Tuesday, December 28, 2010

HomeSense - some great finds for the Canadian chocolate lover

Since I live in a rural area, I rely on the Internet and occasional travel to buy fine chocolate. The closest city, Sudbury, Ontario, does not offer a huge variety of gourmet and fine chocolate, but good quality chocolate can be found when on the lookout for it.  I went shopping at HomeSense yesterday in New Sudbury and spent an hour seaching through their gourmet food section and came out with a basket full of chocolate that will significantly add to my tasting bin (yes, it may sound crazy but I do have a large bin to just to store chocolate for tasting).

Included in my finds were E. Guittard bittersweet (72%) dark chocolate and their 38% milk chocolate for baking and eating, as well as all-natural chocolate chips, some "Truffle Pigs" by a Canadian company, champagne-flavoured chocolate and a whole lot more. I can't wait to sink my teeth into some of these chocolates in the coming weeks.  I'm out of time for a tasting this morning, but stay tuned in the coming weeks for a review of these great products and more!

Have a great day!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lindt Petits Desserts Milk Chocolate Mousse brings us back to our chocolate roots on Christmas Day

I've come to realize that Christmas is a time for sugary, commercial chocolate.  As much as I would like it to be, it is not a time for worldly, fine chocolate that can only be found in specialty shops. It's about getting back to our chocolate roots, when we were kids and our eyes grew big at the sight of a box of Turtles or AfterEights nestled under the tree on Christmas morning. For those of us who love to constantly try new kinds of fine and single-origin chocolate on a daily basis, Christmas can be a time we let our child-like sweet tooth run wild again by gorging on all those gooey, melty sugary "chocolates" that began our chocolate cravings in the first place.

I used to hint at family members that I would only like expensive, high quality specialty chocolate for Christmas. I would e-mail out links to websites where they could purchase it, print a list from a website and circle the chocolate I wanted to try, or simply mention the shops that sold fine chocolate that I had yet to try. But it was always to no avail.  Nowadays I don't bother hinting and and I just rely on myself to buy my fine chocolate. Let's face it, I can't expect my family members to know what chocolate I have tried and what chocolate I have not tried. So I just go with the flow at Christmas and enjoy the commercial chocolate that materializes at Christmas time.

This year, I was pleasantly surprised by receiving a Lindt PETITS DESSERTS Milk Chocolate Mousse bar.  My sister-in-law is nearly as much of a chocoholic as I am, and she is probably the best one for understanding that I like to try chocolate bars that I have not yet tasted.  And since she is also pregnant right now (as am I), she understands that there are a few months in a pregnancy where dark chocolate is harder to digest. So she conscientiously bought me this 140 gram Lindt bar to tackle my current cravings for the sweeter stuff.

Lindt has done a great job with the flavour and texture of this chocolate bar. It is creamy, slightly bubbly inside and unbelievably smooth.  I believe that the secret to any good milk chocolate is the addition of hazelnuts. Milk chocolate is always meltier, smoother and tastier when hazelnuts have been added to it. Cocoa Camino has done the same with their organic 100 gram milk chocolate bar, which makes it one of the best organic milk chocolate bars that I have tasted. Another great commercial chocolate for the family at Christmas time is GuyLian - the original Belgian chocolate sea shells. The manufacturers have also added hazelnuts to these truffle-like treasures which make it so addictive to nearly every member of the family. Lindt also knows this secret and has intelligently added it to their mousse bar. 

Now if you are one of those people (like me) who care about what is in your chocolate, I suggest that you don't read the ingredients list for the Lindt mousse bar. Lindt has added hydrogenated vegetable oil hydrogenated palm oil and artificial flavour, among other unpronounceable ingredients.  I am disappointed in Lindt, since they always advertise themselves as a manufacturer of chocolate with superior ingredients.  They often add artificial flavours to their chocolate, and I find the addition of hydrogenated oil to be crossing the line.  In this day and age, people are conscious of their health and hydrogenated oil is one of those things many of us try to keep out of our diet. If most margarine manufacturers have figured out that "non-hydrogenated" is better for us, then why can Lindt?

However, since I believe is that Christmas is a time for extra-sweet, overly commercial chocolate with all sorts of additives, then I guess this chocolate bar is appropriate for the day, and likely it is a lot better than some of the other chocolate candy that I could be eating instead.  And what the heck, it tastes great. So a big thank-you to my sister-in-law for helping me sooth my cravings today and giving me a luscious, milky, hazelnuty treat for Christmas day!

Merry Christmas everyone!  May the holiday season bring you something sweet and tasty and, of course, chocolaty.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Trinitario cocoa beans from Tanzania create flavourful and wonderful chocolate!

