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Huckleberry

Locals Guide: September

Huckleberry

Huckleberries are related to both blueberries and cranberries, taste like a tart blueberry, and are so juicy they have to be processed or eaten right away. Huckleberry season is short, usually only August and September, so Branson’s Chocolates is debuting Huckleberry Truffles and Huckleberry Bars right at the peak of their season. We’re dreaming of Huckleberry Truffles, smooth creamy dark chocolate center with a hint of huckleberry! And the Huckleberry Bars in delicious Milk Chocolate. We take a Huckleberry Fruit Spread made right here is Oregon; cook it down with some milk chocolate to make the gooey Huckleberry center.

‘A love of huckleberries — combined with their scarcity — has created a decades-long effort to produce the berry commercially. A University of Idaho researcher named Dan Barney spent over two decades attempting to create a domesticated huckleberry that would reliably produce delicious fruit at home. He retired without accomplishing his mission. “Domesticating the wild huckleberry is impossible,” says Amit Dhingra, associate professor in the horticulture department at Washington State University. “They have been established in the wild in certain conditions in the forest, and their genetics are suited specifically for that purpose.” Most forests require a permit and limit the amount of berries a person can take home. Some rules also specify that berries be picked by hand.

Throughout history, finding and picking huckleberries has been hard work, yet for people who love them, the effort is worth it. When asked why huckleberries are worth all this trouble, Joe Culbreth laughed. “I don’t know,” he says. “But once you’ve eaten huckleberries, you’re hooked.”’

You can find all this huckleberry deliciousness right here in Ashland at Branson’s Chocolates, at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard.  We’re just a block south of Omar’s, next to Carpet Mart. Come on down and get your own batch of Huckleberry Truffles and Bars. It’s sure a lot easier than heading out to the forest to forage them for yourself. We’re open Monday – Saturday 10-5:30.

You can also find Branson’s Chocolates on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and at bransonschocolates.com for online chocolate shopping.

Thanks to https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/08/11/542690164/for-the-love-of-huckleberries-august-brings-out-hunters-of-elusive-fruit

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Creams

Locals Guide: August 2018

Creams

The Item of the Month this August is our creams, not just one of them but all. There is Strawberry, Raspberry, Key Lime, Lemon, Marzipan, Vanilla, Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Anjou Pear just to name a few. Our  Anjou Pear Creams are a rich creamy center flavored with the very essence of pear, pureed pear to be exact, hand-dipped in our rich 58% Semi-Sweet Chocolate. Most of our creams are flavored with real fruit purees and concentrates with no added coloring.

Then we have the non fruit flavors like the Chocolate Butter Cream that is made using a extra brute cocoa powder.  Marzipan is a traditional European treat eaten like candy, often molded into fruit shapes, sometimes dipped in chocolate. It is a sweet paste made of finely ground almonds and sugar. Our Marzipan Creams start with our classic cream recipe, stir in almond paste, and then dip it all in our delicious rich semi-sweet chocolate.

We won’t be out and about in August, so come see us in the store at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard here in Ashland. We’re just two blocks south of Omar’s, next to the Minute Market shopping center. We’re open Monday-Saturday 10-5:30 where it is always cool. If you’re lucky, you might even catch us dipping and pouring chocolate!

You can find Branson’s Chocolates on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and at bransonschocolates.com for online chocolate shopping.

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S’mores

Locals Guide: July 2018

S’mores

Warming up by a blazing campfire, gazing up at the starry night, roasting corn on the cob on the barbeque —we love camping! And everybody’s favorite part of camping is S’mores—gooey marshmallows, crunchy graham crackers, and sweet chocolate. Eat them together, and they’re heaven on earth! At Branson’s Chocolates, we’ve got S’mores for you in July—made in both our rich Semi-Sweet Chocolate and our creamy Milk Chocolate. Of course, we only use gluten-free marshmallows and graham crackers. In fact, at Branson’s Chocolates, all of our delicious chocolate is gluten-free except for beer-based and whiskey-based items, allowing you to relax and enjoy our chocolate with all your friends and family.

Branson’s Chocolates, your home for S’mores and all chocolate deliciousness, is right here in Ashland at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard.  We’re just a block south of 7-11, in the Minute Market shopping center. We won’t be out and about in July, so come visit us in our store and get your S’mores while they’re here. We’re open Monday – Saturday 10-5:30.

You can also find Branson’s Chocolates on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and at bransonschocolates.com for online chocolate shopping.

