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Let’s put chocolate in perspective—my perspective. Obtaining and savoring chocolate may not be the ultimate goal of the purpose-driven life, but it is a good companion when traveling down life’s bumpy highway. As a child I discovered that a milk chocolate kiss was better than the wet mushy variety when I fell and scraped my knee, and years later that a chocolate sampler for Valentine’s Day healed my lonely, yearning-for-Rob-Lowe-preteen heart.
Yes, chocolate—milky, dark, filled or nutty—has always held psychological healing properties and given much joy. As an adult my joy of chocolate has not abated, it’s just aged a bit. The adult me is a (mostly) responsible consumer with a more adventurous palette. Adult Me, meet Theo Chocolate, an eco-responsible company catering to the worldly type without neglecting those with more simple tastes.
Theo Chocolate is a company based in Seattle that produces premium organic and Fair Trade specialty chocolates. Yes, folks, it is possible to get that childhood creamy milk chocolate fix as well as quell the adult-centric cravings of dark and gourmet chocolates—in a decidedly responsible, Green Monday approved fashion.
Theo Chocolate was founded by Joseph Whinney, a pioneer in the supply of organic cocoa beans into the United States. Prior to March 2006, all organic chocolate was produced in Europe and imported into the U.S. (a stunning fact). Presently, Theo Chocolates is still the only organic and Fair Trade chocolate factory in the United States (an even more stunning fact).
Theo uses only pure ingredients that are grown sustainably, sourcing these ingredients locally whenever possible, and manufactures these chocolates in a factory that uses green energy sources along with sustainable packaging and printing methods. Theo Chocolate also partners with their growers to ensure a viable living wage for employees, as well as access to education for their families. As if all that weren’t enough to make you want to try Theo, did I mention that they make some delicious chocolates?
As with any green, sustainable, organic product, the proof is in the pudding (or in this case, the bar). The fairest, greenest chocolate in the world won’t get my bite if it tastes like cardboard. Theo’s Bean-to-Bar method of small batch chocolate production is both modern and artisanal, resulting in a measure of super-fine, super-creamy, super-bean-y chocolate bliss.
Theo—being the worldly, palette-pleasing sort—has entered the foodie realm of creative chocolate pairings with their online shop featuring a Chocolate & Wine as well as Chocolate & Beer pairing kit. In both kits, five of their bars are balanced with beers or wines based on flavor profiles, geographical characteristics, cacao content and alcohol content. I decided to conduct my own pairings with the sample selections. With some trial and error, some classic and some crazy combinations, I found some yummy new ways to enjoy my adult chocolate habit.
Theo treat: Theo and Jane Goodall 45% Milk Chocolate Bar ($5).
This bar is everything one would expect milk chocolate to be. Mild and sweet with no waxy cocoa butter residue, this is a creamy treat.
Favorite pairing: Coffee
My Verdict: This classic, simply sweet bar can’t find a better partner than it’s opposite in tasting notes. The smoky, slightly bitter taste of a dark French roast makes this milk chocolate taste all the sweeter, all the creamier.
Theo treat: Classic Spicy Chile 70% Dark Chocolate Bar ($3.99).
This bar isn’t for your kids’ lunchbox. Truly spicy with nary a trace of sweetness, this is an end-of-the-meal alternative to cheese. But don’t try this with a port; instead try a peppery Syrah (I tried it with a ’98 Powder Keg). Better yet…
Favorite pairing: Tequila
My Verdict: I see a chile pepper and I think tequila. Spicy needs a worthy competitor when fighting for your taste buds, and Tequila is a strong opponent. But don’t get me wrong, these two forces of nature join hands with the high percentage of cacao and make smooth and happy trails from the tip of your tongue clear down your esophagus. This chocolate made the always-elegant Partida Anejo taste downright velvety.
Theo treat: Grey Salted Vanilla Caramels ($8.80).
My favorite of the Theo chocolates we tested, caramel and salt are a classic pairing getting a lot of attention these days. Who doesn’t like a little salt in their sugar? It’s the best of the two snack worlds, and it gets better with the addition of chocolate. Creamy Madagascar vanilla bean caramel is drenched in milk chocolate then lightly sprinkled with crunchy grey sea salt. Mmmm….only one thing made this confection sweeter…
Favorite pairing: Tequila
My Verdict: Yeah, this one surprised me, too. Again, the Tequila of choice was Partida Anejo, which has notes of honeyed vanilla…a note that matches up perfectly with the heavy-handed Madagascar vanilla in the caramels. The grey sea salt stuck a familiar chord in my taste bud’s memory and the sensation of biting into a salty caramel after a sip of Tequila was far superior to that of licking a salty lime. Overall, this was the winning combination in all my pairings.
Paired or on their own, complex tastes or simple pleasures, Theo Chocolates are innovative confections ready to take your chocolate obsession to a whole new level. Go with it.
Testers, how did you like your Theo Chocolate? Simple and sweet or as a complex treat?
Sherri is co-author of What Would You Do With This Room? My 10 Foolproof Commandments to Great Interior Design, and of course, a wht writer!
Disclosure: This review includes products that were provided by the manufacturer/PR firm for our consideration. For more info, or any questions, please see our disclosure policy.
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