On a blustery winter’s eve, people escape from the cold to the warm interior of the Branded Hearts Distillery. It’s about time for class to begin.
Class in a distillery, you say? It’s part of the Sugar Love University series hosted by Krysta Bea Jackson, founder of Sugar Love Chocolates, who is the instructor for each course.
This class, CHOC 203: New World Flavors, features truffles paired with a variety of Branded Hearts Spirits.
“I’m going to be teaching through tasting,” Jackson says.
Each month, Jackson will delve into a particular facet of chocolate. Each session will feature limited-edition chocolate flavors; complimentary wine, beer or spirits; and light hors d’oeuvres.
Classes run through June, so there’s still plenty of opportunity to catch one. Here are six things to know about Sugar Love University:
6. You might get drunk.
Or you might not, but it would behoove you to have your Uber app at the ready. The classes pair Sugar Love truffles with spirits, wine or beers, so eat dinner before you arrive.
5. Learn the history of chocolate and booze, all at once.
Branded Hearts owners/founders Ryan Cherrick and Josh Nichols are well-versed in all things spirits.
Jackson seeks out obscure ingredients like cupuaçu (a fruit related to cacao) to make her truffles and seeks to be an innovator in the chocolate retail industry — she’s planning to start roasting her own raw cacao beans this year.
4. But, it’s not a lecture.
There is some talking, of course, but the point is to have fun and learn about chocolate in a casual atmosphere. The frequent pours of booze that pair with chocolates also serve to loosen one up, lest you take the university aspect too seriously.
3. Meet like-minded people.
I hate the term “foodie” — it connotes snobby people looking down at those who deign to eat GMOs or, alternately, people who don’t know a thing about food but think they do.
But people who love food — we’ll call them gourmands — are exactly the sort of people who would enjoy this class. You’ll likely end up in conversation about new restaurants about town and who is pouring the trendiest cocktails.
2. Get the ultimate insider’s experience.
After the New World Flavors class, a few people got to try a whiskey-drinker’s rum, still in cask. That’s an experience money can’t buy — unless you’re the Daddy Warbucks type.
1. You’ll try limited-edition chocolate flavors that are only available for that class.
The New World Flavors class featured five different truffles paired with Branded Hearts spirits:
- Mojito truffle and oat’ed bourbon whiskey: The truffle comprises spiced rum, fresh mint, lime juice and white chocolate ganache, and the oily notes of the bourbon are highlighted by the mint notes of the truffle.
- Seventy-percent Colombian dark chocolate truffle and wheat whiskey: The single-origin, luscious dark chocolate complements the spicy notes present in the whiskey.
- Flavor-of-the-month spiced truffle and spiced rum: Dried pasilla negro pepper and cayenne pepper star in this spicy confection, which is tempered by the fruity, baking-spice notes of spiced rum.
- Cupuaçu jelly truffle (only available in class) and Silver State Stinger: Cupuaçu alkaloids are similar to chocolate, and Jackson tracked down the lone U.S. purveyor to make a jelly that’s reminiscent of mangosteen. The stinger is distilled mead — wine made from honey — and has smooth, mellow notes that complement the subtle flavor of the cupuaçu.
- Dulce de leche and coffee truffle (only available in class) and cask bourbon whiskey: Gooey dulce de leche oozes from this coffee-infused truffle, dispensing caramel and coffee notes. The rich notes of the bourbon are strength to the truffle’s sweetness.