In the world of artisanal foods, single-origin olive oils and single-estate coffees have become known for the purity and distinctive flavors cultivated on just one grove or plantation. One Cabot farmer takes this idea to even greater specificity with single-cow chocolates: rich truffles and caramels that farmer-chocolatier Kimberly Thorn crafts to highlight the milk of specific cows.Barns, cows, and...chocolate? Thorncrest Farm in CT is producing more than just milk #FarmLove Click To Tweet
At Thorncrest Farm in Goshen, Connecticut, the Thorn family has carefully bred the herd of about two dozen Holsteins and a few Jerseys over the last 27 years to continue lineage that delivers the range of milk profiles featured in the line of Milkhouse Chocolates. The feed of the animals is also meticulously managed; the cows are primarily out on pasture and rotated to ensure they have the freshest grass and that the health of the land itself is also maintained.
While her husband Clint and son Lyndon also run their own furniture and sculpture business and their other son Garrett works on the farm, Kimberly is in the creamery using the farm’s milk, cream and butter to create exquisite caramels and truffles with all-natural flavorings like farm-grown mint or raspberries.
Each cow is treated as an individual on this small farm and the individuality comes through in their milk. Daydream, a Jersey, for example produces milk that Kimberly describes as “buttery, honey, creamy caramel”. She is descended from a line of cows with similar milk profiles whose names all include the word “dream”. The dream line of milk is featured in the line of caramels, some enrobed in chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. Viola “is my dark chocolate cow,” Kimberly explains. “Her milk has a natural acidity that holds up to stronger flavors like roasted espresso. And Charity, she and her mother Creed, their milk is naturally sweet with notes of honey and incredibly creamy. I use them for my Madagascar vanilla ganache.”
The idea for the enterprise first came to Kimberly in the early 1980s when she was working on a horse farm in Ireland and noticed an older gentleman regularly cycling by with milk totes. He was headed, she learned, to a small thatched-roof building that offered low-key, homemade food including a case of confections. When her then-boyfriend, Clint, came to visit, the two resolved to combine farming and food production and proceeded to eat their way through Europe doing research. “We came upon our first small artisan chocolate shop in Rouen, France,” Kimberly recalls, “and it just clicked.”
The couple raised their two boys on the farm and Garret and Lyndon, in their mid-twenties now, are an integral part of the multi-faceted operation. “It’s a true family affair,” says Kimberly with pride and satisfaction. They share the responsibilities and are instrumental in all aspects of the farm–from cow care to milling wood, hay-making, and pasture management–all of which contribute to the signature milk for the chocolates and caramels.
“I’m really thrilled that the younger generation sees the value in farming and caring for the cows. It is a wonderful, beautiful, satisfying thing to do, a very honorable way to spend a life,” says Kimberly. “Personally, I think they just like eating the chocolates,” she adds with a chuckle.
Gifts from our Farms
- Wheeler Woven Scarves
- Wholesome Glow – unique bath and body care products made with natural ingredients
- Landaff Creamery Cheese
- Taylor Brothers Farm – cheese & maple syrup
- CowPots – sustainably created, biodegradable seed-starting pots
- MayVal Farm Maple
- Shy Brothers Cheese
- Richardson Farm Family Maple
- Turner Farms Maple Syrup
- Jasper Hill Farm Cheeses
- Couture’s Maple Shop
And if you want to gift Cabot cheeses, our partners at Dakin Farm can help!
You can also sign-up for our Newsletters.
Melissa Pasanen is an award-winning Vermont-based journalist and cookbook author with a focus on food, farming and sustainability. She was the writer for The Cabot Creamery Cookbook (Oxmoor House, 2015).