A birthday. A great first date. Fitting back into your skinny jeans. When you take the cake you celebrate with the ultimate gooey brownie.
Another birthday. Being stood up. Getting so stuck in your skinny jeans that you have to call your least-catty friend to cut you free. When life serves you unjust desserts you drown those dark moments in cocoa and oreos.
And recently, it seems, life’s ups and downs have you constantly refilling your secret stash of chocolate. But your usual sweet imported standbys are getting a little stale.
As the only state that grows cacao, Hawaii is turning out local chocolates with unique finishes that could become your next favorite comfort food. We took on the difficult task of tasting some made from 100% Hawaiian-grown cacao to find the ones that really set the bar.
Lei ChicMalie Kai – Milk & Dark chocolate
It’s the newest kid in the candy store, but Malie Kai’s dark and milk bars were the favorite in our unscientific taste test. Malie Kai owner Nathan Sato creates his chocolate strictly from beans grown on a single estate in Waialua. The results are a creamy milk chocolate with a fruity finish, a silky dark chocolate sans the usual bitterness but with overtones of berry. Malie Kai even makes a milk-and-dark blend that combines the best of both to please every chocolate lover.
Malie Kai chocolate is available in various R. Fields in Foodland stores, Umeke Markets, Honolulu Coffee Company at Ala Moana Center, as well as other stores and online.
Lei Chic Waialua Estate Extra Dark
Dark and moody, the bars are concocted from three varieties of cacao that all grow along Kaukonahua stream on the North Shore. Each bite packs a powerful 70% cacao punch offset by the chocolate’s creamy texture. One tester called it the perfect break up chocolate; it even comes in packs of five small 1.75 oz bars, in case you’re finding your bitterness hard to swallow.
Waialua Estate Extra Dark Chocolate mini-bars can be found at Whole Foods, Dole Plantation, Chocolate Gecko Espresso and other stores as well as on it’s website.
Lei ChicThe Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory – Milk Chocolate
About 10 years ago, the chocolate factory was the first to create 100% Hawaiian chocolate. To this day, it pulls harvests cacao from trees on the slopes of the Big Island’s Hualalai mountain that creates a lightly-flavored milk chocolate with a distinctive earthy finish. The Kailua-Kona company sells bars as well as its signature plumeria-shaped pieces that are easy to grab by the handful. You can fnd the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory at the Honolulu Chocolate Company, Whole Foods, other stores across the state and online.