beans revisited

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Taza Chocolate was a new entity when we first wrote about them in 2006—and since then they’ve provided the local scene with an exciting new business paradigm and, recently, many new products. They are a bean-to-bar chocolate factory, very community focused, forward thinking, buying directly from growers in Mexico and setting trends as a company with a conscience and a great artisanal product. Using traditional Mexican stone mills, they produce chocolate products that are slightly gritty as opposed to their smooth European counterparts, and you know they are stone ground in the nicest of ways. This year they overcame adversity (the horrible Somerville/East Cambridge flood that hit them badly) and introduced a new product line for serious home bakers. First of all, there are 70%semi-sweet baking squares, which will allow you to make exceptional desserts (unless you eat the product first). And then they came up with new ways to get your “Taza Fix,” as they call it. Two rounds for making hot chocolate are new: Taza Coffee Mexicano, and Taza Salt &Pepper Mexicano. Last but by no means least there are the nuts! Taza Chocolate-Covered Cashews and Chocolate-Covered Almonds—plump house roasted nuts coated in a layer of rich dark chocolate. Fabulous holiday and hostess gifts, as well as treats for yourself.

Factory Store: 561Windsor Street, Somerville 617-623-0804, www.tazachocolate.com

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In the Spring 2008 Edible Boston we proudly introduced Effie’s Oatcakes to our readers, and were totally smitten. In fact, the title of the article was “Love at First Bite.” The Effie’s Homemade owners, Joan Mac Isaac and Irene Costello, hit the ground running and never looked back. In Summer 2009 they introduced their second biscuit—Effie’s Corncakes, borrowing from Rhode Island jonnycakes and made with masa and cornmeal, slightly anise flavored. Again, the little 2-by-3-inch crackers became the perfect platform for local jams and jellies, or soft chevre and sliced stone fruit. And following the trend of many of the famous and prolific, they have just completed their tea biscuit trilogy with the introduction of the Pecan Nutcake. They chose the pecan because it is uniquely American, the pecan tree being the only major nut tree native to North America. And who doesn’t like pecans? Still buttery and toasty, this cake, like their others, has its own unique flavor profile of honeyed nuttiness, and like the others is good for breakfast, a snack, even a sophisticated dessert (with great cheese and condiments). Three years later, three tea biscuits under their belt, we can only wait for what’s next from Effie’s Homemade—but word is there will be a whole new line of products.

617-364-9300, www.Effieshomemade.com

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When we first wrote about To Die For, Margaret Hammill was part of our Winter 2008 edition cover story “’Cause I’m a Woman ...W-O-M-A-N.” She had been in business as a sideline for eight years, and still held down a “regular” job. No more. Margaret made the plunge, started out full-time with no employees, three retail accounts and a line of 25 products. We are revisiting To Die For three years later, and there are four employees, 60 places where To Die For is sold and a scaled-back and perfected line of 20 year-round products. There are also three different types of pumpkin: Holiday Pumpkin Plain, Holiday Pumpkin with Roasted Pecans and Holiday Pumpkin with Dates for October and November; and then November and December will feature Pumpkin with Cranberry;

Goat Cheese and Cranberry; Goat Cheese, Cranberry andWalnut; and Blue Cheese, Cranberry and Pecan—a total of seven holiday specials over the Thanksgiving through Christmas season. They have also expanded out of Massachusetts with customers in Rhode Island, Delaware, New Hampshire and soon to be in Connecticut. “Ain’t no stopping her now—she’s on the move...”

978-369-1811, www.todiefordips.com