Oh gosh! You definitely will want to slow down and savor every single sip of this luscious — and historical — handcrafted, bean-to-drinking chocolate elixir!
Sciscenti's Chocolate Elixirs are custom made by noted alchemist, chocolate historian, artisan chocolatier and pastry chef Mark Sciscenti in house at Art of Chocolate in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
This La Cour de Versailles Lavande / Lavender Chocolate Elixir / Drinking Chocolate is representative of the historic chocolate of the French court of Versailles from the mid 1600s through 1800. The drinking of Chocolat in Europe was exclusive to the Royal Court, nobility and the wealthy merchant classes.
Throughout France, lavender was used as a scent and for perfume, as well as an ingredient in food and chocolate. This chocolate elixir is an accurate example of how genteel chocolate was prepared in Baroque France — highly scented, exotic, opulent, semisweet, redolent of numerous spices including cinnamon, lavender flower, ambergris and musk.
Mark's recipe uses Art of Chocolate's own in-house, handcrafted, organic, 100% Dominican chocolate, along with consciously sourced lavender flowers, spices, vanilla and more. The ingredients in this elixir are organic or consciously botanically sources, and also are dairy free and gluten free.
The unsweetened, bean-to-elixir chocolate used in this La Cour de Versailles Lavande / Lavender delicious drink comes from Reserva Zorzal, or the Bicknell’s Thrush Reserve — as it is known in English — which is a 1,019-acre bird sanctuary and organic cacao demonstration farm in the northern mountain range of the Dominican Republic. The Bicknell Thrush is a rare, migratory songbird. On Reserva Zorzal, where some of the world's finest cacao is grown with a focus on keeping and enhancing biodiversity, 70% of the land has been set aside to be "forever wild".
(Read this article Mark wrote for The Guardian about the history of why we drink hot chocolate in the winter (even all year) and why it is so good for us!)
Ingredients: 100% organic, unsweetened Dominican chocolate, organic cane sugar, organic lavender flowers, organic spice*, vanilla and culinary essential oils of botanically sourced ambergris** and musk. Its ingredients are organic or botanically sourced, dairy free and gluten free.
Servings: Each package is 8 ounces, and will make 5 x six-ounce servings ( using 1/2 cup milk, hazelnut milk, water and 4 heaping tablespoons of elixir)
ABOUT THE ARTISANS
This nummy, yummy chocolate elixir was created and hand blended by Santa Fe native, Mark J. Sciscenti, who is an internationally noted chocolate historian, an artisan chocolatier, pastry chef, and someone who obviously is very passionate about fine chocolate.
Mark has been baking since 1984, a professional pastry chef since 1991, and he has been actively studying and working with chocolate since 1999. Since 2002, Mark has been giving lectures and chocolate tastings around the U.S.
In 1999, Mark began researching and recreating historically authentic drinking chocolate recipes representative of the drinking chocolates of Mesoamerica, the historic European period, and through the Colonial Spanish and Colonial New Mexican periods.
In 2005, Mark was the sole founder of Kakawa Chocolate House in Santa Fe and was the owner until 2009.
In 2016, Mark joined the team at Art of Chocolate, with good friends and owners Derek Lantar and Melanie Boudar. He is now creating and offering his chocolate elixirs, pastries, and special baked goods. Mark also leads Chocolate History classes and ceremonies.
Melanie is a multi-award-winning chocolatier and is co-owner of the Art of Chocolate. She was the former creator & owner of Sweet Paradise Chocolatier in Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, which she started in 2008 and sold in 2015.
Melanie's love of chocolate developed during her numerous trips to Europe as a diamond and gem buyer for fine jewelery companies both in New Mexico and Hawaii.
A world traveler and adventurer, Melanie chose to study chocolate not just by studying confectionary chemistry and classic technique from the finest specialty chocolate making schools, (Culinary Institute of America/ NY, Callebaut Academy and others) but also direct from the origins, from the many cacao farms throughout Latin America.
There, by getting her own hands dirty, she learned about cultivating and harvesting cacao, the importance of proper fermentation and all the details that transform raw cacao beans into fine chocolate.
Melanie also is a founding member of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association and serves on its board.
Sometime in the middle of his bachelor and masters studies in Japan and Hawaii, Derek Lanter helped his family establish and run a specialty coffee business in Berkeley California, called Uncommon Grounds Gourmet Coffee.
After a 25-year run, the company was sold, and Derek moved back to Hawaii to raise a family on the North Shore of Oahu, taking a position with Dole Food Company Hawaii as co-manager of the fledgling Waialua Estate Chocolate and Coffee operation. Derek was the Brand, Marketing and Sales manager for Coffee and Chocolate, and he implemented a quality control program in the post harvest processing for Coffee and Cacao.
Under his guidance, Waialua Estate grew to be a local favorite in Hawaii and an internationally recognized specialty brand for both coffee and chocolate, with exports to Japan, Taiwan, France, Canada and the United States. In 2015, Waialua Estate received the prestigious International Cocoa of Excellence award for its flavorful cacao beans.
Derek was involved with the Hawaii Coffee Growers Association and was an original founder and first President of the Hawaii Chocolate and Cacao Association which brought recognition to Hawaii grown cacao and gave rise to the craft chocolate bean-to-bar movement in Hawaii.
In 2015-16 Derek worked with Castle and Cooke Hawaii to design, build and equip the Waialua Chocolate Factory at Dole Cannery enabling Dole to produce their own chocolate bars on site in Honolulu.
In the Summer of 2016, Derek left Hawaii for New Mexico to co-found Art of Chocolate with Melanie, and find his place once again in the mountain country where he spend a lot of his childhood. He is furthering his creative endeavors making bean-to-bar craft chocolate and roasting fine single origin coffee for discerning palates.