maybe even something we’re working on right now. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fortunato #4

We are proud to announce the debut of our new chocolate, Fortunato No.4. This is an extremely rare strain of chocolate that has been lost for 100 years, and only recently rediscovered in a canyon valley in Peru. It is a very unique type of chocolate, possessing complex fruit and floral flavors, and it used to be the most popular chocolate in the world. Sadly, in 1916 disease struck the Cacao trees in Peru that grew this chocolate, and it was thought to be lost. 
In 2007 two men sourcing fruit were exploring a canyon in Peru when they found a very unusual Cacao tree. After sending it to the USDA for genetic testing, it was confirmed to be what we now call Fortunato No.4. It has been named “Fortunato” after the family who currently lives in the same valley and harvests the trees. It took two more years of work to make this chocolate available, including putting together a transportation plan involving travel by foot, burro, motorcycle, and finally an all-terrain vehicle just to get it out of the jungle.
This is a truly unique flavor experience, and something unlike any other chocolate we’ve become used to. In the words of Beth Tully:
 Cocoa Dolce is excited and honored to have exclusive use of this amazing chocolate.  In my years of confection making and chocolate tasting,this is the best fine-flavored chocolate I've ever tasted! Can't wait to show it off to our amazing customers.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Art Of Chocolate Classes

If you’re on our email list, you know you don’t have to always come in for your chocolate fix, we’ll also teach you how to make it yourself! I tagged along for a Level One Class, and from what I can tell they can be fun way to spend a weeknight!

First off, Beth talks about chocolate terms and the focus of the evening, ganache making.
Lisa helps you select your chocolate, which of course comes with butter. 

The first step to a ganache, adding cream.

Next step, adding flavor.

There’s always plenty of help from Lisa and James as well. 

Wine is all part of the process. 

Fixing mistakes comes hand in hand with chocolate. 

So does having a good time. 

A finished student product...

And a successful class.

We offer three levels, each teaching different chocolate skills. They run mostly during the summers, and the only way to find out and sign up is by being on our email list. So sign up next time you’re at the store, join in and add a whole new Cocoa Dolce experience to your list!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wine, Chocolate and Cheese Event

What's better than a Wine and Chocolate Tasting?  How about adding CHEESE!  For those of you that missed our inaugral Wine, Chocolate and Cheese tasting, we wanted to give you a little information to lure you into coming for the next one!!

The tasting pieces for the evening
Some of the attendees
Jamie Stratton, Wine Educator from Jacob Liquor, answering questions during the tasting    

 Take a look at the menu from this tasty event. (We chose the cheese from Murray's Cheese in New York, but I'm sure you can find something local if you want to venture out on your own tasting.)

1.       Artezin Zinfandel 2010 (Mendocino, California)
a.       Cheese:  Roomano (Holland) COW
b.      Chocolate:  Mezzanotte (espresso-infused dark chocolate ganache with Black Sambuca and crushed cocoa nibs)

2.       Kaiken Aultra Malbec 2009 (Mendoza, Argentina)
a.       Cheese:  Montgomery’s Cheddar (England) COW
b.      Chocolate:  Burnt Caramel  (burnt caramel in a 70% bittersweet ganache)

3.       Conn Creek Herrick Red 2007 (Napa, California)
a.       Cheese: Ossau-Iraty (Vielle, France) SHEEP
b.      Chocolate:  Blackberry (fresh blackberry puree in a 58% bittersweet Belgian chocolate ganache)

4.       Kilikanoon Parable Shiraz 2005 (McLaren Vale, Australia)
a.       Cheese:  Gorgonzola Cremificato (Italy) COW
b.      Chocolate:  Cocoa d’Or (75% bittersweet single origin Tanzanian chocolate ganache)

5.       Quinta do Noval Black Port (Oporto, Portugal)
a.       Cheese:  Colston Bassett Stilton (England) COW
b.      Chocolate:  Pepper (Smoked jalapenos, cinnamon and habenero-infused platinum tequila in a 57% bittersweet ganache)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

This year, in honor of Fathers everywhere, we’ve decided to come out with some new items geared towards our dads. I could say a lot of cheesy things about fathers. About how they protect their little girls, and show their sons how to be men. Or about what they teach us, like how to understand sports and grill a good steak. Or about all the things they give us, like an appreciation for classic rock and practical do-it-yourself know-how, but the truth is, I’ve noticed most dad’s aren’t big on words. Bacon however, they like. So let’s just say a big thank you to all the great fathers out there, and give them what they really want. 

