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New chocolate-makers are springing up across America, in the most unlikeliest of places. Like Missouri.

Who’d a thunk it?

Patric Chocolate

Using good ‘ol American ingenuity, a little over a year ago, Alan McClure started grinding up beans and molding them into lithe bars of very dark, and very sleek, bittersweet chocolate.

His company, Patric chocolate, makes bars that are “micro-produced,” and he’s got two in his line-up, both using cacao from Madagascar.

When I asked Alan what attracted him to the cacao from that region, he said “Since the bars are made from cacao that come from one single estate, and since the family there has owned it for quite some time, they really have been able to exert an extremely high level of control on the quality and consistency of the fermentation and drying, which is actually quite rare in the cacao world.”

Alan proclaims that this isn’t pure “criollo” chocolate, a much-touted term for a varietal that almost all chocolate experts say no longer exists in its pure form. (Some chocolate-makers are claiming to the contrary.) Right now, the all the beans for Patric’s bars are from a plantation in the Sambirano Valley.

Back in Columbia, Missouri, where Patric chocolate is made, a small amount of cocoa butter is added to the 67% bar, which tempers the flavor just a bit, and it’s interesting to taste the two examples side-by-side.

Because they look so similar, after I unwrapped the tablets, I forgot which was which. But after breaking the corner off both of them, I immediately knew which was the 70% bar; it was the one that broke off with a hard, crisp snap, and I tasted that one first. The little triangle melted in my mouth with lush, ripe red fruit at the beginning, lingering with a long roasty finish. The flavors were tannic, but not harsh at all. Someone who really loved complex, dark chocolate as much as I do would love this bar.

Softer and creamier was the 67% tablet. That small amount of cocoa butter released other flavors, namely dried cherries and plum skins. It was far more fruity than the previous bar, which surprised me and was less-intense, but quite good, too.

I continue to be impressed by the imagination and creativity of the new American chocolate makers and they’re well-worth searching out and supporting. I can’t wait to see what comes next out of Patric’s chocolate grinders. Next up for this micro-producer is a higher-percentage Madagascar bar, and a few others things he’s being coy about.

Alan has a very interesting blog, which talks about, and demystifies, the process behind sourcing beans and making chocolate. And he’ll be revealing more of what he’s up to as he grinds along.

Patric Chocolate
Columbia, MO

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    • Tempered Woman

    YAY! Props for Missouri chocolate. I had a suspicion Patric is who you were talking about on Twitter. Thanks for finally telling us & very nice review! I agree they deserve it.

    • Michelle in NZ

    Just as well New Zealand is so far away from where you live. My lack of waistline would expand even more

    This is wonderful sounding Chocolate, my senses are imagining the 70% one with delight. Thank you David, for posting about such wonderful food. Over and over again..

    Huggles, Michelle in NZ

    • Michelle in NZ

    Just as well New Zealand is so far away from where you live. My lack of waistline would expand even more

    This is wonderful sounding Chocolate, my senses are imagining the 70% one with delight. Thank you David, for posting about such wonderful food. Over and over again..

    Huggles, Michelle in NZ

    • pf

    I’ve tasted dried cherries but have not tasted plum skins independent from the actual plum.

    • martina

    This company Claudio Corallo is opening up a retail store near my job.

    Resistance may be futile.

    • French Laundry at Home

    Have you tried Steve DeVries’ chocolate out of Colorado? A friend of mine recommended it, and I just got it delivered yesterday.

    • Ms. Glaze

    I’m always up for a chocolate bar tasting! Where can we buy this one? Is it being sold Nationwide?

    • Kim

    Missouri, I had to reread that line. So glad we have some new chocolate makers in the states. Can’t wait to give these a try. Thanks for telling us about Patric.

    • David

    pf: Plum skins tastes very different from the flesh, which is sweet. Next time you buy plums, just take a taste of the skin and you’ll notice the difference.

    ms glaze: Patric chocolate is only being sold direct, through their site, for now.

