With Valentine’s Day approaching, you’re likely to start hearing more about the unofficial food of the holiday: chocolate. And of course, chocolate – especially the dark kind – is good for you!
The secret weapon of chocolate is cacao, which is rich in antioxidants, those molecules that help the body resist and repair damage caused by free radicals. Other related benefits include increased vascular health, higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and lowered blood pressure.
The craft chocolate industry positively booming and we’ve rounded up our favorite artisanal chocolate makers for your consideration on Valentine’s Day and beyond.
Raaka Chocolate: Raaka, a Red Hook, Brooklyn small batch maker, specializes in “Virgin Chocolate”, which means they skip the roasting process common to traditional chocolate production. The result, they say, is the preservation of the natural flavor of the cacao beans, with exhibiting different flavors thanks to the specific origins of the beans used to create them. (For the record: the wrappers are also really cool.) Try the 82% Bourbon Cask Aged bar.
Fine & Raw:Another Brooklyn chocolate maker, Fine & Raw started in an artist’s loft in Williamsburg. (Can you get any more Brooklyn than that?) With a commitment to sustainability in all that they do, Fine & Raw uses low heat techniques to craft its artisan confections, and proudly proclaims to be dedicated to saving the world through “silliness and chocolate.” Try the mesquite and lacuma (another antioxidant) bar.
ZenBunni:The same way Fine & Raw is sooo Brooklyn, West Coast ZenBunni is very Cali. The tiny operation specializes in biodynamic chocolate, which means the owners search the world for farmers that use biodynamic farming principles: planting and harvesting in harmony with the cycles of the moon and the cosmos; inoculating the soil with micro-organisms, and spraying farms with hand vortexed quartz crystal-infused water. Each bar — roughly the size of a domino — has a planetary sign and an element, as well. Also?: its store is a hidden little nook resembling a hole in a tree trunk in Venice’s Abbot Kinney. We suggest starting with the original ZenBunni bar, the Topanga.
Antidote: Another Brooklyn chocolate maker (this time in Greenpoint) Antidote’s bars also sport lovely wrappers and feature bold flavors and combinations, like Coffee Crunch & Cardamom (73% cacao), Banana Crisps & Cayenne (77% cacao) and Rose Salt & Lemon (77% cacao). To go hardcore, opt for the 100% cacao with dates for the ultimate dark experience.
Fruition: We’d be remiss if we didn’t call out a small batch maker close to home here at Farmacy. Fruition is a bean-to-bar workshop located in the Catskill Mountains. Fair trade organic beans are slow roasted and hand-ground to accentuate beans’ natural flavor. Fruition sells its own 100 % cacao bar, but we’re partial to the Brown Butter Milk Chocolate Bar (45% cacoa), which uses butter churned at the local Ronnybrook Farm Dairy.
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