Chocolate is made from ingredients that are inherently kosher, like cacao beans, sugar and vanilla beans. Other ingredients, like soy lecithin, an emulsifier that adds smoothness to the bar, and extra cocoa butter, which is added for better mouthfeel, must be kosher-certified.
That’s easy enough. On to step two. With some producers, the chocolate is manufactured in one facility and packaged elsewhere. Both facilities must be certified.
Here’s the part that confuses many people: Milk chocolate contains milk, which means that it is not pareve. That understandably gets a dairy certification. But semisweet and bittersweet chocolates have no milk: they’re pareve. So why do some dark chocolate bars have a dairy certification?
It’s because the equipment some companies use to mold and wrap their dark bars is also used to mold and wrap the milk chocolate. Mystery solved!
Best Kosher Chocolate Brands
Of course, the most important thing for readers of THE NIBBLE is not that chocolate is certified, but that great chocolate is certified. Here, we’re in luck. Scharffen Berger and Guittard make chocolate for baking, but, while couverture chocolate, as it is known, generally has a bit more cocoa butter added and is more cost effective, you can always melt down plain chocolate bars to dip fruit, cookies and for other tasks. (Learn more about couverture chocolate.)
Two of the greatest American chocolate producers are kosher-certified by the OU: Guittard and Scharffen Berger. Both companies make serious bars in a range of cacao percentages. Guittard has a line of single origin cacaos as well as delicious nonpareils, mints and other candies. Scharffen Berger makes some special edition origin cacao bars. Both make baking chips for top-quality chocolate chip cookies and other delights. Eureka!
Newly-available in America, Israel’s Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man is certified by Nazareth Rabbinate. With a broad selection that spans fun and witty novelty gifts, sophisticated chocolates for connoisseurs and drinking chocolate. If you’re in New York, visit the store in Union Square, 841 Broadway at 13th Street, or 141 Second Avenue at 9th Street.
French chocolate producer Bonnat makes a very fine line of single origin bittersweet bars, “dark milk chocolate bars,” and a 100% cacao bars (no sugar added), all under Federation KF kosher supervision (some dairy, some parve). You can find a broad selection on Chocosphere.com. Read our overview of Bonnat chocolate.
Barry Callebaut, Belgium’s largest chocolate producer, is certified by the OK. While is hard to find their consumer chocolate bars for sale in the U.S., their couvertures are very popular with fine chocolatiers and pastry chefs, and are available from most quality ingredients suppliers.
Chocolate Santander, made of fine Colombian cacao, is certified kosher-dairy by the Medellin Rabbinate. Bars from 36% milk to 70% bittersweet, including choices with coffee bits, pineapple bits, passion fruit bits and espresso, can keep chocolate-lovers satisfied every day of the week. There are also mini-bars, chocolate-covered coffee beans and cacao nibs, and blocks of dark, milk and white couverture for those who want to make their own chocolates and baked goods. Chocosphere.com carries a wide selection. Read our overview of Santander chocolate.
Dagoba is both kosher and organic: the first American chocolate company to make its own organic chocolate. The company has bars, cocoa, chocolate chips, chocolate syrup and other tasty products.
Each of these companies makes its own couverture, i.e., roasts its own beans and produces the large blocks of base chocolate from which all other chocolate products are made. Most of the American chocolatiers who make kosher chocolate products use couverture from Barry Callebaut (a merger of two giants, Cocoa Barry and Callebaut), Guittard or Scharffen Berger.
Lake Champlain Chocolates (Star K), one of our favorite kosher chocolate lines, with an extensive selection of bars, bonbons and novelties, uses Callebaut couverture. They also have a few organic items.
Chocolove (Tablet K) specializes in chocolate bars, with a variety of delicious flavors.
If you’re buying from an artisanal chocolatier, ask which couverture (COO-ver-tyoor) he or she uses. Each producers has a very distinctive flavor profile. You’ll learn whether you have a preference for Callebaut, Guittard or Scharffen Berger (or other producer), and it can guide your future purchases.
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