I am most definitely a Scharffen Berger Chocolate fan. If you want to make your next sundae or banana split mind blowing, dribble some of their Ganaches on top and be prepared to be spoiled for life.
However, as much as I love me the SB, with the economic times being tough right now, it's been a bit hard to justify pricey items and spending extra $$ especially on things like um, candy. However, I say if you're going to splurge a little here and there, then keep the Scharffen Berger on the list. Here's why...
Recently, I learned that Scharffen Berger is home based here in my neck of the woods. There are tours of the chocolate factory so pal Diane and I went, and wow! not only did I get to eat lots of chocolate, I learned quite a bit, and got a better understanding of why Scharffen Berger chocolates are so delicious, high quality, and pricey. I'm not going to be moaning about the price tag as much any more because when you understand better how they operate and create, you're a happy nosher.
Here are some nice pictures I was able to take from the tour, and a handful of things I learned. It is soooo cool that they let you snap away as most candy makers are ultra secretive, but our SB let's people take peeks. Enjoy!
Things I Learned:
- Scharffen Berger is owned by Hershey's, yeah the Kisses and Reese's people, under a subsidiary called Artisan Confections Company which also owns Joseph Schmidt and Organic Dagoba. The Artisan brands are like the couture of Hershey chocolates, and mama company pretty much leaves the kids alone to do what they do best which is a GOOD thing. Here are some pretty Joseph Schmidt truffles.
- Scharffen Berger supports sustainability and buys from farmers who operate under sustainability standards. (We love that!)
- These people seriously know their cacao beans, love beans, are picky about beans, and did I mention they really care alot about cacao beans. A big bulk of the tour was spent on Cacao U and show & tell. This was the first time I've ever seen, touched and smelled cacao beans. I also learned about fermentation. Who knew chocolate had to be fermented. Very fascinating!
- Whilst on the tour you gotta wear these lovely hair nets. They even have "beard" nets for the guys. No earrings allowed either. Makes sense.
- The Berkeley plant is Kosher and completely nut and dairy free which is good to know for those with allergies. Any chocolates with nuts and dairy are made elsewhere. Here are some chocolates coming right off the conveyor belt and some chocolate mixing in a HUGE mixer. HUGE!
- According to the food standards from you know those federal types in DC, milk chocolates only need to have 10% cacao and dark chocolates 35% cacao. Scharffen Berger milk chocolates contain 41% cacao so technically they would be considered a dark chocolate. So, right now, if your mind is thinking "Only 10%, then what's the rest in that cheap-o chocolate I eat?" Um, that would be sugar, additives, and whatever non-cacao stuff for $200 Mr. Trebek.
- All the milk used in the milk chocolates is organic from (to date) happy cows in Humboldt California.
- This is a great idea. Throw cacao nibs on your salad next time for a new crunchy twist.
- Cocoa butter melts at human body temperature which is why chocolate melts in your mouth.
- White chocolate is basically just cocoa butter and loads of sugar. It's just fat + sugar. Reminds me of why I stick to my favorite; the dark chocolates.
- See the shells outside the beans. Those shells are not thrown away, they are re-purposed and used in mulches for gardens. When it rains, your garden will smell like chocolate. Sweet!
- It's very obvious that the people who work in the Scharffen Berger Berkeley plant, at least all the ones we met, really enjoy being there, and really know their chocolate. I love going to places where you can tell the employees are passionate about their product. And indeed, everywhere smells like chocolate. If you have the chance to go visit, definitely go visit!
- If you need to splurge on something, again, putting your extra bucks into this good tasting and do-gooding chocolate company is so well worth it. My fave is the dark with the nibbies. Yummy!
- And for you foodies who create chocolate divineness, you can now enter Scharffen Berger and TuttiFoodie's 2nd annual Chocolate Adventure Recipe Contest. Deadline is January 4, 2009. Good luck!