HomePlacesFrench Broad Chocolates in Asheville, NC

French Broad Chocolates in Asheville, NC

(This article appeared in the Winter 2023 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)

Jael Skeffington, Co-Owner

Company Mission

We make awesome chocolate – sourced with integrity, crafted with intention, and served with gratitude. Guided by our mission, French Broad Chocolates builds direct relationships with sustainable farmers and producers and transforms fine cacao beans into craft chocolate in our experiential Chocolate Factory in Asheville, NC. Bean-to-bar to bonbon and beyond means we create not only our artisan chocolate bars, but also a compendium of confections and desserts featuring our chocolate paired with local, fresh and organic ingredients. Our creations can be found at French Broad Chocolate Lounge, a destination dessert restaurant in downtown Asheville and at our Chocolate Factory & Café, along the French Broad River, where we offer daily tours to observe the production of our chocolate and confections. French Broad Chocolates is a Certified B Corp, a third-party certification demonstrating our commitment to being people who use business as a force for good.

Signature Products

Our desserts are thoughtfully sourced, elevated classics, made distinctive with our own bean-to-bar chocolate. Our most popular signature items at the Chocolate Lounge include our Truffle Torte, a flourless chocolate torte with a Spicewalla cardamom and pistachio chocolate cookie crust, cinnamon almond whipped cream, and a chocolate medallion, and our Espresso Cheesecake, with layers of chocolate and espresso cheesecake, a chocolate wafer crust, and whipped cream. We also make a killer fudgy brownie in several flavors, made entirely with our single origin 68% Nicaraguan dark chocolate. Our most popular confection is our Signature Collection of bonbons. It is a balanced assortment of both classic and unexpected flavors, all packaged in our signature light blue box, tied with chocolate brown ribbon.

Production Tip

We use flexible silicone molds to bake a consistent, technically perfect flourless torte. It eliminated the step of de-molding from a springform pan and slicing to order, so the aesthetic is more beautiful, and service is easier, too.

Equipment ‘Must-Have’

As a bean-to-bar chocolate maker, we use a lot of tempered chocolate in the pastry kitchen at the Chocolate Lounge, so our countertop tempering machines are key. We have small one-pound and a larger 10-pound model from Chocovision, and they allow us to temper chocolate quickly and consistently for many different products, including dipping cookies and making chocolate décor.

Secret of Success

The biggest differentiator for our dessert shop is that the foundation of all our desserts is our own handcrafted chocolate. We are able to educate people about the process of making chocolate and feature the work of our Chocolate Factory in lots of creative ways. This also has differentiated us from other bean-to-bar chocolate makers – we’re not just making bars, we’re making a compendium of confections and desserts featuring our chocolate.  The Lounge atmosphere also differentiates us from other dessert shops. For the past 15 years, we’ve served our desserts alongside wine and beer, coffee and tea, in a beautifully designed space, so you can take time with your friends and really experience your desserts. Whether it’s the intimate lighting, the leather couch, a bottle of bubbles, or the vibey music, the lounge atmosphere elevates the experience of our desserts.

Future Goals

We just opened our first location outside of our hometown of Asheville, NC, at Ponce City Market in Atlanta. We offer a small, curated selection of desserts in the chef-focused Food Hall, and also feature our chocolate gift items in a boutique shop design. This compact, hybrid model is a new experiment for us and we’re really excited about it.

For more info, visit www.frenchbroadchocolates.com

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