We recently heard about organic chocolate bars from Shaman Chocolates, and were eager to try out these chocolates for a good cause: 100 percent of the profits go to support the Huichol Indians in the Sierra Madre mountains in central Mexico, and sales of the Fair Trade-certified chocolate have already helped to build a school for the village.
Not only is this chocolate with a purpose, but the 60 percent organic dark chocolate with raspberries and organic milk chocolate with macadamia nuts and Hawaiian pink sea salt sounded divine. The two-ounce bars come nicely packaged, with wrappers featuring Huichol yarn paintings and Huichol Indians in traditional dress.
A charitable cause and pretty packaging are all well and good, but would these bars actually taste good? We dove into the simplest one first, since the ability to do a delicious dark chocolate speaks volumes about any candy company.
The Organic Dark Chocolate is segmented into thin bars for easy breaking and sharing. It has a nice bite, melts smoothly on the tongue and is a fine dark chocolate -- though without any distinguishing notes. This may be because we've grown accustomed to the deep darkness of a nice 72 percent bar and this one clocks in lighter. But still, it's a lovely treat.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Onto the 60 percent Organic Dark Chocolate with Ruby Raspberries. This bar looks very similar to the plain chocolate one, though you can see evidence of raspberry seeds when it's broken apart. The raspberry flavor is very subtle...perhaps too subtle. We fail to detect the fruit on the first tasting, and only after returning to it after a comparison with the plain do we find the raspberry undertone. The seeds are certainly present, but outside of those, we aren't picking up a strong fruit flavor. On the one hand, it's nice not to be smothered with fake raspberry flavoring; on the other hand, this could have used a bit more kick. Raspberry aficionados will be disappointed.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
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Last but not least, we delve into the Organic Milk Chocolate with Macadamia Nuts and Hawaiian Pink Sea Salt. While we usually have low expectations for milk chocolate, we are suckers for a salty/sweet combo, so we are instantly intrigued by this one. The bar is sectioned into squares and bits of white macadamia poke through when the bar is broken. Hel-lo! As the uber-smooth chocolate melts in your mouth, tiny salt crystals are revealed and play with the sweet on your tongue. The salt and macadamia bits offer a mellow crunch, though we could have done with bigger chunks of nut. This is hands-down our favorite of the bunch, highlighting a gorgeous milk chocolate and unique flavor pairing.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Shaman Chocolates can be found at Whole Foods stores and online at www.shamanchocolates.com.