My recent trip to Belgium unleashed my inner chocoholic, so when I got tipped off about the 13th Annual New York Chocolate Show, you can be sure that I was first in line to storm the barricades in search of what would melt my heart. Here were my favorites:
Heather Kenzie and Jennifer Love met while taking classes at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Possessing a drive-off-the-cliff spirit in line with Thelma and Louise (without the actual cliff), the two developed and launched a line of all-natural organic chocolate bars. There were lots of vendors touting the whole “organic, raw, eat-me-I’m-good-for-you” thing, but in my book, theirs took top honors for that perfect combination of bittersweet and mouthfeel. Or maybe that was my last relationship.
Amazon organic cacao producers and artists combined forces to form the Kallari Association, a self-governed coalition created to support sustainable income for the Kichwa people. The 850-plus families now produce, market and sell fair-trade chocolate from one of the most stunning locales on earth while preserving their rain forests and land. The community retains 100 percent of wholesale profits to support education, health, and community viability initiatives.
Former set designer for NBC’s Late Night With Conan O’Brien, Sherry Adler chose to remain in New York when the show headed west (not a bad move considering the late night shakedown that ensued). She capitalized on her collection of vintage fabrics, wallpapers and postcards through a unique applique process on edible parchment paper. The result is a stunning collection of edible disks and postcards worthy of the Cooper-Hewitt.
You may mistake a Gnosis cacao bar for that of a 19th century bar of soap, with its over-the-top proclamations, package design and 17 varieties. In spite of its projectile popularity, Gnosis chocolates are still made by hand using 100% recycled packaging and exotic ingredients like Ayurvedic herbs, Horny Goat Weed, Shizandra Berry and Gotu Kola. Since Founder & Owner Vanessa produced her first bar, ten percent of profits have been donated to The Fruit Tea Planting Foundation.
Tina Cocolina: Queen of the Cupcakes
With stockpiles of the latest confectionary cookbooks on display, I couldn’t resist a cupcake in search of her perfect topping. Co-authored by award-winning pastry chef Martin Howard and Pablo Cartaya and illustrated by Kirsten Richards, this charming children’s book sparkles with sweet-toothed delight and includes recipes for some of Chef Howard’s signature cupcake creations.
Note: Overconsumption of chocolate at the New York Chocolate Show may result in hours of aimless wandering throughout lower Manhattan jacked up on cacao, flavonoids and antioxidants.