Askinosie White Chocolate, Kallari Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut Whatever-You-Want-To-Call-It

askinoisewhitechocolate

Askinosie White Chocolate

There’s nothing odder to me than people who say, “I don’t like white chocolate…because it’s not chocolate!” Which is like saying, “I don’t like white wine…because it’s not Champagne!”

In each case, both are similar, but entirely different creatures and to compare them is kinda silly. I used the scoff at the losers who liked milk chocolate, until I started appreciating it for what it really was (not dark chocolate), and I joined the ranks and became a loser myself. (Although depending on who you talk you, it started sometime before that.)

Because I was recently scheduled to speak about white chocolate with the Evan Kleiman (who is anything but a loser) on her radio program Good Food, I asked Shawn Askinosie if he’d send me a few bars, via a friend who was en route to Paris, of his new bean-to-bar white chocolate, so I could sample them.

You could’ve knocked me over with a cocoa leaf when I slipped the bars out of their packages, as I wasn’t prepared for them to be so gently coffee-colored; one studded with salted pistachios the other with nibs.

Each bar takes three days of mixing under close supervision and the white chocolate gets its distinct color, and dynamic flavor, because the cocoa butter isn’t deodorized. A dash of goat milk is added instead of regular moo juice, which gives the bars a pleasant tanginess, too. I loved ‘em, and if you think you don’t like white, after one bite, who knows? You just might.

chocolatekallaribar

Kallari Dark Chocolate

One of the most shocking things that most people don’t think about, is that the people who grow and cultivate cocoa beans have never tasted an actual bar of chocolate. Like many commodities, cacao is sold on the global market then shipped to more industrialized countries than where it is grown and fabricated into chocolate bars. And when the equator is, like, a half-block away, you can imagine it’s a little tough to keep solid bars of chocolate around for any length of time.

One frequent criticism of these types of products is the expense. Some people wonder why they should pay $5 for a bar of chocolate when another bar is only 69¢. And that’s certainly a fair question. When the people of the Kallari cooperative were selling their beans to other companies, they were barely getting 20 cents/pound for their beans. Now they’re getting upwards of nearly $2/pound. So there’s the answer.

They make three bars of chocolate of various percentages. The 85% is a bit dry to my taste, but the 70% had a nutty, rye-like flavor and the 75% was smoother, with the taste of fennel, vanilla, and earth. Curious bars with a great back-story.

paste of hazelnut

Hazelnut I-Don’t-Know-What-You-Want-to-Call-It But-It-Sure-Made-Everyone-Go-Wild

On last week’s Paris Chocolate Tour, we visited just about every chocolate shop in the city, watching them melt, dip, and wrap what many would consider the best chocolates in the world. However I think the hit of the week was what Monsieur Rochoux kept misnaming “Nutella”, as it contained not one speck of chocolate. But no one said anything as we waited in anticipation while he slid the turgid jar into his waiting fist.

Soon afterward he twisted open the little pot of amber paste, slid his tool in, then jammed it into the mouth of each guest. And within seconds, everyone in the small shop stopped talking and began moaning with pleasure. Seeing as there were three times as many women than men in there, if it was anyone one else, that would likely have been many men’s ultimate fantasy. And perhaps a few women’s, too.

(Me? I was happy a gentleman and stepped aside, letting the ladies have their way with the jar…)

caramelized hazelnut paste

But—Oh. Mon. Dieu. The raptures and the heaving body parts and the loud sighs of pleasure rang against the mirrored walls of his shop as everyone who had any tension or stress in their body were rendered hopeless against the silky paste made only of Italian hazelnuts rolled in dark, slightly burnt caramel, then ground so glossy-smooth that one hesitates to penetrate the chaste surface. But violate it we did.

I’m not sure how many jars people bought, since I wanted to be discreet, but I have my own (and I’m not going to share.) So if you’ll excuse me, I have some tasting to do, which I prefer to do alone.

And I’d like a little privacy.

Related Links:

Askinosie

White Chocolate & Fresh Ginger Ice Cream (Recipe)

Kallari: When Chocolate is a Way of Life (New York Times)

What is white chocolate?

Askinosie White Chocolate (Candy Blog)

US Standards for White Chocolate (FDA)

Chocolate FAQs

White Chocolate Sorbet (Recipe)

Jean-Charles Rochoux

Jean-Charles Rochoux (Website)

White Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats with Candied Peanuts (Recipe)

70 comments

  • I can’t wait to send this link to my foofy brother who turns his nose up whenever I offer a piece of sweet and creamy milk chocolate. Thanks!

