Chris Kollar Gives The Skinny On Chocolate

chris kollar chocolates
Chris Kollar

Photo Credit: Courtesy Kollar Chocolates

Did you ever wonder why chocolate is considered an aphrodisiac? As Valentine’s Day approaches, we did too. That’s why we asked Chris Kollar, the man behind Kollar Chocolates in Yountville, our seven questions about the sweet whose popularity peaks this time of year. Trained as a savory chef, Kollar is a self-taught chocolatier who is inspired by European classic chocolate making. He’s traveled Europe extensively, particularly Switzerland, France, and Italy to study and learn about classic chocolates, bringing this knowledge back to his own practice. You can learn from him too. On Feb. 14, Kollar Chocolates puts on its 2nd annual Valentine’s Day Workshop, taking place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ($75). Get your hands dirty in a lustful chocolate making experience designed for inquisitive chocoholics. Kollar will guide couples through the fun and romance of making hand-rolled chocolate truffles while sipping on CADE Estate wine.

How come chocolate is considered an aphrodisiac?
Chocolate contains phenylethylamine and seratonin, which are two mood-enhancing chemicals found in people when they are experiencing pleasure or happiness.

What are some of the health benefits of eating chocolate?
Cocoa contains high level of antioxidants which help eliminate toxins that can cause diseases. The darker the chocolate, the higher the level of cocoa and thus the higher level of antioxidants. When you eat chocolate, you’re happy and that’s pretty healthy.

How do you infuse Kollar Chocolates with wine, etc (or any chocolate for that matter)?
The wine is blended in our dark chocolate ganache. Other ingredients, like spices, are cold infusions overnight or sometimes up to a couple days. The rest is top secret!

What are some unique pairing ideas for chocolate besides the usual chocolate & wine pairings?
We enjoy chocolate with tea, and in fact make a great Earl Grey and Bergamot citrus truffle infused with tea from the Napa Valley Tea Company. Chocolate sandwiches are pretty awesome too.

What are the differences between milk, dark and white chocolate?
The difference is the combination of cocoa mass, milk solids and sugar. Dark chocolate has the highest cocoa mass and no milk solids whereas milk chocolate has less cocoa mass but does have milk solids.

How does chocolate go from a pod into what we eat today (i.e.. from pod to bar).
The beans that are found inside the pod are fermented for three to four days and then air dried for about a week until they are shipped to a chocolate manufacturer like Valrhona, which is what we use. The dried beans are then roasted, conched, ground and pulverized. Cocoa butter and sugar is then added to create chocolate couverture which is the form in which we receive it. This is a very simplified and generalized response to a very complex process.

Kollar Chocolates is known for its chocolate works of art, what is the most obscure chocolate sculptures that you have made or been asked to make?
We painted a nude model in chocolate for a party at Raymond Vineyards. We’ve also done more classic pieces such as a garden-themed showpiece for a wedding.