French Nugget chocolates with cheese. Submitted photo

French Nugget chocolates with cheese. Submitted photo

Sweet flavors of summer: Artisan French chocolates in Minnesota

When Fred and Laurie Golchin founded French Nugget in 2007, they weren’t sure what to call their delicious handmade dark chocolates.

They weren’t exactly French nougatine with almonds and sugar or a nougat bar with fluffy egg whites. Instead, French Nugget chocolate is made in rounds and inspired by these other French traditions with just four ingredients: Belgian dark chocolate, almonds, organic raisins, and a few drops of honey.

Fred and Laurie met as college students at the University of Nice, in southern France, during the early 1980s. There, surrounded by the blue waters of the Mediterranean, the lavender-cloaked fields of the Provence region, and the soaring peaks of the Alps, they experienced the rich culinary culture of artisanal French delicacies.

In 2007, Fred was inspired to create a chocolate bar to remind them of their time in France. Using minimal ingredients and no refined or artificial sugar through a year of trial and error, he finally crafted the first of his French Nuggets, Almond Heaven. . With the same care and eye towards perfection, they have since created five additional flavors, including Sea Salt, Peanut, Coconut, Lavender, and debuting this year: Coffee. Because of Fred’s intolerance to gluten and dairy his creations are also just that, gluten and dairy free!

Fred and Laurie now live in Minnesota and enjoy their chocolates while canoeing the Boundary Waters or exploring the lakes and parks of the Twin Cities. Ever connected to the countryside of the Riviera, the couple maintains a home in Villefranche-sur-Mer, the village pictured on their chocolate’s label.

Another passion of theirs is lavender, which they grow at their mini lavender garden farm at their home in Burnsville and sell in fresh bouquets at the Mill City Farmers’ Market. You’ll also find fragrant and food-grade lavender in small sachets as well as lavender essential oil from their true lavender farm in Provence, France.

If you go …

You can find Fred and Laurie at the Mill City Farmers Market every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. French Nugget’s delicious chocolate makes an excellent gift, appetizer, or dessert for a summer party! On Saturday, July 2, join the Mill City Farmers Market for a Fourth of July Staycation! The market is celebrating the holiday weekend with its annual Bike to the Market Day — including live music, a professional cooking demonstration with Chef Heather Heartman, storytelling by Guthrie Actor H. Adams, and a veggie sampling activity for kids. Plus, several Twin Cities bike organizations will be at the market, helping visitors with bicycle maintenance, information about local trails, and more! Learn more at millcityfarmersmarket.org

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Mill City Farmers Market Chocolate and Cheese Platter

Perfect for a summer picnic or party

— 2 ½ rounds of your favorite French Nugget Chocolates

— Market Cheeses from Singing Hills Goat Dairy, Shepherd’s Way Farm, and Cosmic Wheel Creamery

Cut chocolate and cheese into cubes. Sharper, less-sweet cheeses make an excellent pair with the mild sweetness of French Nugget dark chocolate. Arrange cheeses and chocolate on a platter with toothpicks for serving. Enjoy with a delicious wine and close friends.