Complete Chocolate Lover’s Guide for the San Francisco Bay Area

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The Out of Towners, Spring 2023 edition


Some chocolate visitors are worth the trip

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This blog mostly focuses on SFBA artisan chocolate, but we do occasionally try chocolate from other places and write about ones we think are worth sharing. Sometimes we try a single bar from a company. That’s not enough for a separate article so I’ve decided to do “Out of Towner” articles on a recurring basis that group these worth-a-mention bars into a review.

As of this writing the bars reviewed are available. I include where I got them — online or in local stores this time, so you can try them too.

Askinosie Sweet Potato Pie

Askinosie Sweet Potato Pie
Askinosie Sweet Potato Pie

As a fan of Askinosie Chocolate, Springfield, MO, I subscribe to their newsletter. Which is where I found this fun bar advertised for the 2022 winter holiday season. I was intrigued but had an already full chocolate tasting calendar at the time so I passed on it. When I saw in a 2023 email that it was still available — and now at a reduced price — I ordered one.

I grew up outside of Buffalo, NY, where pumpkin pie was the traditional holiday dessert and I liked it. But when I moved South for school and discovered sweet potato pie my allegiances switched. I think it’s tastier and I like its slightly more fibrous texture better. So a bar that’s labeled Sweet Potato Pie was talking to me.

I like Askinosie’s packaging, which is simple and recyclable. They usually reuse burlap thread from the bags their cacao comes in to close the bar packaging, but this bar had a ribbon instead and the label included a To: and From: section — simple upgrades that made it ready for gifting. Such a good idea: the upgrades make it easy to gift chocolate bars and at the same time reduces the waste of extra packaging and a card.

back of Sweet Potato Pie bar
The back of Sweet Potato Pie bar

The bar was the color of milk chocolate but this was white chocolate and made with zero milk products. I got a bit of a shock when I saw the back of the bar was covered in toasted mini marshmallows. Strong candied yams vibe which is not a dish I like — unnecessarily extra sweet. On the plus side the bar smelled good with strong nutmeg and cinnamon aromas.

Best of all it tasted like sweet potatoes and sweet potato pie — not just another pumpkin pie spice chocolate, but an actual sweet potato pie experience. It even had a texture that evoked the pie — the toasted marshmallows instead of adding extra sweet seemed more about adding a chewy texture. As Cacaopod said, “They nailed it.”

Honoka’a Goat Milk

Honoka'a Goat Milk Chocolate bar
Honoka’a Goat Milk Chocolate bar

I bought Honoka’a Chocolate Company’s Goat Milk Chocolate Bar based on a recommendation from the staff at The Chocolate Dragon Bittersweet Café & Bakery. Honoka’a is one of the few U.S. chocolate companies that grows their own cacao (because Hawaii is the only state in the chocolate growing belt near the Equator).

It’s a 55% cacao bar and had a sharp break for a milk. It had a smooth texture and a definitely goat milk flavor, more savory and vegetal than regular milk chocolate.

The chocolate was sweet but not too sweet for me. It’s a good darker milk chocolate and a good rendition of a goat milk chocolate.

If you can’t make it to The Chocolate Dragon, you can buy the bar directly from Honoka’a online.

Marou Ginger & Lime

Marou Ginger & Lime bar
Marou Ginger & Lime bar

Marou, Faiseurs de Chocolat, is a Vietnamese bean-to-bar chocolate that we reviewed before. Since our previous article, Marou has expanded from single origin bars to flavored bars, milk chocolate, energy bars, and other chocolate products.

We saw the Ginger & Lime bar at Star Grocery, recognizing Marou’s distinctive packaging and noticing the new inclusions. It seemed too good to pass up.

The 69% dark chocolate bar had a hard snap like the other Marou bars we have tried. It had a great ginger and lime aroma. Even better, the ginger and lime flavors were distinct. The ginger was not biting and was dried ginger, instead of candied, so it didn’t add sweetness. It did add a little texture to the chocolate. The lime was very tangy and I liked that it held its own against the ginger.

The chocolate was underneath the other flavors. It took a long time to melt and the bar wasn’t very chocolatey tasting. Instead the ginger and lime built in intensity as the chocolate melted. And it had the longest ginger aftertaste I’ve ever had from chocolate.

Marou doesn’t sell directly to consumers, but their bars are available worldwide and they have a store locator on their site.

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Published March 28, 2023