  • Wow…

    I’ll have what he’s having!

  • This post needs a PG-13 rating!

  • I need a cigarette.

    And, a jar of that hazelnut stuff.

    XOXOXOX,
    ~ Paula

  • I normally don’t like white chocolate (I prefer milk choc), but the Askinosie white nib bar is my absolute favorite chocolate bar of all time! I’m lucky enough to live near the Chocosphere.com warehouse, and I’d pick up a few of these every month or so. A few weeks ago the owners informed me that they wouldn’t be carrying them any more, so I bought 7 bars to console myself. I was going to savor them for a month, but managed to eat them all in a week instead. Oops! It’s probably a good thing for my hips that I don’t have easy access any more.

  • Hmmm….that’s exactly my perfect dream – tasting chocolate dreams ;-)

  • I used to hate white chocolate because it’s not “real chocolate”, but you have just pointed out my misplaced logic. That, and that gorgeous looking Askinosie white chocolate bar. I’m staring at my online shopping cart on the Askinosie site right now.

  • BUT… I was recently offered a sample of the Askinosie White Chocolate Nibble Bar at a fantastic chocolate shop in Portland called Cacao owned by the nicest and least pretentious chocolate pushers you’d ever want to know: http://www.cacaodrinkchocolate.com/ (to which I have no affiliation, btw).

    It was the most unexpectedly good thing I’ve eaten in a long time – the first true and pure white chocolate I’d ever met (having only ever experienced “white chocolate” as the waxy, parafin-laced sugar/fat bars). It was creamy, sweet (but not cloying) with a hit of earthy and gamey (in a good way) goat’s milk. For the first time, I stopped comparing it to dark chocolate and accepted it for what it was. I finally “got” white chocolate. That said, most white chocolate in the world is a far cry from Askinosie. Seriously – this some good $h*t!!

  • I don’t hate white chocolate because it’s not “real chocolate”, but I hate most of it because it’s crappy! But good white chocolate is just as pleasurable to eat as anything else.

    You missed your calling David. If you ever start writing erotica, I’ll be first in line to buy your book. :-)

    Excuse me as I go take a cold shower. . .

  • PG-13? You mean rated R, don’t you? I quote: “slid his tool in, then jammed it into the mouth of each guest” dirty, dirty David ;)

  • Hande: All I’m gonna say is that there were zero complaints, during that session…

  • Definitely fanning myself after that! I guess for now I’ll have to make do with some Nutella for breakfast. I’m going to have to rethink my position on white chocolate which I’ve disliked for being sickeningly sweet. Perhaps I gave up on it before I had any that was really good.

  • Maybe if I tasted a really good white chocolate I could be convinced. The one you describe sounds pretty good. It’s got nothing on that hazelnut paste by the sounds of things though!

  • Love the ending! Sain!

  • this chocolate post is so HOT, I think everything is going to melt :D

    I can see already the title of your next book :

    HOW I BECAME A food PORN STAR KNOWN IN 109 COUNTRIES

  • Oh, hooray! Askinosie! My man lives in St. Louis, so I’ve had the stuff a couple of times — though my local cheese shop is carrying it now as well. I have always loved white chocolate (almost as much as I love dark chocolate) and I, too, don’t understand the snobbery around it. Get over it, people. Enjoy it for what it is – a unique, delicious animal.

  • I’ve never had any of the “good stuff” in white, but I’ll look for it now so I can try it. I’ve never had an issue with any of the white chocolates (well, almost never, some are better than others) I’m open to the idea that, like sex, there’s good and better!

    I adore the white coatings with fruit fillings (aka..See’s Bon bons) I imagine there will be some new bon bon’s coming to market with the higher quality stuff. I hope, I hope! Your chocolate tour sounds wonderful, btw.

  • I don’t like white chocolate, but not because it’s not chocolate. It’s just too sweet. But this one looks fantastically good!

  • I clearly need some of that Hazelnut Whatever You Call It in my life. Clearly.

  • I do love white chocolate. Always have. And, now, I will have to find some Askinoise.

  • Great post today. I think I might be breathing a little heavier. The hazelnut “stuff” looks heavenly. I went to high school with Shawn Askinosie, and have taken a tour of his chocolate factory in Springfield, Missouri. I was lucky to taste the white chocolate before it was out on the market yet (or maybe they had just sold out at the very beginning). His chocolate is so good.

