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  • Writer's pictureRobert Currer

Potomac Chocolate: The Fine Art of Flavor

When you think about art, painting and sculpture first come to mind. Think about it a little longer, and you might add music and literature to that list. But it might be a long time before you add chocolate-making to that list.

And the reason is chocolate feels so commonplace. It's in every grocery store and checkout line in America. You hear chocolate, and you think of Hershey, Mars, and Lindt. But right under your nose, there is a whole universe of mind-blowing chocolate that will make you swear off anything from the checkout aisle ever again.

That's where Potomac Chocolate comes in. They are an award-winning craft chocolate maker operating right in the heart of Occoquan. Read on to find out why you should never sleep on Potomac Chocolate.

And Then There Was Chocolate

Sometimes interests are nurtured over many years before blossoming into deep-rooted passions. Other times, passion is like a wave, rising seemingly from nowhere to suddenly lift you skyward in a head-spinning rush. For Ben Rasmussen, a passion for exceptional chocolate hit him like a ton of bricks.

In 2009, Ben was not a chocolate guy. Milk chocolate was good enough, especially if it came in the form of a 3-Musketeers bar. But the "good stuff," dark chocolate, was bitter and unpalatable. So when his brother and sister-in-law invited him to a chocolate tasting, he attended with more than a little reluctance.

The tasting walked him through a new world of chocolate, one he had never known existed. He tasted pure dark chocolate prepared with the care of a master and paired with accent flavors, both subtle and hulking. He felt the earth move as this chocolate universe expanded in moments.

After four chocolate-free weeks, Ben tore open the silver wrapper on his life-long favorite, a 3-Musketeers Bar. He couldn’t choke down the nauseating concoction of cloying sweetness perfumed with a chemical aftertaste. And from that moment on, Ben was a convert.

By mid-2010, Ben had formed Potomac Chocolate, making him the first bean-to-bar chocolate maker in the DC metro area. Ben’s chocolate went on to win nearly a dozen awards and rave reviews throughout the United States.

Master Craftsman

Potomac Chocolate is an American craft chocolate maker - not a chocolatier. And the distinction is essential. A chocolatier works with chocolate created by others to form their own bars and desserts. But a chocolate maker starts with the cocoa beans themselves.

The preparation of the beans and their eventual transformation into chocolate gives the chocolate maker control over the flavor profile. This control allows them to highlight the full complexity of the chocolate. In fact, chocolate has one of the most complex flavor profiles of any food or drink in the world. Wine, for example, has 400 flavor compounds, providing an almost endless combination of tastes. But chocolate has 800 flavor compounds, opening the palate to nuances as you've never known.

That might be hard to imagine if your chocolate familiarity centers mainly around the classic Hershey bar. But one taste of Ben's masterpieces, and you'll never doubt the magnificent complexity of chocolate ever again.

Masterpieces of Chocolate

But what makes Potomac Chocolate so special isn't the cocoa beans themselves. It's the exceptional care Ben puts into every bar. These aren't the factory-produced chocolates you might be familiar with. Ben crafts each bar by hand in a labor-intensive process that begins with selecting only the finest cacao for roasting and ends by tempering the resulting chocolate.

Potomac Chocolate works with growers worldwide to acquire only the finest, ethically sourced cacao. Then through painstaking care, Ben works the beans until he has elevated a symphony of flavors unique to the bean's origin. Like wine, the conditions under which the cocoa beans were grown plays a considerable role in the flavor profile of the chocolate. Ben works with each batch individually to ensure only the most exquisite flavors shine through.

Meet Potomac Chocolate

If your mouth is watering after reading this, and you think some great chocolate just might do the trick, visit Potomac Chocolate on Mill Street in historic Occoquan. Your taste buds will thank you.

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