You know it’s gifting crunch time, we know it too. You’re still not sure what to give, and you haven’t started shopping yet? That’s OK, we won’t tell. Here’s what some of your favorite faces from Caputo’s are giving to their friends and family this year to serve as gifting inspiration.
Don’t see your favorite monger here? Drop by before the holiday—we’re open through the afternoon of Christmas Eve—and ask them for their personal recommendations. We’re certainly never lacking in opinions around here.
So, here you have it: each of our gift picks for 2016:
Scaldaferro Torrone – Scaldaferro is the perfect nexus of heirloom ingredients and outlier in skill. No other nougat on Earth will taste like this. In my somewhat expansive nougat experience, it is the best out there. With our modern day food system continuously degrading what people are willing to pay for food, it is a treasure that will likely be lost to history some day. I am giving Scaldaferro as a gift, because it is a perfect example what Caputo’s is trying to achieve. We fight to protect these traditional foods by sharing our passion for them with our friends, family, and customers.
Pump Street Bakery Father Christmas – Is there anything better than a chocolate figurine of Saint Nick stuffed into your stocking on Christmas morning. There is – said Saint Nick made out of really, really good chocolate. Father Christmas is hand poured 60% dark milk chocolate from HCP protected Ecuador cacao beans. This is one I’ll be gifting both family and friends this season. The best part – Father Christmas is a whopping $8.99!
Holiday Chocolate Trio – I know exactly how much time went in to procuring the selection for all of our gift collections this year because I got to help! This collection is my favorite, it’s a taste of each holiday flavor we all know and love, but each is encased in chocolate. Who says no to something like this?! Scrooge, that’s who. Unless you’re searching for a Scrooge gift, this is perfect for stuffing individually into stockings or gifting bundled in adorable, festive gift wrap.
Royal Rose Naughty or Nice Moscow Mule Duo – Moscow Mule’s gained their popularity in the 50’s and 60’s. Traditionally served with Vodka and ginger beer in a copper mug, this drink has become a regularly sought after item in most drinking establishments. Royal Rose’s Naughty or Nice Moscow Mule kit adds a twist to the mix in the “Naughty” mixer with the addition of fresh jalapeno peppers. I chose to gift this to my Mother because she has always been interested in Moscow Mules and the culture surrounding the drink.
Utah Craft Chocolate Collection – What’s better than a bar of chocolate? A whole crate of local chocolates. Our local chocolate crate is a great way to introduce someone into the world of fine chocolate. I will be gifting our local chocolate crate to not only show my love for chocolate but also to support small local companies that strive to do such an amazing job.
Fee Brother’s Grapefruit Bitters – I’ll take a hefty dose of citrus any way I can get it in these cold winter months, why not incorporate it into cocktails?! I’ll be adding to gin & tonics at gatherings all season, but these make for a great gift for anyone interested in starting a home bar.
Affineuse and general cheese whisperer
The Silver Spoon cookbook – available at our Downtown location
The Silver Spoon is an elegant book brimming with recipes for classical Italian dishes, accompanied by striking photos. There is a recipe for practically any Italian ingredient you can think of, as well as many that may be unfamiliar. The recipes are straightforward and ingredient-focused, and I find this book inspiring when I want to get out of my comfort zone and try something new. If you love a food-nerd, you can not go wrong with this book. The Silver Spoon is a great investment in the future of your table and tastebuds!
We believe wholeheartedly in flavor here at Caputo’s. We celebrate the power of flavor’s ability to tell stories about the world in which we live and eat. It shapes our senses, it holds our histories, and it gives voice to our diversity. Unfortunately, the vast chorus that sings the world’s heirloom flavor notes is under a sustained attack from the rising tides of a globalized economy, a climate in utter crisis, and industrial agriculture’s efforts to homogenize food culture.
