Little did I know when I selected Ohio for this week’s blog post that there would be a tangential connection to Lori’s Missouri post from yesterday…read on for more details!
I always find it fascinating to hear stories about what leads people to become involved with chocolate. When Paul Picton would travel internationally as an aviation engineer and executive for Comair (a subsidiary of Delta Airlines), he would seek out chocolates to bring back to his wife Marlene. When that job ended in 2013, their stash of fine chocolate quickly became depleted. Paul & Marlene were looking for a business venture in which they could both contribute equally; so, after a visit to the Askinosie Chocolate factory in Missouri, the Pictons decided that entering the craft chocolate movement was a viable option. It’s become a family affair, since their sons Scott and Benjamin are also involved in the company’s operations.
One thing that you will notice when you access Maverick’s website is that each of their bar labels depicts a different 20th Century “flying machine” which pays homage to Paul’s former aviation career. The vintage/historic theme continues at their Findlay Market storefront in Cincinnati, Ohio since that space once housed the Hong Kong Tea & Coffee Company in the 1800s. A “maverick” is defined as an unorthodox or independent person and this bean-to-bar chocolate maker seeks to emulate its namesake by pushing the envelope and trying new things to please those with an adventurous palate.
63% Morropón Dark Chocolate
Immediately upon opening the tab keeping the outer textured cardboard packaging closed, you see a list of things to consider when tasting chocolate (which I try to touch upon in each of my posts).
To feel more connected to the people behind the chocolate, be sure to read the inner middle panel of the packaging which provides the details of Paul & Marlene’s chocolate journey.
Upon removing the reddish brown bar from the clear plastic pouch, my first smell was of roasted coffee. Sadly, many of the shiny faceted squares were marred by chocolate “dust” due to transit to California.
It took me a little bit of effort to split off a rectangle (2 squares) from the thick bar. There was a slightly brittle snap to the chocolate when segmenting the two squares from each other and I noticed several air bubbles at the breaking point, which yielded a nutty aroma.
Each of the 10 squares of their mold comes to a raised point in the center & this extra thickness made it a little difficult to bite into or segment into smaller tasting morsels. Chomping a piece, the initial flavor I experienced was sweet raisins. Then, while slowly melting a piece on my tongue, I could taste tart cherry and citrus (Peruvian chocolate is known to have natural citrus notes). I’m not sure if the additional cocoa butter contributes to the thick (but smooth) mouthfeel; personally, I would have liked the flavors to last longer and for the chocolate to melt more easily.
While researching Maverick Chocolate online, I enjoyed reading this 2015 article and was especially pleased to see a picture of a jute bag stamped with Morropón, Peru, the exact origin of the beans from the bar that I just sampled above! Additionally, from the bar’s packaging: “The Norandino Co-Op in Morropón, Peru unites small farmers with a common goal – to preserve the Piura White Criollo Cacao and to improve the quality of life for their farming community.”
Even though I’m generally a dark chocolate fan, I’d love to try their “Prohibition” milk chocolate with Kentucky bourbon, which won a silver medal from the International Chocolate Awards in 2015. Additionally, within a few months of opening Maverick Chocolate in 2014, they submitted their spicy Fahrenheit 513 bar and won a Good Foods Awards in 2015 (FYI, “513” is the area code of Cincinnati).
To check out the rest of their product line, which also includes nibs and a drinking chocolate mix, visit: http://maverickchocolate.com/
Remember to follow the Time to Eat Chocolate blog to hear about the next stop in the “50 States” project!
Other chocolate makers in Ohio:
fincaChocolate grows their own cacao in Puerto Rico & then makes small batch chocolate in Central Ohio. While their website doesn’t have too many details, they also have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fincachocolate/
NOTE: If you know of any other bean-to-bar makers in Ohio that aren’t mentioned above, please leave a comment or send an email so that we can keep this list as up-to-date as possible!