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Gourmet Chocolates

Locals Guide: June

Gourmet Chocolates

Here at Branson’s Chocolates we have chocolates that we call our Gourmet line. Some are not your everyday flavors, some are elevated flavors. They all are delicious and decadent. This month we are featuring our Gourmet Chocolates.

If you like your dessert a little spicy, or slightly exotic, or even a bit adventurous, we have the chocolate for you—Wasabi Ginger Chocolate. We add wasabi powder to a dark chocolate ganache square, dipped it in milk chocolate and top it with candied ginger.  It’s a gourmet treat for adventurous chocolate lovers which is inspired by a wasabi ginger potato chip.

Matcha Green Tea square is made by mixing ceremonial grade match agree tea powder into a white chocolate ganache, formed into squares, and then dipped in dark chocolate with a green Matcha chocolate stripe. According to many studies, Matcha tea makes this a sweet treat loaded with benefits:  L-Theanine, an amino acid known to create calmness and improve memory, powerful antioxidants including polyphenols and EGCg which is believed to be a powerful anti-carcinogen and catechins which help lower LDL cholesterol, to name a few. Thanks to http://www.naturallivingideas.com/10-amazing-benefits-of-matcha-green-tea/ .

Exotic jasmine tea is steeped to create the flavor in a semi-sweet ganache center, which is then dipped in delicious Belgian milk chocolate and topped with a sprinkling of jasmine tea.  Jasmine Tea Square is a delicious combination of bitter tea’s antioxidants and jasmine’s floral delicacy with gourmet Belgian chocolate.  Blissful everyday indulgence!

The best thing about Earl Gray Tea is that it is delicious, which is why BRANSON’S CHOCOLATES created our EARL GRAY TEA SQUARES. We steep Earl Gray Tea into rich cream, and then stir it into a dark chocolate ganache. We cover the ganache in milk chocolate and top it with a stripe of more dark chocolate. We are passionate about local products from local vendors, so we use tea from Full Leaf Tea Company based in White City, and cream from Umpqua Dairy.

This is just a few of our Gourmet Chocolates. To see the entire line of Gourmet Chocolates you can come into our retail location or check our website.

You can also find Branson’s Chocolates on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and at bransonschocolates.com for online chocolate shopping.

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Lavender

Locals Guide: May

Lavender

We have partnered with our local English Lavender Farms this month to bring you all things lavender—Lavender Ganache Squares, Lavender Sea Salt Caramels, and Gourmet Lavender Chocolate Sauce. They are all part of our gourmet line. Our delicious Lavender Chocolate confections are made using English Lavender Farms buds and essential oil, which is distilled locally in the Applegate Valley. Lavender Ganache Squares are made by steeping the buds, infusing them into a semi-sweet ganache center, then dipping the ganache in our rich semi-sweet chocolate. Lavender Sea Salt Caramels and Gourmet Lavender Chocolate Sauce are both made with the essential oil. The lavender is a subtle background flavor and beautifully complements our dark, delicious chocolate. English Lavender Farms Lavender Squares are an indulgent, aromatic treat for the senses.

The English Lavender Farm, run by Sue and Derek Owen, opened to the public for the first time in the summer of 2014. They have been planting Angustafolias (English Lavenders) since 2012 and are turning their lavender farm into a luxurious venue for weddings and other events. Their farm is set on a gentle hillside, and there are stunning vistas of row upon row of purple lavender. They have spent time in Provence with French lavender farmers, and love to discuss the history of lavender production. Their drying barn serves also as a gift shop, and it is well-stocked with a wide variety of handmade lavender products produced on the farm, including Branson’s Chocolates English Lavender Farms Lavender Sea Salt Caramels.

If you want to catch us out and about in May, we will be at—

  • The Jackson County Master Gardener’s Spring Garden Fair at the Jackson County Expo, Saturday May 5th 9am-5pm and Sunday My 6th 10am-4p.

You can find Branson’s Chocolates on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and at bransonschocolates.com, or come down to our store at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard here in Ashland. We’re just a block south of 7-11, in the Minute Market shopping center. We’re open Monday-Saturday 10-5:30. Stop on in, say Hi, and take home some Lavender Chocolate today!

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Sugar Free/No Sugar Added Chocolates

Locals Guide:April

Sugar Free/No Sugar Added Chocolates

If you’ve been drooling over all the deliciousness here at Branson’s Chocolates, but stayed away because of the sugar, you are in luck! We’d like to introduce you to our Sugar-Free/No Sugar Added Chocolates. We have Hazelnut Clusters, Peanut Clusters, Almond Bars, and Solid Chocolate Bars in both Milk Chocolate and Semi-Sweet Chocolate; and Hazelnut Bars in Milk Chocolate, Espresso Bars in Semi-Sweet Chocolate.

