In cuisine, as with all things creative, visionaries have a knack for staying ahead of the curve. And when it comes to flavor trends and chocolates, chef Phillip Ashley Rix, founder and CEO of the luxury chocolate brand Phillip Ashley Chocolates, is living in the future.
“I never know what we’re going to do until the opportunity presents itself,” relates the award-winning chocolatier. So when a collaboration with Miller High Life, The Champagne of Beers, tasked him with creating a limited-edition collection of chocolates inspired by iconic bar snacks, he couldn’t resist.
“We specialize in taking you somewhere that no one goes with chocolates,” reveals Rix. “There are a lot of places you can go, but we’re going out to the multiverse [by asking], ‘Just how three-dimensional can we get it?’ How imaginative can we be with chocolates?’”
A Tasty Collaboration
The answer is just as intriguing to the mind as it is to the taste buds. For the Miller High Life Bar Snack Truffles Collection, Rix conjured up a set of six chocolate confections that reimagine bar snack favorites usually enjoyed with beer.
The truffle flavors are Grilled Cheese (Rix’s personal favorite), Lemon Pepper Chicken Wing (“It’s so crazy and dope.”), Pretzel Praline (“Salty/sweet that’s my jam.”), Beernut (“It’s a fancy Champagne of Beers peanut buttercup), Buttered Popcorn (The process and the amount of popcorn it took intrigued Rix) and Sweet Potato Fry (“You’ll see me use sweet potato in different formats simply because my grandparents grew them”).
The Miller High Life Bar Snack Truffles Collection retails for $35 and is available for a limited time exclusively at phillipashleychocolates.com.
Flipping The Flavors
Rix’s desire to push the boundaries of flavor combinations came from his late mother, who introduced him to chocolate truffles and baked amazing chocolate chip cookies. The culinary talent also took inspiration, aptly enough, from the 1971 movie “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.”
“Willy Wonka is probably my key inspiration with that 3-Course Dinner Gum in the movie—the one that tasted like tomato soup, roast beef and blueberry pie,” he recalls. “I want to do that; build layers of flavor in small bites that have nuance, complexity and that’s executed exceptionally well.”
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Phillip Ashley Rix Trend Watch
So what does the Memphis-based chocolatier foresee on the chocolate horizon and how does he envision mixing up the flavors? Here Rix shares five sweet trends we’ll all soon be enjoying.
- Blonde and ruby chocolates may just give dark chocolate a little competition. He sees blonde and ruby chocolates piquing the interest of sweets lovers more so in the coming seasons. “Blonde chocolate is a toasted white chocolate,” he explains. “Basically, it’s white chocolate where the milk powder is toasted before producing, so it gives a caramelized flavor profile.”
The resulting color is a blonde or a gold hue and that’s where it gets its name. For the rare ruby chocolate, it’s the bean that makes it unique. “It’s a bean that was thought to be extinct and rediscovered,” he says, noting the name of the chocolate comes from its “pink” hue. “It’s one you’ll see closer in the fall and winter because that’s when it’s more readily available.”
- Floral flavors are right in sync with the summer season and pair beautifully with chocolate notes. “You’re starting to see more florals like rose, lavender, even grapefruit and lemon verbena,” he says. “You’ll see things that play off the olfactory sense because we taste with our nose as well.”
- Cocktail-inspired chocolates infused with liqueurs are a clever way to enjoy one’s favorite cocktails, such as a margarita or a classic old-fashioned in a new way. “Cocktail season, particularly a summer cocktail, is always a fun time,” notes the chef. “Mixologists and bar managers are doing a bunch of funky things. I’ve spent time in bars learning what they’re doing and seeing how we can incorporate that into chocolate…which is why we’re doing a whole cocktail-inspired collection.”
- Savory flavors, says Rix, will come into the forefront as autumn arrives. And the chef is ready to flip those flavors with an intriguing all-chocolate take on the popular charcuterie board. The things you’d expect to find on a charcuterie board—like the jams, cheeses and smoked meats—will have a chocolate version in the eight-piece collection shares Rix. “The charcuterie-inspired collection with wine-based chocolates will feature blue cheese, gorgonzola dolce, apricot and fig flavors.”
- Hot chocolate bombs will blow up big for the holidays, Rix predicts. “It’s something people go crazy over and we’re definitely getting in on that,” says the award-winning chocolatier about the chocolate confection that takes warm milk to a whole new level for the holidays. “We’ve been developing our own, of course, to set it apart in how we present things.”
For this culinary talent, creating new flavors using chocolate is second nature and the results, oftentimes, are unexpected, delicious and trendsetting. He sums up how he creates amazing flavor experiences with his designer chocolates this way. “That’s the big part of the creative process—it’s imaging or reimagining things, and ultimately storytelling via the chocolate.”
Follow Phillip Ashley Chocolates on Instagram. To peruse their latest chocolate confections, including the new Dear Mama collection of luxury chocolates, visit phillipashleychocolates.com.
Created by Chef Phillip Ashley Rix, Dear Mama is a tribute to his late mother, who instilled in him a love of baking. The six-piece limited edition collection makes a wonderful gift to celebrate mothers beyond Mother’s Day.