Few types of food face this grim reality more acutely than fine chocolate, whose makers rely on rich biodiversity, conscious agricultural practices, and discerning consumer choices to continue producing true bean-to-bar chocolate. No organization works harder to conserve the biological diversity of fine cacao, empower the farming communities in cacao growing regions, and advocate for a terroir-driven industry than the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative. As such, we’ve partnered with the HCP in this quest to preserve cacao culture. Caputo’s has proudly supported the HCP since 2013 by donating all proceeds generated at the annual Caputo’s Chocolate Festival.
Launched in partnership with the USDA and the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, the HCP has made it their mission to identify, map, and preserve the world of high quality, flavorful cacao, and to certify the growers of these endangered trees. As a nonprofit, the HCP “is committed to improving the lives of the farmers who assist us in protecting and preserving cacao diversity and the chocolate they produce. We are proud to be guided by the following values: planet, prosperity, and people.”
Because of their efforts, we are all lucky enough to continue enjoying a diversity of flavor, especially in Utah, which is home to such a high concentration of remarkably gifted bean-to-bar chocolate makers. Join us at our annual Chocolate Festival to celebrate the collective efforts of HCP, bean to bar chocolate makers, and chocolate enthusiasts who are helping support the revival of heirloom cacao and flavors of each bean. Come, celebrate the power of flavor, and contribute to what we at Caputo’s consider a truly worthy cause.
A: Amano is the most award winning American chocolate maker ever. The amount and quality of the awards they have won make this statement indisputable in a category where there always seems to be dispute. Not on this point. Amano was part of the first wave of craft chocolate makers in the US. When they got started, there was only about 14 other chocolate makers including giants like Hershey’s. Now, there are hundreds.
Amano has a unique advantage in sourcing as they do not buy cacao through the usual channels open to most small craft chocolate makers. Art often travels to origin and combs through the jungle to find unique origins and sources directly from the farms. In this way he is able to find very uncommon and rare cacao that no one else has. Amano’s chocolate making style is one of a kind. On the scale from loud brash American to sophisticated European, Amano achieves what makes each style great without sacrifice.
Art is widely recognized around the world as one of the world’s top experts in all things chocolate. In the global chocolate community, he is revered.
Moms deserve a day of spoiling, and it is our duty to do so. After all the dirty diapers, temper tantrums, homework help, fighting over curfew, learning to live alone, and then finally realizing she was right all along, it’s fair to say she is owed more than a few indulgences. Here’s what our moms are getting this year:
There is nothing cliche about giving Ma the gift of continued education, especially when said education revolves around chocolate, cheese, and other delicious ways to enjoy herself. Our summer schedule is filling up quick, but there’s still plenty of time to get in on the fun. The best part about this gift is joining her for some quality family time and reaping the benefits of both chocolate education and chocolate consumption with her!
If Mom is a busy one these days and can’t join you for a class, upscale chocolate never hurt anyone. Chocolatier Blue started in Alpine, Utah, but has since relocated to Berkeley, California. Despite the move, Chocolatier Blue uses Salt Lake made Solstice Chocolate for each filled chocolate. There is not a better filled chocolate in the country and you know your mom deserves the best there is. Select from a range of box sizes and flavors, we’ll fill them to order so you can select which flavors your mom will like best.
Dessert – Flowers & Cacao Pavlova
There’s always something incredibly satisfying about cooking for mom, and doing it well. This beautiful dessert is a welcome treat for any gathering and perfect to wow mom with. Added bonus, the hardest part can be done in advance so mom doesn’t have to see you struggle or hear any expletives that might leave your mouth during the process. You can arrive with premade components, easily assemble them, and present a treat fit for any mom.
Brunch – Baked Adelle
Any holiday is a good time for cheese. ANY DAY is a good day for cheese, but especially Mother’s Day. Wrap our favorite bloomy rind cheese in puff pastry, douse it with your favorite jam (mine is Amour’s Apricot Rose for this recipe) and serving a warm, gooey, bubble of cheesy goodness to your mom, and the rest of your family if she decides to share it.