    French Laundry: I haven’t tasted Steve’s chocolate; am very interested in it and will search some out next time I’m back in the state. Let us know how it is!

    martina: Ditto!

    • Camille

    I second the recommendation for DeVries Chocolate. I absolutely love everything I’ve had from him. He uses raw sugar in his chocolate, which results in a unique, almost molasses-y flavor.

    And he makes caramelized cacao nib clusters, which are out of this world! I have not been fortunate enough to get my hands on any Patric Chocolate yet, but currently, DeVries is my favorite. (And here I am, stuck in Paris with only Valrhona, Cluizel, and Bonnat to keep me company!) :)

    • Merritt

    Hey! Don’t hate on Missouri. Saint Louis is home of one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs and we also have several chefs nominated for James Beard Awards!

    • suzanne

    A chocolate maker called TCHO has started up in San Francisco, claiming to be the only one in town (Guittard is south bay; Ghirardelli is east bay) . They are building a visitors’ center on Pier 17; you should check it out the next time you are in town.

    • David

    Merritt: Tsk tsk. No hate on Missouri! It’s just not the first (or second, or third..) place I think about when it comes to manufacturing chocolate. (Usually cooler climates are preferred.)

    And now that we know there’s good chocolate there, you can keep those Beard Awards—bring on the chocolate!

    • Mimi

    As a college town, Columbia, Missouri, would be the perfect place to make chocolate.

    It’s a great training ground for journalists who prefer candy bar lunches to any others. I speak from experience.

    Is there a brewery or distillery there, by any chance?


    • Meghan

    I grew up in Missouri, but have lived in Chicago and most recently Seattle (yeah Theo chocolate!) before moving back to Columbia six months ago. I thought I had searched out every good farm, food vendor, and market in the area. I never even thought about chocolatier.

    Leave it to someone living in Paris to enlighten me. Somehow this makes me feel more OK about moving back. Thanks.

    • Anita

    That’s my hometown! I lived there for 18 years before going to college in Cleveland. AND, I’m about to go home for 3 weeks on Wednesday, I’ll be sure to check up on Patric’s if it’s a store!

    It makes me so happy to see Columbia’s name grace such an awesome blog. Up and coming! Thanks so much!

    • Mireille

    Do you have any suggestions for how I can make an almond, fig, chocolate cake with fennel whipped cream? An idea inspired from Theo’s. Thanks.

    • Emiline

    Hooray for Missouri chocolate!

    • Farmgirl Susan

    I knew Missouri wasn’t a culinary wasteland. Maybe we’ll even convince you to come visit one of these days. Now if only I lived near Columbia. ; )

    • Alanna

    Alan did a presentation for the St. Louis Slow Food group a couple of months ago and the man practically ** dances ** with enthusiasm, bubbling up with knowledge and curiosity both. He’s an incredible ambassador for the world of artisnal chocolate and Missouri is very happy he calls this state home!

    PS There’s actually another bean to bar chocolate maker in Missouri, that makes 2 out of the 5 or so small shops in the country. So there! :-)

    • Claudia

    I enjoyed your chocolate information -you’re the source! And, the post links, etc. I’ve been growing cacao and experimenting with processing it. Have pretty much gotten the fermentation, drying etc. down, but I can’t get the really smooth grind without expensive equipment.

    Anyway, the truffles I make take care of my chocolate fix, but I do break it up now and then with good Dagoba, Chocolove or others.

    • David

    Claudia: There’s a terrific website, Chocolate Alchemy, which is a resource of information and materials for folks who want to make their own chocolate at home, or on a small-scale.

    • Vanilla

    How interesting!?
    I’m actually from Madagascar and what caught my attention in your post was your mentionning of the Sambirano Valley.
    Madagascar, which is known for its vanilla and its lemurs, has been producing cocoa beans for decades. The main chocolate-makers there are Robert and Socobis. A new chocolate-maker Epiceo/Cinagra has just been recently made appearance with delicious 63-70% – I actually have one square in my hand from a recent trip! You should definitely give them a try!


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