cupid has struck: black dinah chocolatiers and b.t. mcelrath

I have recently felt myself to be one lucky duck. As I watch the weather outside my window change from sunny and warm to snowy and uninviting, albeit beautiful, I find myself enjoying some really amazing chocolate.

Apparently it only takes fifteen months of writing in excruciating detail about the subtle nuances of craft chocolate (so excruciating that your loved ones grow tired of your blather and kindly suggest you take up a new hobby) before you are generously gifted said craft chocolate for the chocolatest of all chocolate occasions, February 14th.

Not once, but twice. Love me two times!, the Jim Morrison-influenced duo of chocolate has repeatedly cried out, as somewhere, a small tinny harpsichord plays in the background. After all, this chocolate is territorial. A wonderful selection of Minneapolis’ B.T. McElrath from my parents back in Minnesota mingles somewhat suspiciously with a lovely 18-piece collection from Black Dinah Chocolatiers on Isle au Haut, here in Maine.

And all of it is dwindling fast.


B.T. McElrath is great at what they do. The company excels at churning out artful truffles with delicate couverture, as evidenced by this year’s Passion Fruit Hearts. But it is the popping, wowing flavors that keep me interested in what their next flavor combination will be: this passion fruit, for instance, is so intense and refreshing. It is a very cleansing truffle – if there were such thing as a dessert mouthwash [hmm… must invent], this would be it.

While the most prominently featured truffle in their 5 piece Epicurean Truffle Assortment had morphed a bit from that depicted on the label, all treasures hidden within proved more gorgeous than anticipated. With only five small truffles (and I shared each one, so more like with only 2.5 small truffles…), the flavors came and went quickly. From the sublime Chile Limón, to the snazzy Kaffir Lime with Coconut and Ginger, to the complex Signature Dark, and the perhaps slightly underwhelming Zinfandel-Balsamic – which while tasty did not quite live up to its name – this box acts as a fine introduction to what B.T. McElrath is capable of. The fifth truffle was another Passion Fruit, but I preferred the thinner, crunchier chocolate shell of the seasonal heart shape to this mainstay in the assorted truffle lot.


Also included in this fantastic grab bag was one of B.T. McElrath’s most recent chocolate bars: the Super Red. This pairing of red fruit and chocolate proves an enticing combination that I have been looking forward to trying since last fall. As I’ve spent the past week indulging in truffles, I will review the bar here at a later date.

A super warm squeezy hug of a thank you to my parents for this unexpected and most welcome surprise. I was floored, and I am most appreciative. I would grin wide and say “thhhankshh,” but my teeth are probably filled with chocolate, which as you may know, would just about be my worst nightmare come true (next to snakes in the basement, of course). Thank you !


And just a day after making a very lame and snobby offhand statement that I was filled with ‘ennui’ because I knew my fella would never buy me amazing chocolate like my parents (and really, who would want to buy chocolate for such a jerk?)….. well, he did. Truffles from Black Dinah Chocolatiers. Martha Stewart likes BDC. So do those fancy people who vacation on Maine’s rocky coast in the summer time. I, on the other hand, very much disliked their lavender chocolate bark, but have since been eager to try their truffles. Why? I think truffles are the strong suit in a chocolatiery operation such as BDC. Chocolate bark, schmocolate schmark.

Since I wasn’t able to make it down to Isle au Haut before the season ended last year, this gift was the perfect way to sample Kate Shaffer’s creations.

Knowing that my dislike of white chocolate was almost as large as my dramatic ennui, my chocolate partner-in-crime made sure to have the  fully-white and potentially-despicable Lemon truffles removed from my 18-piece Valentine’s Day box of truffles. What remained were BDC’s Varietal, as well as several amazing Persian Love and Earl Grey truffles.

The Varietal truffle ganache is made of “rare” Peruvian cacao, and is very silky smooth and creamy. I found the truffle to be reminiscent of sour cream, in a good way. Not sour cream, but sour cream. The flavor is slightly overpowering, and is not my favorite, but it is well-made nonetheless.

The Persian Love dark chocolate truffles are heart-shaped, and contain whole pistachios that have been enrobed in rose and cardamom-infused caramel cream. This is a step (or perhaps, a jump) in the right direction for me, although the cream persisted in tasting a bit sour. Whole pistachios were quite a treat, and although the caramel didn’t taste much like rose or cardamom, it tasted fully-flavored and complete.

Finally, my favorite. The Earl Grey truffles, of which there were not nearly enough. This truffle’s dark chocolate ganache was infused with the perfect amount of Earl Grey tea, pairing the bergamot flavor excellently with a Venezuelan 45% milk chocolate exterior. This was truly outstanding.

The only issue with all truffles was that the couverture tended to flake, and at times separate fully from the ganache. While not much more than an aesthetic issue, it is the only point for improvement that I could see here.

Another thank you is merited at this time. This thank you is filled with x’s and o’s, much the same as the Varietal truffles are decorated. xoxoxo.

B.T. McElrath Chocolatier

2010 E. Hennepin Ave., #78
Minneapolis, MN 55413

Black Dinah Chocolatiers

PO Box 13
1 Moore’s Harbor Rd.
Isle Au Haut, ME 04645


Read more from Chocolatier Kate on her blog, Black Dinah Chocolatiers.


