Announcing our final appearances in 2012

Thanks again for coming out and rediscovering Chocophilia this fall.  We have a quick update for you about where we will be this month:

  • We will be at the City Market Downtown in City Hall  on the following Saturdays from 10am to 3pmDec 8th, Dec 15th, Dec 22nd
  • We will also be at the St. Albert Christmas Farmer’s Market on Saturday, Dec. 22nd, 10am to 3pm.
  • For those of you who have been asking for a non-Farmer’s Market location this month, we have partnered with a cool local shop called Sabrina Butterfly inHighlands (6421-112 Ave.). They will be carrying a limited selection of our products for 3 days only, Dec 19th (11-5pm), 20th  (11-8pm) and  21st (11-8pm).

We will be bringing out our handmade Chocphilia Bars, 6-packs, Chocophilia-dipped candied fruit, Chocophilia gift boxes, tins of hot chocolate (necessary for everyone’s pantry for Christmas), melt-aways and more. Get some for the stocking or pick some up a for a gift. Hope to see you then, and have a Merry Xmas. 

The Bark Trio is back.

From Dec 15th to Dec 22nd, the Chocophilia Xmas trio will returned this year. For our dark chocolate barks, Angie has made Dark Chocolate with Toffee and Fleur de Sel, Dark Chocolate with Nuts and Dried Sour Cherry and Dark Chocolate with Gingerbread with Candied Orange and Ginger.

In the milk chocolate box you will find Milk Chocolate Chai Granola, Dark Milk Chocolate with Toffee and Fleur de Sel and White Chocolate with Orange, Cranberry, and Almond.

Hope to see you there!

At the Royal Bison and the Westmount CL Hall this weekend.

We will be at two locations this weekend. On Sat and Sun, Dec 1st and 2nd, Chocophilia products will be out in force at the Royal Bison Craft and Art Fair. It is just north of the Strathcona Farmer’s Market. This is a great place to look for local, handmade stuff!

On Sunday, Dec 2nd, from 10am to 4pm, we will also have a booth at the Westmount Community League Hall for their “Shop the Hall” event.

How can Angie be in two places at once? It is all through the magic of cloning! 🙂


Turin and Nutella Brownies

Giant Gianduja

Lavazza made some unique coffee drinks

Cyrus with a coffee 


Tastes better with a double dose of nutella

Two weeks ago, Cyrus and I went to Turin for the Slow Food Festival.  While we were there, we sampled many regional Italian specialties like wine, cheese, prosciutto and a type of chocolate called Gianduja.  Giaduja was invented in the mid 19th century in Turin when there was a shortage of cocoa beans.  The locals replaced hazelnuts with cocoa beans and Voila!  Gianduja was born! Nutella is a form of gianduja using hazelnuts and cocoa as well as other ingredients such as oil and lots of sugar.  Perhaps it’s the original(commercial) hazelnut spread, but many have surpassed it(my personal fave: Jean-Paul Hevin).   While in Turin I picked one up at a famous local chocolate shop.  It sounded good:  Olive oil, dark chocolate but when I tasted it, I was underwhelmed.  The chocolate is super low quality and there is little if any hazelnut flavour.  I hate to be reminded of my bad choices in chocolate so I was desperate to find a recipe to use this stuff up.  The first thing that popped up online was this super simple recipe that takes about 5 min. to prepare. Here it is:

1 cup nutella

10 tbl. flour

2 eggs

Mix Nutella with eggs until smooth.  Stir in flour until just blended.  Fill muffin tins half way(you should be able to make 12 mini brownies). Bake at 350 for 12 min.

I found 2 sources for this recipe.  I used the first recipe with the hazelnut spread from Turin.  It miscalculated the amount of flour needed and left the brownies in the oven too long.   The result was terrible but it did use up my spread.  Intrigued by the simplicity of the recipe, I bought some Nutella and tried it again.   This time it came out much better although by leaving it in the oven for 15min. rather than the recommended 12, I felt I overbaked them a bit.  To compensate, I put nutella on top as icing.  Not bad!

Here’s the website I got it from:

Three Ingredient EASY Nutella Brownie Bites

Was your Fleur de Sel bar too salty?

To my customers and Fleur de Sel fans:

SaltIf you’ve tried the Fleur de Sel bar that you purchased at a farmer’s market recently and found it to be super-salty, it’s not because I changed the recipe. It’s because I must have accidentally doubled up on the salt! Please come and see me at the market to exchange your bar for a fresh one. If you’ve already eaten it or given it away as a gift, I’ll still be happy to give you another one. I’ll be at Callingwood Market October 7th and then I’ll be at the City Hall market for the winter season. Sorry for the inconvenience. I’ll be handing out extra treats for your troubles. My apologies, and thanks for your support!


Chocophilia bars return to Edmonton tonight.

