Sarah Hart learned how to cook from scratch from her mom, back in Springfield, Missouri. They'd cook all the time, using herbs fresh-picked from the garden. Sarah's knack for experimentation came from mom too, who had a massive collection of Time Life cookbooks and was constantly tweaking the recipes.
Sarah learned the craft of chocolate from working with Ian Titterton, formerly of Moonstruck Chocolates, for ten years, long before artisanal chocolate was a “thing.” He taught her the beauty of marrying excellent technical skills with creative passion – a philosophy she carries with her every day. Indeed, Sarah’s creativity knows no bounds. If she had it her way, she'd invent a new product every day! “Alma” means “soul” in Spanish, and “to nourish” in Latin, and Hart strives to produce chocolate confections that live up.
Hart first sold some goodies at a friend's shop in Portland, Oregon during the holidays, which went so well that she was able to fund a stand at the PSU Portland Farmer's Market. She molded religious and cultural icons out of chocolate and hand-gilded each with a 23-karat gold leaf (they say chocolate is “food of the gods,” after all.) Revenue from the farmer's market then funded Alma's tiny but quaint storefront that has grown to serve small-batch ice creams, drinking chocolate and baked goods.
We find her toffee to be especially divine. The recipe, originally unleashed by her mom during the Christmas season, involves a base of sugar and local organic butter, but tweaked for a modern palate using flavors that balance the sweetness – ginger, earthy 75% dark chocolate, dried Oregon cherries or hazelnuts sourced from Alma's neighbors at the farmer's market. It’s made meticulously by hand: The team stands over the saucepans with candy thermometers and wooden spoons, then the finished candy is broken up into pieces, weighed, bagged and labeled (also by hand). Alma also strives to be both local and environmentally friendly, with biodegradable packaging and locally-sourced labels. An impeccable production schedule keeps this small business running smoothly. Mom would approve.
When you’re not making chocolate, you’re . . .
Throwing a dinner party in my back yard!
Favorite way to eat toffee?
Crunched up on a batch of homemade vanilla bean frozen custard!