I LOVE single origin chocolate.  I love it for its aromas and intensity of flavours - even when those flavours are sometimes bitter and not at all like the "chocolate" that most of us grew up with.  I like to taste the tobacco, woodsy and rustic flavours that often are in single-origin chocolate bars. I feel like the chocolate has heart and soul when all those flavours come through in the taste.  And to be truthful, after getting used to single origin and organic chocolate, all other chocolate made from a mix of cocoa beans from various regions tends to tastes a little flat.

I guess I am on such a "single origin" high today because I am eating a SOMA chocolatemaker Black Science Microbatch Tanzania 70% chocolate bar. I've mentioned Soma before - a lovely little fine chocolate maker with a storefront in the Distillery District of Toronto.

This "Microbatch" bar is sweet and intense all at the same time.  There is a really nice cocoa flavour and something really outdoorsy about it, without those woodland flavours being too overpowering.  It's a "make your happy day even happier" kind of chocolate bar.

I highly recommend this chocolate bar, and I highly recommend trying anything that Soma makes!  You can order from their website or even better, if you are in Toronto, stop by their store.  Your senses will be overwhelmed by a wonderful array of chocolate flavours and aromas that only a true master chocolatier could think up.

Here are the stats on the bar I tried today:
Microbatch Tanzania 70% by SOMA chocolatemaker
Ingredients: Certified Organic cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, cocoa butter, all natural ingredients. May contain trace amounts of nuts, gluten, soy & dairy.
Manufacturers tasting notes: An "earthy chocolate" made from "cocoa beans grown on the Northern tip of Lake Nyara, a region rich in volcanic deposits.  Nutty, well balanced, with unique malty notes."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Peanut free 76% artisan dark chocolate

I always love to find chocolate that I can put into categories which meet people's specific needs. For example, I recently wrote about chocolate containing no soya lecithin, which can be eaten by people who are allergic to soy, or who are watching their soy intake.  Peanut-free chocolate is a similar category.  Most chocolate manufacturers make the claim on their packaging: "May contain peanuts" or "Made in a facility that processes peanuts", leaving people who have peanut allergies with nearly no chance of tasting any fine chocolate at all!  However, I have found one artisan chocolate bar that guarantees their chocolate to be peanut-free: OLIVIA chocolat.

This chocolate bar is very thin and although the package looks like it might contain a 100 gram chocolate bar, it really has only 50 grams in it.  So you can see it in one of two ways:  it's a trick to make you think you are getting more chocolate for your money than you actually are, or this chocolate bar is great for portion control.

The chocolate is very smooth, as promised on the package with mention of their "Granite Stone Mélanger" that refines for 72 hours to "...unveil unparalleled smoothness...". They also tell us that they use a mix of Criollo and Trinitario cocoa beans, meaning they use the two finest of the three varieties of cocoa beans available. I will agree that the chocolate is very smooth and has a sweetness to it that is unexpected given that it is has 76% cocoa solids.  There is a strong flavour of cocoa butter and definitely more than a hint of real vanilla.

Overall, it's nice.  The only problem is: I think the retailer displayed this chocolate bar in direct sunlight.  I bought a few of the Olivia flavoured bars at the same time as this one, and clearly they had been melted by sunlight, which may be affecting the flavour as well. It was a shame, they offered some interesting flavours that I had been looking forward to.

So if you are someone who loves fine dark chocolate, but needs it to be peanut-free - try the Olivia Chocolat brand of chocolate bars. Here are the stats on this chocolate:

OLIVIA chocolat Artisan 76% cocoa, 50 grams
Olivia Chocolatiers, CSP 76002 Gall DÁylmer, Quebec, Canada
Ingredients: organic cocoa beans, organic sugar cane, organic cocoa butter, soya lecithin and vanilla bean.  Produced in a facility that uses wheat, eggs, milk, tree nuts and sulphites. May contain traces of these ingredients.  Out chocolate is peanut free.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chocolate and Fruit, an endless combination...that can spice up your sex life?

I love chocolate and fresh fruit.  Most particularly, I like cherries, strawberries and kiwi dipped in warm dark chocolate ganache.  However, I am not generally one of those people who like chocolate and dried fruit combined.  I usually passed on the chocolate covered apricots that so many chocolatiers love to make, or chocolate covered maraschino cherries...no, definitely not for me.  And lately I have not particularly liked any kind of sweet dried fruit mixed with dark chocolate.  However, I still try them, because my mission in life is to try every single kind of fine chocolate bar that exists - in every flavour.  So despite turning my nose up at  most dried fruit/chocolate combinations, I embrace them and hope with each tasting that I will find one that I love.

