Brendan McAleer is the owner, operator and chief chocolate maker at CÓCÓ Chocolate Company. I first met him at the Toronto Winter Chocolate Show in 2019. It was super busy and we didn’t have much opportunity to talk but I bought a few of his bars because the flavour combinations were so intriguing. There was a Beer bar, an Olive Oil bar, and a Raspberry Balsamic bar. There was a salted bar made with Achill Island Salt - I had no idea where Achill Island was let alone what the salt would do to the flavour of the bar, so I had to have that one too. Needless to say I brought quite a few CÓCÓ bars home with me.
Brendan’s background includes training in kitchens in Dublin, Ireland, England and Canada working in various pastry making roles. As his love of chocolate grew, his passion for working with big commercial brands diminished and thus he set on his way to making chocolate from scratch. He followed the path of hands on, experimentation and trial and error to learn his craft, and credits the cacao farmers he works with for their ability to grow great beans that in turn allow him to produce great tasting bean to bar chocolate.
Those bars I brought home certainly exemplified Brendan’s ability to make great chocolate with interesting and unexpected flavour combinations. I learned that Achill Island is off the west coast of Ireland, part of the Republic of Ireland, and that the sea salt that comes from there is, in my opinion, the best salt I have tasted. When I told Brendan that, and that his salted bar is my personal favourite, he brought me a container of the salt when he made an in person delivery this past fall. The bar has become a staple in our Chocolate & Cheese pairings and it’s a beautiful combination with Chateau Tickler from the UK - you can read more about this combination in our chocolate blog!
We recently paired his Raspberry Balsamic bar with two red wines. The Dandelion Vineyard Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz as well as Beronia Rioja Reserva for 2 completely different results! Both delicious, the bar brought forward pronounced flavour nuances different in each of the wines. The Strawberry Champagne bar has carbonated sugar to give the fizz sensation of the bubbly wine. The Raspberry Tea is the perfect summer time bar.
CÓCÓ Chocolate Company has been recognized by the Academy of Chocolate with awards given yearly since 2017, with the first award given for the Achill Island Sea Salt bar!
All the bars are made with organic Peruvian chocolate from the Ucayali River area in Peru, organic cane sugar and organic cocoa butter. Simple ingredients. Outstanding bars.