Here we have a selection of no less than THREE different types of chocolate covered bacon. As you know, we’re chocolatiers, not bacon specialists. So we found some bacon specialists. We use Nueske’s famous bacon, covered in Belgian dark chocolate and available in applewood smoked, peppered and uncured cherry wood smoked.
But wait...there’s more! We’ve also come out with two brand new types of brittle, if that’s more Dad’s taste.

Here we have our Chili Beer Brittle, which is a classic peanut brittle with a twist of Mexican beer and smoky jalapeƱos.

We also have a Pistachio Brittle made with Sri Lankan Lion Stout in caramelized sugar with tons of freshly roasted pistachios.

Still not seeing something Dad would like? Then we have one more new item, and my personal favorite,

Beer Marshmallows! Old Rasputin Imperial Stout in a marshmallow, then they are double-dipped in Belgian dark chocolate and sprinkled with artisan butter pretzels.
Be sure to come in quick! These will be flying off the shelves before Sunday. Keep in mind we are always happy to take orders if you know you need something for sure.
Happy Father’s Day and enjoy Dads! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Congratulations Graduates!

As most of you probably already know by coming in the store, we have some fantastic high school girls that work for us. 
Cocoa Dolce is a pretty sweet job in general, but it’s a wonderful place for high school aged kids to work. We have flexible scheduling, and we’re open evenings, so it works well with school. Not to mention it’s a great place to learn new skills, especially those who come to us for their first job experience. 
However, there is a down side. At Cocoa, we are a family. So every year at this time we always have to say goodbye. Many of our high school graduates move on to colleges in other areas, and this year is no different. So we’d like to take this opportunity to feature our graduates here, tell a little bit about them, and send them off with best wishes and best of luck.
So without further ado, the graduates:
Angela Rygg

Favorite Chocolate: Key Lime Pie
Favorite Drink: Mango Raspberry Sorbie
Will be Attending: The Art Institute of Denver
Best experience:
“My favorite time is the Christmas parties because everyone's together and we are like one big family and not to mention the party is just fabulous! And I've learned from Beth that it takes dedication and perseverance but if you put your full effort into what you want, you can be abundantly successful!!” 
Angela started with us before she even had a car to get to work! Now she’s all grown up with a car of her own,  and we’ve learned she has a real talent for making drink creations. While she does have a real and unreasonable fear of stickers (yes, seriously) she’s managed to overcome that to fulfill her job duties (we use a lot of stickers!) and we’ve seriously enjoyed having this girl around. 
Bea Ferenc

Favorite Chocolate: Key Lime Pie
Favorite Drink: Mexican Hot Chocolate and Iced Chai Latte
Will be Attending:  University of Kansas
Best experience:
“My most memorable moment would be when I first started working and how everyone was very kind and welcoming. It was great being able to become part of a business where everyone had a strong connection. It was like a family.”
We weren’t Bea’s first job, and in fact we hired her to replace the first Bea we had who also went off to college, but we’ve loved having her this past year. Her sweetness is infectious, and she always has a ready smile and a quick laugh. We will also miss her height, which in a world of short people is a valuable asset. 

Lindsay Porter

Favorite Chocolate: Salted Caramel Ganache and Creme Brulee
Favorite Drink: Raspberry Iced Tea and White Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Will be attending: University of Kansas
Best experience:
“I love working at Cocoa Dolce because it's like working with family. I have known all the girls for almost 3 years now, and I feel like I can come to work and tell them anything. Especially if I am having a bad day. I've also loved our Christmas "secret santas" that is something I look forward to every year, and of course, the Christmas party is always at the top of my list! I don't think I'm going to be able to find a job this great in Lawrence next year :(“
Lindsay was also one of our youngins that grew up with us. She’s also really grown in her job, and we’ve seen her become more responsible and hard working. She always has a smile on her face, a loud laugh, and an optimistic outlook. She’s also one of the few blondes, which means it’ll be even more noticeable when she’s gone. 

Sam Carter

Favorite Chocolate: Mayan and Key Lime Pie
Favorite Drink: French Vanilla Iced Coffee
Will be attending: University of Kansas
Best experience:
“Cocoa dolce has given me so many new friends. It's like a new family. Beth is so helpful and inspirational, from graduation gifts to an endless supply of diet coke she always is so generous. I am very thankful for everyone at Cocoa Dolce. I've learned that work can and should be fun.”
Sam is a smart cookie who learns fast and isn’t afraid to share her opinion. We’ve loved having her sense of humor, wit, and go-getter attitude. Along with all that, she’s also a real sweetheart with a generous spirit. And she’s just a little bit of a hippie, which makes her fit in just fine. :)
Last but certainly not least:
Taylor Kruse