  • What a fabulous post! I’ll be in Paris next week & I think I’ll absolutely need to get myself one of those wonder jars! :)

  • Cinnamonda: If there’s any left! After re-reading this post, I think I’d better stock up for the next few months…

    Be sure to say hi for me. M. Rochoux is working in the shop and he’ll likely give you a taste as well. Don’t say no! ; )

    lgal: The better white chocolates do have less sugar, but this one has that little bit of goat milk, which is barely discernible but gives it a less-sweet edge. I do like the salted pistachio bar quite a bit.

    Susan: It was a lot of fun, but I think I wore everyone out with my enthusiasm, although they rallied to the cause day-by-day. The hazelnut paste was a nice break from the chocolate, although I’m waiting to see if M. Rochoux combines the two at some point in the future.

  • I have almost ordered some Askinoise chocolate, but haven’t.

    Now I might.

  • Sounds pretty accurate to me…

  • Oh dear god, if they ship internationally I am going to get fat.

  • Oh my god.. I really want to fly straight over and get some of that hazelnut thing. I could almost taste it through the picture!!

  • Is Ashkinosie a play on Ashkenazi or is this too obvious to be true?

    JCC

  • So, why do they call it “white” chocolate?

  • Forgive me for “cross-blogging ” here, but I want to wish you an amazing turn out for your book signing/reading(!) tonight, David. You deserve all the accolades and more.
    I sent a copy to a francophile/writer friend in SF who is recovering from brain surgery to help cheer him up and stimulate his neurons. If that doesn’t work, I’ll send him some Ashkinosie choco.

  • Haha… good post; perhaps this is a white chocolate worth trying. The “nutella” sounds AMAZING and not just due to the steamy description.

    I will say though, that the only times I make the “but it’s not chocolate” complaint is when someone is trying to push the white stuff on me on the basis that “it’s just chocolate – you LIKE chocolate.” I get this from my father-in-law all the time. Given a context in which the argument as to why one should eat white chocolate is that it “is chocolate”, I think it is more than fair to point out the facts. Frankly, I’d do the same if someone was pushing a crappy white wine on me and insisting “but you like champagne!”.

  • wow, I’ve never been much of a fan of white chocolate but the Askinosie looks amazing. maybe I’ve only ever had crappy white chocolate?

  • Askinosie white choc is one of my favs. I love the natural dark color-it tells me that there’s more “cocoa” flavor.

    Mr. Rouchoux doesn’t happen to ship his “Nutella” overseas, does he? The next time you’re in New York, can I buy a jar off of you? Pretty please?

  • Your titillating description of the behind-closed-doors not-Nutella tasting brought to mind this little ditty:

    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/211025/november-23-2008/a-colbert-christmas–john-legend

  • I’m tempted to go to Cacao as soon as I leave work now (it’s only 2 blocks away) – thanks for the heads-up, Joanna.
    When I was little, I told people I was allergic to white chocolate, because I never liked whatever I had. Silly, I know! But I haven’t had any that I liked in a very long time – I’ll have to check this stuff out now. Maybe I’ll pick some up on the way back from the farmers’ market tomorrow…

  • I don’t really like dark chocolate. I only like milk and white. That makes me very unsophisticated.

  • Did I miss it? Did I miss the location where I can find M. Rouchoux and get a little taste of my own?!

  • That is the most gorgeous white chocolate I have ever seen. It almost makes me think of it as ‘real’ chocolate! :-)

  • OMG. I am literally licking my lips and starting to feel a little drop of drool on the side of my mouth. This time last year, we getting ready to pack up our bags and to fly to Paris to watch the French Open and wander around Le Marais, where our little rented apartment was. I was already feeling nostalgic, but now I am nearly in tears. :(

  • I’m a dark chocolate freak, BUT when I was growing up in San Diego, my grandmother received a big box of “white chocolate” from friends somewhere in the East and since she wasn’t crazy about it, I got to eat as much as I liked. And I loved it. But like you, David, I never compared it to real chocolate; it is it’s own fabulous creation (is that from La Cage aux Folles?). So thank you for sharing your wonderful adventure, and I too would like to sample that concoction you tasted. And also thanks for commenting (positively) on why we need to pay for high quality chocolate!

  • What is the name of the Hazlenut wonder and where does one find it in Paris?