Today I am trying one of those combinations that is so particularly interesting that I may just fall in love with it.  I am tasting the Flirt Organic Dark Chocolate bar with Acai and Cherries by Zazubean, a Vancouvery-based chocolate company.  When I opened the package I smelled strong organic chocolate aroma combined with something burnt and very strong pepper or spice.  When tasted, the spice is completely overwhelming and the cherries and Acai berries are a bit underwhelming - which is good for someone like me who does not like the sweetness of dried fruit in my chocolate.  In fact, the flavour profile is so weirdly interesting, that I am compelled to look at the ingredients list and am immediately shocked at what I am seeing.  The ingredients include: damiana leaf 1000mg, horny goat weed 500mg, maca root 500mg in addition to the cherry, acai, vanilla, etc. So what the heck is horny goat weed anyway?!?  And why am I eating it in chocolate?!? And why do all these things taste like burnt pepper?

For answers, I've turned to trusty ol' Google. Of course I looked up "horny goat weed" first - ha ha.  And of course, as the name sort of suggests, it is believed to be an aphrodisiac.  In fact, one article suggested that it is an alternative to Viagra for men! I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I bought this chocolate bar.  I suppose I should have been alerted by the name "Flirt"and slogan "Be Bold. Be Sexy." on the front of the package. 

As it turns out, horny goat weed is not the only aphrodisiac in this chocolate bar.  Damiana leaf is commonly used as a female aphrodisiac. It is also thought to help with hormone balancing. And finally, maca root is used for fertility enhancement and hormone balancing.  Well...well...well...I suppose I should have timed the eating of this chocolate bar a little better. I am eating it by myself in the middle of the afternoon!  So as to whether this chocolate bar works as it is intended, I can't really say.  But if you are looking for something to "spice" up your sex life, why not give it a try?

The good points of the Flirt Zazubean chocolate bar are: the ingredients are organic, it is portion-controlled (56 grams), it is all natural with real vanilla, and it is Fair Trade certified. The downside is the cost (I paid $4.95 for this 56 gram bar), and the flavour is a bit overwhelming at times.

Overall the flavour is so interesting that you almost have to keep eating it to figure out what the heck it tastes like. It's very non-dessert chocolate, because it is so spicy. It also is not like any other chocolate-dried fruit combo bars that I've tasted.  I haven't decided yet if I like it., but I can say that I certainly like the idea behind it.

Here is the info on this chocolate bar:

Flirt (Be Bold. Be Sexy) Organic Dark Chocolate by Zazubean, 56 grams, 70% cacao
"Formulated in Canada, made in the USA for Zazubean Organic Chocolates", Vancouver, B.C. Canada
Ingredients: Cocoa beans*+, evaporated cane juice*+, cocoa butter*+, cherries*, acai*, damiana leaf 100 mg*, horny goat weed 500 mg*, maca root 500 mg*, glycerin, agave nectar*, vanilla*.  Made on shared equipment with products containing wheat, eggs, milk, cherry pits, peanuts and other nuts. +Fair Trade Certified(tm), *Certified Organic.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Valrhona Manjari is..."fresh and tangy"...uhhh, wait a minute...

I'm not sure which marketing genius wrote "fresh and tangy" on the package of the Valrhona Les Grands Crus Manjari 64% cacao bar, but I think they were on fresh and tangy acid that day. Sorry, that was just my first thought upon tasting the bar, and I probably should have just kept it to myself.  However, I was also a marketer once upon a time ago and I can understand how a product will affect one person in a completely dfifferent way than it affects other people. So perhaps "fresh and tangy" came to the mind of a Valrhona marketer one day while lounging on a picnic blanket in the middle of an orange grove leisurely tasting this decadent chocolate bar.

It may also be that the translated English version is just not quite the same as the original French version (Valrhona is a French company).  In French it reads "Frais & Acidulé" which seems a bit closer to the actual taste to me.  It is acidic.  And as soon as I opened the package, it had strong rustic out-doorsy smells with thick tobacco overtones. Of course, it is the middle of a cold winter day here for me, so perhaps I would have a different perspective if I were tasting chocolate on a bright and sunny spring day in an orange grove.

All that said, the Valrhona Manjari (64% cacao) chocolate bar tastes fantastic.  It is thick, rich in flavours and makes me feel like I am indulging in something wonderful.  Valrhona nearly always has that affect on me.  After all, they are considered to be one of the best chocolate companies in the world!