Favorite Chocolate: Salted Caramel Ganache
Favorite Drink: Dolce Mocha
Will be attending: Oklahoma State University
Best experience: 
“The most memorable moment for me was when we all gave each other nicknames! Ex. Monasty, may not want to include the nicknames in the blog though! Kind of an inside joke...”
She’s right. They are kind of an inside joke. So those will be the only ones we include here, but suffice it to say, we have to entertain ourselves somehow during the slow summer nights. Taylor has also grown up with us, and we’ve loved having her. She may be blunt, but honesty is one of her greatest qualities. She’s also very kind, never complains, and, of course, is also one of the few blondes. 
We will miss all of our girls, but we know we’ll be seeing them again during breaks. Best of luck to all of you, thanks for giving us all that you do, and as my favorite teacher once told me: Be brilliant. Go. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

What is a Mother?

The dictionary defines "mother" as: bearing a relation like that of a mother, as in being the origin, source, or protector.  

I'm sure you've seen the e-mails or articles about the kindergartners who say a mom is someone who mostly cleans the house, or is the only person who knows where the scotch tape is, or was made just like them, but with bigger parts.  As Mother's Day approaches, you are affected in one way or another by a mother.  Whether it's your biological mom, your adopted mom, a mom you have recently re-connected with, or a mom who is considered your best friend.  

I've always been lucky with the parents I have grown up with.  My mom is simply amazing. As I've grown older, I realize just how much she did for us kids when we were growing up.  She was at every soccer, baseball, volleyball games and dance recitals.  She was there to help us with our homework.  She was the person I went to when something was wrong with my friends at school.  Among the many other untold stories and "hidden mom talents" she has, she is perfect in my eyes....she is everything!  

As I am approaching my own first Mother's Day (due September 30th!!), I am realizing how important a mom can be.  It's scary to know that I will soon have a child of my own and have to live up to the definition of "mom" that my own mother has set for me.  I only hope that I am half the mom that my mom was to me...I'll be in pretty good shape then! 

In honor of Mother's Day, we asked some of our staff to create their own definitions of what a mother meant to them. 

- A mother is the woman who brings you life, always there for you in times of need, and has unconditional love. She is the one who teaches you life lessons and most importantly exemplifies how to be the best mother you can be.--Jill Wyss (employee since 2010)

- A mother is a part of you.  You are made up of half of her genes and physical attributes.  It is a special bond you can only share with a parent. A mother is one person that will love you unconditionally no matter your flaws.  The person you call when you are in trouble or need advice.  A mother is the woman who will try to buy your clothes for you till you are 60 years old.  I was blessed with an amazing mother who always sees the bright side of life and lights up a room when she walks in.  She is my only mother in life and I treasure her for that every day of my life.--Ali Deering (employee since 2010)

- I think to me a mother is someone who's on your side no matter what. A person who's unique job is to take care of you. No matter how old you get, what you do, who you date, where you live, or what you break and get messy, your mom is there for it.--Kylie O'Connor (employee since 2009)

- To me a mom is more than just a person. She is someone to laugh with, cry on, and enjoy the little things in life with. Without my mom I don't know where I would be. She is my rock and I know she is always on my side through thick and thin. Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's and Mom's to be! You all have the most important job of all and I can only wait for the day I will have the honor of being a mom!--Paree Dilkes (employee since 2008)

- A mother is loving, kind, and strong and would go to the end of the earth and back to protect her children!--Kelley Collier (employee since 2006)

- A mother to me is a strong-willed woman who wants the best for her children and will do anything and everything to provide for them!--Taylor Kruse (employee since 2009)

- My definition of a mom is being there no matter what decisions are made, being strong for those who can't, giving hope to those who fear and worry, and fighting for what is right for her babies. Also, giving to those who are truly in need and sacrificing for those who are in desperate need. To sum Momma Bear :)--Sam Baker (employee since 2008)

- A mother is an angel in disguise, a provider and a friend, a shoulder to lean on, and a supporter until the end.--Aubrey Jones (employee since 2011)

-A mother is hard to write a definition for, but the first things that come to my mind are they must be empathetic, strong, wise, supportive, thoughtful and a good chef! --Amber Travis (employee since 2006)
- A mother is someone who shows compassion and support in her kids. She is welcoming and shares stories or jokes to help with any issue you might be going through, whether good or bad. And of course, makes delicious dinners!--Amelia Taylor (employee since 2009)

- Mother:  the beginning of everything, the source of life.--Beth Tully (owner) 

-A mother is someone who cares and bears the weight of loved ones without being asked. --Katie Anderson (employee since 2009)