November Bar of the Month: Madécasse 67%

Madécasse sent us a brand new shipment towards the end of October, and we quickly re-fell in love with their 67%.

All of Madécasse’s bars are not only made with Madagascan beans, but are manufactured in Madagascar as well, a practice which is thankfully becoming more common with dedicated chocolate-makers. It’s always helpful to know that chocolate can be an ‘ethical idulgence’!

Many of you know and love the overt tart flavour typical to bars from Madagascar – the Pralus and Patric versions, both fast sellers at the shop, are probably the most notable among citrus-lovers. This 67%, I think, is a step in a different direction. Aromas of berries and wood dominate, and while one might expect punchy citrus and bold sour notes up front, this bar is a bit slow to develop (Madécasse characterizes it as ‘mellow & subtle’). First to appear on the tongue are tart berries, almost astringent, which lead into a deeper, more complex raisin-y quality, suggestive of red wine. Last comes a cedar woodiness (reminiscent of the Cocanú Holy Wood that Marianne brought back from Portland) coupled with a slight tobacco edge to finish off, drying out the mouth a bit like most Madagascars will do.

Overall, this bar is a great example of how chocolate makers can coax out the most subtle flavours in cocoa beans and bring them to the forefront, making a bar that truly stands apart from the rest. For Madagascar devotées, this bar has enough of a familiar flavour to keep you happy – but for those who like a richer, fuller chocolate, this is definitely one to try. And make haste! This particular bar, along with the 63%, is currently being phased out by Madécasse – we’ve got plenty right now, but they’ll go fast.

Summer closure, sale and city market news!

Our annual summer closure is from August 18th to September 8th this year, but we will be open on Tuesday, August 16th for an end-of-summer sale. Check back for more details.

We will also be at the downtown farmer’s market on August 20th, August 27th and September 3rd. We will be selling pints of Valrhona chocolate ice cream and super chocolate-y ice cream sandwiches that make the perfect portable treat!

Chocolate Tastings on Sunday, August 21st

Many of you who purchased a Living Social coupon have been contacting us, eager to use your coupons before they expire. To accommodate everyone, we have decided to have a full day of tastings on Sunday, August 21st. You may have noticed that the dates for all chocolate tastings can be found on our online store, under tickets, and that you can book your spot through the website.

For this particular day, only the last tasting will be available online, so we ask that you either give us a call at 780-990-0011, or shoot us an e-mail at to reserve your spot. The tastings start at 1:30pm, 3pm, 4:30pm, and 6pm, and are approximately 1 hour in length. For those of you without a coupon, a spot can be purchased for $15. Hope to see you soon!

Ice Cream Sandwiches!

We have just debuted our new-and-improved ice cream sandwich for the summer! The ice cream has been made  for us by the lovely folks at Pinocchio – we gave them a special 80% Valrhona chocolate, and the result is a rich, silky, not-too-sweet ice cream.

But the cookies are definitely not an afterthought – soft and chewy with plenty of cocoa, they recall the texture of a classic chocolate wafer; but with a true chocolate flavour and a pleasing thickness, they are tempting to eat all by themselves. Paired with the ice cream, they are elevated to new heights. A roll in some crunchy cocoa nibs, and the result is an intense chocolate treat to enjoy in the warm weather.

For those of you with hardier constitutions (than me), we sell them whole, but we are also selling them in halves. If you can afford to slip into a chocolate coma for a few hours, though, there is something deeply satisfying about holding an ice cream sandwich potentially larger than your fist!


We’ve set up a couple of sale tables to make way for new stock – come in soon to get a great deal.Also, any purchase over $100 is discounted 15% this month!

We have beautiful teapots and drinking glasses from Bodum, with a unique design to keep your beverage warm (and stylish):

Along with assorted bars, all at a discounted price:

We’ve also started selling slabs of Felchlin chocolate in milk and dark:

And some books and chocolate molds, for those eager to try their hand at baking/chocolate making in their own kitchen!

Father’s Day Truffles

Here is Rebecca’s truffle collection for Father’s Day this year (Blueberry Ale, not pictured):

Mojito - Dark chocolate with organic mint, lime and spiced rum

Canadian Whisky - Dark milk chocolate with Gibson's Finest whisky

Orange Martini - Dark chocolate with organic orange juice, Cointreau and vodka

Piña Colada - Organic milk chocolate with caramelized pineapple

If you have tasted any of these flavours and would like give us any feedback, please feel free to post comments below!

Truffles + other treats in the case this week

Here’s a look at what we’re featuring in the showcase this week. A peek at the Father’s Day flavours is coming soon!

Morir Soñando - Dominican chocolate with orange and rum, rolled in cacao nibs

Island Dreaming - Organic dark chocolate with a pineapple ganache

Theobroma - Organic dark chocolate with cacao fruit purée

Sweet dates with goat's cheese and chocolate ganache, topped with a walnut

Mother’s Day Treats

Mother’s Day is coming up quickly and our chocolatier Rebecca has debuted three new truffles to please your chocolate-loving mom, wife, sister or daughter! As you may have heard, Kerstin’s now uses organic and local ingredients in our confections, and the taste really shines through in these gleaming little beauties. A box full of these truffles is sure to make your Mother’s Day even more special. You’ll want to make sure to save some for yourself too…

Raspberry Rose (organic milk chocolate with rose ganache and raspberry compote)

Lemon Mint (organic dark chocolate with lemon-mint ganache)

Sparkling Ginger (organic dark chocolate with a milk chocolate-ginger ganache and a crystallized ginger accent)

We will also have plenty of bark – a dark chocolate ginger, a dark-milk sour cherry and a milk chocolate-hazelnut praline. We hope to see you soon!

The longed-after chocolate martini recipe!

