Introducing the Sjölinds Botanical Bars

Before we started making chocolate I had never really thought of chocolates place in nature.  It did not occur to me that chocolate started out as a seed, in a pod, that grows on a tree.  Now I not only see chocolate's place in nature but how chocolate can combine with other flavors in nature.  Our lead chocolate maker, Melissa, has come up with several combinations that we call our Botanical Bars.

It all started when I invited a chef in Madison to use our chocolate grinder to make a batch of mustard.  When he removed the mustard he left a bit behind in the grinder and we made our first mustard chocolate.  Then when New Glarus was having its Oktober Fest, Maple Leaf Cheese and Chocolate Haus asked if we could make a beer themed chocolate, and that is when Melissa invented our hops chocolate.  Then when a chocolate bean arrived to us tasting of smoke, Melissa didn't fight it, but turned it into our porcini mushroom and smoked sea salt bar.  Finally, Melissa wanted a milk chocolate in the collection, so she artfully combined her beautiful Wisconsin milk chocolate with chamomile.  

You will find the botanical bars along side all our other bars at both our Mount Horeb locations.

 

 

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Necessity Will Lead to Ed the Inventor

When we first started making small batches of chocolate in 2007, we didn't really expect to find chocolate equipment that would be small enough.  So we bought the home coffee roaster and the home sized curry grinder.  

When it came time to get larger equipment we found that the specialized chocolate equipment was just too expensive.  So now we have a large coffee roaster and very large curry grinders.  This is not uncommon for bean to bar makers.  You need to be quite inventive to be on the forefront of artisan chocolate making.

The problem came in up-scaling the winnowing of beans.  (Winnowing is the separating of the inside of bean from the skin of the bean.)  When we were doing small batches we would peel the beans by hand.   One day Ed Moen, the owner of our local motel, The Village Inn, saw us chatting away and peeling beans said, "That is not going to work when your larger grinder arrives."  I confessed that I had not solved this problem yet.  All the winnowers looked like they had too many moving parts, therefore too many ways to break.  It turns out that Ed is also a mechanical engineer. He got on the problem right away, winnowing sunflower seeds though the winter months.  He started with a model built out of PVC pipes.  When this model proved flawless, he had a stainless steel version built.  This wonderful invention super cleans the beans and has only an inexpensive ShopVac instead of any moving parts.  THANK YOU ED!

If you would like to have a winnower built, you can reach Ed at edmoen54@gmail.com.   

The Rusk Story

I was raised by Norwegians and Swedes.  When babies were teething they would get a thick piece of sweet toasted bread, a rusk, to teeth on.  Those rusks were so delicious that I would try and sneak one before my baby sisters would get hold of them.  Rusks must of been hard to get or too expensive or made by my grandmother who lived far away or adults like them as much as I did, because after we were done teething we didn't get those special rusks any more. 

My mom would make something she would call a rusk, but I knew that they were only stale hot dog or hamburger buns buttered and a bit of sugar sprinkled on the top and toasted in the oven. No comparison to the real rusks.

The memory of those rusks haunted me.  No, I don't think haunted is too strong of a word.  Some of you may understand what it is to have a taste memory that can't be satisfied.  I looked thru family cookbooks, Scandinavian cookbooks, asked family (they only remembered the stale buns). Nothing.

When my grandmother, Grandma Jackie, passed away I inherited some of her cookbooks.  When I was paging thru the Swedish Institute of America Cookbook there was a recipe for rusks.  I thought it was too good to be true, until I made them.  The same wonderful rusks that I remembered!

We now make our cinnamon rolls and breakfast buns out of that same rusk dough.  We also halve and toast some of the buns keeping the rusk memory alive.  Turns out it wasn't just me that remembered these treats.        

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