Here are the stats on this chocolate bar:

Valrhona Manjari Dark chocolate (64% cocoa minimum, pure cocoa butter)
Ingredients: cocoa beans from Madagascar, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier (soya lecithin), natural vanilla extract.  This product may contain traces of nuts, milk and egg proteins, gluten and peanut.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A great day for rich, dark chocolate cake....Laura Secord 70% Chocolate Yule Log

Since it’s Monday afternoon and my daughter is napping quietly and peacefully (sigh), I thought it was a good day to forget about tasting chocolate bars and go for the heavy stuff. And by ‘heavy stuff’ I do mean rich, wonderful, dark chocolate cake.  I eat a lot of cake regularly, since I am in the business of making gourmet cakes, as well as chocolate. However, I do not often have the privilege of sitting down and eating a full piece of cake, particularly one that was not made by me.  It is not because I avoid tasting cakes made by other pastry professionals (I’m all about sampling the competition), nor is it because I am watching my weight. It is simply because I am one of the only professionals in the area who makes cakes – especially cakes made with high quality chocolate and natural ingredients. This really is a rural area that I live in.

And so, (sigh #2) my cakes are always being given away to customers and I rarely have time to make an extra cake and eat it all by myself.  I have come to accept that I am destined to just eat various components of cake - just the cake shavings when I have to level a cake (which is not often anymore) and the buttercream icings, truffles and ganache to ensure they are up to my standards.  So I do eat a lot of cake, just not a whole piece at a time. 

So when I came across a Laura Secord 70% chocolate Yule log cake in the freezer section of the grocery store the other day, I just couldn’t resist.  I am not that keen to buy Laura Secord chocolate because I think it is a bit too commercialized and their dark chocolate a bit too sweet (although they have been adding some better dark chocolate bars to their product line lately in the 70% cacao and above range).  However, I read the ingredients and thought….firstly, Mmmmm…and secondly, this looks okay. They used 70% dark chocolate, real cream instead of hydrogenated oils like most grocery store cakes, and butter, flour and eggs pretty much made up the rest of the ingredients list.  Plus, it was a wonderful rolled cake filled with dark chocolate mousse – who can resist that?

Now that it is thawed and I’ve tasted it while writing this post, I have to say that I think it is great.  It’s very rich – I tried to eat nearly half the Yule log in one sitting, but could barely get through one-eighth of the cake since it was so rich.  It tastes fantastic paired with a large glass of warm skim milk. So I’d like to say a big thank-you to Laura Secord for giving me a blissful 10 minutes of enjoyment with a full slice of wonderful chocolate mousse cake.

On a side note: if you are in the Ottawa area and love really rich dark chocolate cake, go to Thyme & Again on Wellington Street in Westboro and buy a slice of their Chocolate Paradise cake – it’s my all-time favourite!  An irresistible combination of dark chocolate, cream and a little bit of cake layered in between will warm your heart.  I have never seen such thick layers of chocolate ganache in and surrounding a cake before.  They should have called it the “dark chocolate lovers you’ll be in heaven” cake – but I suppose “Paradise” sums it up too.

May your day be filled with great cake too! And may tomorrow bring you - and I - more chocolate.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Salt and chocolate...an appetizer or dessert?

I often find myself liking chocolate that tastes less like dessert and more like an appetizer to a main meal. What kind of chocolate is that, you ask?  Well, in my opinion, it is any chocolate with flavours added that are commonly in our savoury foods, rather than in our sweet foods.  For me, those chocolates include chili-spiced chocolate, chocolate with herbs like basil, and chocolate with sea salt. 

I have been collecting a few salted chocolate bars for the last few months, and waiting for an opportunity to taste them all at once. And today is the day!

I am tasting the following three chocolate bars today:
  • Chocolat NOIR a la Fleur de Sel, 45 gram bar by Suite 88 Chocolatier (Montreal)
  • Lindt EXCELLENCE Sea Salt Dark (Dark chocolate with a touch of seas salt), 100 gram, 47% cacao
  • Cocoa Camino Fair Trade Organic Milk with sea salt (contains hazelnuts), 100 grams, 38% cocoa

The Suite 88 chocolate bar is VERY salty with big pieces of crunchy salt in it.  It is definitely on my "appetizer" list.  You can taste the chocolate in there somewhere, which adds a nice sweetness to the savoury salt, but it is a lot of salt. The dark chocolate is smooth and sweet, and likely has no more than 55%  or 69% cacao solids.

Lindt on the other hand has a fruity flavour, although I don't think that was intentional and it's predominant texture is the smooth chocolate.  The salt is apparent, but the pieces are not quite as large as the Suite 88 chocolate. In fact, the salt is the aftertaste in the Lindt bar once all the chocolate has melted away. In the Suite 88 bar, the salt is the first thing you taste and the last thing you taste. The downside of Lindt is the "artificial flavour" listed in the ingredient list and the addition of "butter fat" to the chocolate.  Although it tastes like fine chocolate, the butterfat and artificial flavours make it difficult to put it in that category.

