All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz
I never met a Chocolate I didn’t like. Then I got diagnosed with a dump-truck ton of food allergies and intolerances, followed by Celiac Disease, and somewhere between losing the contents of my guts more times than I can remember, I realized that I had it all wrong. It was never about whether or not I would NOT like Chocolate, but whether Chocolate would let me know it didn’t like me.
On the island of Maui, the hippy-dippy health food store in Pai’a called Manna Foods has a wall of chocolate to die for. Standing in front of the chocolate wall by the entrance is nothing less than Christmas Day. I’ve caught many shoppers bedazzled by the array of single-source chocolates, milk chocolates, dark chocolates, and designer chocolate bars lined up floor to ceiling.
They stand there like deer in the headlights. People trying to get past them resort to gently steering their inert bodies out of the way. You’d think they had just seen an alien. But don’t say, “It’s just chocolate.” In my world, the word “just” followed by chocolate is not allowed. Chocolate to us food sensitive people is a high art form made of magic and poetry.
Sadly, I’ve noticed how many of these otherwise decadent chocolate bars have ingredients that I cannot have: nuts, soy, milk, corn, or gluten. To be safe, I’ve often chosen to eat pure cacao, as I know that I do not have a reaction of any kind to cacao powder or pure cacao nibs.
I was cheered to discover Joe Chocolate at my local drug store in the candy aisle. They should really be closer to the aisle where granola bars and hiking snacks are stocked. Because my curiosity – as well as my health – demand it, I reached out through their website with a question about manufacturing, and Sam Tanner, Co-founder and Chocolate Executive Officer, not only answered my questions, he sent me a box of Midnight Coconut and Holy Cacao chocolates for my enjoyment.
Now, I’m sharing a review of two of their chocolate bags, Holy Cacao and Midnight Coconut, just in time for your holiday parties, gift bags, and end-of-year celebrations.
Did you know: most chocolate bars contain some kind of lecithin, usually in the form of soy. While it is commonly believed that soy lecithin is safe for people with Celiac Disease, it’s possible that additives in the lecithin could contain gluten, so it’s always a good idea to check with the manufacturer. Joe Chocolates uses sunflower lecithin instead of soy lecithin.
“[Joe Chocolates] are made in a facility that processes almonds and butter. “Sam Tanner, Co Founder
Of all five of their current Joe Chocolates products, Midnight Coconut is their straight-up simple “bites of buzz” dark chocolate. The ingredients listed on each package are pure and simple, and include dark chocolate, coconut, and coffee beans.
While an ordinary coconut chocolate bar has a tendency to be so soft that it literally melts between your warm fingers when you hold it to bite off a piece between your teeth, a piece of Midnight Coconut holds up well without leaving an oily mess in your hands. Coconut lovers who are dairy free will love this chocolate.
As a person who has discovered how caffeine actually helps me keep my blood pressure in a normal range when I’m in a pickle, I like how I can combine chocolate consumption with a caffeine hit. And a bag packs a two-coffee cup wallop of caffeine, so easy does it. You’ll have to repeat this to yourself, because they are so yum, you might be tempted to rip into two bags at once (not recommended).
Like Midnight Coconut, the Holy Cacao chocolate product is also made of simple ingredients, but with cacao nibs instead of coconut. This produces a slightly drier and more solid square, yet with the same caffeinated buzz factor.
If you have never had cacao nibs before, there are chocolate products consisting of only cacao nibs pressed into a chunk. Alone, cacao nibs are solid enough to cause you to rethink the strength of your teeth! You will also see a bumpy surface on the chocolate, which are the nibs. They have the appearance of grains of rice, as you’d see in the crisped rice on the surface of a Nestle Crunch bar.
So it is with the Holy Cacao. Holy moly, these taste good. The cacao nibs are roasted in Kailua, Hawai’i, and I’m just going to put it out there in a completely biased statement. Every food that comes from the Hawaiian Islands is made with some kind of magic juju. I even melted one of these into my morning coffee. Just don’t be surprised if you get a ton of things done in record speed, woot! It’s quite the jolt of caffeine.
Will you miss the dairy found in sweet milk chocolates? Maybe. But if you’re a dairy free person like myself, Joe Chocolates produces five dark chocolate products, and depending on whether you have any intolerances or allergies to cashews or almonds, Joe Chocolates could be a chocolate to enjoy.
They are very knowledgeable about where all their ingredients are sourced. During the holidays, the Frosted Peppermint chocolate is a popular offering, and Sam got information back to me about the vendor that supplies their peppermint for these seasonal chocolates. It contains corn, so those with a corn allergy should avoid the Frosted Peppermint.
Should you have an opportunity to try Joe Chocolates, I’d love to hear what you thought about them.
One final note: the other flavors of Salted Caramels (butter) and Honey Almond (almond) sound absolutely delicious, but because of my food allergies and intolerances, I cannot try them.