Pretty boxes: How to choose the right packaging for your chocolates

Box of homemade chocolate truffles

Chocolate packaging craft brown

If the popularity of Mast Brothers proves anything, it’s that we’re all suckers for pretty packaging.

But when you’re gearing up to sell your first box of chocolates, making wholesale packaging choices can seem really daunting. The options seem endless. And not only for packaging… You’ll be making choices about graphics, about liners, about trays, seals, labels… decision after decision. It’s overwhelming.

The following guiding principles will help you make choices you won’t regret later.

First, consider your brand.

For example, you might ask yourself:

  • Are my chocolates elegant or rustic?
  • Are my chocolates priced to be high end treats or everyday indulgences?
  • Does my business have a theme, and if so, how can I incorporate that theme into my packaging? (For example, if you’re known for bonbons with unusual flavor combinations, consider boxes as playful and creative as your flavors).

Homemade chocolate trufflesAnd here’s an anecdote from my own life.

My chocolate bourbon truffles (pictured) are elegant and modern, with clean lines and geometric patterns (thanks to my trusty transfer sheets), so I guess I could have packaged them in elegant boxes with shiny foil liners.

But… refined packaging is not my brand.

How did I know that? Well… I dip each of my chocolates by hand. I’m proud to use chocolate from a local small-batch chocolate maker. I steer clear of artificial ingredients and preservatives.

So I was looking for packaging that suggests my chocolates aren’t just pretty sweets to be mindlessly eaten. My packaging needs to make it clear that these are high quality, individually produced treats, made entirely by one person from simple, wholesome ingredients.

My packaging needs to feel PERSONAL. Because my chocolates are personal.

With that in mind, I chose simple craft paper boxes, each one tied with twine.

The resulting packages are modern, rustic, and elegantly simple. Just like what’s inside them.

Second, consider what packaging will best protect your chocolates during transit.

If you plan to ship your chocolates, you’ll need strong boxes, perhaps with plastic trays to keep each chocolate in place, and a protective foam layer under the lid. And you’ll need to seal your boxes well and stamp them with a sell-by date.

But if you’re hand delivering chocolates to a friend as I did, you can skip the trays entirely, opting instead for simple brown paper liners. Layers of gift tissue should keep the chocolates from moving around too much.

They won’t be sitting around long at your friend’s house, so no need to worry about an expiration date on these babies. 🙂

Craft chocolate packaging

Btw, I bought these boxes and liners on amazon, but wholesale packaging distributors are cheaper and offer a wider variety of customizable packaging. Shoot me an email if you’re looking for wholesale confectionary packaging distributors — I’d be happy to send you a few names.

Tasting the original gianduja

Gianduia close-up of Gianduiotto by CaffarelGianduia close-up of Gianduiotto by Caffarel

Pop quiz: What event in the mid-1800s changed chocolate production in northern Italy forever?

If you answered the Great Cocoa Bean Shortage of 1840, you would be correct. At least in principle (whoever made up that name is clearly FOS though). 😉

Back in 1865, with the price of cocoa beans through the roof, a chocolate maker in Turin began augmenting his cocoa bean supply with hazelnuts, which (in Piedmont anyway) were plentiful and cheap. The resulting chocolate-hazelnut concoction was so delicious that it landed in the chocolate maker’s permanent rotation and inspired numerous imitators.

Gianduia close-up of Gianduiotto

That chocolate maker was Caffarel, and its chocolate-hazelnut invention is now known as gianduja (or gianduia, also correct). Caffarel called its original version “Gianduiotto.” Pietro Ferrero called his version Nutella.

I’ve wanted to try Gianduiotto for years, but it’s actually quite hard to find in the U.S., in my experience.

Ironically, I found it when I wasn’t even looking — in Canada! On a recent trip to Toronto, I dropped by St. Lawrence Market, where I stumbled upon Aren’t We Sweet, an unassuming family-run chocolatier with a little shop in the lower level. There, in a neglected corner of the shop, I found a huge box of individually wrapped Gianduiotti (an entire BIN!) shining in their signature gold foil.

I’ll cut to the chase: Gianduiotti are delicious. They’re the perfect portable chocolate treat, both practical and elegant.

