Published: December 03. 2012 2:51PM
Written and photographed by Renata Parker
Love what you do and the money will come. For Jael and Dan Rattigan, love is grounded in chocolate and so far their downtown Asheville, N.C., French Broad Chocolate Lounge bakery and café has proven to be a sweet success.
The couple’s chocolate journey began when the Rattigans were college students and took a leap of faith and to realize a dream. Ditching college, they moved to Costa Rica and purchased an abandoned cacao farm.
Drawing from their sustainable farming experience and from years of what the Rattigans refer to as a chocolate education, the couple moved to Asheville and opened the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Now in its fourth year, chocolate lovers happily line up — sometimes down the street — for a piece of the Rattigan’s sweet confection.
The Lounge’s menu is chocked full of a heavenly assortment of such hand-crafted artisanal sweets as candies, truffles, pastries, brownies, tortes and cakes. Try the Highland Mocha Stout cake, a dense chocolate cake baked with a local dark beer giving it a hint of malty flavor. The cake is filled and topped with delicious coffee butter creme and topped with chocolate curls. Warm your spirit on a cold day with a mug of decadent liquid truffle, the lounge’s signature hot sipping chocolate. It’s a must-do. Step out of the traditional dark chocolate and try some tasty sipping chocolate flavors such as cayenne and cinnamon, masala chai and Indian kulfi, a mix of rose, pistachio and cardamom.
Although chocolate rules here, the French Broad Chocolate Lounge offers a variety of non-chocolate options in sweets as well as cheeses, coffees, teas, beers and fine wines. For a perfect salty-sweet balance, enjoy a piece of the maple-butter cake featuring three layers of moist vanilla cake frosted and filled with maple butter creme, sprinkled with smoked sea salt and finished with a drizzle of maple syrup.
Enhance your experience with a visit to the Rattigans’ bean-to-bar chocolate factory. A destination all its own, this one-of-a-kind solar-powered chocolate factory, also located in downtown Asheville, provides an insider glimpse — and taste, of course — into the world of chocolate. Now this is love at first bite.