Remember all those nights your mom spent worrying about you for one reason or another? No? I’m sure she remembers, and I’m sure she could use a drink to recover from those long, stressful years. If your mom appreciates a well-made cocktail, get her the ingredients to make her own at home! Luxardo cherries, countless bitters, and assorted bar syrups are a great place to start. Plus, one she hones her skills, maybe she’ll share those cocktails at the next family gathering. One can hope, right?
There you have it. Our top gifts for the best moms out there. Hey Moms, happy Mother’s Day! We hope you get showered with love and spoiled with treats!
(OFFER EXPIRED IN 2015)
Black Friday. Either you love it or you hate it, there isn’t much in between.
This year, we want to give you a gift for being such a great gifter yourself. Spend $50 dollars on our website beginning Friday (Nov 27, 2015: offer has expired), and we’ll send you three spectacular Amedei bars. Tis the season to treat yourself, after all. You’ll get Amedei’s Toscano Blond, Toscano Red, and Pistacchi. Keep them for yourself or gift them to your foodie friends, the choice is yours.
Simply use the code CHOCOLATE GIFT at checkout, then these bars are all yours.
Here’s how I’m gifting the deliciousness of Caputo’s this holiday season:
- Chocolate Gift Collections – We’ve curated the best selections of chocolate for any palate.
- Bitters and Bar Collection – What better way to start a home bar than with the classic essentials?
- Truffle Collection – For that foodie friend who enjoys the best the world has to offer.
- Caputo’s Tote Bag – Green shopping is so 2016, give your farmer’s market enthusiasts the bag they need.
Happy Thanksgiving, dearest Caputo friends. Have a delicious and safe holiday. And don’t get trampled while you’re trying to buy that TV at 4am on Friday.
Each year, one craft chocolate maker is the featured guest. Utah’s best and brightest chefs incorporate this chocolate into one dish. Some highlight the chocolate’s sweet side, but many decide to show off chocolate’s affinity for savory.
Chefs are central to the event, but aren’t the only ones to demonstrate cacao based creativity at Caputo’s Chocolate Festival. Bartenders build drinks around the featured chocolate, local brewers use it in their beers, and sommeliers and 3rd wave coffee roasters expertly pair their concoction with the featured chocolate.
Caputo’s donates 100% of the evening’s proceeds to non profit organizations who are fighting to preserve heirloom strains of cacao.
To view the entire gallery, click here. All photos by Two Paper Horses Photography.
“Ask Matt Caputo” is an ongoing feature where Matt answers commonly asked questions from the market. In conjunction with Chocolate Week, he discusses how to taste chocolate like a pro and the one key component: focus.
Q: What is the Best Process to Taste Fine Chocolate?
A: I think most “experts” put so much emphasis on the methodology that it can suck the fun right out of tasting chocolate. You hear things like, “Don’t chew,” “Put the chocolate on the front of your tongue,” “…the back of your tongue,” etc. This is all crazy to me. The texture on your tooth is part of the satisfaction of eating not only chocolate, but all food. Why deprive yourself of part of the pleasure? Additionally, different parts of your tongue are for different things. You’ve all heard it: saltiness and sweet towards the front, acidity on the sides, bitterness in the back, and savory in the middle. Your palate would be very bored without any one of those tastes so why focus chocolate on just one area?
No, I say we all have the equipment to taste, and nature will take its course to allow us to get the most out of it if we just focus. Whether for a professional analysis or just pleasure, focus is the key to tasting chocolate. In our busy lives it is all too common for us to shovel food into our mouths and wolf it down without really being present enough to describe what we are experiencing.
Slow down. Look first. The eyes take the first bite. What tints of color do the chocolate exhibit? Then before you eat, smell. Over 90% of what we consider taste is actually our sense of smell, so prime the pump. Chew, but don’t wolf it down. Use your teeth to get the satisfaction of snap but don’t just let your reflexes swallow too fast. Let it melt on your tongue by working it all around your tongue and roof of your mouth. Suck air in through your mouth and out through your nose.