Many of you who came to our 3rd anniversary party (which was a roaring success – thank you to those who came and continue to support us!) tasted the chocolate martinis we were pouring that night. Rich and extremely chocolate-y, they are unlike any chocolate-flavoured cocktail you’ve tried. Kerstin first made a chocolate liqueur, and then topped that up with a bit more vodka for good measure. A few Valrhona Pearls to float on top, and voila! The perfect drink for your next party.

Chocolate Liqueur

adapted from Scharffenberger

makes 3 cups

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (we used Valrhona)

1 cup boiling water

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water

1 cup vodka

Combine the boiling water with the cocoa powder in a bowl, stirring to dissolve the cocoa, and set aside.

In a saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Stir the sugar syrup into the cocoa mixture and add the vodka. Strain the mixture into a container with a lid.

Refrigerate overnight (it will keep for several weeks).

Chocolate Martini

For each drink, pour 2 parts liqueur to 1 part vodka into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, and serve. If desired, float a handful of Valrhona Chocolate Pearls on top.


Two Exciting New Additions!

Exciting things have been happening lately at Kerstin’s! After much recipe-testing, we are finally ready to debut two new additions to our ‘menu’ – a Valrhona chocolate brownie and a rich flourless chocolate cake.

The brownie is made from 2 kinds of Valrhona chocolate, wih bits of dark chocolat ganache studded throughout the batter. It is intense and fudgy, but light enough that you don’t need a truckload of milk after. In other words – perfect.

The flourless chocolate cake, made with 72% Valrhona chocolate, literally melts in your mouth.

Whether you need a little pick-me-up or a last-minute dessert for a dinner party, these new offerings are sure to fit the bill – come on in and try them!

The Chocolate Habit

One thing (of many) that I find endlessly fascinating day in, day out at the shop is the relationship that our customers have with chocolate.

First, there is the frequency of the purchases. Some stop by once a week, like clockwork. Others come in a little less, but still regularly. Others still stop by only for special occasions.

Then, of course, there are the purchases themselves. There are those who stick to their old standby and others who are always determined to try something new. We’re quite liberal with the samples, trying as best we can to find the just the right bar or confection, so most people end up leaving with a little of both – something tried and true, and something a little different.

Lastly, there is the quantity – some buy just enough to last them until their next visit, deeming any excess too dangerous to peacefully co-exist with. Others need the reassurance that there is always some chocolate to be had, and stock up to save themselves from any potential panic attacks in the future.

I fall somewhere between the two, preferring only to keep a small stash on hand for ’emergencies’ (which may seem sensible, but be warned – the presence of ’emergency’ chocolate tends to increase the amount of ’emergencies’ you have).

So what are your chocolate-buying and -eating habits? What is too much (is there such a thing?) or too little? And do you crave the same things again and again, or do you want to try everything you can?

Searching for a new Chocolate Production Assistant! (Filled)

Reliable Chocolate Production Assistant Required

Attention to detail and a passion for quality chocolate is a must. Candidates should be eager to learn how to work with chocolate. Experience a definite asset. 4 days a week, 9AM to 4PM, approximately 30 hours (negotiable). Position will commence ASAP.

Please send your cover letter and resume to

The position has been filled!

Understanding white chocolate

Generally speaking, when we encourage patrons to try new things in the shop, they’re pretty receptive – and really, why not? Hand anyone a little chunk of chocolate to nibble on and they’re almost certain to like it, or at least appreciate the attempt.

The only glaring exception is white chocolate. This is not to say that we don’t get a lot of customers who adore the stuff – we do. Nor is it to say that we haven’t converted a fair chunk of former white chocolate-haters – we have; most are floored when they taste the different kinds we have in the shop, from our own Chocophilia ‘Lemon Dream’ and ‘Roses Are Red’ bars to the absolutely fantastic Amedei ‘Pistacchi’ bar. But it is perhaps the most polarizing chocolate we carry, and there are many who just can’t get behind it.

Still, if any of you reading out there are thinking of giving it another chance, be sure to consider the following:

Continue reading

Be Cool With Kusmi

It’s no secret that heat and chocolate don’t mix. Here at Kerstin’s, the warm, late-summer weather can definitely pose problems in the kitchen. Of course, we have air conditioning, not only to ensure that the quality of our chocolate is top-notch, but also to provide a respite from the swelter for all of our customers.

But what to do when it’s time to go home for the day, when you have to step first into the sun, and then into a house that’s been baking in it for hours? The answer, friends, is tea.

Continue reading

Cookies and Ice Cream and Nibs, Oh My!

If the shop smells even more delicious to you today, it’s because we’ve been doing some baking! Our rich, chewy cocoa cookies are fresh out of the oven.

They are best enjoyed, in our opinion, with a scoop (or two) of 80% Valrhona gelato and a smattering of cocoa nibs. What says summer better than an ice cream sandwich?

Here’s how we do it at the shop:

Chewy Cocoa Cookies

adapted from Alice Medrich

140g (1 cup) all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/8 tsp. salt

57g (4 tbsp.) unsalted butter

133g (2/3 cup) granulated sugar

73g (1/3 cup) light brown sugar

48g (7 tbsp.) good quality unsweetened cocoa powder (we use Valrhona)

90g (1/3 cup) full-fat plain yogurt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt and stir to mix.

Melt the butter, either in a bowl in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop. Add the sugars to the butter, stir to mix, then add the cocoa and stir to mix. The mixture will be somewhat thick and pasty. Add the yogurt and vanilla and stir to mix thoroughly. Lastly, add the flour mixture and stir just to combine.

Drop the dough by tablespoons onto a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until the tops of the cookies have cracked slightly and look set.

Makes about 15 medium-sized cookies