The Color of Chocolate

 At Vosges, our next chapter is about the colors of the natural world.
Eighteen months ago, we asked ourselves a question. How could we bring different shades and hues to our chocolate in a healthy and new way? During this process we redefined how we looked at chocolate. Using pigments derived from fruits and vegetables, we created a whole new approach to chocolate.

Historically, chocolate companies have used FD & C colors and Titanium Dioxide to color chocolate. With ingredients impossible to pronounce and the judgment of the EU that these colors were toxic, we knew that if we wanted to introduce color as an element in our collections, we would need to embark on an exploration of trial and error and find alternatives to the ordinary. Our adventures led us to finding a source for vegetal pigments in the Netherlands that focuses solely on using fruits and vegetables for commercial purposes in the food industry. They source ingredients and work with companies globally and have been a key partner in our endeavors.

As artists using the medium of chocolate, our first challenge was that any ingredient we mixed into the chocolate had to be fat soluble. While we had an array of primary and secondary colors, we chose to select three primary colors carefully and specifically: red, yellow, and blue. Once we selected our primaries, we mixed in varying amounts of white chocolate and cocoa butter. Through hundreds of swatches, we arrived at our proprietary colors, which we then matched to the spirit and story of each particular truffle.

There have been many challenges (exciting and good ones!) and lessons learned.

We wanted to achieve saturated colors, both vibrant and luminous. This is no easy feat. Each color has its own quirks and personality, and each color chosen becomes its own recipe, cataloged for future use. But, once we fell in love with a color, would we be able to replicate it? To some degree we are at the mercy of the natural world. Once a color is made, the source for it may not be available again or depending on the climate or the soil, the color may be different. Because these colors come from the earth, they are ruled by the planets and there is a humility to being guided by them in our practice.

 We challenged ourselves to look at what our industry says makes a “good” chocolate.

It is universal that well-tempered chocolate is shiny. Molded chocolate, even more so, because the plastic lends itself to glossy chocolates. With over twenty years of handcrafted chocolate making, we have tempering chocolate literally down to a science, but adding color has added a whole new dimension to what we do.

Firstly, coloring the chocolate results in a matte finish, rather than a shiny one. It’s something we’ve embraced, in fact, we think it’s beautiful. It brings softness to a collection. It adds an element of complexity to how the chocolates look. How each edge of a square or rectangular chocolate is perceived, how the roundness of a truffle is enhanced. It brings a new feeling to the chocolates.
How we manufacture these colored confections is both an artistic and scientific undertaking. For every different color and batch, there are temperature and handling adjustments needed. This can be as little as one degree up or down with many small changes throughout the process depending on how the mixture of chocolate and color are behaving.

Every step in our investigation of color has led us to the next boundary we can push and new avenues to examine. Most of our initial efforts have been how to enrobe or cover chocolates in color, and now we have started to consider how color could be utilized when we deposit chocolate. We’ve done this a few times but knowing that there is more to do and more paths that haven’t been forged is incredibly exciting!

Maybe truffles could be colored in a way that makes them glisten. How could translucency be explored? What about layering colors in a way that creates new colors that stand alone in our range, so that no two colors are alike? We have so many unanswered questions. As creators there is nothing more exciting than that. We love the nebulous and we love bringing something into existence that hasn’t been before.

The color of chocolate is a new frontier and traveling new frontiers has always been the ethos of our brand. Travel the World Through Chocolate means traveling from place to place physically, but it also means navigating one’s imagination. Color is one of the most wondrous things we’ve ever explored, and we are going to keep going as there seems to be no finite end to the possibilities.

So, the next time you open up one of our boxes, imagine all of the innovation that went into the oranges, yellows, magentas, and turquoises before you. Imagine the possibility of all the new colors in the spectrum to come. We hope you can feel the energy of the heads, hearts and hands that created each color, carefully crafted the chocolates, and tucked them safely into their boxes until they reached you. As you experience the colors of our chocolate, may the energy of our kaleidoscope brighten your day, inspire, and enlighten you.