Now, you can swallow, but it does not end there. The flavor will continue to develop. A lot of our taste is experienced after swallowing—little particles coming up through your throat and continuing to titillate your senses via this retronasal taste. So despite the fact that “eating” is over once you swallow, the experience continues, so by all means continue to be present. Don’t let the mind wander. See how the flavor continues to evolve and change. Then, do it all again. And again. And again. This is how to taste chocolate. Or anything for that matter.
Disclaimer: While Matt Caputo is a Certified Cheese Professional and specialty food fanatic, he is not a medical professional, doctor, or certified nutritionist. Please consult with your doctor or other qualified health care professional before making any healthcare decisions, diagnostics or treatment decisions based on Matt’s answers.
Caputo’s Chocolate Week comes at the perfect time of year. Our annual Chocolate Fest puts me in the mood and mindset for the holidays and festivities, but it also gives me a chance to start testing desserts for the family dinners and fun holiday parties to come. My family has a knack for making enough food to feed an entire village, but we do our best to minimize the menu as much as we can every year. We always make the usual pumpkin, pecan, and apple pies, and these are also often accompanied by another cream-based or chocolate-based pie.
This year, I wanted to find a way to incorporate a chocolate dessert without making yet another deep-dish pie. Chocolate pies rely heavily on cocoa powder for flavor, but I like having more control of the nuances. Basically, I want a chocolate pie with a third of the volume, no cocoa powder, and to be made exclusively with chocolate bars.
Meet the chocolate tart. Thin, sweet pastry dough holds a thin layer of rich, luxurious chocolate and a dollop of bitters flavored whipped cream. My first attempt was so successful it garnered a happy dance and a phone call to the family. Solstice’s Wasatch Blend bar made an earthy, balanced tart base that was enlivened with a Beehive Bitters spiced orange whipped cream. It was festive, delicious, and a quarter of the size and effort of our usual chocolate pie.
Save this recipe for your upcoming holiday parties. You can also use your favorite chocolate bars and bitters to make this your own.
Wasatch Blend Chocolate Tart
- 8 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon Beehive Spiced Orange bitters
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Mix all ingredients with a stand or hand mixer until there are no dry patches. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight until firm. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness or until there is an excess of about 3 inches in diameter to fit an 8-inch tart shell. Press dough into the shell and bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool before removing the tart ring from the shell.
Chocolate Ganache Filling
- 10 ounces heavy cream
- 7 ounces Solstice Wasatch Blend, or two dark chocolate bars, 70% cacao or higher
- Fleur de sel sea salt
Simmer a small pot of water. Set a metal or glass bowl over it, making sure there is air between the bottom of the bowl and the simmering water. Pour cream into bowl and heat until it’s warm enough to melt the chocolate. Add chocolate and stir to melt. Once the chocolate is melted, use an immersion blender or whisk to combine. Whisk until your ganache is fully blended. Stir in fleur de sel in small pinches, to taste. Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes, then pour into the tart shell. Chill until ready to serve, but remove about 15-20 minutes before serving
Bitters Whipped Cream
- 10 ounces heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
- 2 teaspoons Beehive Spiced Orange bitters
In a medium bowl, whisk heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar, and bitters until whipped, but still loose. We don’t want stiff peaks, but enough volume to hold cream together when we top our chocolate tart with it. Adjust sweetness and flavoring with bitters before serving.
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It’s hard to believe that we’re approaching the 4th annual Caputo’s Chocolate Festival this week. What a delightfully delicious and cacao-filled fun ride it’s been!
Each year, our goal has been to highlight one craft chocolate maker—and this has varied from the best chocolate born abroad and in the United States—while also showcasing the dynamic culinary power of our local chefs. On top of that, it’s been a great way to get nerdy with the chocolate community and would-be chocolate connoisseurs.
Always educational and and brimming with tasty bites—the forthcoming festival featuring Solstice Chocolate surely won’t be any different. But before we get to carried away with excitement, let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
These vignettes just so happen to get us extremely excited about chocolate. So give them a watch.