Here is some good news for Chocophilia lovers in Edmonton! The long wait is over. Your favorite Chocophilia bars and other Chocophilia products are once again available, fresh and delicious as ever.

The Chocophilia Line

After shutting down the shop in April,  I  approached my sister, Angie, about the possibility of continuing to make the bars herself.  Angie was with me in the kitchen from the very beginning in 2005 when we first developed the bar flavors and started producing them in a downtown condo for our first wholesale customers.   After careful consideration, Angie has decided to carry on the line, but on a smaller scale that better suits her situation (she has two little ones).  We made chocolate together this summer, went over all the key recipes, and I am very certain that she can make all of your favorite Chocophilia products perfectly. Over the last month or so, she has been busy making bars, cocoa nib caviar, hot chocolate and other confections with the goal of  selling them at farmer’s markets around the city.  I am so excited to see Angie grab the baton and run with it!
Sales restart this week!
Angie and your favorite Chocophilia products will be at the Highlands Farmer’s Market(112th Ave and 65th St), TONIGHT, Thursday Sept. 20th

Angie Roos

from 7pm to 9pm and at the Callingwood Farmer’s Market (69th Ave and 178th St.) this Sunday, Sept 23rd from 10am to 3pm.  She will do a repeat appearance the next week: Highlands on Thursday Sept. 27th (7pm to 9pm) and Callingwood on Sunday, October 7th (10am to 3pm).

So where is Kerstin?
Thank you everyone who has been following my global adventures on the blog.  I promise to continue writing and to keep you posted on my chocolate discoveries here in Germany.    Right now I am  very busy settling in and getting adjusted to living abroad.  While I have no plans to begin making chocolate here on a professional basis right now, I hope to perfect the recipes that I’ve collected on my trip around the world for a book that I am writing.  Please stay tuned for more on that!
Thank you all for your unwavering support,
-Kerstin (and Angie)

Mexico City Treats

Churreria “El Morro”

The first thing we did when we got to Mexico City was go for churros and hot chocolate. Mexico City is crowded and hectic and I couldn’t face it without some ammunition.

El Moro is an old school Churreria that’s been around since 1934. The atmosphere is no nonsense cafeteria style with good cheap eats. The restaurant is large, with at least 50 tables that were all full when we got there at four in the afternoon.

We found a table and ordered off a board that gave us four choices of hot chocolate, each accompanied by 4 churros. The choices were, Especial(bitter with cinnamon), Frances(vanilla), Espanol(sweet and thick), Mexicano(with water and vanilla). Since there were four of us, we ordered all of them. They came fairly quickly with a family sized plate piled high with churros. I tried the hot chocolates first and they were all yummy, although the Spanish one was a bit too sweet. The “especial” was my favorite, which was good for me since it was the one I had ordered. The real winner, however, were the churros. Freshly made and piping hot, they were sweet and crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. The sweetness of the hot chocolate was perfectly balanced by the not too sweet churros center. It was a heavenly combination that fortified me to venture out amongst the masses.




The end of a chapter, but not of the story…

Dear Customers,
As you probably know, Kerstin’s Chocolates has been bringing great chocolate to Edmonton for the last 8 years, and I would like to thank you, our loyal customers, for your support.  I began my journey offering specialty chocolate through chocolate education workshops in 2004 and then began manufacturing my own brand of bars, called Chocophilia which were sold in specialty shops in Edmonton and around western Canada.  In 2008 I began selling them along with other specialty chocolates in my downtown shop on 112th st.  It has been an exciting ride in which I learned many things and met many wonderful people, but the time has come for me to begin a new chocolate adventure.

It is with a sad heart that I must tell you that Kerstin’s Chocolates will be closing its retail shop on April 14th, 2012.  There are several reasons why I had to make this decision.  The first one is that due to family circumstances, I will be moving to Germany in September. The second reason is that although I enjoyed many aspects of owning a retail store, I don’t feel it fully expresses my potential as a chocolatier.  As my family and I travel around the world this year visiting plantations and chocolate makers, I have been learning more about the sources of great chocolate and the complex web of relationships that exist around chocolate. I hope that I find new ways of using chocolate to make a greater impact on the quality of people’s lives.  There are many impoverished cocoa growing regions out there where there is a potential to develop sustainably through cacao.

I feel that this is not the end of Kerstin’s Chocolates but the beginning of a new journey.  I hope that you will continue to support us as we grow and evolve. Please stay tuned for updates on our web site.