Now that I have tasted the Cocoa Camino chocolate bar, I am realizing that I should have followed standard tasting rules and tried the milk chocolate first and worked my way up in cocoa percentages.  I was a little shocked and overwhelmed by the sweetness of the chocolate when I first popped it into my mouth.  However, now that I've had two pieces, it is growing on me and I can see how nice the chocolate it.  The chocolate tastes a lot like their couverture milk chocolate, which I use in a few of my chocolate and pastry products. There is an organic smell and flavour, and the milk chocolate is smooth, but not too sweet in comparison to commercial milk chocolate. The ground hazelnuts add a smoothness and nuttiness to the chocolate.  Cocoa Camino used ground hazelnuts in their standard 100 gram milk chocolate bar as well, which adds an amazing flavour and texture that many people cannot resist. There is also real ground vanilla beans in this chocolate, and the chocolate is fair trade and organic, so a big thumbs up to the Cocoa Camino brand!

Each bar was good in its own way, and really if you are a salt lover, and really like to crunch on the chunky stuff, try the Suite 88 bar.  If you want a milder introduction to seas salt in your chocolate, and affordability, go with the Lindt bar.  If you are a Milk Chocolate person who cares about the environment and your health, go for a Cocoa Camino milk chocolate with sea salt.  And if you are feeling inspired, take any of the bars I tasted today, or any other bar with sea salt, break them up on a platter and put it out with the appetizers at your next party!  After all, holidays are happier with chocolate.

Here are the stats on the bars I tasted today:

Chocolat NOIR a la Fleur de Sel, 45 gram bar by Suite 88 Chocolatier (Montreal)
Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, sea salt, soya lecithin, natural vanilla. Contains or may contain traces of milk, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, sulphites, soya or eggs. http://www.suite88.com/

Lindt EXCELLENCE Sea Salt Dark (Dark chocolate with a touch of seas salt), 100 gram, 47% cacao
Manufactured by: Lindt & Sprüngli SAS (France).  www.lindt.com
Ingredients:  sugar, cocoa mass, butter, butter fat, soya lecithin, sea salt (fleur de sel), artificial flavour.  May contain traces of peanuts, hazelnuts and almonds.

Cocoa Camino Fair Trade Organic Milk with sea salt (contains hazelnuts), 100 grams, 38% cacao
La Siembra Co-Operative, Ottawa, Canada
Chocolate made in Switzerland.  www.tasteofcamino.com
Ingredients: whole milk powder, golden cane sugar, cacao butter, cacao mass, whole cane sugar, ground hazelnuts, seas salt (Guerande), ground vanilla beans. 69.4% Fair Trade Certified ingredients by dry weight. Except for the salt, every other ingredient is certified organic.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Just a truffles and filled chocolates kind of day....

I have far too much chocolate that is only half eaten in my house.  As much as I wanted to sit down with something new today, I really had to try to work my way through some of the previously tasted chocolate.
So I am relaxing at the computer with a Godiva Dark Chocolate Assortment box of filled chocolates and truffles. I normally prefer hand-made truffles that are carefully crafted by professional chefs and found in little boutique chocolate shops in metropolitan centres. However, I do not live in a metropolitan centre, nor any place that even resembles a city.  When I look out my window, I just see a barn, a horse, a field and, quite often, a lot of deer.  If I want to go to a city, I need to drive for more than two hours, and even then, there is  a lack of interesting chocolate shops in that city.  And so if I have a craving for filled chocolates and truffles with a lot of interesting flavours thought of by great chefs, I have to order those online.

However, my husband was feeling badly about the amount of travel he has been doing lately, so he brought me home a 301 gram box of Godiva chocolates from Toronto last week.  I am impressed that he thought to get the dark chocolate box - it means I have made progress in my hinting that I want only chocolate (preferably dark) for any special occasion gift - EVER.  It took a long time for that to get through, but I think it finally did.

What I like about this box is the amount of raspberry-flavoured chocolate in it.  There seemed to be quite a few (I just polished off the last Raspberry Ganache Swirl).  I think Godiva knows that raspberry-flavoured chocolate is their strong point. 

I also really liked the Midnight Swirl with a ganache centre made of 85% dark chocolate.  The Cappuccino espresso-infused dark chocolate truffle was supreme, as was the Extra Dark Chocolate Truffle and surprisingly, the French Vanilla Truffle.  I have to say, Godiva does a nice job on truffles.

I was not a fan of the cherry cordial - it was too super-sweet and the cherry inside looked yellow and chewy.  As you can tell, I didn't get far enough to bite the cherry after I broke through the outer layer and tasted all that flavour and sweetness.

