With its proliferation of artisan purveyors—including chocolate makers—Brooklyn has become a hotbed for the latest food trends. And at the New York City borough's own Fine & Raw Chocolate, sugar and additives are out and authentic chocolate flavor is in. What sets the company apart from other gourmet makers is that its chocolate is processed raw (i.e., by dehydrating beans at a low temperature for at least eight hours). Because the cacao remains virtually in its natural state, antioxidants—as well as chocolate flavors—are preserved, resulting in a bar that not only tastes good but is good for you, too.
The ingredients—including heirloom cacao from Ecuadorian rain forests, virgin cold-pressed coconut oil, and blue-agave nectar (which is lower on the glycemic index than sugar)—also differentiate Fine & Raw's handmade chocolate. According to founder Daniel Sklaar, "We constantly look for the best ingredients in terms of flavor. The ingredients also have to be whole foods. Coconut butter is nothing short of superlative. When you open tubs of it you want to dive into the pails. Heirloom cacao has been harvested and grown in a way that is thousands of years old … it's a great concept." Started in Sklaar's Williamsburg loft, the company recently opened a new factory in nearby Bushwick and will soon allow people a glimpse into the raw-chocolate-making process through tours. Until then, visitors are welcome to purchase bars at the shop or enjoy chocolate drinks at the cafe.
Don't Miss: Bars like the Sea Salt (made from raw cacao, crystal palm sugar, raw cacao butter, and sea salt) and the Lucuma & Vanilla (with raw cacao paste, agave nectar, cacao butter, and lucuma, a fruit native to Peru). The Cacao & Coconut Chunky Bonbon is also a fan favorite.
Tour Information: According to Sklaar, factory tours are to be announced but will likely start early this summer. Follow the latest updates by "liking" Fine & Raw on Facebook or following its blog.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my favorites. Where have you experienced bean-to-bar chocolate?
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