Yours truly,


Closing Sale

Beginning Tuesday, March 13th, we will be discounting items throughout the shop by 15-40%. Stop by the shop to find out what’s on sale and  follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily specials. Our final day at the shop will be Saturday, April 14th. *Please note that discounts do not apply to Easter items.*

Chocolate in Hoi An

It’s been a while since I’ve had chocolate and the bar of Beschle 64% with pistachios and salt that I purchased in Singapore was polished off weeks ago. I am in Hoi An, a picturesque but touristy town in central Vietnam which for hundreds of years served as a major port to Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese traders. Not surprisingly, the food here is delicious. As a former French colony, Vietnam also has many patisseries and one such place is Cargo, which I recon is one of the best in Hoi An. Darius and I go there to indulge our sweet tooth and judging by the gorgeous cakes on display behind the glass case, we will not be disappointed.

We order the two best looking(or biggest) items, the double chocolate cake and the passion fruit mousse cake. My Latte comes out first, and it arrives with a square of chocolate. I’m excited to see that it is a single origin chocolate from Vietnam. When I try it, I discover that it’s good, well balanced and fruity. It’s exciting to see locally made chocolate in a world dominated by Cadbury and Nestlé.
We try the cakes and they are delicious too! Now I want to meet the pastry chef who has the know how to put single origin chocolate on the menu and make excellent desserts. When I do the next day, the chef tells me that they use the same brand of chocolate in their desserts as the square I had, but the bean origin is different. On the web I find out that the brand, called Grand Place is a Belgium company that has subsidiaries in Vietnam and Japan. They mostly source beans from Africa but have recently begun making this single origin chocolate from Vietnam. I contact them to see if I could visit them in Ho Chi Minh since we are flying out from there. Really I want to do a tour of the plantations but unfortunately, we haven’t given ourselves enough time to go back to the Mekong Delta.

When I get to HCMC the following week, I meet with Yung, a nice salesman who tells me that Grand Place is the biggest chocolate company in Vietnam and supplies chocolate to much of Asia too. He gives me some samples to take home but seems a bit confused as to why I am there since I don’t want to buy chocolate. I am beginning to wonder that myself and when he tells me that they do tours of the plantation and factory for customers, I realize that’s where I really want to be.
It’s easy to lose focus when you are travelling. You think you have to see and do everything of interest and pretty soon you are as busy as you were at home. I have forgotten that by narrowing our focus on cacao, we also hone in on a very specific culture of farmers and the artisans, that could provide me with understanding that is more meaningful than what we might glimpse on the tourist trail.





The food in Vietnam is amazing. I don’t know how I can even begin to describe my feelings as I taste one delectable dish after another. In short, I feel like I’ve come home. It’s a strange feeling since I’ve never been here, nor have I ever really tasted proper Vietnamese food save the odd bowl of pho or bun.  
Vietnamese food tastes like what food should taste like. There is so much variation in flavor because the Vietnamese use an astounding array of fresh herbs (cilantro, mint, basil, etc) plus limes and chilies. They emphasize texture in food as well and as a result, there’s always lots of crunch from fresh bean sprouts or crispy fried things. It’s all so good!  
We’ve explored the country a bit starting in Ho Chi Minh and the Mekong Delta and now we are in central Vietnam in a town called Hoi An which is surrounded by rice fields and vegetable gardens. There seems to be a very direct connection from the field to the table here with the farmers coming into the markets daily to sell their produce. It’s not like at home where there are weeks between visits to the grocery store. Fresh food is a daily affair. Restaurants get fresh meat and produce from the market every morning and outside our hotel(which is in a residential neighborhood) you see women on mopeds or bikes delivering fresh greens to our neighbors. I read that 75% of Vietnamese people live in rural areas of Vietnam. That’s the largest population of rural inhabitants of any country in the world. That means most people here work on fields and in rice paddies, or fish the waters for their sustenance. It’s not surprising then that the food here is so good.  
Something about Vietnam reminds me of being a kid in Germany. The village where I lived was surrounded by fruit orchards, vineyards and pastures. Our neighbors had chickens roaming in their backyard. These foods turned up on my grandmother’s table cooked up in some delicious way. Perhaps that’s what I’m tasting when I eat in Vietnam. Fresh and wholesome ingredients brought alive in the hands of someones grandma.



Cacao and coconut

We are taking a package tour on the Mekong Delta. These tours always stop at tourist traps where they demonstrate handicraft or candy making. On our tour we stopped at a coconut taffy making workshop but to my surprise, there is cocoa growing in the surrounding plantation. Mekong River Cacao! Who knew?
I asked our guide what they do with it here and he said that they bring it to a co-op where they process the cacao to sell. It’s an extra way to make a “dong” I guess.
We were led through the steps of coconut taffy making process. It starts with the flesh which is pressed for the milk. The milk is then cooked over a fire for many hours until it becomes taffy. It’s then cooled on a table, cut and wrapped.
The taffy is quite good: Slightly smoky and not too sweet with good a coconut flavor. Should keep us going for more touristic action.






