astrid chocolatier

Let’s go to Crest for a yummy stopover

Along the Drôme river, the city of Crest is located between the Rhône valley and the Diois area.

The little town is famous for its medieval keep (the highest in France!) but today, we won’t talk about old stones or medieval history. We will tell you about a passionate team that has been treating everyone to its chocolate since 2003.

In France, there are a lot of famous names in the chocolate industry but we chose to take you to a traditional workshop. It’s not an internationally well-known company. For us, the first challenge was finding the workshop in the small pedestrian streets of the historic city centre.

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(Re)discovering chocolate

The journey begins with Astrid, the shop manager for more than 10 years.

Be careful, there’s no place for concessions. She’s a purist. All the recipes are made from organic ingredients, they’re certified without lecithin, vanillin, lactose (or other products with milk) and gluten. Some of you will be happy !

Finally, it would be simpler to tell you which ingredients they chose to use.

You could say “No lactose ? So, it’s just dark chocolate !”

Yes! All the products are made exclusively with dark chocolate.

Some of you will say : “ Ah! I don’t like dark chocolate, it’s too bitter !”

Not at all ! When you don’t know, you listen and taste. Trust us : your taste buds will explode.

So here we have dark chocolate yes, but without the bitterness !

But how does she do that ? The secret lies in the choice of the cocoa beans and in the conscientious and passionate expertise of the chocolate maker. She uses the best cocoa beans from Latin America (the historical geographic origin of the cocoa) such as the Criolo, the noblest cocoa bean. Everything is hand-made and additive-free to respect the product.

 

Each to their own…

Chocolate lovers ? Come on in ! The tasting starts with pellets. According to Astrid, the pellet is more appropriate than a square of chocolate for tasting. And for the same weight, it seems like there’s more chocolate in the box! We’ve understood what she says, and we don’t stuff ourselves. We discover the chocolate subtleties as if it were a good wine. We start with the one with 67 % of cocoa, then with 77% and at last 87%. There’s chocolate for everyone even for those who prefer milk chocolate. She prepares an astounding chocolate praline. The children from Crest are addicted to it ! The true hazelnut chocolate praline (delicious !), is traditionally made. First, she roasts to the core, then caramelizes it with blond sugar in a copper turbine. A scrumptious crunch !

As Astrid likes to say, her chocolate is a rustic one to preserve the original taste. But to for the pleasure of their customers, the team has created a range of recipes that mix chocolate with praline, , almond and, walnut paste, citrus fruit, red berries and currants, raspberries or bitter orange

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Expertise ? No, art !

Pellets or “rochers” are made with a pastry bag. It isn’t easy and it has to be done as quickly as possible before the chocolate gets cold and becomes less runny. With the work of an expert, the pellets all have the same size.

The bars are ladled into the moulds and hand-stuffed with specific ingredients (bitter orange, almonds, pieces of broad beans, spices, coffee, cranberry, ginger, praline and fleur de sel…). The result is as beautiful as it is tempting. The dried fruits are not cut into pieces to give a better nutritional value.

Chocolate with added fruit requires even more time. For example, the coconut is roasted in the oven before being added to hot caramel and blond sugar. Don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret !

Et pour les fourrés et les enrobés c’est encore une autre histoire.

 

Meeting the requirements of a good taste

Even if it’s a lot of work, the team always wants to guarantee an authentic taste.

They are very strict about the origin of the cocoa and also about the ethics of the relationship with their suppliers. They care for the quality of the products and respecting the environment. Day after day, they defend an affordable organic and traditionally-made chocolate. Everything is vegan (except for the Petit Drômois).

In these chocolates, you won’t find lecithin or fat (no cream, no milk butter). They’re lactose-free and vanillin-free. They just use essential oils for some of the chocolate.

Their chocolates are low in sugar but they’re sweet due to the high quality of the cocoa beans. You can find cocoa butter, the natural fat of the cocoa that is rich in vitamin E, antioxidants and it’s beneficial for cholesterol.

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Regional and home-made specialities.

Astrid and her team go directly to local producers to pick the red berries and currants, apricots, walnuts and honey…. For the more adventurous, they created chocolates with Clairette de Die, a slightly sparkling local wine, the pride of the area and even chocolates with essential oils (lavender, thyme, scots pine). These original recipes allow one to enjoy a strong fragrance, but also the beneficial effects of the oil in the chocolate. If it’s good for our health, we won’t deprive ourselves !

For the youngest (and also the others!) Astrid offers  chocolate bars for a (very) yummy snack. You can also choose the Sunday breakfast hot cocoa with sesame seeds (brilliant!) or the chocolate spreadwithout palm oil (absolutely delicious !).

After the explanation, it’s tasting time : over to you !

 

Discover her products

 

Why don’t you come and visit us ?

At the crossroads between the Rhône and Diois valleys, the city of Crest is ideally placed along the Drôme river for discovering the area and all its associated activities. In the summer, the Drôme river is a particularly popular attraction. Mountain bikers and motorbikes riders can enjoy the numerous paths and the magnificent small roads. Between Ardèche and Vercors, the place is famous for hiking, climbing and via ferrata. The Trois Becs peak, the famous Drome mountain is worth the trip for rewarding the brave. Finally, Crest, with its small medieval streets and its keep, (as well as small nested villages around the area will take you on a journey through time and history.

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