So I have enjoyed my box of Godiva Dark Chocolate Assortments - even if I am more inclined to eat the artisan, chef-made stuff.  Something like a Soma Chocolatier (Toronto - distillery district, www.somachocolate.com) Douglas Fir Oil truffle or a truffle with 8-year old balsamic vinegar, oregano, basil, pink peppercorn or other interesting flavours like that.

Hopefully tomorrow I can start opening new chocolate bars...although I have barely made a dent in the previously tasted ones!

Check back soon!  In the next week I will be reviewing three chocolate bars with sea salt. I also have a Soma chocolate bar to taste and many others just waiting in my cupboard to be tasted.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chocolate bars with no soy lecithin are not easy to find....but they are out there.

Updated March 7, 2016

Let’s face it: most chocolate bars contain soy lecithin, a by-product of soybean oil. It is the key ingredient in chocolate that keeps the cocoa butter and cocoa from separating. Although some food specialists believe that soy lecithin can be good for brain development and heart disease prevention (http://www.chow.com/food-news/54094/is-soy-lecithin-bad-for-you/), there are many people who cannot consume soy products because of an allergy to soy or a history of cancer. For those people, it is difficult to eat any chocolate because of a lack of readily available chocolate bars containing no soy lecithin.

I bought a Ritter Sport 71% dark bar the other day and it reminded me that I have a list of all the chocolate bars that I have tried with no soy lecithin, so today I thought I would share that list.  Ideally, I would like to help people who cannot have soy products to find chocolate bars that they can eat.  After all, I’d like to think that my life is all about spreading happiness through chocolate.  And hopefully I can do that today.

I became interested in chocolate containing no soy lecithin when a salesman at a chocolate exhibition told me that his company was the only one to make soy-free chocolate bars. So I went on a mission to find other chocolate bar manufacturers that have also kept soy derivatives out of their chocolate.

Here is the list that I have put together of chocolate bars that are free of soy lecithin, listed by country/region:

American Soy Lecithin-Free Chocolate:

Bean-to-bar craft chocolate makers are popping up all over the U.S. so rapidly these days, and they often make chocolate with no soy lecithin. Be sure to check this American craft chocolate list for other soy-free chocolate makers that may be in your region.

q Amano Madagascar 70% and other flavours of Amano Chocolate (www.amanochocolate.com). Although they have a warning on the package regarding the possibility of traces of soy lecithin, they tell me that they have never run lecithin on their equipment, but because they are restored antiques they can not be sure what was run on the equipment in the past. See this post and the comments below it for more information: http://ultimatechocolateblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/patric-american-handcrafted-chocolate.html?showComment=1325214828163#c4395610763615427899

q Patric American Handcrafted Chocolate - I have tasted their Signature Blend bar and their In-NIB-itable BAR. Very smooth chocolate with a lot of flavour. Both bars do not contain soy lecithin. See the following article for more details on Patric Chocolate: http://ultimatechocolateblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/patric-american-handcrafted-chocolate.html?showComment=1325214828163#c4395610763615427899

q Madre Chocolate This is fantastic and flavourful chocolate made in Hawaii and made from Hawaiian cacao beans. Their chocolate is soy-free and they make several amazing flavours, including their popular Passionfruit bar. I have tasted this chocolate and blogged about it a few times - here are my articles: http://ultimatechocolateblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/going-to-hawaii-think-tropical.html and http://ultimatechocolateblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/making-chocolate-from-bean-to-bar-at.html Their website is: www.madrechocolate.com.

q Pacari Ecuadorian Organic Chocolate "Los Rios" (Single Region Fine Chocolate) bar with 72% cacao (50 g/1.76 oz) Made with sunfflower lecithin and specifies "dairy and soy-free" on the package. Lot's of good flavour in this chocolate. http://www.pacarichocolate.com/

q Pacari Ecuadorian Organic Chocolate "Raw Chocolate" with 70% cacao (50 g/1.76 oz) - again specifies "dairy and soy-free" on the package and is made with sunflower lecithin. This raw chocolate is not really smooth, but I like it. It is also great because it has had minimal processing so the antioxidants, flavanols and bean flavour are maintained. http://www.pacarichocolate.com/

q  Potomac Chocolate (Woodbridge, VA) http://www.potomacchocolate.com/ their Upala 70% chocolate bars are made using cacao from the Upala district of Costa Rica and the only two ingredients are cacao beans and sugar. They also sell one chocolate bar made from cacao from Peru. I have tried this chocolate and loved it.  Read my review here: http://ultimatechocolateblog.blogspot.ca/2011/11/po-to-macpo-to-macpoto-macpot-to.html
q  Rogue Chocolatier (Three Rivers, Massachusetts) http://www.roguechocolatier.com/ This is a small, craft, bean-to-bar chocolate maker who sources the finest beans from single-origin sources like Peru, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago and Honduras. They work directly with the farmers to ensure quality and fair trade. Unfortunately, I have not yet tasted their chocolate as they do not ship to Canada. But their accolades can speak for their chocolate: Rogue Chocolatier has won several awards, including the Good Food Awards for 2011, 2012 and 2013.

