The Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival (read a complete event preview) brings together 30-plus fabulous vendors including Ashby Confections and Snake & Butterfly Chocolate – and tickets start at only $5 for three vendor tastings (or $10/8, $20/10). The January 24 event at Cocoanut Grove is a benefit for UCSC re-entry student scholarships.
Ashby Confections is an Aptos-based company established in 2004 by Jennifer Ashby, a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and the Culinary Institute of America. Ashby uses single origin Criollo bean chocolate from Switzerland, organic cream and butter, and many other organic and/or local ingredients in her confections. For tastings at the Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival, Ashby Confections will be offering Meyer Lemon Lavender and Mexican Vanilla truffle samples and samples of chocolate dipped caramels with alderwood smoked sea salt. Ashby will have several products available for purchase including selling hand-painted chocolate heart boxes (assorted chocolates in a Valentine’s-Day-styled box) and packages of rocky road made with the company’s own honey marshmallows (handmade, fresh marshmallows infused with honey and enrobed in milk or dark chocolate). You can purchase all of these treats and more through contact information at the web site listed above, and at the shop Heather’s Patisserie in Aptos (7486 Soquel Drive). Retailers including Deluxe Foods and Aptos Roasting Company carry selected products, and several local venues give complimentary Ashby confections to their patrons — these include Pacific Blue Inn in Santa Cruz and Driscoll’s Berries in Watsonville.
Snake & Butterfly Chocolate is a South Bay company that refines organic, fair trade chocolate from the bean. Snake & Butterfly makes single origin chocolate, which is one bean from a particular country or region in small batches using traditional stone melangers. The company uses three ingredients in its chocolate: cacao beans, cocoa butter and sugar (or agave for its raw bars); it doesn’t add emulsifiers or artificial ingredients. It uses this chocolate to create plain and flavored bars, truffles and confections — many suitable for vegans. At the Chocolate Festival, Snake & Butterfly will be sampling two or three of its single origin bars which include Peru, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Venezuela and Ivory Coast, as well as flavored bars which include combinations of cherry & chili, ginger & nib, and sea salt & smoked almond. Snake & Butterfly will also sample a couple of its truffles and other confections. Truffle varieties the company carries include bourbon & apricot, Thai, Lapsang tea & brandy and cherry & chili. Snake & Butterfly will have all many bars and truffles for sale, plus caramel-filled dried figs dipped in chocolate, Moroccan spiced dates dipped in chocolate, candied orange slices dipped in chocolate and vanilla, and gourmet marshmallows (two types: chocolate-dipped mandarin orange and cardamom, and coffee). You can buy these treats online or at locations such as farmers markets including two Santa Cruz markets (downtown Wednesdays, Westside Saturdays) and one in Campbell (downtown Sundays).
I’m publishing daily articles through tomorrow highlighting vendors — including what they will serve on Sunday! If you’d like to be emailed every time I post a new article (both this week and in the future), subscribe at my home page. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me @tfatemiwalker.