Christmas shopping is in full swing. I tend to give a lot of food-related gifts, chocolate being my favorite both to give and receive. Here are some of my favorite brands when you are looking for an indulgence.
I found Liberty Chocolates at a Whole Foods in Boston. What immediately stuck out to me was their chosen sweetener: honey. I was intrigued by this unusual combination. I bought a few bars and tried one as soon as I got home. It had a rich and complex taste, unlike any chocolate I've ever had. All of their bars are dairy- and soy-free with no fillers or refined sugar, making for an incredibly dense chocolate taste and crispy, airy texture. Liberty Chocolates uses organic Peruvian cocoa beans and local Vermont honey. The owner, Katrina, studied nutrition in school and takes great care to source high-quality ingredients in an ethical manner.
My favorites are the Dark Chocolate, Chai Espresso, and Cherry Pomegranate bars. If you have any friends or family supporting Bernie Sanders, I recommend the Feel the Bern bar, a maple chipotle chocolate bar created specifically to support Bernie Sanders.
I was given Bedré dark chocolate coffee as a gift several years ago and have been hooked ever since. Based in Oklahoma, Bedré Fine Chocolates is a Chicksaw Nation-owned company that crafts traditional chocolates with a twist. They have classics, like chocolate bars filled with caramel and chocolate-covered preztels. Bedré also has some modern options, including chocolate-covered potato chips and both dark and milk chocolate flavored coffee. All of their chocolates are rich with a wonderful velvety texture.
My favorites are the Dark Chocolate Coffee (pictured), Sensations (pecans and caramel covered in chocolate... so good!), and Dark Chocolate Raspberry Meltaways.
I first encountered Taza Chocolate in, where else, a Whole Foods in Boston. The round shape and assortment of flavors caught my eye. The flavor was so bold and intense, I instantly loved it. If you are ever in Boston, I definitely recommend taking a tour of their factory. It's only $6, you get lots of samples, and you smell like chocolate the rest of the day! Taza Chocolate is stone ground, so it has a rustic texture and big bold chocolate flavor. Taza is a pioneer in direct trade cacao beans, sourcing cacao directly from the grower. They were even one of the first chocolate companies to offer single source bars. Taza uses organic cane sugar to sweeten most of their chocolates and has many dairy-free and soy-free options.
My favorites are the Mexicano discs (pictured), especially Salted Almond, Coffee, and Cinnamon.
You can't mention Fair Trade without mentioning Equal Exchange. What stands out to me about Equal Exchange is that their quality is consistently high and they continue to come up with unique flavors. Lemon Ginger Chocolate with Black Pepper? Yes, please! Their chocolates are incredibly rich and creamy smooth, all are soy-free, and there are many dairy-free options for your vegan and Paleo friends alike.
My favorites are the Dark Hot Chocolate Mix, Dark Chocolate Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt, and Lemon Ginger Chocolate with Black Pepper (trust me on this one, it's really good)
What are your favorite treats to give as gifts? Comment and let me know!