ICS and London’s Academy of Chocolate Awards (and a few more!)

It has been a whirlwind of events and competitions this season! The International Chocolate Salon 2017 honored us with four stars in the Best Chocolatier & Confectioners in America Awards, along with the title of “Superior Chocolatier.” They rated our Raspberry Dark bar 5 out of 5 stars, with bronze medals for both “Best Ingredient Combinations” and “Best Chocolate Bar.”

Washu

The Washu Project bar earned two silver medals and a bronze, for “Best Taste,” “Best Chocolate Bar,” and “Best Texture,” respectively. We really appreciated one judge’s feedback, “The Washu Project bar was absolutely amazing! My taste buds sung with joy as the flavor profiles unveiled itself.” We’re glad they enjoyed it as much as we do!

Washu Bar Awards

A few weeks ago, we were honored to receive a handful of awards from The Academy of Chocolate. This London-based organization was founded by five of Britain’s top chocolate professionals. It exists to help educate consumers about chocolate, from understanding ethical sourcing to training their palate.

Raspberry Dark

In the Flavoured Dark Chocolate Bars category, our Dark Raspberry bar made us proud with a silver medal. (Fun history fact: in its first release, this bar was originally named “Razzle in the Dark.” However, after customer feedback and many discussions about ambiguity, the berry-licious treat earned its current title.)

In the Bean to Bar Milk category, we brought home two silver medals. We know what you’re thinking: “Since when has Creo made milk chocolate?” After months of testing and tasting, we’ve developed two new flavors: the Browned Butter bar and the Dark Milk with Fleur de sel bar.

Minty Dark

Our Minty Dark bar brought home a bronze medal in the Flavoured Dark Chocolate Bars category. We couldn’t help smiling when we found out this labor-of-love bar caught the attention of The Academy. It also won a Good Food Award this year, and a bronze medal in the Americas region of the International Chocolate Awards… There is a reason that this is one of our most popular bars made with our refreshing Northwest mint!

Nibs & Sea Salt

The salty-crunchy Nibs & Sea Salt bar joined our Minty Dark in the bronze-winning category.
Nibs & Sea Salt Bar Awards

Spicy Dark

Not to be left out of the party, the Spicy Dark bar also joined the Creo Chocolate bronze-winner club! (Speaking of parties, the flavor mix in this bar is literally a “party in your mouth.” If you’ve tried it, you know what we mean. It’s not a bar to burn taste buds. Rather, it is a bar meant to hit every part of your mouth with a different flavor note…Tim likes to call it “a symphony in your mouth!”)Spicy Dark Bar Awards

Purely Dark

In the Bean to Bar (under 80%) category, our classic Purely Dark bar also earned a bronze. This treat is the base for all of our 73% bars. (Fun fact: come in for a Make-a-Bar tour, and design your own flavor creation on top of this bar!)Purely Dark Bar Awards

Sipping Chocolates

Our Midnight Truffle Sipping Chocolate earned a bronze in the Plain Hot Chocolate category, while our Mayan Spice Sipping Chocolate earned the same in the Flavoured Hot Chocolate category.Midnight Truffle Sipping Chocolate AwardsWe greatly appreciate the consideration and recognition of The Academy of Chocolate, The International Chocolate Awards, International Chocolate Salon and the Good Food Awards. As always, thank you for your support. Cheers to the future of fine chocolate!

Mayan Spice Sipping Chocolate Awards

Artisan Chocolate Meets Artisan Coffee

Our coffee roaster, Michael is passionate about his artisan coffee the way we are passionate about artisan chocolate! Recently, we took an opportunity to watch him roast a batch of coffee. We greatly enjoyed the treat of seeing the craft behind the flavors firsthand.

We invite you to check out our peek into the world of artisan coffee!

2017 International Chocolate Salon Awards

Best Chocolatiers & Confections in America Awards

Drumroll…

We are honored to announce our selection as one of the International Chocolate Salon’s 2017 Best Chocolatiers and Confectioners in America. It is a chocolate award we can’t help getting excited about.

What is the International Chocolate Salon?

Founded in 2007 by TasteTV and TCB Cafe Publishing and Media, the International Chocolate Salon (ICS) is all about chocolate. Their nationwide artisan and premium chocolate events celebrate deliciousness across the country. (Be sure to check their website for any upcoming events in your area!) Demos, presentations, tasting, and juried chocolate awards are all part of each event.

Some Healthy Competition for Chocolate

In addition to events, the International Chocolate Salon holds annual contests for the best-of-the-best in chocolate and related confections. Awards categories include Chocolate, Caramel, Toffee, White Chocolate, Vegan Chocolate and Hot Chocolate & Drinking Chocolate, among others. (Yum!)

Regional and national panels of food and and media experts judge each category. Items are ranked based on flavor, texture, ingredients and a host of other qualities. Last year, we were honored with awards for our Minty Dark, Mayan Spice, and Midnight Truffle Sipping Chocolates.

Creo Chocolate Best Hot Cocoa chocolate awards

It’s been an exciting couple of years. However, that doesn’t mean it’s time to slow down! We look forward to continuing to refine and expand our contribution to the world of artisan chocolate. To all of our chocolate family across the world, thank you for your support!

What are nibs?

What are cacao nibs? It is a question we hear quite often! The simple answer is this: nibs are pure chocolate before it becomes chocolate. However, it’s not quite that simple. These delicious tidbits have an adventure behind them!

