Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Congo, Ivory Coast. This is the starting lineup of African regions from which pastry chef Ben Snyder is sourcing top-quality single-origin cacao beans for his new line of Lumineux Chocolate. The name, French for “luminous,” reflects the artisan’s desire that his chocolate will dazzle everyone who tastes it.
Ben’s foray into chocolate-making began last summer when he and his wife, Rebecca—also a pastry chef—bought a small batch of cacao beans and began experimenting. One bite of the final product and they were hooked. “There’s nothing like the taste of craft chocolate,” Ben declares. The couple, who had been wanting to open a food business, realized there was an unfilled niche in Greenville for bean-to-bar chocolate.
After receiving a shipment of fermented, dried cacao beans, Ben and Rebecca sort through the beans to remove any sticks and stones before roasting. Much like roasting coffee beans, higher temperatures coax out darker flavors in chocolate, while lower temperatures yield lighter, fruitier notes. The beans are then cooled and cracked, and put through a winnower. The resulting cacao nibs and cocoa butter are mixed with sugar and refined for 36 hours. Finally, Ben tempers the chocolate and molds it into tablets (thin bars) for the retail market, and baking discs that will be available to area restaurants.
When the Snyders launch their Lumineux line this month, you’ll be able to order 1oz and 2.6oz tablets online, or find them at local retailers and coffee shops. Some bars will be plain chocolate, and some will have infusions of complementary flavors. “We taste each chocolate every few hours during the refining process,” explains the novice chocolatier, “then we talk through the flavors and use our culinary experience to come up with good combinations.” Orange and cardamom, for instance, add sparks of citrus to the bright berry flavors in their Ugandan bars, while coffee intensifies the full-bodied molasses overtones of chocolate from Ghana.
So far, Ben hasn’t tampered with his personal favorite, the dark Tanzanian chocolate that lights up the palate with raspberry fruit and melts into a deep dried-raisin finish. “Each region has such a distinct flavor,” Ben says. “I love being able to roast beans and bring out flavors I never knew could exist in chocolate.”
Lumineux Chocolate, (215) 510-5370. Find a complete list of their retail outlets online at lumineuxchocolate.com.