We use maltitol, a sugar alcohol, in our sugar free chocolates. Sugar alcohol is a somewhat misleading term, as it is actually neither sugar nor alcohol. This type of sugar substitute is particularly helpful to people with diabetes, because only a portion of it is digested and absorbed. And the part that is absorbed through the intestinal tract is absorbed slowly, so there’s a relatively little rise in blood sugar. So if you are watching your sugar intake, come on in and try our Sugar-Free/No Sugar Added Chocolate. You’ll be glad you did!

If you want to catch us out and about, we’ll be—

  • Thursday April 12th, we will be at the Opening Night Bash—Savor The Rogue®—from 7:30pm to 10:30pm. This event includes a delicious tastings of local foods and beverages, including our chocolates, and a no-host bar. Ticket required. For more information go to ashlandfilm.org
  • April 13th-14th, Friday 3-10pm and Saturday 10-5pm, we will be at the Pear-a-Fare in downtown Medford during the Pear Blossom Festival. This event includes vineyards, breweries, distillers, local artisan food makers all under the festival canopy serving tastes, and selling products. Tasting glasses and tickets to sample the flavors will be for sale at the Pear-a-Fare entrance. Vendors will also be selling wine, beer, coffee, and other local drinks by the glass. Our artisan food makers will have a wide variety of products for sale as well as samples available.org

 

You can also find Branson’s Chocolates on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and at bransonschocolates.com for online chocolate shopping.

Thanks to https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/taste-test-sugar-free-chocolate#1 for the maltitol information.

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The Sweet Life in Ashland

Southern Oregon Makers: Deena Branson of Branson’s Chocolates

Travel Southern Oregon

By Eddie Wallace

Photographer Jak Wonderly

For confectioner Deena Branson, owner of Branson’s Chocolates in Ashland, there was always a dream that she would someday own and operate a successful small business, but it wasn’t until 2005 that she dared to imagine turning her passion for creating delectable chocolate confections into that business.

Fast forward to 2018, when the talented and endlessly creative lifelong Ashland resident has a thriving wholesale and retail business, featuring only the best Belgian chocolate that goes into such mouth-watering treats as Anjou pear creams, lavender squares, wasabi ginger squares and blood orange creams, as well as your more standard treats like toffees and caramels.

After spending ten years in the late 90’s and early aughts learning everything there was to know at the Ashland Fudge Company – she even trained two sets of new owners during that time  Deena and her husband Kevin leapt at the chance to purchase the equipment and recipes when the company went out of business in 2005.

Since that time, through dogged determination and countless hours of hard work, Branson’s Chocolates has steadily grown its business and burnished its reputation as Ashland’s only locally-owned, locally-produced chocolate business, culminating in the opening of their retail space in 2014.

The early years of the business were spent working out of a production facility in a business complex, producing mostly for wholesale customers. Ashland’s Paddington Station and Grange Co-op were early supporters who sold not just the chocolates, but also the custom packaging that Deena created for each wholesale customer. Today’s customers include Butler Ford, the Ashland Springs Hotel, Anderson Auto Body and many others. In addition to making the chocolates, Deena’s ability to do custom molds and packaging has been a huge selling point for clients.

“I SOURCE LOCALLY AND DIRECTLY FROM THE FARMERS AND DISTILLERS WHENEVER POSSIBLE,” SHE SAYS. “FOR EXAMPLE, OUR MACADAMIA NUTS AND HAZELNUTS COME DIRECTLY FROM THE FARMERS. I CHOOSE OREGON-PRODUCED PRODUCTS AND LIQUORS OVER NATIONALLY PRODUCED PRODUCTS. THE MINT OIL THAT I USE COMES DIRECTLY FROM THE FARMER IN CLATSKANIE, OREGON. AND WE MAKE EVERYTHING IN SMALL BATCHES WITH CARE TO ENSURE THE QUALITY OF OUR PRODUCTS.”

Luckily, for the past five years, one hasn’t needed to be a wholesale client to enjoy the dazzling, mouthwatering array of treats that Deena, Kevin and their hard-working crew create. The retail location for Branson’s Chocolates is 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard in Ashland, and is open Monday through Saturday 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM.