  • I just started reading your blog and love Paris as well not really sure how I missed it for so long when surfing the net. I am not a white chocolate fan but I am going to have to be open minded and try some that you have pictured above. It looks so good and I have no problem paying for quality. I actually contacted Askinosie because I am a food Buyer for a gourmet foods wholesaler/distributor and it looks like a product that we could do a good job selling (thanks for the lead). I got a response within an hour of contacting Askinosie which is nice that they are on top of their customer service.

    Dave

  • Sin of sins! Chocolate AND Hazelnuts? You are insane, David, and at this late hour, well, so am I. Insanely JEALOUS!

  • Goat’s milk in chocolate? That sounds delicous. Oh, and what was the name of the hazelnut stuff, or is it a secret just like the sesame baguette? :)

  • I love white chocolate (good quality, of course). I especially like to bake with it–when you make a cake with white chocolate in it, it looks like a regular butter cake, but then it has this little whisper of cocoa butter that makes people think…

  • Cathleen, Clbtx, Jessica, and Eralda: I don’t know what it’s officially called, but as mentioned, he was calling it, to us, “Nutella” (which it really isn’t..)

    I don’t know if he ships but the address of his shop and his website/contact info are listed under the Related Links in the post.

    Skippy: Rose Berenbaum has a wonderful cake, called White Whisper Cake, that’s made with white chocolate that your comment reminded me of. It’s in her book; The Cake Bible, if you have it.

  • Is it wrong to want to lick my iMac monitor in some desperate Willy Wonka fantasy where I can actually taste that Hazelnut Spread right form my desk in Chicago??? All I need are some Oompa Loompa’s to make that happen. It would bring a whole new level of delight to your blog if that were possible.

    And please please pretty please let us know when M. Rochoux combines that Hazelnut Spread with chocolate. As soon as he does I’ll be on the next flight :-) I still in weak moments fantasize about “les snickers”. Damn you.

  • This all sounds incredibly delicious. Please, please tell us the name of the hazelnut concoction, and if it will ever be sold here. I love hazelnuts nearly as much as I love chocolate, but find Nutella to be overly sweet for my tastes unless it’s used in a dessert. As you can see, I’m not the only one curious about this.

  • I seriously put on five pounds just reading this post — and I know I’m about to put five more on because I’m now craving chocolate of all sorts bigtime…

    I’ve always been a white chocolate lover so I’m glad to see good versions of it get some props!

  • That not nutella thing sounds pretty hot ;) I am still waiting for your book to hit Borders in Westchester, NY.

  • I have loved white chocolate from the age of 5 when I would visit a small chocolate shop with my grandmother and receive this wonderful treat for good behavior. When in Paris, I always visit Chocolat du Monde and Michel Chadun to soothe my white chcolate cravings. Imagine my surprise today when in Chocolat du Monde I was informed they no longer make white chocolate. It was a sad day but one that has forced me out of my comfort zone. Now I am on the search for more white chocolate sources in Paris. I’m open to all recommendations! (JPTnDC)

  • Hey, look what you started: link

  • I plan to go to the market to pick up a couple of bars! Luckily, the company is only a few hours from my home.

    David, I’m coming to Paris in a few months if you would like me to bring some!

  • I’ve always thought Green & Blacks white chocolate with vanilla bean was the pinnacle of white chocolate but this post blows that theory out of the water.

    I’ve just finished your book, it was delicious thank you!

    xx

  • Thank you for the report on these brands – they all stare at me from the display next to the line at the grocery where I buy lunch each day – now not sure which I’ll buy first (so, them all, then?) cheers!

  • Wow! This is a coincidence…straight after I read your post on Askinosie chocolate I looked through The Sydney Morning Herald’s weekly “Good Living” magazine and saw a regular food writer’s recommendation for it…it’s pricey but it looks so yummy and I love the whole bean-to-bar thing. Apparently the package also tells you who the grower of the beans is and everything – it definitely sets a great standard for food traceability. And as for the “nutella”….I’m already thinking of ways I can recreate it at home with the best hazelnuts I can source in Sydney and homemade caramel.

  • Looks very yummy. Wonderful blog post about chocolate.
    Looking at that hazelnut pictures makes me go crazy. So delicious.

  • David Lebovitz, you bring new meaning to the phrase “food porn”.

  • This hazelnut-caramel paste reminds me of Amedei Crema Toscana which makes an amazing hazelnut paste made of Piedmont hazelnuts. It’s to die for but it’s made with chocolate, not caramel.

