These organic chocolate bars are as intense and delicious as any non-organic flavored bars. They’re even kosher. The Veneto Bar, above, combines ground espresso beans and lemon oil to evoke Rome, a cup of espresso with lemon peel and a piece of good chocolate.
Flavored Dark Chocolate Bars That Are Certified Organic & Kosher
CAPSULE REPORT: From organically-grown cacao beans in the Dominican Republic, Seeds of Change has developed a delightful line of 61% cacao, flavored chocolate bars with superb flavors and great mouthfeel. (A flavored chocolate bar is one in which other flavors—e.g. anise, chile, cinnamon, coffee, lemon, liqueur, mint, orange, raspberry—have been added to the chocolate. This category also covers bars with inclusions such as dried fruit, nuts and cacao nibs.) Beautifully packaged, they’re pleasing to the eye too...and kosher!
Seeds of Change began almost 20 years ago in Santa Fe, with a goal to promote biodiversity and advance the cause of sustainable organic agriculture by providing organic seeds to backyard gardeners. The company was purchased by M&M Mars in 1997, which gave Seeds of Change the resources to expand its vision, and gave Mars a platform to launch an organic food business (located in greater Los Angeles). Now the company produces a line of quality organic convenience foods (frozen entrées, pasta sauces, simmer sauces, salad dressings) which continue the tradition of donating 1% of net sales to advance the cause of sustainable organic agriculture worldwide. It’s their own version of Fair Trade.
In the case of chocolate, one of the newer product lines, this means money given back to the cacao growers that benefits the producers, their families and their communities. There’s reason enough to buy a chocolate bar.
Chocolate Has Been Cultivated For Thousands Of Years, But
The Chocolate Bar Wasn’t Invented Until 1847, And Filled Chocolates
Not Until 1913. What Happened Before Then? Read The Quick HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE
Seeds Of Change Chocolate Bar Flavors
Dark chocolate is broken into two categories, semisweet and bittersweet. Seeds of Change lists its chocolate as “bittersweet,” although by most standards 61% cacao is still semisweet (Europeans tend to designate bittersweet at 65%, and Americans at 70%—and now that people are commonly enjoying 85% cacao bars, it makes sense to look at semisweet as 50% to 69% cacao and bittersweet as 70% to 100%). Flavoring the bars make them taste even less “bitter.” Vegan alert: Although the line is dark chocolate and thus contains no milk, it does contain milk fat (butterfat).
The chocolate flavors take us on a trip from the New World, where chocolate was discovered, to the Old World, where it was evolved from the tepid, unsweetened (though highly spiced) beverage into the myriad of delights we enjoy today. These bars are absolutely delicious: You may not want to share, but at 3.5 ounces apiece, that would make you a bit of a Scrooge.
Even if you won’t share, you may want to give the bars as a gift. Each wrapper is done up in a Colonial-era illustration. Even the gold foil protecting the bar bears an antique map of the world. Instead of calling the bars by flavor (Chocolate With Orange), each has been named to evoke a place...to transport you, not just to feed you. The experience is enough to do just that. In alphabetical order, we present:
Bayano Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs and Cinnamon Essence. This bar is named after the Bayano River, which flows through Panama to the Caribbean Sea and the San Blas archipelago, a prime cacao-growing region. The wrapper shows local fishing boats called ulu, canoe-like vessels with sails, used by the Kunu natives. The cinnamon in the chocolate bar recalls the original flavoring of chocolate, which was enjoyed by the Olmec, Maya and Aztec residents of Central America as a spiced, frothed beverage. (The chocolate bar wasn’t invented until 1847, in England.) The cinnamon is lovely on the nose and the palate; the crushed nibs add crunch.
The company says that the inclusion of the cacao nibs boosts the total cacao content of the bar to 70%. That may be, but quite a few companies have nib bars and still only count the percentage of the base chocolate—which in this case is 61%.
Bayano, with cacao nibs and cinnamon.
La Dominicana: The orange essence is sublime.
La Dominicana Dark Chocolate. Here the chocolate is flavored with orange essence. The wrapper shows a robust green and yellow parrot in tropical foliage, because the company says, the Dominican Republic is not just a cacao grower's paradise but a bird watcher’s paradise. Just watch out that a bird doesn’t swoop in and snatch that bar from your hands! We love chocolate and orange, the orange subtly contrasting with the red fruit notes of the base chocolate. Barring a scene from Hitchcock, we wouldn’t give this bar up without a fight.
Narragansett Dark Chocolate with Candied Pecans, Cranberries and Orange Essence. The chocolatier was aiming for a taste of New England during holiday season with this bar—but cranberries, orange and pecan taste good any day of the year. At the beginning of the 20th century, Narragansett, Rhode Island rivaled Newport as a favorite vacation spot of the wealthy. The Point Judith Lighthouse, featured on the wrapper, is an octagonal brick building erected in 1816, and a picturesque spot evocative of New England. The flavor of fresh pecan and dried cranberry are so prominent, it’s tough to find the orange essence (it tastes as if the cranberries may be infused with it, rather than the chocolate). But it’s still worth learning how to spell Narragansett (the name of the local Native American tribe, pronounced nah-ruh-GAN-set).
Narragansett: a taste of New England.
Santa Catarina takes you to the tropics.
Santa Catarina Dark Chocolate with Mango, Toasted Coconut and Cashews. Santa Catarina may not be one of the “name” destinations in Brazil to Americans, but this southern state—just one state away from Uruguay—is a major industrial and agricultural center with one of the highest standards of living in the country. It also has one of the most beautiful coastlines in Brazil and a famous beach resort, Balneário Camboriú, that’s busy year-round. You may not be there physically, but a chocolate bar with cashews and tropical fruits (mango and coconut) may transport you. We love coconut and might have been happy up-front with a pure coconut and cashew bar, but at first bite, the dried mango adds something truly special to the mix—not just initially, but through the long, long finish.
The Atlantic sea turtle swimming on the wrapper with the tropical fruits is the largest hard-shelled sea turtle, and forages along the coast of Brazil. Please don’t give him chocolate! It’s not good for turtles...and besides, we’re keeping all of this bar for ourselves.
Veneto Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans and Lemon Essence.Andiamo a Italia! In Italy, people often take their espresso (and they take it very seriously) with a piece of lemon peel and a small square of chocolate. Here, Seeds of Change blends its chocolate with espresso beans and a squeeze of lemon oil. The bar is named after Rome’s Via Veneto, where well-heeled people sip espresso at fashionable caffès—but that’s St. Peter’s Cathedral at the Vatican on the wrapper. Does that imply that this bar is a religious experience? You can smell the espresso the minute you open the bar; crunch on the chocolate and enjoy the texture of the ground beans and the sprightly flavor of lemon. It’s a heavenly experience; add a great cup of espresso and we’ll elevate it to “religious.”
Veneto: Bring us an espresso with lemon peel, please.
As you may gather, we were more than happy with our three-continent journey with Seeds Of Change chocolate.
SEEDS OF CHANGE ORGANIC CHOCOLATE
Flavored 61% Dark Chocolate Bars
Certified USDA Organic
Certified kosher (dairy) by Kosher Certification Service