Visitors to the retail shop will be greeted with a selection of chocolates that is impressive not only in taste but in variety. The ever-popular toffees and caramels are always available, but adventurous types will also find port wine ganache squares, truffles flavored with tequila (lime, sea salt and Patrón tequila), pomegranate, espresso, toasted coconut porter, pumpkin, raspberry Chambord, amaretto and so much more. Product sourcing and quality are important considerations that go into all of Deena’s creations.

A lifelong Ashland resident, Deena cherishes the supportive atmosphere for small-town businesses that Ashland offers. “We deliberately chose Ashland as the home for our business,” she says. “This is a community that is dedicated to supporting small businesses, and we are also fortunate enough to attract the kind of visitors who support local artisans and locally-owned businesses. We have people who stop by our store every year on their way out of town after their annual Ashland visit.”

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Chocolate Sauce

Locals Guide: March

Chocolate Sauce

Ten years ago, the owner of a local restaurant asked me to create a chocolate sauce that he could use with his espresso machine. We have perfected our Chocolate Sauce recipe and now make it by the kettleful. We mix sugar, vanilla, and water with pure chocolate liquor–which is made by grinding the nib of the cocoa bean into a thick paste that melts when heated. Chocolate liquor contains no alcohol, as opposed to chocolate liqueur, which is alcohol with chocolate added to it. Chocolate Sauce is delicious on ice cream, fruit, waffles, and is perfect as a base for hot cocoa and chocolate milk. One of our customers even swears it’s best just eaten straight from the bottle. However you like it, and whatever you like it on, we have your Chocolate Sauce!

If you want to catch us out and about, we’ll be—

  • March 9th-11th, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we will be at the Oregon Chocolate Festival at Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites.
  • March 17th-18th, Saturday 11-5 and Sunday 11-4, we will be at the Oregon Cheese Festival at Rogue Creamery in Central Point.

Easter is Sunday, April 1st this year. We are busy making chocolate treats, including everyone’s favorite bunnies, so stop in, get your favorites, and fill your baskets. We’re at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard, just a block south of 7-11, in the Minute Market shopping center. We’re open Monday-Saturday 10-5:30.

You can also find Branson’s Chocolates on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and at bransonschocolates.com for online chocolate shopping.

Thanks to https://www.amanochocolate.com/faqs/whats-difference-bestween-chocolate-liquor-and-chocolate-liqueur/.

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Interview with the Locals Guide

Locals Guide: February 2018

Interview with the Locals Guide

Locally owned and locally produced Branson’s Chocolates is located at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard in Ashland. Owned by Deena and Kevin Branson, the boutique chocolate factory has steadily grown over the past 12 years and is now processing more than 1000 lbs of chocolate per month. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Branson’s Chocolates has been busy stocking up and getting ready for the holiday rush. In our interview today we speak with Deena to talk about some of her favorite creations and her plans for 2018.

Deena, thanks and welcome back to Locals Guide. We always enjoy your monthly business column in which you share your latest and greatest creations. 

Thank you, and thank you to all our readers… Having the column helps to keep us pushing to create new chocolates, and we also get to showcase our favorites.

Just to bring things into context, exactly how much is 1000 lbs of chocolate per month?

When we moved to our current location we were bringing in about 250 lbs per month, now we are at about 1000—we’ve quadrupled our chocolate production in less than three years. Let’s just say that 12,000 lbs is roughly equivalent to a full size elephant.

Deena catch us up on how the year went year for Branson’s.

It has been a crazy good year.  We decided to take another leap of faith, the third big leap of faith we have taken.  The first was to move the business and open retail, the second to expand our location and take over the adjoining section of the building.  This time we decided that Kevin (my husband) would retire from his job of over 28 years and come work with me.  He has spent the last couple of months learning the systems and getting familiar with the day to day operations at Branson’s Chocolates.  Over the past 12 years he has helped with all the events we go to and has spent plenty of his vacation days helping me.

What have been some of the local favorites this year?

Our Marzipan Creams have been a favorite right from the beginning.  The have the wonderful almond flavor that the traditional Marzipan has.  But ours is different than most it is smooth and creamy like a cream and that is why we call it a Marzipan Cream.

Deena, on top of running a chocolate factory you also have a retail space.

Yes, we are continually putting the word out about our retail store. We are located at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard (the old Mongolian Grill).  This is where you can get our rotating Item of the Month, Oops!’s (discounted, visually imperfect) products, and all the other goodies that we make.  We have quite a few places where you can purchase a variety of our product, but our retail store is the only place you can see everything we make.

Tell us about some interesting projects you have been involved in recently.

