Maine Ingredients: Where We Source Local Flavors
Chocolate Ingredients

Maine Ingredients: Where We Source Local Flavors

Maine is a rich source of wonderful local flavors that go so well with our chocolate. There’s an abundance to choose from, and we make careful choices so that we can bring the best the state has to offer to our customers both here in Maine and all over the country. You can see a comprehensive listing of our ingredients on our website here. Below gives more of the story behind the ingredients, how we came to find them, and the decisions around each one.

Maine Sea Caramel at Portland Headlight

Our Chocolate – Callebaut

It goes without saying that chocolate is not a local Maine ingredient. But I list it here first because it’s clearly the beginning of all we do. We use a brand we’ve loved since the time we made our very first truffle, Callebaut. It’s the highest quality chocolate we’ve found that pairs seamlessly with all the other flavors we use to create our truffles, caramels, and buttercreams. Callebaut is also, crucially, nut-free (see why our chocolate is peanut and tree-nut free here), a bedrock of our oath to customers and their families who suffer with nut allergies that they’ll be able to safely enjoy our chocolate, always. And while not single source, Callebaut works toward sustainability through their Cocoa Horizons Foundation. We’ve enjoyed an almost 20-year history with Callebaut, and even during these times of disrupted supply chains, we’ve been able to source our chocolate from our Belgian supplier without much difficulty and hold steady to our prices. We are happy to be able to pass that stability on to our customers. 

Cream from Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook, ME

It’s amazing how quickly our little city becomes rural farmland as we head slightly west of Portland into Westbrook. Smiling Hill Farm is a ten-minute drive from where we live and work, which means that we go to the farm – a family farm that’s been in production since the 1720s – to pick up our weekly supply of cream. We call ahead and they have it ready. We know the people in the barn, and we know the people who manage the dairy. It’s local and sustainable. It doesn’t get any better than that. Well, it does actually, because we have found the Smiling Hill Farm cream is slightly higher in butterfat, which makes the chocolate even BETTER! 

Dean at Smiling Hill Farm

Butter from Casco Bay Creamery

Butter made in small batches from small dairy farms. Butter made from cows without growth hormones. Butter made by people we know. We first met Alicia and Jennell, the owners of Casco Bay Creamery, at the Fryeburg Fair, an agricultural fair in Maine – the kind with frying pan tosses and barkers and lots and lots of farm animals. As soon as we tasted Casco Bay butter, we knew we had to work with them. We’re lucky that they are building their business a town away in Scarborough, Maine. Working with friends who are also make the BEST butter in sustainable ways is the BEST.  

Maine Blueberries

No question, we use the real thing. Maine blueberries are a classic summer must-have. For our truffles and squares, we use dried WILD Maine blueberries. They are the small ones, almost the size of peppercorns. The kind you have to know where to look to find them. We get them dried so they pack as much flavor as possible into our chocolate. And luckily, we can find them all year round so we don’t have to wait till summer to enjoy them.

Blueberry Truffle at Dean's Sweets

Maple Syrup from Maine Maple Products

The New England states and Canada have done a great job keeping real maple syrup a true natural treasure. One state in particular that will go unnamed (Vermont) gets a lot of credit for branding the product extraordinarily well. We claim, with no proof whatsoever, that Maine maple syrup is even better and we’re sticking with our story. That’s why we purchase our organic maple syrup from Maine Maple Products in Madison Maine. We call them up and they deliver their amber liquid gold, every time!

Sea Salt from the Maine Sea Salt Company

Salt, harvested from the sea and dried by the sun. In Maine. Those are the basic principles behind farming salt. There’s a lot of work involved to harvest an ounce of sea salt. It’s difficult, but it’s not complicated. We have happily worked with Stephen and Sharon, owners of Maine Sea Salt Company since we started making Maine sea salt caramels back around 2008. And if you are in Downeast Maine, in Marshfield, you can stop there for a tour. As it says on their website “if not greeted on arrival, HONK HORN, could be working in salt houses.”

Maine Sea Salt Chocolate Squares

Bacon from Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams

An exception to the rule (in so many ways):

We looked high and low for the best bacon around. A bacon that would stay crunchy and stand up to the chocolate in our bacon buttercrunch. Finally, we asked the chef at one of the top restaurants in Maine (Natalie’s at the Camden Harbour Inn) and they directed us to Benton’s in Madisonville, Tennessee. We were reluctant to venture outside of Maine, given the many exceptional farms in the state, but once we tried Benton’s we really had no choice. Benton’s smokes their bacon and slow cures it with salt, leaving out the nitrates. It packs a punch. Our bacon buttercrunch is a crazy concoction of smoky, salty, and sweet, that real bacon fans find quickly addictive. We owe that all to Benton’s. 

Staying true to the state of Maine is important and easy in a place where we can find the best of the best ingredients right here, close by. When the world feels big and chaotic, we are happy to stay close to home and to support other small businesses that think and act and work like we do. That doesn’t mean we won’t venture from home when we need to. We will track down the best there is. But whenever possible, we are happiest when our products are from right here in Maine.