Caputo’s 1st Annual Chocolate Festival, featuring Amedei Chocolate
Caputo’s 2nd Annual Chocolate Festival, featuring Ritual Chocolate
Caputo’s 3rd Annual Chocolate Festival, featuring Dick Taylor Chocolate
Salt Lake City’s newest bean-to-bar chocolate maker Solstice Chocolate is now part of our award-winning, craft-chocolate selection. Owner Scott Querry has developed his love and passion for chocolate over the last 15 years and is now the company’s sole chocolate maker.
“Using little cocoa butter, but no vanilla, their chocolate is one of the most well executed we have,” says Matt Caputo, CEO of Caputo’s Market & Deli. “From their unique and functional packaging to their flawless tempering, Solstice embodies truly incredible sophistication and depth of nuance.”
High-quality, hard-to-find, organic cacao beans are processed with organic cane sugar and organic cocoa butter in extremely small batches with a meticulous process and eye. The result is mature, full-flavored, single-origin bars that have stolen a piece of our hearts.
Here’s an added bonus: Solstice is not just delicious, there’s an incredibly pure, mindful process behind its deliciousness. The company strives to minimize its carbon footprint by eliminating waste during production and offering its chocolate in 100% biodegradable and resealable bags.
Don’t let this fool you into thinking they are just another marginal “artisan” or “craft” chocolate pop-up. You can tell this chocolate is chef-approved by looking at a number of menus around Utah. “The raw energy behind Solstice Chocolate has their vibrant chocolate popping up on the best menus around town,” Caputo says. “The restaurant industry has never shown this level of support for a Utah craft-chocolate company.”
Solstice’s skillful chocolate-making produces straightforward bars that scream the origin of the cacao beans loud and clear. Terroir is never a mystery with Solstice. “Some would call their style loud and brash,” Caputo continues. “When the notes are as clean and pure as this, I say rock on!”
Solstice Chocolate’s current lineup includes a total of five bars. One blend, titled Wasatch, and four single origins: Bolivian Palos Blancos, Madagascar Sambirano, Uganda Bundibugyo, Ecuador Camino Verde. Here’s some more information and tasting notes for each bar:
Description and Tasting Notes (provided by Solstice Chocolate):
Solstice Bolivian premium chocolate bars are handcrafted from Palos Blancos cacao beans. Palos Blancos is harvested from a damp rainy region of Bolivia. This climate gives rise to the unique qualities of this rich elegant chocolate. Tasting Notes: This deep rich chocolate has subtle notes of nuts, honey, and fresh cream.
Solstice Ecuador premium chocolate bars are handcrafted from cacao grown by Camino Verde Estate, a farm located near the southern coastline of Ecuador. This plantation uses unique fermentation methods to produce sweet decadent cacao. Tasting Notes: This aromatic sweet cacao results in a unique chocolate with delicious notes of brown sugar, caramel, banana, and cream.
Solstice Madagascar premium chocolate bars are handcrafted from Sambirano cacao beans. Sambirano beans are cultivated from a distinct tropical climate along the Sambirano River in Madagascar often referred to as “the green gold of Madagascar.” Taste Notes: This unique tangy chocolate has hints of citrus and berries believed to be a result of former fruit plantations enriching the soil during French Colonial times.
Solstice Uganda premium chocolate bars are handcrafted from fine cacao grown in Bundibugyo. This area is part of the flourishing growth of cacao farming in Uganda. Taste Notes: This dark chocolate has a subtle bitterness of cocoa powder with fresh, earthy hints of berries and tree fruit.
Solstice Wasatch Blend chocolate bars takes its name from the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, the home of Solstice Chocolate. This is an original combination of cacao beans created to showcase Solstice’s love of chocolate. Taste Notes: This unique blend of cacao creates a chocolate which is both mild and exciting, with an essence of cream and subtle sweet spice.
All images provided by Solstice Chocolate
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