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Spotlight On: Pitch Dark

Spotlight On: Pitch Dark

No city does the local, artisan, foodie scene quite like Portland, Oregon. The small, yet rapidly growing spot in the Pacific Northwest already claims one of the highest densities of microbreweries in the nation, but now it’s coming into the chocolate scene, too. Leading the way is Pitch Dark, a crafter that aims to balance old-world chocolate-making methods with new-world technology for the ultimate result. Single-origin chocolate hails from Ecuador, Nicaragua, Fiji, or Madagascar, and interesting mix-ins typically come from neighboring Portland companies. For a true dedication to quality, Pitch Dark manages every step from bean to bar in its Portland factory. Gorgeous packing and impressive products make this a great gift—for yourself or for others.

Pitch Dark Jacobsen Pinot Noir Salt

Take Pitch Dark’s Jacobsen Pinot Noir Salt, for example. The chocolatier sourced from fellow Portland native, Jacobsen Salt Co., to incorporate hand-harvested sea salt—infused with Pinot Noir from the nearby Willamette region. A scent of earthy red wine gives sophistication and mystique before even tasting. The base of 73% dark chocolate, made using Nicaragua cocoa beans, is the kind of dark chocolate you can really feel. It’s bold, velvety, and strong enough to portion control itself so you don’t inhale an entire bar. And the Pinot-tinted sea salt makes itself known, with its not-quite-sweet and not-quite-savory flavor. While opposites attract, this vino-loving bar would actually go quite well with a red wine pairing. Overall, every bite calls to be savored.

Pitch Dark Jasmine Pearl Matcha Tea and Nib

Another favorite: Pitch Dark’s Jasmine Pearl Matcha Tea and Nib. At 62% (also sourced from Nicaragua beans), it’s the lighter of the two, which allows for more subtle flavors to rise up. Portland’s Jasmine Pearl Tea Company lends finely ground matcha tea for a pleasantly earthy, yet slightly sweet, flavor. Matcha comes from young tea leaves (hence the lighter and sweeter taste, compared to a black tea), which are then dried, heated, and ground into a powder. The texture of this bar doesn’t give away its contents, as it melts just like a classic chocolate bar, but the delicious flavor comes through just the same. True to its simple quality, the ingredient list contains only the basics: cacao, sugar, cocoa butter, nibs, and matcha tea. Health meets hedonism.

Bite of the Week: Ethereal Confections Macadamia Nuts, Raspberries & Kaffir Lime

Bite of the Week: Ethereal Confections Macadamia Nuts, Raspberries & Kaffir Lime

Chocolate is something that gets into you and never goes away once you are bitten,” say the two women behind Ethereal Confections, a small but mighty producer that hails from Woodstock, Illinois. The two friends got bitten by the chocolate bug years ago, left with an “unquenchable desire” to create handmade confections. With products ranging from pure chocolate bars to whimsical concoctions, Ethereal puts the spotlight on the cocoa, but knows when to complement its best parts with other flavors. Every truffle and bar is handmade, hand rolled, and hand topped, and that eye to detail pays off. Where a mass-produced raspberry chocolate bar might use artificial flavor, an Ethereal bar is clearly topped with actual dried raspberries. As a result, these are the kinds of sweets you’ll want to enjoy soon after purchasing—this is no save-for-a-rainy-day kind of enjoyment.

In order to get a full taste of the quality, I dive right in for an unexpected flavor: 66% Cacao Topped with Macadamia Nuts, Raspberries & Kaffir Lime. Opening the pink foil, I’m surprised to see a solid surface of bright pink and white speckled toppings. I expected a little splash of color, but this bar has ample dried raspberries and chopped macadamia nuts on top for some real texture. The chocolate is so flavorful, I immediately make a note to buy a pure dark bar. It has that perfect tang of a quality dark chocolate—tastes like low-sugar without being bitter. Of the toppings, the raspberries and kaffir lime stand out the most. It’s a really fun experience of sharp, zesty berries and citrus. The macadamia nuts provide a little crunch, but not much. It’s the kind of bar that’s topped with extras, not mixed in. Overall, Ethereal Confections gets the balance right for chocolate-lovers that want to focus on the star of the show, with just a little extra surprise for flavor.

Healthy (And Delicious) Chocolates For When You’re Trying to Eat Less Sugar

Healthy (And Delicious) Chocolates For When You’re Trying to Eat Less Sugar

You've probably heard the good news: chocolate is healthy. However, it's a little harder to justify for some bars than others. Oozing bites of caramel? Fat layers of marshmallow? Those might not be worthy of a prescription pad. When you're looking for the right chocolate that boosts health benefits without requiring a full-blown sugar detox afterward, these gems are for you.

Antidote Milk Chocolate 56%
Antidote’s Big Kid Chocolate was crafted to please any palate, but it has a secret: it’s low in sugar. Shh, don’t tell the kids! In 2009, Antidote founder Red Thalhammer set out to create a chocolate bar that took advantage of its antioxidant properties, making it more like food than candy. While its products were all dark chocolate at first, Antidote recently launched two Big Kid Chocolate bars, which are both 56% cacao. Using cacao beans from the Manabi region of Ecuador brings a unique flavor, while an acute sense to detail ensures premium quality.

Marou Ba Ria 76%
Vietnam’s unique label, Marou, cuts straight to the chocolate chase with simple ingredients. A short ingredient list—ocoa butter and cane sugar—makes this a healthier bite. If you’re striving to eat clean, you may have to put caramel-and-coconut dreams on the waitlist for a bit, but luckily, Marou will still give you a chocolate fix. Plus, the bar is gorgeous and petite, so you’re practicing portion control without even trying.

Pitch Dark Jasmine Pearl Matcha Tea and Nib 62%
Just when you thought green tea couldn’t get any healthier, the Western world found out about matcha. The antioxidant-packed green tea powder brews one heck of a healthy cup. Fortunately, Portland’s Pitch Dark chocolate company married matcha with its 62% chocolate so you can enjoy two sources of nutrients in one bite.

Rococo Cardamom Dark Chocolate 65%
Want to spice things up? Savor the health benefits of a powerhouse spice: cardamom. Rococo’s classic dark chocolate is full and bold, so it’d be good even on its own. Adding cardamom gives a complex twist, and people have long used it to aid indigestion and other ailments. And it’s certified organic and fair trade, so it’s beneficial all around