Chocolate-Covered Nuts from French Broad

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

Two terrific new confections from French Broad Chocolate in Asheville

Have an affinity for high-quality nuts coated in world-class chocolate? I do! If you’re with me, swing by the Deli soon to score some of these newly arrived Dark Chocolate Caramelized Almonds and Milk Chocolate Caramelized Hazelnuts. I’m eating one of the almonds right now with a cup of the 2023 Holiday Blend coffee. The chocolatiness of the brew (made with a blend of Brazilian, Costa Rican, and Zambian beans) and the compelling deliciousness of the almond is a great pairing.

While these caramelized chocolate-covered nuts are new to us, the great chocolate from French Broad is not. In our never-ending efforts to improve the flavor of our food, nearly two years ago we began to migrate some of the chocolate we use at the Bakehouse. We started using French Broad’s bean-to-bar dark chocolate from Nicaragua in half a dozen products—what a wonderful improvement that was! You really can taste the difference in the Chocolate Cherry bread, the Dobos Torta, and the Townie Brownies—just to name a few. It’s also on the breakfast menu at the Roadhouse, in the form of the terrifically tasty Chocolate Chip Spelt Pancakes!

In the last couple months, we’ve also begun bringing in some of French Broad’s other superb offerings (as you can see in the photo above!). We have a whole range of great stuff on hand at the Deli and Candy Store—bean-to-bar chocolate chips (yes, better chocolate in your cookies makes a big difference), hot chocolate mixes, truffles, chocolate bars, and more! Two that are at the top of my list are the Dark Chocolate Caramelized Almonds and the Milk Chocolate Caramelized Hazelnuts. While I could probably consume half a package of either pretty darned quickly, the truth is that the flavor of the French Broad nuts is so good that each one lingers in the mouth in a lovely way for a long time! The finish is all about dark chocolate with a hint of caramel and just enough sugar to balance the wonderfully bitter complexity of cacao. My friend Jael Skeffington, co-founder of French Broad and a self-described ambivert, told me that their team worked for many months to get the ratios of chocolate, nuts, and sugar just right. I think they hit their mark! On top of how good they taste, the pale Carolina blue packaging is particularly lovely. Pick them up as a gift, or just get them to have something special to stash in your desk.

Jael is very passionate about both types of chocolate-covered nuts. Here’s a bunch of great info she shared that helps explain why they’re so splendid:

  • The hazelnuts are farm-direct from Freddy Guys, a family-run orchard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. We’ve been buying hazelnuts from them for over a decade!

  • The almonds are from Anderson Almonds, a small 5th-generation family farm in the Central Valley of California. These organic beauties are the Carmel variety and are naturally sweet and so flavorful. 

  • The nuts are first coated in a thin layer of caramelized sugar, using an old-fashioned caramelizing copper panner. As the sugar melts, it coats the nuts in a thin layer of hard caramel, adding a lovely flavor and distinctive crunch. 

  • We coat the nuts by tumbling them in a rotating panner while adding many successive layers of our bean-to-bar chocolate, which takes about three hours. 

  • The milk chocolate coating the hazelnuts is a blend of direct sourced cacao. It’s crafted with organic milk powder, organic sugar, and browned organic butter which enhances the already caramel-y flavor profile of the nuts. 

  • The dark chocolate on the almonds is 68% cacao, made with cacao from Costa Rica (where we lived for two years) and Dominican Republic (which happens to be the world’s first Bird Friendly certified cacao). 

  • The caramelized almonds are vegan.

  • The packaging is new and we love it so much! The cylinder is made from paper—no plastic lining—and is recyclable and biodegradable. Plus, it’s so pretty it doesn’t need gift wrap.