Bean to bar: Chocolate reflects its origins

·2 min read

Oct. 23—TRAVERSE CITY — Dave and Shana Sicotte met at culinary school in New York. They mixed their baking experience to produce Great Lakes Chocolate and Dessert Co. in northern Michigan.

The husband and wife team began a wholesale operation about three years ago, Shana said. They provided desserts for area restaurants, wineries and grocery stores.

"We started as a truffle company and grew from there," she said.

Though they continue wholesaling, they added a retail space off Garfield Avenue in early August. There, guests can find their handmade chocolates and learn about the baking process.

All the chocolate — whether cookies, truffles or other confections — is made in-house. Dave said they are part of a handful of chocolatiers who make desserts using their own chocolate.

"Chocolate comes in sacks from farmers," Shana said. "It takes about a week to make chocolate. It's a very elaborate process."

Customers can also look at the cocoa beans, something Shana said many people have never seen. This is the beginning of their "bean to bar" method.

"We have about eight or nine single-origin chocolates," Dave said. "We use the bean from one location in that country, instead of taking beans and mashing them together."

In this way, he said, customers can taste the "flavor profile" of each bean. Dave added that they do not add flavors, but different tastes are picked up depending on where the bean comes from. They source from the Dominican Republic, Vietnam and other countries.

Shana said they invite people to taste chocolate in the same way they sample wine.

"We want to be a space that people can come to, not just for a special occasion," she said. "They can indulge in everyday, affordable items."

The chocolatiers join other chefs for a farm-to-table dinner Oct. 24 at Danu Hof in Mancelona. Dave is providing the dessert for this sold-out event.

They plan to start hosting holiday events — such as hot chocolate socials and private classes — in November. Holiday pies may also be available.

Great Lakes Chocolate and Dessert Co. is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays and Wednesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Alternatively, people can order items at greatlakeschocolate.co for shipping anywhere in the United States. Gift boxes and custom orders are possible.

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