q  Enjoy Life brand of chocolate chips are made on dedicated equipment that is soy-free, as well as peanut-free, tree nut-free and free of several other known food allergens. Read on for more information about Enjoy Life's Mega Chunks and Mini Chips.

q Askinosie Chocolate (Springfield, MO) www.askinosie.com  Askinosie Chocolate does not add any soy lecithin in their chocolate making process. The only ingredients in their Single Origin Dark Chocolate bars are cocoa beans and organic sugar. They are also doing some really interesting things with chocolate education at chocolateuniversity.org.

q Dandelion Chocolate (Mission District, San Francisco) www.dandelionchocolate.com  This new San Francisco bean-to-bar chocolate maker only uses two ingredients: cocoa beans and sugar.

q Ritual Chocolate (Denver, Colorado) www.ritualchocolate.com a small-batch, craft chocolate making company They were recently honoured at the Good Food Awards Ceremony in San Francisco for their Costa Rica and Madagascar (70% cacao) chocolate bars. They also make a bar from beans of Trinidad and of Balao, Ecuador. All of their chocolate bars can be ordered online, including from Canada. Their chocolate also only has two ingredients: cacao and sugar.

q  Theo Chocolate (Seattle, WA) www.theochocolate.com This bean-to-bar manufacturer makes so many flavours, I can't even count them all. But their basic pure 45% milk chocolate is delicious, as is their 85% dark chocolate, depending on your taste. All their chocolate is soy-free and can be found in many stores across the U.S. and Canada, and it can also be purchased directly on their website.

q  Stone Grindz (Phoenix, AZ) - www.stonegrindz.com Making dairy-free, soy-free and gluten-free chocolate from bean-to-bar in small batches using Arriba Nacional cocoa beans from Ecuador. They make a range of dark chocolate bars, as well as wholesome snack bars. Find them at farmer's markets in Phoenix and other regions of Arizona\ or buy online.

Canadian Soy Lecithin-Free Chocolate:
q Camino (formerly called Cocoa Camino) chocolate by La Siembra Co-Operative (http://www.cocoacamino.com/) has no soy lecithin in its chocolate, which is also organic and fair trade. For instance, their 71% Bittersweet 100 gram bar has only cocoa mass, golden cane sugar, cocoa butter, whole cane sugar and ground vanilla beans in its ingredients list. 

q Just Us Coffee Roasters 70% Dark Chocolate Bar (100 grams). This bar had a very strong organic and fire roasted bean flavour – I ate the whole thing in one day so it must’ve been good! There is also no soy lecithin and it has just organic cocoa paste, organic muscobado whole cane sugar, organic cocoa butter and organic cocoa powder. I purchased this bar in Ottawa, Ontario at Mountain Equipment Co-Op, but you can purchase it directly at Just Us coffee houses in Halifax as well. Check their web site to learn where it is sold in your area: http://www.justuscoffee.com/.

q President’s Choice Fair Trade Dark Chocolate (Peru, 70% cocoa solids) has a great taste that tastes a bit like “Chipits” brand of chocolate chip, only darker. It seems sweeter than most 70% chocolate bars, but a nice sweetness (not sickeningly sweet like some North American-branded dark chocolate can be). The ingredients on the package are listed as: unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, low fat cocoa powder. See http://www.pc.ca/ for more information.

q Cuisine Camino fair trade "Baking Chocolate" is La Siembra Co-Operative's baking line of chocolate (http://www.cuisinecamino.com/). Their chocolate comes in 200 gram boxes, which is a larger, more helpful size for baking than a standard 100 gram chocolate bar (sometimes you just need more!). Their 56% cacao Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate bar, for instance, is made with three simple ingredients: organic cane sugar, cocoa mass, and cocoa butter and no lecithin or vanilla in sight. The chocolate is made in Peru and is both organic and fair trade. If you are doing a lot more baking or chocolate making than your average home baker, look to Camino's Professional and Industrial lines for more 10 kilo boxes of their organic and fair trade courverture in white, milk, semi-sweet and bitter-sweet chocolate. It is also soy-lecithin free.

