The Origins of Chocolate
In California, just about any chef can tell you the name of the farm where their lemons came from. So it should be little surprise to see a similar trend popping up in the chocolate business.
Donald Wressell, executive pastry chef for Guittard Chocolate Company, says that is exactly what is happening in chocolate, as consumers and chefs increasingly express concern about the ingredients in food. It seems just about everyone nowadays wants to know where the ingredients in desserts and other foods originate.
“I’m happy to note that people are paying attention,” Wressell says. “The scratch bake look and feel is more the norm today, and everyone is trying to outdo each other. That’s very cool.”
In another trend, dark chocolate continues to gain favor as people recognize the health benefits.
Guittard now offers five single origin chocolates, which are all bittersweet (65 percent cacao).
“People are fascinated by product origins, and we have five single origin chocolates,” Wressell says. “Both on the consumer side and the chef community are looking at chocolate more deeply than before.”
As a baker or pastry chef, it’s important to start by identifying the flavor profile you want to incorporate into each dessert.
For example, a number of chocolate glazes are not as flavorful as you might think. Wressell recommends a chocolate glaze made with Guittard 100% Minuit, along with other ingredients (see formula of the month on page 58 of this issue).
“The glaze on this verrine is pretty nice,” he says. “There’s a shine to it, and a lot of dark chocolate.”
A storied history in chocolate
Guittard Chocolate Company is a 148-year-old fifth generation family owned and operated chocolate company in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was founded during the Gold Rush by Etienne Guittard, a Frenchman from Tournus, France, who came to California to look for gold. He brought chocolate made by his family's chocolate factory in France and soon discovered that newly rich miners would pay a premium for the treat. He went back to France to master the craft and came back in 1868 to establish Guittard Chocolate Company in San Francisco.
Today, under the leadership of fourth generation chocolate maker and chief executive officer Gary Guittard, the company continues to thrive, responsibly source cacao and ingredients to make high quality chocolate products for food manufacturers, chefs, confectioners, ice cream makers and home bakers. Gary's daughter Amy (marketing) and nephew Clark (international sales) represent the fifth generation of the family to join the business.