Thorncrest Farm, LLC
Clint, Kimberly, Garret and Lyndon...
We love our cows and look forward to sharing them and their home with you.
Thorncrest is a true family farm dedicated to excellence in animal care and farming.
Proud to be voted "Best In Connecticut" 2015 & 2016
The Magic of Thorncrest Farm
BY GENEVIEVE GEARITY ~ Photos by Constance Schano
Kimberly and Clint Thorn feed their cows the finest, sweetest hay and natural feeds resulting in their signature cream milk and delicious artisanal chocolates, Milk House Chocolates, made with fresh orchard fruits, garden herbs, and honey.
If you ask Clint and Kimberly Thorn for the secret to the success of their family business, they will probably say, “the magic is in the milk!” And indeed, everything about Thorncrest Farm’s meticulously loved and curated life, starting with the milk, is pure magic. From the moment you turn onto Town Hill Road in Goshen and drive beneath the arching canopy of leaves above you realize you’re about to encounter something really special.
When approaching Thorncrest Farm, with the management and maintenance of Clint and Kimberly’s two sons Garret and Lyndon, you come face-to-face with a cow barn so perfectly in sync with feng shui it would make your yoga teacher blush. The family farm’s core focus is simple: the comfort and happiness of their cows. And this is the key to everything – recognizing each cow’s individual flavor in the milk, and ensuring that flavor isn’t compromised by never allowing the cows to be stressed out.
This place is basically a bovine Eat, Pray, Love. “The whole barn is designed for flavor, and flavor comes from lack of stress,” says Clint. “Any kind of stress shows up right away in the milk… that’s my job, to keep the cows really stress-free.”
The barn is built so the cows’ heads or tails are aligned perfectly with the earth’s magnetic field. The ladies are facing either east or west, and the barn doors on either end open up to precisely polar north-south. This arrangement ensures for a relaxed environment, and a perfectly cool cross-breeze that swoops under the cows’ bellies, pushing the hot air up through a circular gap in the ceiling.
A thousand other factors are taken into consideration in the Zen of Cows. Anything from which cow is sitting next to which, to the hay they eat and the comfort of their beds can directly affect the flavor of their milk. After going out to pasture in the morning, the cows come back to their barn to relax on a bed of straw and thick, rubber mats.
The meticulousness does not stop there. Once the cows are sufficiently ommm, the milking process from start to finish is monitored with scientific precision. The milk is collected into pails and transported through a gravity system to the Milk House – it is never pumped, allowing the milk to remain whole and making all the difference in the pasteurization process. And of course, each cow’s milk is kept separate from the rest.
So, after all the personal care and comfort is applied to the cows themselves, what then happens to the milk? Much of the milk is sold at the farm – each bottle coming from one specific cow by name. Then the fun part: much of the milk goes into the decadent, creative, one-of-a-kind chocolates that are handcrafted with(what else?) care by Kimberly herself.
Each chocolate is connected to a very specific cow, with each cow’s milk making an unbelievable difference in the flavor of the chocolates. Every single caramel is made strictly with milk from a small-breed Jersey cow named Daydream. When first developing the caramels, Kimberly painstakingly tried the recipe with other cows’ milk – to no avail. The sweetness and flavor of Daydream’s milk makes it the only one fit for the job. Kimberly compares the varieties of milk flavors to wine – each wine has a specific type of grape from a specific region, and the wine is affected greatly by the climate, soil, and other factors. Milk works much in the same way.
With over 72 unique chocolates in rotation throughout the year, availability is determined by factors including the season and which cows are milking at that time. The “Zesty Lime and Licorice” chocolate is made with the milk of only one cow – and her name is Queen. Both the cream and butter in this beautifully crafted chocolate comes from Queen, a Holstein dairy cow. No other cow’s milk is used for this particular chocolate, so when Queen takes a break, there is a chance these treats will as well.
Each cow’s milk takes the individual chocolates down a different path. Then there are chocolates like the “Mr. Ives’s Mints” that use a unique approach to flavor – in this case, real, honest-to-goodness mint leaves. When you take a bite, you are not hit with a wall of synthetic peppermint burn. Instead, the subtle and natural flavor of fresh mint leaves from the Thorncrest Farms garden melds with the natural flavors of the milk and lingers, waiting to sneak up on you at the very end. Another, the Raspberry Cream White Chocolate, uses fresh raspberries from the very same garden. The process in which these flavors are infused to make the ganache center is a heavily guarded secret. And rightfully so.
In a similar herbal fashion, the “Dark Chocolate Lavender” chocolate turns a scent on its head and invites you to experience lavender in a way you may never have before. After you enjoy this wonderful excuse for aromatherapy for yourself, you may be just as relaxed as the cows.
Stories and tradition are weaved throughout the chocolates. The “Dairyman’s Delight” and the “Pumpkin” chocolates were developed at the passionate request of Clint, who wanted chocolates that reflected his two favorite desserts throughout the years. The community plays a huge role in the farm, as well. Throughout the year, Thorncrest Farm hosts a number of community events and classes on the property. During the summer and autumn months, they put on chocolate and wine pairing nights in the hayloft of the barn. They participate in the Goshen Open Farm Tour, this year on August 2 and 3, and the Friends of Goshen Agriculture Farm-to-Table Dinner, on August 23. Finally, the farm hosts regular cheese making classes for a variety of skill levels and cheese types.
Thorncrest Farm feels like a local secret you were lucky enough to stumble upon: you want to simultaneously shout about it from the rooftops and tuck it away for yourself only. The humane and, dare I say, luxurious care given to their animals is reflected directly in the quality of their milk and products. Kimberly’s chocolates rival the greatest chocolatiers of Europe, and the milk could not be fresher or more natural had you milked the cow yourself.
About Milk House Chocolates:The idea for Milk House Chocolates began in the summer of 1984 when Kimberly was working in Ireland. A small shop down the road was making hand made pastries with fresh cream, butter and milk from the farm close by: their chocolate desserts were amazing! When Clint joined Kimberly in Ireland, the first place they ventured was to the little pastry shop. It was there that the idea of making chocolate and treats from Clint's cows turned into a dream and a goal. After leaving Ireland they back-packed around Europe visiting thirteen different countries always searching out small artisanal chocolate shops - their back pack consisted of a baguette, fresh jam, butter and chocolate, chocolate and chocolate. After arriving back home, this dream was always a constant in the background - Clint focusing on the pedigrees, feeds, nutrition, comfort and quality of the cows to produce the right type of milk for the flavor and consistency for the chocolate and the ganache - Kimberly was blending the cream, butter, milk
from different cows and flavors to develop the subtle combinations she was looking for. Both of them knew they wanted to produce something delicious and fresh from their cow's milk. Every chocolate has different cows and blended at different percentages, as an example, their cow's Pearl (45%), Viola (30%) and Princess's (25%) milk are combined to create the smooth, subtle creamy taste and soft melting of the Hazelnut Coffee Praline.
Our cows in the stable are fed the finest sweetest hay and feeds; from this they produce their signature milk, cream and butters used to perfect the chocolate ganaches.
Milk House Chocolates brings you artisanal chocolates made in small batches one at a time with our fresh milk, cream and butter.
These Chocolates will melt different, taste different and feel different.
If you like local grown fresh food made with the absolute purest ingredients with attention to detail stop by for a tasting.
Taste the difference and enjoy!
Click here to view the beginning stages of making chocolate.
Thank you for your interest in Thorncrest Farm's cows, pure milk, and chocolates.