Illumination

On February 14, 2016, the moon was waxing crescent or gaining in illumination. The drawing of the moon herein is made in cacao on a textured paper to evoke its cratered surface. It was painted by mother Elaine. The sentiment was written by my poet-friend, e.s.m. Happy Valentine’s Day.

moon

 

 

illumination-final

Plaqueminier sur l’épaule

persimmon-on-shoulder

plaqueminier sur l’épaule | persimmon on shoulder 

The celebration of the New Year presents dried California persimmons, an autumn ritual of slow, gentle persuasion.

When ripe, the skin of the hachiya persimmon displays a smooth, gentle lustre—as if lit from within; it is the deep, resonant orange of flame, streaked occasionally with black. Cupped in one’s palm, the fruit is plump, ample, weighted, giving slightly to the touch. The flesh within possesses a sweet, honeyed flavor; its texture is succulent, that of thick jelly dissolving on the tongue. The hachiya persimmon reaches a stage of ripeness so fragile that it must be handled very delicately, the fruit as vulnerable as it is exquisite.

The season of the heart-shaped hachiya is fleeting, but I knew the possibility: through careful drying, I could make the persimmon last a little longer . . . I could preserve it, at its cusp of tannicity, and slowly turn it into concentrated sweetness . . . and even offer it as nectar for courting lovers on the feast of Saint Valentine.

The months of November and December are devoted to the preparation. There is a beauty and serenity surrounding the process—hand harvesting and peeling, air drying, gentle massaging and attentive monitoring. Like making chocolate, the integrity of drying persimmons involves an intimate relationship between maker and fruit; we must together pinpoint a fluent cadence to maintain the quality of the finished product.

The drying of a hachiya rises into a fruit of tender, chewy interior—as vivid and evocative as the ripe persimmon itself. Its taste is ambrosia with a flavor reminiscent of apricot, date, the hint of cinnamon. Once completely dried, the hachiya persimmon reveals a startling beauty. Sliced thinly on the diagonal, it makes a beautiful addition to a cheese platter. It is delicious served for dessert as solitary morsel or dipped in a velvety dark chocolate. 

With gratitude to Master Gardeners Peter and Gwendolyn Jacobsen of Jacobsen Orchards who welcome me into their home and garden, enlighten me with their well-educated palates and inspire me to create beautiful foods like dried California persimmons.  

Visit www.barauchocolat.com to purchase gift bags and jars.

Happy New Year!

The Melting Point

Bar au Chocolat is profiled in the December 2016 issue of Los Angeles magazine. David Hochman has written an in-depth feature titled “The Melting Point” about the craft chocolate scene in Los Angeles. The magazine is available online (www.lamag.com) and at your favorite newsstands.

 

Pulse

Pulse is our 3rd annual Day of the Dead | Día de los Muertos chocolate. In November 2016, we made a house blend 72% dark chocolate and aged it for one year in coffee beans.

The following poem accompanied each bar and is written in three stanzas to honor the third wave of coffee:

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Life Sentence

In May 2014, this news story appeared on MSN:

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — It’s enough to make a candy junkie give up the sweet stuff forever.

A self-declared chocolate addict has been sentenced to five months in one of Colombia’s harshest prisons for swiping $8 worth of candy bars.

Luis Augusto Mora was caught stealing two boxes of locally made Jumbo bars at a Bogota supermarket. After confessing, Mora was sentenced to La Picota prison, home to some of the country’s most hardened criminals and drug-traffickers.

The tough punishment has caught the attention of President Juan Manuel Santos. In a radio interview Tuesday he said that misdemeanors like Mora’s shouldn’t waste prosecutors’ time and effort.

Meanwhile, prosecutors have distributed a statement saying the chocolate thief is expressing regret.

Mora says he’ll “never again touch a chocolate in my life.”

Now, that is what I call a life sentence.