Human obsession with chocolate, that veritable nectar of the gods, dates back to Aztecs boiling cocoa beans and Native Americans incorporating it into spiritual rituals. While holiday treats usually offer up a much more bastardized version of the tropical pod's gifts, raw chocolate-makers return to those untouched roots with the finest unprocessed ingredients—speaking to chocolate's bevy of actual health benefits and powerful antioxidants. For a more pure season, we recommend the following raw chocolate options to stuff stockings or melt onto vegan Yule Log cakes.
With contributions from Karen Day and Ami Kealoha
Honest Chocolate from South Africa uses cacao sourced from ethically managed farms in Ecuador to create dipped and molded bonbons. Using a granite slab to temper chocolate the traditional way, the bonbons retain their antioxidants while still providing a succulent snack. Right now Honest keeps it simple, but fans can keep an eye our for interesting concoctions such as curry leaf and sea salt in the future. Honest chocolates can be found at the Neighbourgoods Market in Cape Town or by contacting them online.
Fine & Raw
Creating a frenzy among chocoholics (including us) in NYC last year, Brooklyn-based chocolatier Fine & Raw now satisfies chocolate bar cravings everywhere, recently adding bonbons and gift boxes to the mix. Their new Cacao and Coconut Chunky Bonbon gives us just one more reason to obsess. Learn more about the company in our interview with founder Daniel Sklaar. Fine & Raw sells online, from $9-28.
Inspired by David Wolfe's book "Naked Chocolate," the raw chocolate truffles and spreads from Hawaii-based Uli Mana aim to reinforce energy and vibrant health. Sweetened with agave nectar, raises the bar with goodies like raw chocolate hemp brownies, truffle butter and a stimulating chocolate spread. Items can be purchased online with prices spanning $15-22.
Made in Santa Monica, Zenbunni are a "synergy of raw ingredients." The four flavors of immensely delicious chocolates—original, gray sea salt, Italian almond and haiku coconut—arrive in gold foil and colorful Bohemian packaging, offering a Willy Wonka feeling to an already indulgent experience. Zenbunny is available online with a box of nine bars running $32.
From the Greek word for knowledge, Gnosis Chocolate has over a dozen raw chocolate varieties for a range of raw flavors that includes holiday delights like almond fig spice and sugarplum gingerbread, as well as year-round flavors like pomegranate açai and vanilla hazelnut that all incorporate multiple health-boosting ingredients. Gnosis chocolate sells online for around $9 per bar.
Pacari Ecuadorian Chocolate
Meaning "nature" in the indigenous Ecuadorian language Quechua, Pacari raw chocolates are sourced and created in Ecuador. Their focus on producing flavorful chocolate to fair and sustainable standards augments their commitment to preserving the native Arriba Nacional cacao. Available internationally from various online retailers, each bar goes for about $5.
Righteously Raw Chocolate
As the name may suggest, Righteously Raw conscious surfers on the go favor these chocolates, but the enthusiasm behind the high-frequency chocolate stems from founder Audrey Darrow's commitment to staying healthy after surviving cancer. Keeping raw chocolate's salubrious qualities as the focal point, Darrow adds beneficial ingredients like açai and gobi in the mix for a super healthy snack. It's available from health stores around the U.S. for $6 a bar.
Make on a small farm in the U.K., Conscious Chocolates grew out of an urge for everyone to be able to enjoy chocolate, regardless of dietary restrictions. Handmade, Conscious Chocolates are available in 14 flavors such as Chili Hot, Healthy Heart, Yummy Mummy and Cherry Christmas. They're sold online for £3 a bar.
Lulu's Raw Chocolate
After tasting chocolate straight from the pod in Maui, Lulu set about making raw chocolate which she calls "alchemy" for the botanical blends she includes in her treats. While all of her jars contain Maca (a libido-enhancing root), she also incorporates other ingredients like rose, jasmine and cardamom for their health benefits. The additions make for great (if unconventional) flavors too. We particularly like the woodsy flavor of the red cedar, which is "energetically grounding, antiviral and stimulating to the immune system." Four-ounce jars start at $15 from Lulu's site, as well as at retail locations listed there.