  • I like white chocolate for some things, but not very often. I don’t dislike it, but I don’t crave it often. Like you say…sometimes you want wine and sometimes you want champagne. What keeps white chocolate from becoming a frequent ingredient for me is the intense sweetness and the thick, buttery mouth feel that has no bitterness to cut it. The Askinosie bars look amazing and sound like they are made with care. The flavors and sweetness are probably better balanced than many white chocolates out there. I’ll have to order some to find out for sure. ;)

  • Hi David

    I follow KCRW’s podcast from Sydney. It was cool to listen to the segment you had. Was the Kallari chocolate amazing, or have you had much better? I’m really interested and I’ll start looking around for it down under, but only if you think it is something that shouldn’t be missed.

    And surely you want to replicate the recipe for Hazelnut I-Don’t-Know-What-You-Want-to-Call-It But-It-Sure-Made-Everyone-Go-Wild, no?

  • Hi SydneyCider: I would say the Kallari was more ‘interesting’ than exceptional. I think what they’re doing is terrific and deserves support but I’d be interested to see what it tastes like after they ramp up their production.

    Would be happy to replicate their Hazelnut paste…if someone’s willing to cough up the €9000 (or whatever it costs) for a broyeuse!

  • I agree. The great work opportunities it gives the people is fantastic. And it is such a unique thing in terms of chocolate production. I was very interested to see if “fresh” beans made for better chocolate. I can’t get over the fact that they allow for a 10% rot factor, even in high end chocolate.

    €9000! No problem! Man that is expensive. Do they sell the paste online? You got me addicted to nut pastes from your previous post on pistachio ice cream. I then saw Ferran Adria make a pistachio paste by adding hot water to pistachios and it looked really creamy. But I digress. I’ll try doing the hazelnut paste it in a mortar and a pestle, pounding away for 2 days, taking breaks only for the occasional coffee. I am sure I can buy a mihbaj for much less than €9000!

    Anyway, thanks for replying. If ever in Sydney, let me know, I’ll show you around. A warning though, we don’t have michellin stars here, but we have chef’s hats, a much cooler standard.

  • I have always loved white chocolate for a treat because of the sweetness – I never imagined cacoa nibs within a white chocolate bar – genius!

    The hazelnut paste looks wonderful.

  • Hi, David, just surfed into your blog looking for infomation about baguettes, so I found it and much more,
    thank for the informations
    eduardo lopes

  • Wow… Askinosie’s online store looks great! I was disappointed to see they were not a European company… seems the US artisans are much more advanced at using the internet to sell directly to the Foodie community.
    There must be a huge opportunity for EU based artisans to do a better job of sharing their passion with the world… we are hoping to help with http://www.gourmetkazoo.com
    Please send high quality EU artisans our way so we can help them & gourmands alike in a massive online community marketplace where producers can easily interact & sell directly to international Foodies!

  • Thanks for highlighting Kallari. I’m an American living in Ecuador and it shocked me how difficult it is to find good chocolate here in a country where cacao is produced. I had been buying imported (read: $$$) German bars, but when I heard about Kallari, I started making a point of dropping by to purchase some when I’m in that part of town. They just started making a bar with aji (chiles) in it, which is also an interesting taste. I still prefer the German chocolate, but it’s always a pleasure to buy local!

  • Hi David, I have a chocolate question for you. Since I live in Germany I can get my hands on almost all of the best chocolate Europe has to offer. Not so for American chocolates. The only bars from the states I can get here are Amano (which are good). How do you get your hands on Askinosie, Patric, Theo and all the other great chocolates being made stateside these days? From your travels to the US? Or do you know how I could get some shipped here, because most don’t offer up that option on their sites :-(
    I’ve tried shipping European chocolates to the states in exchange for these bars but it didn’t work (as in: I shipped good stuff over and got nada).
    Maybe one of your stateside readers will read this and be willing to give this idea a try if there is no other way…
    Help :-D
    Keep up the great enjoyable writing and the mouth-watering photos!
    Thanks, Adrian

  • Hi Adrian: Unfortunately many (or all, as far as I know) of these chocolates aren’t available in Europe. Shipping and customs are usually one of the issues. You may have luck finding them on a British website, but I have them shipped to friends coming over. Or get them when I’m in the states. Occasionally they’ll send ones as tasting samples, too.

    Although I’ve not used one, there are international mail forwarding companies which will act as a mailbox in the US then forward packages. Google “international package forwarding” to find one.

  • Thanks, David, for your speedy reply. I will give that a try. (no rhyming intended)