Christmas 2011: From our Edmonton shop

We know you love exploring the holiday offerings of our European and U.S. counterparts as much as we do, but here’s what’s coming out of our own kitchen this season:

Our classic offering is undoubtedly the Chocophilia Christmas Trio. Three chocolate barks in either a milk or dark box, all wrapped up in the handsome label created over at Edmonton’s Vanguard Works. In both boxes you’ll find sheets of our favourite Fleur de Sel Toffee on 49% Venezuelan dark-milk. Accompanying this lovely in the dark box is Peppermint on 66% and Orange-Pistachio on 64% Madagascan dark. For milk lovers, we’ve added a Raspberry Linzer Torte on 38% and a beautiful sheet of white chocolate with Fruit and Nibs studding the top.

This year we are excited to add ganache-filled Chocolate Logs to the shelves. Delicate butter ganaches in Peppermint, Eggnog, Orange spice and Gingerbread are enrobed by milk and dark chocolates.

As in the past, Mendiants in milk, dark and white chocolate are also gracing the shelves this season. Two of each of Crème Brûlée (white), Ginger-Sesame (milk) and Fruit and Nib (dark) can be found stacked near the bark, wrapped and ready to share.

Finally, milk and dark Santa Claus lollipops can be found in the “truffle case,” and next week roasted almonds enrobed in our Fleur de Sel chocolate will find their way into the shop.

We must thank our chocolatier, Becca Grant, for this year’s lovelies. Many hours go into this season, and we couldn’t do it without her.

Christmas 2011: From around the world

As promised, items handmade at our Edmonton shop will be out later next week, just in time for the 1st of December. For now though, we thought we’d showcase holiday themed items that have arrived from various parts of the globe. First up, Italy.

Our two favourite Italian manufacturers, Amedei and Venchi, have sent us some great chocolates this season. As per usual, Porcelana, Chuao and ‘9’ bars are on the shelf from Amedei, in addition to their Toscano and Gianduja bars. We’ve also brought back their classic ‘For You‘ drinking chocolate – 63% chocolate combined with finally ground almonds and hazelnuts for a decadent, warm sipping experience. Finally, 70% Toscana Black Napolitans are stacked in the shop, ready to head into dark chocolate lovers’ stockings.

Along with their gianduiotti and White Chocolate Hazelnut Spread, Venchi has sent on festive gianduja nutcrackers, enrobed in dark chocolate for Christmas enjoyment.

More ‘Pyramides‘ from France’s François Pralus have also made it to the shelves, this time with a new addition – the Pyramide Biologique. This version features 75% organic chocolate from Ghana, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Tanzania and Madagascar. Have a serious chocolate fiend that needs to be satisfied? The classic Pyramide de Tropique features all ten of Pralus well loved single origin chocolates, so you can travel around the globe right from the Christmas tree.

For those that may have been relegated to the naughty list, they still deserve a little chocolate, right? We have just the thing, courtesy of Michel Cluizel. Coal is out, potatoes are in… chocolate hazelnut potatoes that is. Adorably wrapped in sacks by our staff, perfect for stockings of all shapes and sizes.

Zotter of Austria has released new artwork for the holidays, and we’re expecting brand new Marc de Champagne with a New Year’s theme, along with fun Christmas caramel bars and familiar favourites any time now.

Our neighbours down south have created some truly beautiful gift boxes and treats this season. From long time favourite, Patric, comes new additions to his OMG lineup – a dark chocolate laced with mint, an aptly named mocha bar, and finally, a cappuccino bar that will have you enjoying its beverage namesake in solid form from now on.

From Askinosie, the most adorable gift box we have come across (and believe me, we see a lot) – the Chalk-late Box. This one is filled with four of their award winning dark single origin bars. Best of all, you get to leave the recipient a message… I think the one Rachel left (above) sums up our feelings…

Finally, we must hand it to Theo for their excellent Christmas creations – a milk Gingerbread bar and a dark Peppermint bar. We’ve been loving the latter, but we’ll let you be the judge.

We know there’s a lot to choose from, so to make it a little easier, we’ve created totes and gift boxes that are ready to go. They’re all available in shop, but for a little preview, feel free to check them out over at

There you have it. All of these items are sitting amongst the garland and Christmas lights now adorning the shop, waiting to be scooped up. We love helping to create custom gifts for the chocolate lovers in your life, so be sure to ask myself (Marianne), Rachel or Maite for a little assistance if need be. See you at the shop soon!

What is Gianduja anyways?

We have lots of gianduja hanging around the shop for the holidays, so we thought we’d better re-introduce this amazing treat so you can get to enjoying it.

Gianduja was first invented in Turin, Italy by Paul Caffarel in 1865. By grinding hazelnuts into a paste and then adding it to chocolate and sugar, he was able  to produce a creamy, nutty treat. Originally this confection was shaped into gianduiotti (below)almost like an upturned boat – then wrapped in foil. Today though, it comes in an array of forms, including bars and spreads.

