Critics' pick

Photograph: Beth Levendis

Original sin Sorting through the glut of specialty chocolate on the market can seem like a full-time job—not that I’m complaining. On my most recent fancy-chocolate binge, one exceptional bar surpassed the rest: Askinosie’s 70 percent, single-origin San Jose Del Tambo from Ecuador. The flavor is an explosion of dried fruit (figs, bananas, raisins) matched by a bold red-berry acidity, and rounded out with the smell of sweet tobacco. The man behind the bar, Shawn Askinosie, takes no shortcuts in making his chocolate. He produces his own cocoa butter from the single origin beans (rarely done even by top-notch chocolatiers) and adds no emulsifiers or vanilla, resulting in a buttery texture that melts slowly on the tongue, releasing the pure flavor of the primary ingredient. Askinosie also runs a socially and environmentally friendly enterprise, paying the farmers nearly 20 percent more than fair-trade price plus a share of the company’s profits, and packaging the bars in biodegradable and reused materials. And just for kicks, visitors to can enter the “choc-o-lot number” listed on the package to read a log detailing the specific journey of that bar’s cocoa beans from farm to tummy. Available for $7.50 at Blue Apron Foods, 814 Union St at Seventh Ave, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-230-3180).

Daniel Gritzer

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