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On June 15, the Sylvania Farmers Market welcomed Elizabeth and Matt Gentry of Harvest Chocolate to its artisan food lineup. The bean to bar craft chocolate business from Adrian, Mich. offers chocolate bars and snacking chocolate made from cocoa beans from around the world.
Harvest Chocolate’s products, except for one, are vegan. Two dark chocolate bars are offered, Cocoa Coffee Crunch and Raspberry Beet. Their white chocolate varieties include Cinnamon Custard, Strawberry Crème Brulee and Milk and Honey.
Both Elizabeth and Matt have backgrounds in hospitality management and culinary degrees. “I’m the one who creates most of the chocolate,” said Elizabeth Gentry. “Matt supports me and is my number one taste tester.”
Elizabeth, a pastry chef, and Matt, a chef before transitioning to sales, have worked in fine dining restaurants in Chicago, New York and San Francisco, and together helped open a restaurant in Napa California. In 2014 the couple moved to Adrian, where Elizabeth is from, to be closer to family. She most recently worked as a pastry chef at Element 112 on Main Street in Sylvania for a couple of years.
A February 2020 trip to Ecuador gave the Gentrys the idea to create Harvest Chocolate. While there, they visited cocoa bean farms and learned how they are grown and harvested. “Much like grapes, cocoa beans from different countries have different tasting notes,” said Gentry. “For example, cocoa beans from Guatemala are known for being very fruity. They taste like luscious raspberries. Beans from Africa are known for being rich and have a luxurious taste. Our snacking chocolate highlights those tastes,” she explained.
Currently, the Gentrys purchase their cocoa beans from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Uganda, Haiti and Guatemala. “We work with a company that works with farmers all over the world. They can tell us a lot about the farmers and how the beans are grown. It’s a partnership that’s really valuable to us,” Gentry said.
Once the beans are delivered, the chocolate making process begins. “We start with the whole cocoa bean. First the beans are put through a grinder that gently blows the outer shells away and just leaves the insides of the beans, called the nibs. That’s what you make the chocolate with,” said Gentry. The beans are then stone ground for about 48 hours until they reach a smooth velvety consistency. “It’s similar to a mortar and pestle but a more advanced method,” she added.
Harvest Chocolate products are sold exclusively at the Sylvania Farmers Market, held on Tuesdays from 4 to 7 pm at Harroun Community Park. “Our plan is to have a full launch next spring with an online store. The next phase will be to have a solid location and expand our offerings,” Gentry explained.
“We had a great response for our first market,” said Gentry. “I don’t think people were expecting to see chocolate and were very interested. We felt really grateful.”
Thank you to the Gentrys for sharing recipes for some of their favorite
Iced Sipping Chocolate
2 cups whole milk, or your favorite non-dairy alternative
6 ounces Harvest Dark Chocolate
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
In a sauce-pot, bring milk and sugar to a boil.
Pour hot milk mixture over the chocolate in a bowl.
Mix until smooth, cool in the refrigerator until cold to the touch, then pour over ice and enjoy.
Cherry Cocoa Nib Cobbler
For the filling:
2 pounds of cherries, pitted and halved
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon sea salt
Juice of 1 lemon
For the topping:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup Harvest Chocolate cocoa nibs
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ cup (1 stick) cold butter, cubed
¾ cup buttermilk
Melted butter, for brushing
Sugar in the raw, for topping
Heat oven to 350 F. For the filling, in a large bowl, combine the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, salt and lemon juice. Let sit while making the cobbler topping.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa nibs, baking powder and sea salt. Add the cold butter and cut it into the flour using your hands until the butter is pea sized. Add the buttermilk and mix until just combined with no dry ingredients remaining unmixed.
Pour the fruit filling into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, then spoon dollops of the cobbler dough on top. Brush the top of the dough with butter and sprinkle with sugar in the raw.
Bake until golden and fruit filling is bubbling, about 1 hour.
Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon sea salt
½ pound butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
6 ounces Harvest Dark Chocolate, chopped into course pieces
Heat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, whisk or sift together the dry ingredients: the flour, baking soda and sea salt.
In a mixer fitted with a paddle, begin to beat the butter on medium until creamy. Add the sugar and brown sugar and continue to beat on medium for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg and mix on low to combine.
Add the flour mixture and mix on low just until combined.
Fold in the chocolate
Refrigerate dough overnight for best results.
Form the dough into 3 ½ ounce balls (100 grams). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake until the edges are golden brown, and the cookie has just started to set, about 12-14 minutes.