That said, I still prefer the dark chocolate gianduja I recently raved about by La Molina, which is a lot less sweet and has more flavor nuance than Caffarel’s version (you can buy La Molina’s gianduja here). Still, it was exciting to finally get to taste the original recipe.

How about you – what are your favorite gianduja makers?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping spree in NYC

bean to bar chocolate bars, dick taylor, durci, bonnat, fruition

Bean-to-bar artisan chocolate barsDoes anyone else have this problem: every time you innocently wander into a chocolate retail store, you drop an obscene amount of money in a shockingly short amount of time.

Please tell me I’m not the only one.

Recently, in the latest incarnation of my compulsive chocolate shopping habit, I poked my head into a new-ish chocolate retail shop in midtown Manhattan, 2beans.

I just wanted to pick up a bar of Francois Pralus. I swear.

I spent $110 in 30 minutes (of course I did).

It was a big chocolate haul, even for me. But I’m so glad I splurged, because these turned out to be some of the most delicious and surprising bars I’ve tried in quite some time. It was actually pretty hard for me to rate these because they were ALL fantastic.

But I’ll try my best.

So here you go folks: in descending order, from my very favorite to my least favorite. I’ve added links to online suppliers of these bars, in case you want to try them for yourself.

Heavenly:
Francois Pralus Venezuela 75% chocolate barFrancois Pralus Venezuela 75% (France):
Creamy, nutty and earthy, some may think this bar has too much added cocoa butter, but I think it’s perfect.Fruition 76% Maranon Chocoalte bar

Fruition Marañón 76% (US): Citrusy, balanced, a little astringent at the end but not over the top.

La Molina Gianduia Fondente e Nocciole Intere (Italy): Best. Dark. Gianduia. Ever. Not. Exaggerating.La Molina Gianduia Fondente with hazelnuts

Bonnat Surabaya 65% dark milk chocolate (France): Chocolat Bonnat Surabaya milk chocolateAn interesting, creamy, slightly sour dark milk chocolate with a hint of smokiness. It almost tastes like a goat milk chocolate (it’s not). I love pungent, funky-tasting milk chocolate, and you can’t go wrong with Bonnat.

Extremely tasty:

Durci Empyrean Sabor 70% (US): This is the second bar I’ve tried from Durci, and I Durci Chocolate Empyrean Sabor 70% darkwas surprised that these Venezuelan beans tasted as floral to me as the first bar I tried (Durci’s Corona Arriba bar, with Nacional beans from Ecuador). I wonder what I’m tasting that’s so floral. Is it something in the roast?Castronovo colombia dark milk chocolate

Castronovo Colombia 63% dark milk (US): One of the best dark milk chocolates I’ve tried recently from a North American chocolate maker. Interesting, earthy flavor notes, but super smooth and creamy like a European milk chocolate.

Tasty enough, but didn’t rock my world:

Fruition Hudson Valley Bourbon 61% dark milk chocolate (US): I was mildly disappointed by this bar. It’s good — everything Fruition makes is pretty awesome. But I had trouble detecting any bourbon or woody flavors, and it lacks the smoothness I want in a dark milk chocolate.

Dick Taylor craft chocolate Belize barDick Taylor Belize 72% (US): Everyone I know who has tried this bar has raved about it. I was expecting great things, which might be why I was a little disappointed. Its fruitiness is nice, but I find it VERY astringent.

Good, but a little boring:

Bonnat Java 65% dark milk chocolate (France): This is a fantastic dark milk chocolate, but it’s not nearly as interesting as the Surabaya.

Domori Criollo 70% Chuao (Italy): Very smooth texture, but I was underwhelmed by the bar’s flavor. It just seemed to lack nuance. To be fair, I only got to try a small sample, and I didn’t have a fresh palate, so I should probably give it another shot.

How about you — what were your favorite bars from you most recent chocolate shopping spree?

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling the love

I was so flattered by the Chocolate Disorder shout-out by Estelle Tracy in this recently published interview by Captain of Goods. Thanks Estelle, you’re awesome. Readers, be sure to check out Estelle’s blog, 37 Chocolates. It’s one of my favorites for candid reviews of chocolate bars, interviews with chocolate makers and more.

