If you live in the Almonte, Ottawa, or the Outaouais region, you have no doubt come across the recent huge success of Hummingbird Chocolate Maker. Since they won the UK-based Academy of Chocolate Awards – the 2016 Golden Bean, we have difficulty keeping Hummingbird bars on our shelves.
Chocolate lovers don’t despair! Did you know there is another great chocolate product made close to Almonte? These are the exceptional chocolate bars handmade by chocolatier Ludwig Ratzinger of Maberly.
Before we let you meet Fine Chocolate by Ludwig, let’s see what the difference is between a chocolate maker and a chocolatier such as Ludwig.
A Chocolate Maker, such as Hummingbird, is someone, or a company, that buys and roasts cocoa beans and grinds them to make chocolate. It is also known as ‘bean-to-bar’.
A Chocolatier, such as Ludwig, is someone who will take a chocolate couverture (or chocolate) and will use it as an ingredient to create new confections, such as truffles and blended bars, from chocolate and often other ingredients.
We met with Ludwig at different times, and each encounter showed us how much Ludwig cares about the quality of the ingredients he uses in making his fabulous tasting chocolate bars. His mouthwatering, smooth, creamy chocolate stands out against the increasing uniformity of mass produced chocolate.
Ludwig was born in Bavaria, Germany, where he grew up in a bakery/pastry family-owned business and later trained in this field in a school in Germany. He came to Canada in 1990 and practiced his craft at the Chateau Laurier for 8 years, and for the Governor General in 2000. He now makes chocolate in his custom-made workshop in the straw-bale home he built just west of Perth, in Maberly.
Ludwig Ratzinger will not compromise the quality of the chocolate he uses. He imports chocolate from a Swiss company that pays farmers 50 per cent more than Fair Trade rates. He then tempers the chocolate, matches flavours to the different origins, pours them into beautiful molds and wraps them in elegant packages he designs himself.
Ludwig produces a wide selection of chocolate, including large bars ranging from 38% cacao to 80% cacao as well as white chocolate, and smaller, flavoured chocolate bars. A definite favourite of mine is the mint chocolate bar; made with the Maracaibo Clasificado 65% Grand Cru cacao from Venezuela, flavoured with mint oil. This subtle hint of mint does nothing but enhance the chocolate. Sandra prefers the 65% Grand Cru chocolate bars made of Noble Cacao from the region Sur del Lago, Maracaibo, Venezuela. This well balanced combination of coffee and plum aromas enhances the distinct cacao flavour. The aromas of orange blossom and cinnamon lend a festive character to Maracaibo Clasificado 65%, which is further enhanced by the final sensation of a light, sweet raisin bouquet.