As the only U.S. state with the tropical conditions to cultivate cacao, Hawaii has been producing the sweet-yielding bean since the 1850s. In recent years the demand has raised chocolate production in the 50th State, bringing with it a new breed of chocolatiers focused on small-batch, sustainable processes. Central to the movement is Malie Kai Chocolates, which makes an assortment of limited-quantity bars on the North Shore of Oahu, handling each step of production from harvest to processing. The region's richly fertile soil yields only a small quantity of cacao, making its single-estate chocolates some of the rarest in the world.
With a stock that's constantly shifting to account for the seasonal availability of ingredients, Malie Kai Chocolates currently offers seven different bars, ranging from traditional dark chocolate to rich coffee-oriented bars with a bit of a kick. Our favorite so far has been the Kona espresso bar, with a rich coffee taste that blends nicely with the chocolate's native, fruity flavor. Another standout is the limited-edition Cocoa with Nibs bar, made with fermented cacao pods dried in the Hawiian sun for a nice texture and added hint of flavor.