My mom baked fresh chocolate chip cookies almost once a month throughout our elementary school years. She tucked one into our lunch boxes as a reward for finishing our apple slices, and she handed us a second before sending us to the table to start our homework. She always turned to the same company for chocolate chips, but I recently began to wonder how other brands would taste and how the chocolate-making process worked.
With most of the cacao beans grown in South America, the harvesters ship their crop over to European or American companies because they can’t afford the expensive technology to roast, refine, and mold the chocolate. They receive very little money by going through a middleman, which can create many hardships and meager lives.
Recently, the Kallari of Ecuador began to change that unfair process. They formed a jointly-owned democratic cooperative of 850 families, legally approved by the government, where they both harvest and make their own chocolate.
With the knowledge and help of a few elite chocolatiers, the Kallari have developed a slightly different chocolate-making process, one that results in rich bars with less than half the sugar and a smoother texture than many of the best-known brands. They currently produce 13 different flavors (here’s the list!), and they want to turn 3 of them into chocolate chips.
Their 70% cacao bar is fairly light for dark chocolate, but with an irresistible hint of vanilla and caramel tones (and those increase if you let it melt on your tongue!). Fruity and earthy notes shine through in their 75% cacao flavor (I finished off that bar the fastest!). The deep richness of their 85% cacao bar caught me by surprise, and I was amazed by its silky smooth texture. With other brands, I’ve found that the darker the chocolate, the chalkier it can be, but every single bite of each of these bars was velvety and luscious.
However, the Kallari need our help to turn these bars into chocolate chips. Because of the highly expensive machinery, they’re trying to raise money through this Kickstarter campaign. They can only create the chocolate chips if we pledge $20,000 by August 22, so please, try a bar (click here to find the nearest retailer—Whole Foods are one of their biggest sellers!) and make a donation. As the sole indigenous people in the world to both plant their own trees and make their own chocolate, they really deserve our help.
Disclaimer: I was given these 3 bars of chocolate to sample by Kallari. The text and opinions are all my own.