Tapping into success, first taste test complete for new chocolate maple

Local News

LODI, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — There’s a new type of chocolate in the Finger Lakes! Although, it will be a little while before we can get our hands on it.

You may remember, we introduced you to a chocolatier from Lodi, New York two months ago. The Cornell Maple Program tapped her to help create a chocolate recipe using their maple. The goal? Grow the maple industry.

Claire Benjamin was hoping to complete the first stage of the project by late summer, and she’s right on target!

“The most exciting part for me is learning about the cacao beans, the process of the development of how they transform,” said Benjamin.

She and the team she’s working with at the Cornell Maple Program just completed a taste test, and everyone loved the flavors. The first stage was a sweet success.

“I was realized surprised by how much maple flavor came through,” said NYS Maple Specialist and Co-Director of the Cornell Maple Program, Aaron Wightman. “A nice toasted, caramelized maple flavor was really present in the chocolate.”

Wightman says creating new products like this one will help diversify the market within the maple industry

“Poverty, lack of opportunity, economic distress has been part of the story for upstate New York for 50 years now and we need to start innovating solutions for it.”

Aaron Wightman

Wightman says each new product they can create will help bring more jobs to rural regions.

A lot of the maple businesses in New York State are kind of on that verge between being a part-time and a full-time business. So, they’re on the verge of becoming a commercially viable full-time business, and if we can give them just a little bit more opportunities to sell syrup then I think we’ll be there.

Aaron Wightman

They’re well on their way.

“The next step we’re doing is, we’re gonna try to temper the chocolate and add in another ingredient which is cacao butter,” Benjamin said.

After those taste tests, they’ll release a recipe so all of us can enjoy these maple leaves.

“I think we’ve proved that it’s viable and now it’s just a matter of coming up with some good formulations,” said Wightman. “We have an ambitious goal of having maple chocolate bunnies available for Easter baskets next year.”

To learn more about the Cornell Maple Program, click here.

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