I grew up in central Pennsylvania, which means I spent my summers visiting Hershey Park. Yep – Hershey has an amusement park and it’s pretty amazing. You can ride a giant Hershey kiss; take a tour of the Hershey “factory”; and spend your day surrounded by the smell of chocolate. I can still sing the Hershey song with zero prodding and, even though I don’t really eat the chocolate anymore, I have a fond place in my heart for the company and its great American chocolate bar.
That was until I went on the Theo chocolate factory tour a couple weeks ago. It was actually my second trip to the company in the period of 10 days, which meant that I consumed a lifetime supply of Theo chocolate in just two weeks – it was pure magic. And, while the tour didn’t include any life-sized chocolate kisses, it did turn me into a walking talking Theo ambassador. I was inspired by their dedication to quality and equity throughout the entire manufacturing process. And, after consuming just about every one of their products, I realized I could never go back to the bar of my childhood. I even purchased the Theo cookbook; loaded up on cocoa nibs; and made proclamations that my toddler would never know anything other than Theo.
So, if you’re looking to freshen up your relationship with chocolate, I’d like to offer a 5 step guide:
- Get to know your product – go on the Theo chocolate tour or just start researching your favorite brand. There’s a lot to know, from how much cocoa they use to how they support their farms and farmers.
- Savor the product – this one can be hard, but the next time you open up a chocolate bar, just pop a small piece of into your mouth and let it melt. I promise you that that one little bite will go a lot farther and might just bring your whole life into perspective
- Explore nibs – Cacao nibs are simply chocolate in its purest form, before anything else is added. They are dried and fermented bits of cacao beans. And, they are yummy! I grabbed a bag of them and started putting them on everything: smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, and even salads. They add a bit of smoky richness and crunch.
- Get savory – chocolate doesn’t have to be sidelined to dessert. Add chocolate to a meat sauce or mix it into a rub. Here are some recipes to get you started: http://www.saveur.com/gallery/Savory-Chocolate-Recipes
- Share – a good chocolate bar can last you a few days, even if you share it with a friend. In fact, on Saturday, I cracked one open as a group dessert for four people, after dinner. We didn’t even get through the whole bar and it was an incredibly satisfying treat.
And, in the event that you need even more inspiration, stop by Stockbox this week – local chocolate is on sale all week long!