Which gianduja do we love?

From Venchi, classic gianduiotti wrapped in gold, both in small and larger sizes. They also sent us holiday Nutcracker boxes, with 10 pieces of gianduja festively bound. And finally, jars of white gianduja spread (think Nutella), with a hint of vanilla.

Amedei boasts one of the best gianduja bars we’ve ever tried, combining beautiful hazelnuts with their amazing craft chocolate. They also produce a drinking chocolate that combines finely ground hazelnuts with their 63% dark chocolate – a serious treat to sip during the cooler months.

And finally from French maker François Pralus, Barre Infernales. These beauties come in a brick style shape, and feature a hazelnut gianduja paste, studded with whole hazelnuts, all enrobed with either milk or dark chocolate. We can never get enough of either.

So there you have it. Hopefully you’re able to sit down over the holidays to savour this Italian beauty. We promise you will be hooked forever.

Drinking Chocolate Flights – Saturday, November 19th from 1-5pm

Whilst in Portland, I got to visit Cacao Drink Chocolate and taste the most amazing Flight of three drinking chocolates (below). So, as a nod to this Portland shop’s genius (and to celebrate the first snow and cooler temperatures), we will be offering Drinking Chocolate Flights this coming Saturday, November 19th, from 1-5pm. Guests can sample three types of drinking chocolate for $5. Here’s what’s on the menu:

Amedei’s “For You” Classic – This is the ultimate, folks, straight from Tuscany.

63% percent chocolate with finely ground hazelnuts, almonds and a little vanilla bean.

Vosge’s Bianca Couture Cocoa – The lightest of the three, this

concoction contains white chocolate, lemon myrtle and lavender.

Chocophilia Spiced Drinking Chocolate – Our house version of the

Mayan classic, with a hint of cayenne to warm up cold fingers and toes.

We will be putting out a couple tables so you can sit down and savour each elixir. Hope you will join us!

Tell us about your favourite bar…

We’ve been choosing our favourite bars over the past few months, and for December’s ‘Pick of the Month’, we’d like a little help.

Leave a comment below (or e-mail us at marianne [at] kerstinschocolates [dot] com) telling us why your favourite bar should be December’s feature. We’ll pick the most passionate response and give the winner their favourite bar on the house.

There are a couple caveats:

Firstly, no Porcelana.

Secondly, we like to use the monthly features to highlight some of our single origin/imported selections that people might not normally pick up. So no Chocophilia bars, please.

Other than that, any bar in the shop is game. We’ve now received all our Amedei, Amano, Madécasse, Askinosie, Bonnat, Michel Cluizel and François Pralus, so there’s lots to choose from. Happy tasting!


Edit: Here’s a list of bars currently at the shop. Madécasse has been left out since they were featured in our November pick.

Amano – Ocumare 70%, Ocumare 30%, Dos Rios, Guayas, Morobe, Cuyagua (Limited Edition), Montanya (Limited Edition)

Domori – Lattesal, Biancomenta, Cappuccino, Latteamaranth, Peperoncino, Biancoliquiriquia

Amedei – ‘9’, Chuao, Toscana Black 70%

Michel Cluizel – Los Anconès, Concepcion, Vila Gracinda

Bonnat – Madagascar 75%, Asfarth (dark milk), Surabaya (dark milk), Java (dark milk)

François Pralus – Indonesie, Tanzanie, Trinidad, Colombie

Askinosie – Del Tambo, Tenende Tanzania, Nibble-bar

TAZA – 60%, 70%, 80%

Patric – 75% Madagascar, PBJ OMG, Mint OMG, Mocha OMG, Cappuccino

Maggie Walt’s Hidden Gems Bazaar

We’re excited to be participating in Maggie Walt’s Hidden Gems Bazaar this year! Eleven other local businesses will be on hand at Maggie’s Fashion Underground (11217 Jasper Avenue) to offer up their wares on November 4th and 5th.

There will also be goody bags and door prizes (including a Milk and Dark Chocolate Lover’s Box from us), and fun presentations on both Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. Plus, we’ll be handing out samples of our Spicy Drinking Chocolate to take the chill away (it looks like it’s coming this weekend, folks).

We hope to see you there!

Friday, November 4th from 5-9pm

Saturday, November 5th from 10am – 6pm

Day One at the Salon Du Chocolat

We went up to Paris to see the opening day of the Salon Du Chocolat at the Porte De Versailles expo center. After a long subway ride, we arrived and excitedly went in!

We left the kids back in Fontainebleau with Grandma and Grandpa. Don’t worry! They will come back to the Salon over the weekend (when it is open to the public.) First, here is a short video that shows some of our impressions of the Salon and the World Chocolate Masters competition.


