In Focus: The Dark Bar
Writing about chocolate is one of those things that sounds like it should be absurdly easy, until you sit down to do it. You write yourself in knots trying to explain things like flavor and texture in ways that someone who has never had chocolate would understand and empathize with, only to discard them all and you find yourself with one sentence: Chocolate is good. Maybe better than good. Which, although accurate, is not what you’d set out to do.
Luckily for me, talking about the Chocolate Conspiracy’s Dark Bar is an assignment that kind of writes itself. This is less because I’m a talented writer and more because if there wasn’t a Dark Bar, there wouldn’t be a Chocolate Conspiracy. This bar is the ground floor of the entire business. It’s where AJ started. If AJ was a chocolate-making superhero (which none of us have ruled out) making this bar would be his base power. Mentioning his business without this bar would be like mentioning Superman without his superhuman strength.
So, the Dark Bar. What is it? What makes it so special? I sat down with AJ this week to find out.
“The first thing you need to know about the dark bar,” AJ says, “is that it’s simple. It’s the simplest bar we make. There are only three ingredients: raw cacao from Peru, raw honey from White Lake Farms to sweeten, and raw cacao butter, as an emulsifier.”
That really is it. Check the label if you don’t believe me. In a world where I’m hard pressed to pick up food products and find a label with ingredients listed that I’m a hundred percent familiar with, the Dark Bar stands out. Not to mention the fact that all of the ingredients are actually really good for you. The Dark Bar weighs in with the most cacao content at 74%; and by not roasting that cacao, antioxidants and nutrients are preserved. Pair that with the incredible benefits of raw honey, and what you’ve got is a nutritional crime fighting team that could give Batman and Robin a run for their money. But if you’re not looking to get health benefits from your chocolate, that’s okay, because the Dark Bar is as tasty as it is fierce. If you’re curious about flavor profile (and let’s face it, we all are), the Peruvian cacao lends earthy and nutty notes; the honey lends a fruity middle note, and it finishes with a slight tang--which is not bitter, because the cacao is raw. It’s unlike any other chocolate bar I’ve had, and all the tastier for it.
“Honey gives the chocolate a softer texture,” AJ tells me in the course of our conversation, and after a year of working for him, a light goes on in my head. It’s exactly what I’ve been trying to put my finger on that’s different about AJ’s chocolate--besides the obvious differences in flavor. Chocolate that’s been sweetened with honey is a lot denser and richer as well as softer than chocolate that’s made with dairy milk and refined sugar. And it’s incredibly versatile--the Dark Bar is the base for most of the Chocolate Conspiracy’s confections, from the barks to the coating on our hard-shelled truffles. It can even occasionally be found drizzled on coconut macaroons.
AJ’s been making this bar the longest, and it’s his favorite. “I’m not really fond of fruit or nuts or other flavors in my chocolate,” he says, popping a piece in his mouth. “I like my chocolate straightforward. That’s my jam.
“I can taste other flavors of my chocolate and enjoy them, but the dark bar is always the one that I come back to. I never get tired of it.”
I would agree with him. It’s impossible to get tired of the Mary Poppins of chocolate bars.
Practically perfect in every way.