Sunday, September 20, 2009

Zingerman's Chocolate: El Rustico Askinosie Bar at Zingerman's Deli

This has been a long day. In fact, it's already 12:30am. That's frightening, since what still feels like tomorrow promises to be an even longer day. So I think I'll turn things over post haste to Duff Anderson from the foodie haven Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where her official title is "Chocolate Lady."

This is the first of several installments reporting on the state of chocolate at the various Zingerman's location around Ann Arbor (including the famous Deli, the Bakehouse, and the Creamery). I'd like to especially thank Duff for sending her report from the front during a hectic Jewish Holiday sandwich-making extravaganza (while, she tells me, she was also working on Zingerman's annual Paella Party).

I give you, Duff:

Last February, Zingerman’s Deli and Askinosie Chocolate launched El Rustico Chocolate Bar, inspired by the traditional foodways of the vanilla-growing regions of Mexico. We named it El Rustico – the rustic one – a Mexican style chocolate bar with delicate bits of whole vanilla bean.

There isn’t anything else like this bar out there in the chocolate universe right now. I proclaim this with a little bit of a proud-mommy complex (I helped develop it) but mostly as a completely objective observer!

We did no conching and very little refining on this chocolate, which gives it a really nice, crystalline texture. We are using Askinosie’s bean-to-bar Soconusco Mexican cacao to make El Rustico, partly because there is much great choco-history in that region (the Aztec’s sourced their cacao there) but mostly because we love its flavor!

But we didn’t stop there. We decided to sprinkle the bar with tiny morsels of super supple, hand-chopped (by yours truly and a very patient chef at the Deli) whole vanilla bean. Now, using whole bean vanilla (including the pod) in a chocolate bar – to amp up both flavor and texture – is crazy and delicious. So crazy and delicious, in fact, that no one else is doing it.

Askinosie Chocolate and Zingerman’s Deli are about to begin production on the next batch of El Rustico (the first batch sold out!), so you should see it back on the Deli shelves sometime in October. The bar will also be available online at


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