The French member of the jury was one of our chocolate heroes, Patrick Roger. As you may remember, Kerstin went to his store in Paris this March, as reported in this blog posting. It was great to see him evaluate all the the sculptures with an expert’s eye.

One of our early favorites was the Japanese entrant, Umezaki. Like everyone else, he only had 3 hours to assemble his sculpture. He had a very complex delicate design, and he executed it with ease.

We saw that the Canadian entrant was a woman, Veronique Rousseau, from Quebec. She was the first woman to ever represent Canada, and she came out blazing. She was the only one of the 19 finalists to use a carving technique instead of molds. This meant that her scuplture weighed over 60kg, but it looked uniquely artistic. Watch the video above for some action shots of Veronique working!

The Dutch contestant won the WCM title, and his sculpture was large and scary! I think the shock value was what pushed him ahead of the pack. I hope Veronique comes back next year to try again!

At the end of our day we had a great chat with our Japanese chocolate hero, Koji Tsuchiya of Theobroma Cacao, a pioneer of fine cacao in Japan.

Stay tuned for our report from the “Grand Public” Salon, coming in a few days!




A tour of the chocolates of Fontainebleau

Outside of Frederic Cassel in Fontainebleau

Fountainebleau is a town on the outskirts of Paris. We are here with Cyrus’ family who is visiting from the Netherlands and New York.
The town is famous for its palace and palace gardens which date back about 400 years. To be honest, I don’t know much about the history of the place. I’ve been too busy checking out the Fountainebleau food scene.

Kerstin at Frederic Cassel

Much to our surprise, Fountainebleau has at least 6 chocolate shops within about a 1km radius. We visited 2 of them today.
The first is a French franchise called “Jeff de Brugge”. Our B&B host purchased it and has given it to his daughter to run. He gave us a tour and explainded the operations of the business. The selling point seems to be that the chocolate used in production comes from their own cocoa bean coop in the Ivory Coast. It’s something that they advertise on their brochures and marketing material. It’s good to see that there’s a demand for responsibly traded cacao. The chocolate was o.k. I preferred the bark which used a 70% cacao over the bon bons.

The bon bons at the place up the street, on the other hand, were REALLY good. The shop is called Frederic Cassel and everything looked pretty wicked. There was a good selection of macrons as well as a other pastries, cakes and baked goods. I purchased a few bon bons to try and loved the bee pollen one I had earlier.

I’m a little concerned about my chocolate consumption as we approach the Salon du Chocolat which starts tomorrow! Cyrus and I will take the early train in to Paris and hope to get there when the doors open at 9am. There we will meet the great chocolatiers of Paris and France. Stay tuned for photos and updates in the coming days!

A fountain in Fontainebleau

Say hello to Vosges (and more Domori, Zotter and Venchi)

We’re starting to run out of shelving space in the shop, but last week we happily made room for items from Vosges, Domori, Zotter and Venchi.

From Vosges we received Red Fire, Blood Orange Caramel and Black Salt Caramel bars, in addition to their famous Mo’s Bacon Bars in dark and milk. There’s also some of their Aztec and La Parisienne drinking chocolates, plus Peanut Butter Bonbons and their “Sweet and Salt Exotic Caramel Collection.” Tupelo honey + bee pollen + milk chocolate? We’re there.

Domori also sent us some beautiful new bars from their “D-fusion” line. Favourites like white chocolate with mint and their milk chocolate lattesal are back on the shelf. Additionally we ordered their dark Peperoncino bar which has turned out to be a ‘must’ for heat lovers. Finally, we received two new milk bars – a soft cappuccino and a puffed amaranth.

The much loved “Bacon Bits” bar from Zotter is back on the shelf (yes bacon lovers, this is the time to come in), as is their “Strawberry” in-and-out bar. We also received new flavours like Arabian Date, Late Risers (a beautiful coffee bar) and a crunchy caramel nougat. And don’t forget their “Scotch Whisky” bar – a caramel-y scotch ganache, created with Highland Harvest’s Organic Scotch, all enrobed by dark chocolate.

Also new from Zotter are their solid Labooko bars in raspberry (“Himbeer”), milk chocolate made with Muscovado sugar (“Karamell”), and an all cocoa butter white chocolate with crunchy almond brittle (“Gelbe Shokolade mit Krokant”).

Finally, no fall would be complete without gianduja. Venchi sent us a beautifully soft version wrapped in gold. They also sent us some gianduja specially created for Christmas (I know, we thought it was a little early too). Keep an eye out at the end of November for the appearance of gianduja Nutcrackers.

We continue to receive new chocolate each week (very exciting – it’s like Christmas each time an order comes in!). We’re expecting new Theo bars and caramels in the next week or so, and Amedei should re-appear on the shelves near the end of the month. In the meantime, there’s lots of chocolate on the shelves waiting to be enjoyed.