 

 

Review: Durci 70% Ecuadorian Chocolate

Durci 70% Dark Chocolate Bar

 

Thank you Choco Rush for introducing me to Durci, a fantastic new chocolate maker from the great state of Utah. Durci’s 70% Corona Arriba bar is made with the renowned Nacional heirloom cocao variety grown in Ecuador.

This particular bar is the most floral chocolate I’ve ever tasted. This may sound totally obnoxious, but the best way to describe the taste of this bar is to say that eating it is like stepping into a flower garden. The delicate, perfumey flavor reminds me of… roses. Or violets, maybe?

It was my husband who finally nailed it: the chocolate tastes like orange blossom water. He’s right. The Corona Arriba bar’s unique taste is strongly suggestive of the aromatic flavoring agent in my mother’s favorite cocktail, the uber-indulgent Ramos Gin Fizz.

If you’re hosting a chocolate tasting and want to include a floral chocolate in the mix, I recommend this one, hands down. You can order it on the Durci website or from the “Chocolate Collection” on Cococlectic.

Note: I noticed Durci is currently offering a special on their website– $45 for a sampler pack of six Durci bars from different origins. That’s about $9 less than you would pay for the six individual bars — a pretty good deal if you’re interested in trying out a fantastic new American bean-to-bar chocolate maker.

Review: Manoa 69% Goat Milk Chocolate

Goat cheese on crackers

I recently watched a very cute video by one of my favorite chocolate bloggers, Estelle Tracy of 37 Chocolates, who was reviewing Mast Brothers’ Dark Goat Milk Chocolate. I’m linking to Estelle’s full video here and encourage you to watch it if you have time, as it’s quite informative. But to sum up her review, she thought the chocolate tasted a little TOO much like goat cheese for her taste (truth be told, it’s not the first time I’ve heard negative things about that Mast Brothers bar, although I haven’t tasted it myself).

That said, I did recently try a 69% dark goat’s milk chocolate made by Hawaii-based bean-to-bar chocolate maker Manoa and LOVED it. I couldn’t put it down.

Before I say anything else, it’s worth noting that I actually love goat cheese. Be that as it may, I never thought cheese and chocolate went well together (there are exceptions, like this salty Parmesan dark chocolate by chocolatier Xocolatl de Davíd, and this tangy blue cheese milk chocolate by chocolate maker Lillie Belle Farms).

But back to Manoa.

First, a brief description of the bar: this is a VERY DARK dark milk chocolate bar. Because of that, I’m guessing the percentage of goat’s milk powder in this bar is quite low. Even so, it packs quite a flavor punch — the bar is tangy and a little sour, in a pleasant way. While the bar did have the characteristic mouth feel of a milk chocolate — that awesome milk fat melt — it’s a surprisingly uncreamy (that really should be a word) milk chocolate bar, bordering on chalky.

What I LOVE about this goat’s milk bar is that Manoa doesn’t use extra sugar to camouflage the sour goat’s milk flavor. Instead they let the potent astringency of their beans balance the lovely, funky, earthy goat’s milk. The overall effect is an addictive umami deliciousness.

I highly recommend seeking out Manoa’s 69% Goat Milk Chocolate bar, which you can buy on Manoa’s website or at specialty chocolate retailers. If not, I know you can buy it here on Chococurb. If you do end up trying it, please email me or post in the comments section of this blog and let me know what you think.

And as always, happy nibbling.

Welcome to Chocolate Disorder (the new In Temper)

You may have noticed that I’ve updated the name of this site.

Why? Truthfully, I changed the name because I was tired of having a long wordpress domain name that nobody would ever remember. And the shorter version of my old domain name, intemper.com, was already taken.

Also, whether or not it’s true, I’ve heard that search engines favor blogs with domain names that explain what they’re about. So I wanted my new domain name to include the word chocolate.

But why Chocolate Disorder? Well, I thought the name reflected the somewhat obsessive nature of my preoccupation with chocolate. And it’s a bit tongue in cheek, not meant to be taken TOO seriously — just like the blog.

Also, as you may have guessed, I’m pretty sure I have one. A chocolate disorder, that is. And if you’ve read this far, you probably do too. 😛