11.2.10 Just Askin'
Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned. Somehow I neglected to tell you about one of my favorite treats. I do like having secret sources, but this one is too good not to share. Askinosie is a bean-to-bar chocolate operation based in, of all places, Springfield, Missouri. (No, not all groovy handcrafted chocolate is from the new Brooklyn.) The owner, Shawn Askinosie, had a sort of chocolate epiphany in 2005 and got really distracted from his career as a criminal defense attorney. He studied cocoa post-harvest techniques in the Amazon rain forest and worked in a chocolate factory in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and the result is a very interesting company that is not at all pretentious despite its sophistication. They seek out farmers in Latin America, really understand the beans and process them into award-winning bars at their factory located in a historic building from 1894. Not only is their single-origin dark chocolate some of the best I've ever sampled, but they also do a Soconusco White Chocolate bar made from non-deodorized cocoa butter and goat's milk powder that is studded with pistachios; a Dark Milk Chocolate with Fleur de Sel; and their new Malted Moo Moo Dark Milk Chocolate Bar, with the robust, funky flavor of malt that I find totally irresistible. (Full disclosure: Shawn just mailed me one of these to try after I sent the family chocoholic an Askinosie gift certificate for his recent birthday.)
In addition to having exceptional chocolate, the company has a wonderful story to tell, all expressed through clever writing, great graphics and very cool packaging. Please check out their website to read and learn more about their commitment to worthy causes. (Even if their exquisite treats are the real reason you pay them a visit!)