Chocolatiers in America: French Broad Luscious Chocolates

Goodlifer: Chocolatiers in America: French Broad Luscious Chocolates

Dan and Jael Rattigan are just your typical American couple. They met at her brother’s wedding, dropped out of their respective business and law schools, and bought an abandoned cacao farm together in Costa Rica.

After a few years, they eventually found their way back to the US. But in their time on the farm, they had begun playing with chocolate formulations, and were badly bitten by the Chocolate Bug. Upon arrival in Asheville, NC, the Rattigans began selling their creations, under the name French Broad Luscious Chocolates, and have never looked back since.

Pay a visit to their Chocolate Lounge (see top image), located at 10 South Lexington Avenue in Asheville, to sample delectable chocolates, pastries, “liquid truffle” sipping chocolate, and more. Don’t live near Asheville? That’s ok; a few clicks of your mouse can bring you some of their intriguing truffles or caramels. They even offer chocolate subscriptions.

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Fresh Raspberry (with freshly made red raspberry puree), White Jasmine (jasmine green tea and white chocolate ganache flavored with local wildflower honey) & Mole Negro (with chiles, nuts, seeds and spices, dark-roasted over open fire in a cast iron skillet).

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Red Bush (made with local sourwood honey and African rooibos tea), Earl Grey (with crispy leaves of black tea with bergamot) & Masala Chai (infused with clove, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, black peppercorns, vanilla bean and Darjeeling black tea).

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Lemon Pepper (with tart lemon and piquant black peppercorns), Canela Picante (made with 73% chocolate and sprinkled with cayenne pepper) & Indian Kulfi (infused with rose, pistachio, and cardamom).

You’ll find exotic varieties here, as well as some with which you may already be familiar. If a fresh raspberry puree in dark chocolate is too “been there, eaten that”, try the White Jasmine (a white chocolate ganache with jasmine green tea and honey, enrobed in dark chocolate). There’s a Single Origin Collection, for those who enjoy tasting the differences that place and microclimate bring to the finicky cacao bean. The Rattigans even make a collection of vegan truffles, inspired by their oldest son who cannot consume dairy products. The caramels contain no corn syrup (woo hoo!); instead, they’re made with wildflower honey.

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Single Origin: Peru, Ecuador & Dominican Republic.

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Single Origin: Madagascar & Costa Rica. 20-piece assortment: $34

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Buddha vegan chocolates: Buddha (made with a creative emulsion of cream of coconut and 72% dark chocolate), Orange Buddha (with zest of orange) & Strawberry Balsamic (with balsamic vinegar and a puree of fresh strawberries from Full Sun Farm in Leicester, NC).

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Buddha vegan chocolates: Pomegranate (with a goji berry on top) & Thai (infused with lemongrass, green chile, ginger and lime). 20 piece assortment: $34.

You might have wondered about the name of this business. Well, it’s a tribute to the French Broad River that runs through Asheville. (Sorry boys, no bonbons shaped like luscious french women.) One last thing: please do me a favor and read the company’s outstanding Manifesto (under About Us on their site). There are some timely, insightful comments on several common buzzwords used in the food business these days. A few excerpts:

We are small business with a small production, and it bears mentioning that we advocate reasonable but sufficient portion size. You will not find anything gargantuan at the Chocolate Lounge, perhaps other than our selection. You will leave satisfied, not stuffed. We believe decadent desserts can be part of a healthy diet. Small luxuries are part of having a positive relationship with food, and one’s body.

At French Broad Chocolate Lounge, we sell locally made Ultimate Ice Cream (East Asheville), Pisgah Brewing Company organic beers (Black Mountain), Counter Culture Coffee (Durham). In our chocolate kitchen and bakery, we buy fruits and berries and free-range eggs from WNC farms, and pick herbs out of our back yard. We pick up our wildflower honey from an honor-system shack on the other side of town, and our milk is processed less than a mile from our chocolate kitchen! The point is: we always have our eyes and ears open to find ingredients from our local producers. We believe we vote with our dollars, and try to live within our local economy as much possible.

The Rattigans prove their dedication to the craft by concluding, “we cannot help but take our food choices personally; our products are a reflection of who we are.”

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The Rattigans, Dan, Jael, Sam & Max.

Top photo by John Morris, Goodnight Asheville.

About author
Stephanie Zonis was born with a spoon in her mouth — a tasting spoon, that is. She began cooking (especially baking) at a very early age, and for a short time even ran a highly illegal baking business from her long-suffering parents’ house when she was in high school. After acquiring a Master’s Degree in Foods, she eventually discovered the Internet in 1997. She’s been writing about food and developing recipes, especially where chocolate is involved, ever since. During those few moments when she’s not cooking or writing or thinking about food, Stephanie enjoys reading, walking, political discussions, and volunteering at a local no-kill cat sanctuary. She has been a member of a medieval re-creation group for longer than she’ll admit and loves absurdist humor.
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