Our October Pick: Michel Cluizel’s Maralumi Lait

We were originally wowed by Michel Cluizel’s handling of the Maralumi Noir, made up of beans from his Papua New Guinea plantation. But then he sent us Maralumi Lait.

Cluizel has an excellent record when it comes to dark-milks. Just taste the surprisingly bright and citrusy Mangaro Lait. His Maralumi milk keeps this trend going.

On the back of the bar, Cluizel suggests the following: “The characteristic notes of bananas, red berries and blueberries emanate progressively in an herbaceous harmony and then in salty caramel.” In short, we loved the soft, well balanced fruit notes in this bar that mingle throughout with rich caramel. And certainly at the end, the quick appearance of ‘salted caramel’ is quite endearing, and something much loved in all dark-milk chocolates.

For all these reasons, we chose the Maralumi Lait as this month’s pick. Drop by the shop and mention this post to receive 10% off Maralumi Lait bars throughout October.

Eat, bake, repeat.

As Kerstin heads out of Edmonton, many of our bars and other treats have found their way to the shop. We promised to keep you all updated, so here’s a peek at what’s new on the shelves.


We love Taza‘s stone ground, organic chocolate in many forms, but particular favourites are drinking chocolate discs and chocolate covered almonds. In the former we’ve received cinnamon, chipotle chili, almond, coffee and one we are particularly excited about – ginger. There will certainly be some warm cups of that one as the weather cools. In addition, we’ve also ordered some chocolate covered cocoa nibs from Taza; you can find them right next to the almonds.

From far away ‘Maralumi’

Michel Cluizel’s use of beans from his Papua New Guinea ‘Maralumi’ plantation in a 64% bar had us wowed – fruity, spicy and just a little bit floral at the end (think honey), but these beans in a 47% dark-milk are even better. The milk brings forward all the caramel notes these beans have to offer and softens the tart fruit flavours for a smooth, luscious finish. Even Mike, one of our regular customers who rarely opts for anything but Cluizel’s Mangaro Lait, took one of these bars home yesterday instead. A definite stamp of approval.

In the ‘truffle’ case

Though we no longer carry truffles, we’ve stocked our case with some other lovelies – hand dipped orange and ginger pieces, mocha and mint Melt-Aways, milk and dark fruit barks, mushrooms and peanut butter cups. And just steps away, we’ve boxed up some beautiful Francois Doucet ‘Cherry Love’ pieces for easy and efficient enjoyment.

To bake

And finally, we have received some brand new, single origin baking chocolate from Switzerland’s Felchlin. You can find 500g blocks in the ‘Home Chef’ section in 38%, 65% and 72%.

38% Maracaibo – From Venezuela, you’ll find notes of caramel and honey in this milk chocolate.

65% Maracaibo – From the same plantation as the above milk, Felchlin’s dark treatment of this bean yields flavours of coffee, plum and orange. Use where “semi-sweet” chocolate is called for. May we suggest a flourless chocolate cake that allows this one to really shine?

72% Arriba – Felchlin has really taken the time (72 hours of conching) to refine the flavours of this chocolate. Your kitchen will quickly smell of coffee and liquorice, and your taste buds will be greeted with floral-berry notes. Beautiful.

We’ll be in shop this Saturday from 11-5 ready to assist you in eating and/or baking adventures. See you then!

September 2011: Trips and Changes

September 2011 Newsletter

We were going to start this month’s newsletter by wishing you all a happy fall, complete with scarves, jackets and copious amounts of chocolate. But instead we’d like to help everyone enjoy the summery weather (that has finally arrived in Edmonton) by continuing to offer our Valrhona chocolate ice cream. We’ve got pints ready to go in the shop, and Rachel will be creating milkshakes and her lovely ice cream sandwiches over the next couple weeks. Is there really any better way to cool down than with Valrhona’s 80% Coeur de Guanaja in ice cream form?

Whirlwind adventures

After years of planning and preparation, Kerstin and her family are departing this month for a one year trek around the world to explore the world of cacao production. The voyage will take them from the Salon Du Chocolat in Paris to the cacao fields of Madagascar and the ancient cacao cultures of Meso-America. A rough map of Kerstin’s path around the world shows her stops in Europe, Madagascar, Indonesia, Mexico, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. Kerstin will be blogging and posting on our Facebook and Twitter pages, so stay tuned!

Your chocolate shop afficionados

While Kerstin tracks down chocolate in its raw form, Marianne Stover and Rachel Pereira will be heading up things at the Edmonton shop. Expect more great chocolate tastings, events and of course, great chocolate on the shelves. Marianne is off to Portland and Seattle over the next couple weeks, so keep an eye on the blog for details on her trips to Cacao Drink Chocolate in PDX, and to Theo and Marie and Frères in Seattle.

