Fine & Raw Chocolate

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Photograph: Stephanie Gussin

Raw food tends to make me think of celery sticks and things with the word wheatgrass in the title. Recently, though, I found a tastier option—raw chocolate. Daniel Sklaar, the owner of the one-man grassroots operation Fine & Raw Chocolate, produces just one type of cocoa confection, using artisanal low-heat techniques. This means the sweets never reach more than 118 degrees—the temperature cutoff for raw food—while cocoa beans in conventional chocolate are usually roasted at higher temperatures before being processed. Sklaar claims this kills the chocolate, especially the aroma. Pondering my role in the untimely death of all those tiny, defenseless cocoa beans, I took a whiff of his take on things…not without a little skepticism. Faint floral, tea and nut notes took me by surprise. More importantly, his unorthodox methods result in polished yet gorgeously rough-around-the-edges chocolates. Ganachelike filling hides inside a pleasantly grainy coating, and thanks to the coconut oil (which provides some much-needed fat), the silky interior is a burst of unexpected decadence. And with a little agave nectar, the bitterness normally linked to low-sugar chocolate never comes into play. Sure, they have a low glycemic index and are packed with antioxidants, but these little gems, nestled in tissue paper inside a dinky hand-stamped box, have enough foodie appeal to tempt me. And though I doubt I’ll be craving much chilled soup this winter, raw chocolates suit me just fine. $8 per box at Bedford Cheese Shop, 229 Bedford Ave at North 4th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-599-7588, fineandraw.com

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