Last March I taught a Truffle Making class in conjunction with the Oregon Chocolate Festival.  It was my second time to teach a class, but my first truffle class.  Every attendee left with a recipe, a set of dipping forks, and truffles that they got to personally dip, so they could go home and make their own truffles.  I will be teaching another Truffle Making class this year, in conjunction with the Oregon Chocolate Festival March 10-11, 2018.

Destination Oregon: Branson’s Chocolates in Ashland

Deena, please tell us about some of your treasured recipes.

When we started, we purchase the equipment and recipes from Ashland Fudge Co. The recipes we use for creams, caramels, and truffles are based off of those original recipes. The fudge recipes that we use originated in the late 1800’s on Mackinac Island, Michigan.  And we have the recipes that I have created on my own.

You recently completed a successful internship with a local high school student?
Yes, I had a student from North Medford High School doing her senior project with me.  North Medford requires that the student do their senior project in the area of field they want to go into and they have to volunteer between 20 and 40 hours.  When this student asked if she could do her project with me, my requirement was that she create a product that we could sell, a product that we could potentially make a regular item.  She did, and came up with December’s Item of the Month, Port Ganache Square.

Please tell us about your store’s hours and opportunities for the general public to come and visit.

We are open Monday – Saturday 10-5:30pm and closed Sundays. When you walk in, you can see right over the retail counter to the production area, and watch everything being made. There is no wall between the production and the retail areas so we can work and interact with the customers. Our packaging room has huge windows, so you can see how we hand wrap and label all the chocolates bars.

Deena, please tell us about the array of custom products you make.

There are several ways we customize chocolate for our customers.  One is with custom flavors like our very first chocolate bar, Marion Blackberry Dark Chocolate Bar, which was requested by Ashland Springs Hotel. The Lavender Sea Salt Caramels and Salted Lavender chocolate bars for the English Lavender Farm use their lavender oil, and we make chocolates with essential oils for Blue Giraffe, to name a few.  Another way to customize our products is with a custom label like we do for Paddington Station and Grange Co-Op.  We can add a customer’s logo, picture, or artwork to our labels.  Custom molded chocolate is another way to customize chocolates. You can have a chocolate mold made with your logo or artwork.  We do custom molded chocolate for Butler Automotive Group and the Holly Theatre.

Product sourcing and quality are an important consideration that goes into all of your creations.

Yes, it is very important to us.  We source locally, and directly from farmers and distillers whenever possible. For example, our macadamia nuts and hazelnuts come directly from the farmers. Our mint oil comes directly from a farmer up in Clatskanie, Oregon. I choose Oregon-produced products and liquors over nationally-produced products.  I believe in using the best, and supporting local businesses.

Deena, are there any last thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?

February’s Item of the Month is all about Valentine’s Day, Raspberries and Strawberries.  We will be featuring our Raspberry Chambord Truffles, Raspberry and Strawberry Creams and a couple brand new items, a Raspberry Dark Chocolate Bar and a Strawberries and Cream White Chocolate Bar.  We will be doing our Valentine’s Day Special again this year of a free Red Rose with the purchase of Valentine’s Box of Truffles.  The Valentine’s Day Special starts February 12th while supplies last.

Learn More: =============================

Branson’s Chocolates

1662 Siskiyou Blvd

Ashland OR 97520

www.bransonschocolates.com

541-488-7493

 

 

(c) 2018

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Hazelnut Toffee

Locals Guide: January

Hazelnut Toffee

Hazelnut Toffee–those words instantly conjure up Oregon deliciousness and chocolate delight, all in two little words. At Branson’s Chocolates we love our toffee, so we dressed it up with Oregon-grown hazelnuts for a tasty start to the New Year. We melt rich creamy butter in a giant copper pot, sweeten it up with cane sugar, and let them cook together for a while. Then we add the hazelnuts and let the flavors blend before pouring it all out on our cooling table where it is cut into squares. While the toffee cools, we temper some of our Semi-Sweet Chocolate and hand-dip each toffee piece, followed by a generous sprinkle of chopped hazelnuts, just for you.

Branson’s Chocolates, your home of Hazelnut Toffee Squares and all chocolate deliciousness, is right here in Ashland at 1662 Siskiyou Boulevard.  We’re just a block south of 7-11, in the Minute Market shopping center. We won’t be out and about in January, so come visit us in our store and get some Hazelnut Toffee Squares while they’re here. We’re open Monday-Friday 10-6, and Saturday 11-5.

You can also find Branson’s Chocolates on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and at bransonschocolates.com for online chocolate shopping.