More shop news

After a quick summer break we’re back at the shop working on Christmas details and dreaming up new bark flavours. We’re still waiting on many of our European beauties, but bars from Cluizel are back in stock. On our side of the world, bars from Madécasse, Askinosie, Patric and Taza have arrived and the shelves are full. We are, however, anxiously awaiting new bars from Theo. Keep an eye on the blogour Facebook page and Twitter for news on arrivals.


A new tasting has been scheduled for Thursday, September 29th. This is the original – an hour and a half of chocolate history, bean to bar discovery and sampling. The perfect intro to the world of fine chocolate. Tickets can be found here or can be purchased in shop or via phone.

As always, we will continue to offer private tasting events at the shop for up to twelve people. Feel free to call or e-mail us for available dates.

While Kerstin is away from the shop, we have decided to discontinue our in store truffle line. This will allow us to focus on our single origin and Chocophilia collections, as well as our tasting workshops and other events. We will still be offering Melt-a-ways, our Chocophilia line, coconut, dulce de leche and peanut butter cups in addition to monthly bark flavours all made in house. If only truffles will do, please contact us via e-mail or phone, and we will forward the request to our chocolatier.

Did you say Vosges?

Many of you have been calling and e-mailing us about Vosges chocolate and their incredible Mo’s Bacon Bars (Applewood bacon + alderwood salt). We’re happy to say we’ve placed an order and are keeping an eye out for their arrival. We’ll be sure to keep you all updated. Along with the much loved milk and dark bacon bars, expect Black Salt Caramel (black Hawaiian Sea salt + burnt caramel), Red Fire (Ancho + Chipotle chiles + Ceylon cinnamon) and Blood Orange Caramel (blood orange + campari + caramel + hibiscus flowers) along with minis of the Amalfi (white chocolate with lemon and pink peppercorn) and Creole bars.


Throughout September the shop will continue to operate Thursdays and Fridays from 10-6 and on Saturdays from 11-5. Look for new fall hours in October with extended hours in December.

See you soon for ice cream!

The Kerstin’s Chocolates Team

Bean to bar experiment #1

On Sunday I tried to make my first batch of chocolate from the bean. I got the whole family involved including my husband, my kids(plus a friend), my sister and my niece. The kids loved it. They thought it was really cool that chocolate came from these weird looking and bitter beans.
We started by roasting raw Mexican cococa beans in the oven. There’s a web site called “Chocolate Alchemy” that gives you step by step instruction on how to roast beans. We decided on the oven method, since that was really the only roasting tool we had on hand. The site suggests heating the oven to about 400 degrees and then slowly lowering the heat. The ideal temperature of the beans is 300 degrees. As soon as we hit that temperature we removed them. The beans smelled really good but they still tasted bitter. Some seemed to be darker and more roasted than others. We hoped that this bitterness would eventually be masked by sugar and conching.
After cooling the beans for about 1 hour, we took them outside to winnow them with our newly acquired “crankenstein”. That’s actually what the instrument is called. It’s basically a hand cranked apparatus that breaks the beans into nibs and separates them from the husks. You have to remove the husks altogether and we did that by blowing hot air on the bowl of nibs using a hair dryer. This simple technique worked surprisingly well and we blew off nearly all of the husks.
Next we needed to grind the nibs into a paste and we did that using a Champion juicer. We just poured all of the nibs into one end and pushed them down using the plunger. Much to my niece’s surprise what resulted was “Chocolate!”. We ran the chocolate liquor through the juicer another time to refine it further and flushed it out by pouring in some liquid cocoa butter. The final step in our home made chocolate experiment was to “conch” the chocolate. This step is important because it makes chocolate smooth and mellows out the flavor. To do this at home, we purchased a machine from “Chocolate Alchemy” that is used in India for making flours out of grains and legumes. It uses 2 stones to break up large particles into finer particles. It’s at this point that we added sugar and more cocoa butter to the chocolate liquor. We then conched it for a total of 24 hours. The result? Yuck!!! Sadly the bitterness never dissipated and tasting our chocolate was not unlike chewing on a couple of aspirins. I don’t know what we did wrong. I suspect that we did not roast the beans enough(is that why they looked green at times?). It may have also been the result of improper fermentation, which results in beans tasting astringent and bitter. In any case, this chocolate may have been the worst chocolate I’ve ever tasted. After tasting it tonight, I noticed a distinct note of rubber tires! I now have new respect for the art of chocolate making. There is so much mastery involved in coaxing out the delicate flavors that lie hidden in cocoa. How do they get it to taste of strawberry, almonds, coffee or honeysuckle? It must be a miracle. Plus a lot of talent.

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!