q Hummingbird Chocolate Maker - This is a new bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Ottawa, Canada. They have a flavourful range of chocolates made from single origin beans (Hispaniola, Venezuela and Talamanca) which show immense differences in flavours - I highly recommend trying their entire range for a chocolate tasting party. www.hummingbirdchocolate.com.

q Camino Milk Chocolate Chips - there is a "May contain peanuts and soy" warning on the package, but there is no actual soy lecithin in the ingredients list. If you are just avoiding soy (not allergic), this may be a great brand for you to try as milk chocolate chips without soy is not easy to find. www.tasteofcamino.com

q    President’s Choice's 300 gram chocolate bars have canola lecithin instead of soy lecithin. Their 70% range chocolate uses artificial flavouring though, but otherwise is good for baking. Their hazelnut and milk chocolate bars do have natural vanilla flavouring. These are available in Ontario at Loblaws, Loblaws Superstore and Valu-Mart. Check http://www.pc.ca/ to find out where they are sold near you.

q Terra Nostra™ Organic, Intense Dark™, 100 gram bar with 73% cacao is also organic and has only three ingredients: cocoa mass, organic sugar, cocoa butter. http://www.terranostrachocolate.com/ Although it’s been a while since I tried it, this bar had a wonderful smell and great taste.

q    Denman Island Chocolate (British Columbia, Canada) Located in British Columbia's Gulf Islands, Denman Island Chocolate makes 10 flavours of perfectly portioned chocolate bars that are soy, peanut and gluten-free. The chocolatiers use fresh local and imported ingredients to create just the right favour balance with the organic and Fair Trade certified chocolate that is made for them in Europe. Denman Island Chocolate bars are sold at retail outlets across Canada and the U.S. www.denmanislandchocolate.com

q Belgian Milk Chocolate Bar made for Indigo Books & Music (Toronto, Canada) and sold in Chapters/Indigo stores across Canada.  This is 1 kilogram of quality milk chocolate!  Awesome gift for milk chocolate eaters or avid bakers. Made in Germany. Read about it here.

q Palette de Bine (Mont-Tremblant, QC) - the only two ingredients in this chocolate NO soy  lecithin! The chocolate maker behind the bar has started winning awards lately from the International Chocolate Awards, so check it out: www.palettedebine.com. You can buy the chocolate online from www.latablette.ca - they will ship across Canada.

q Take a Fancy chocolate in Burnaby, B.C. is made from bean-to-bar with very few ingredients and is sold online and at Farmer's Markets in the Lower Mainland (BC). Check www.takeafancy.ca for more information.

q Sirene Chocolate is also a bean-to-bar craft chocolate maker in British Columbia and makes chocolate with only two ingredients (cacao and sugar). Sold online and in select stores across Canada and the U.S. Check www.sirenechocolate.com

Soy Lecithin-Free Chocolate from Outside North America:

q     The Ritter SPORT Amargo Extrafino 71% Cocoa, 100 gram bar has no soy lecithin (just cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, natural vanilla). This bar is smooth, chunky and great for those moments when you are craving very dark chocolate.  It does not have any strong flavours in it like the organic chocolate bars listed below, so would be suitable to those who are not used to tasting the specific nuances of single origin cocoa beans, and those who are not used to the strong flavour of organic chocolate. It has a happy feel to it – eat this on a day that needs brightening.

q     Ambriel (73% cocoa) chocolate bar with cocoa nibs has a very organic and earthy flavour and smell and, in fact, is certified organic and fair trade. Sproutmaster.com sells this product. The cocoa comes from Bolivia and the Dominican Republic.

q     Vivani (Edel Bitter EQUADOR) organic “superior” dark chocolate (70% cacao) with olive oil.  This is a nice smooth chocolate, likely due to the olive oil. Its ingredients are all organic and include: cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter, olive oil (2%). Check http://www.vivani.de/ for more information.
q    Green & Blacks Organic Dark 85%, 100 gram bar.  This bar is made with Trinitario cocoa beans and when I purchased it in 2008, it offered a quality promise on the package that it lived up to. Its ingredients are organic and include: chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, fat-reduced cocoa powder, raw cane sugar, vanilla extract.  Be wary though, if you do not want soy lecithin, just stick to the 85% bar, Green & Black’s 70% chocolate does have soy lecithin in it.

q    Michel Cluizel Plantation "Los Ancones", 67% Dark Chocolate, 100 g (3.5 oz) - of the highest quality and there is no lecithin used at all in this chocolate. Plus it's made with Bourbon vanilla pod and is made in France, one of the greatest countries for chocolate making! http://www.cluizel.com/

If you know of any other chocolate bars that do not contain soy lecithin, let me know in the comments below!  Let’s help more people eat chocolate!