Our nibs begin their life inside cacao pods in Ecuador:

pre-nibs cacao pod on tree

Each pod is filled with rows of fruit-covered seeds.

fresh cut cacao pod

When the seeds are dried, the fruit oxidizes, turning from white to brown and hardens around the shells, helping develop the flavor of (guess what?!) the center of the seed, called the nib.

purple fermented beans

Here, our farmer, Samuel, is holding some partially-fermented seeds (also known as beans). At this stage, the shells are a pale brown, while the nib is a swirl of purple and darker brown. Earlier, these nibs were a vibrant purple. Despite the glamorous looks, we wouldn’t recommend tasting them when they’re this pretty color… It is not pleasant. Trust us. Stick to feasting with your eyes.

beans drying in the sun

dried beans cut open

After a closely-monitored period of fermentation and drying, the nibs fade to a nice chocolatey-brown. (see second picture above) The shells and nibs are now similar in color. Still in their thin shells, the nutty treasures are shipped to our shop in Portland.

cacao beans

In our chocolate factory, we carefully roast these beans (seeds), developing their chocolate flavor. You can always tell when the beans are roasting. The smell is divine chocolateyness!

After roasting, we crack them into pieces. (If you haven’t seen this happening in our shop, be sure to ask about it next time you visit.) Next, our winnower separates pieces of thin shell from pieces of nibs.

nibs into winnowing machine
Now the nibs are delicious nutty pieces, ready to eat! From here, they will either be ground down to make chocolate bars, used for brownie and cookie toppings, pressed to create cocoa powder and cocoa butter, or packaged for others to use. We also love to use them in smoothies, granola, ice cream, cereal, salads, and baked goods. Yummy!

Bringing home a Good Food Award in 2017!

Since 2012, Oregon has made a name for itself in the Good Food Awards, with numerous winners across all fourteen GFA food categories. Potential awardees are nominated through blind tasting followed by an extensive vetting process. With our foodie scene in Portland, it is certainly no surprise to see many familiar faces at the awards ceremony!

This year, we are honored to represent Oregon’s chocolate, bringing home the medal for our 73% Minty Dark bar. We are particularly excited about this bar, not only because we love the flavor, but because our mint is local, grown on a farm in Yakima, Washington. If you haven’t tried our Minty Dark bar, we would humbly suggest you at least give it a taste. We’re pretty confident you won’t be disappointed!

Jeremy, our truffle maker at Batch PDX, took home confection awards for both his Candy Cap Mushroom Truffle and Ghost Pepper Truffle. Yes, we know that these flavors might sound a little scary. And yes, they are unique… but only in the most delicious way. Many a skeptic has become a raving fan after building the courage to taste these little bites of heaven. We encourage you to try them for yourself next time you visit our cafe.

Thank you, friends, family and fellow foodies for being a part of this exciting journey!

Chocolate Summer Drinks

Did someone say iced chocolate?

It’s time to bring out cold glasses of iced chocolate drinks!

Introducing four special drinks made with our heirloom Arriba Nacional cacao beans from Ecuador.

The Portland Chocolate Fizz  – you can have it rain or shine!

Rain is made with seltzer water and our chocolate = dark clouds with bubbles

Shine is seltzer water and chocolate with a splash of milk that creates a lovely sunshiny foaminess on top of the dark chocolatey clouds.

Our signature Brewed Chocolate can be enjoyed hot or iced and dark or sweetened with our own sweet vanilla syrup.

The Dancing Ca’Cow is a delightful swirl of Brewed Chocolate, cream and our sweet syrup.

Doing happy dance moooves!

In celebration of Mother’s Day, May 7, 8, 9th

Treat your mom to something special because, well you know, she’s pretty special!

Buy one iced drink and get another one as our gift because, well you know, we think you’re pretty special too!

Newest Addition – Dark Toasted Coconut

Announcing the birth of our newest Creo family member IMG_20150219_165459153 (1)

Lovingly wrapped for all to admire on February 18, 2015

Weighing in at over 50 grams

73% dark with toasty highlights

We call it – Dark Toasted Coconut and it’s a keeper!

Come in for a sample and get to know our baby.

There is a family resemblance , we are keeping it dark!

 

For those interested, here’s the birth story.

We have been working on the coconut chocolate bar for a long time.  We have been experimenting with numerous different types of coconut and different ways to incorporate  it in the bar.  Now we understand a bit of Thomas Edison’s frustration when he was searching for the right light bulb filament.  Nothing worked for us until we found this:

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100% organic coconut chips from Sri Lanka.  No sugar added (not needed).

It was love at first sight and taste.

The smell, the taste, the feel and the look.  What more could we ask for.  Finally, the right  coconut.  Next step, into the oven for toasting.

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This coconut even gets better with toasting.  What do you think? Smell it, then taste.

 

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Then the chocolate was put into a mold and a liberal amount  (as much as we can safely put in)  of coconut was added.  The coconut goes deep into the dark chocolate.

 

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Now to put into the packaging.  Thanks for asking about the packaging, yes, this packaging is 100% compostable  wood fiber even though it looks like plastic. I am truly amazed about clear wood fiber.

It can be challenging to put the bar with this much coconut into the package, but we work hard at it.

The last step is to put on the paper jacket which helps you understand some of the Creo story while allowing you to look through the window at the bar.  It is like looking through the window and seeing a master piece.

We have gone a bit nuts (coconuts) over this creation but we believe you are worth the extra time and energy to make this.

This has been a happy ending to all the research and development to make this bar come to life.

I would enjoy hearing what you think about this new addition to our Creo family.

Off to solve the next problem.

Tim