26 thoughts on “cupid has struck: black dinah chocolatiers and b.t. mcelrath

  1. You have made me hungry enough for any type of chocolate, that I am going home and cracking open the little teeny, tiny box of chocolates I received from one of my husband’s students. I substitute for my husband from time to time, and the little tyke was hoping I would ease up on him with a chocolate bribe. Perhaps!

  2. This is an instance where it is completely appropriate to receive chocolate on Valentine’s day. Thoughtful gifts for the connoisseur! Sounds like your parents and your guy did a great job. Every time you write about B.T. McElrath, I swoon. They are the one chocolatier I’ve learned about from you that I must, MUST try! Although I did go buy some Fearless Chocolate after reading your review. Their bars are delicious.

    1. Brianne, being that chocolate = life blood, I think it always appropriate to receive it on Valentine’s Day. Or any day, really.

      B.T. McElrath makes beautiful chocolate, don’t they? If you ever get down to Boston, shops like Beacon Hill Chocolates carry some of their products. Mmm Fearless – I never got around to getting some more of their bars to try… now it’s on my checklist!

  3. I really enjoy your post. I use to be happy with Dove chocolate hearts but daughter spoiled me when she studied in Paris and went to Salon du Chocolate , chocolatier convention in fall.. so on her return she brought home not only Paris chocolate but Belgium chocolate which she tried on a weekend trip….Naturally some of it didn’t make it back to the states but she took photos of chocolate frogs and other goodies. On her last trip she came back with chocolate made in Hilo, Hawaii….So now I’m spoiled and the chocolate in the states just isn’t the same.

    1. kate, thanks so much for leaving a comment! It’s always nice to hear how chocolate interweaves between all our lives:)

      I would love to go to the Salon du Chocolat someday, or even the Chocolate Show in NYC. Some many amazing chocolatiers and chocolate makers! I can’t even imagine…

      I’d also love to visit Hilo, and the cacao trees that are growing on the Big Island. I visited Oahu this fall, so I was very close, but very far. Still managed to pick up some amazing Hawaiian chocolate, though!

      Oh, and Dove chocolate hearts are still fine by me any day;)

  4. Dessert mouthwash! If that involves some kind of liqueur, I don’t want to have to spit it out, please.

    Those passionfruit chocolates sound amazing. I love passionfruit so much – and when it’s not adulterated by too much sugar, it can be really astounding. Sounds like what happened here!

    1. Laura, I thought you might like the concept of dessert mouthwash! Once I have invented and successfully patented it, you can do whatever you want with it:)

      I think I’m lucky with the passion fruit. I don’t get to try it very often due to my location, but I’ve always had great luck. It was mouth-puckering wowing this time around!

  5. Aw! Chocolate love is one of the best types of love, particularly when your dramatic ennui has been so gorgeously full of yearning and suffering that your beloved wants to make sure you know you are beloved too :)

    P.S. ALICE IN WONDERLAND! I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out why I think “cat” when I head “Dinah”, and I think it’s Alice? Is that right?


    1. Hannah, ah yes, the dramatic ennui. *siiigh* Chocolate love may be the best kind of love.

      You are right! Dinah was Alice’s cat. Or also that lady someone is in the kitchen with, while strummin’ on the old banjo:P

  6. Alice in Wonderland, Dinah the cat, yes!
    What a wonderful array of goodies…glad that you are enjoying them, or, probably by now it’s enjoyed, right? Those Black Dinahs are very pretty:-)

    1. Mum, they are mostly enjoyed by now, yes. Sadly, I haven’t felt much like eating chocolate in the past few days:( Hopefully I can regain some normalcy soon!

      Aren’t those BDC’s lovely, aww:) Yours were very pretty too, you know!

    1. erin, ohh, the Earl Grey truffles were sooo good! I have one more sitting here…. but I’m sorry, you can’t have it:D

      I’m glad they got the hint too;)

  7. This is a beautiful Valentine’s gift! :)

    (Maybe I should change my mind and make it clear to my man that I do expect something for Valentine’s day! ;))

    1. Silvia, I particularly loved the packaging – so beautiful! And a new box to store a few chocolate bar wrappers in:)

      It’s never a bad idea to make it known that you want to be gifted chocolate! In the spirit of love, of course;)

  8. At first, I was like OMG, PASSION FRUIT TRUFFLES!! And then everything else sounded spectacular as well. You lucky lady! And I was pretty satisfied with the handful of Reese’s hearts from my roommate.

    1. Jessica, haha:) So glad you could enjoy my chocolates with your eyes.

      I would be very very happy with Reese’s hearts, too! My favorite candy…

  9. These sound divine! While you didn’t like it much, I think a sour cream flavor in the truffles actually sounds delicious; I may have to buy myself a small box so we can duke it out!

    Though, I don’t think any duking will be necessary for the pistachios covered in rose-cardamom caramel. Maybe we can just share and be friends instead? :D

    1. Mary, the sour cream flavor was good, but I just found it a bit overwhelmingly bold, considering that that truffle made up 2/3rds of the box. Still, I’m finding myself wishing I had more of them right now!

      The last of the pistachio rose-cardamom caramel truffles was divine. I realized that it was actually quite heavy on the cardamom, although I still didn’t discover any noticeable rose tones.

      We can be friends no matter what;) Oh, and I always share my chocolate. Just ask he who ate half the box!

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