Warning - these Chocolate Covered Cocoa Beans are addictive!
Every once in awhile you come across a product that is truly a cut above anything else you have ever tried. Tom Pedersen's chocolate covered cocoa beans are just such a product.
He starts out with the finest South American whole cocoa beans he can find and roasts them to perfection. They are then dipped in 3 layers of the best chocolate available - white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and then dusted with cocoa powder.
Pricey? Yes, but for a holiday treat, especially for anyone who loves the flavor of real cocoa; these are the perfect holiday gift.
I asked Tom Pedersen from Austin, Texas to tell me a little about himself and how he ended up in this business and here's what I learned:
Tom is a totally "right brain person" who loves art, music, writing and food and has a relentless desire to understand how things work. After graduating from art school and working numerous jobs trying to find one that kept him interested, he decided he should start his own business. As the grandson of a pastry chef who immigrated to the US from Denmark, Tom entertained the idea of pursuing a new career in the food business.
He didn't want to open a restaurant but rather find a single product that "would be simple, cost very little to start, and could generate some profits" right away. He looked at craft beers, bread, and cheesecake but kept coming back to chocolate. And because the cocoa bean is the crucial ingredient to making good chocolate, he started learning everything he could about them in his library and on the Internet.
Unfortunately, there was not much written about the cocoa bean at that time, and it was even harder to purchase whole cocoa beans but Tom had the good fortune of meeting the president of a Venezuelan chocolate company online who sent him some of the finest cocoa beans in the world.
The moment he saw them, he was hooked. After roasting them and tasting their flavor, he thought, "Focus on that flavor of the WHOLE bean." And that is what he did. Tom experimented with different combinations of chocolate and cocoa bean until he finally came up with a recipe that he liked. He then had to find distributors who could offer him what he needed on a small scale; something the industry was not set up to do.
After testing his cocoa beans on friends and family with rave reviews, he decided to rent a stall at a local farmers' market "to see if our chocolates would sell". And sell they did. The first day, he sold out of 15 pounds in four hours. He knew he was onto something and received a big boost when Saveur magazine named his cocoa beans one of the 100 editors' favorites from around the world.
So starting on less than $200 dollars and a good idea, Tom is slowly growing a small family business that he hopes will continue to grow as more and more people learn about the really great taste of cocoa beans covered in "really great chocolates."
Tom and his wife are putting a lot of effort into making these cocoa beans and are thrilled when people appreciate their hard work. They are by no means getting rich because they have to do everything themselves: from making the chocolates to running the business, they are there every day working hard to keep the business growing. They love what they do and it shows in the end product.