Day 46–Escazu Chocolate and Gorilla Bars

A cacao tree with fruit pods in various stages...

Did you get enough chocolate yesterday? Are you laughing at the mere thought of having “enough” chocolate? Yeah, me, too. I thought I might have to go without chocolate during our journey to eat local and sustainable (or at least sneak it when no one was watching). But lo and behold, I have found a local chocolate source at last! My research never ends, I tell you. You’re welcome.

Escazu Artisan Chocolates in Raleigh is conveniently located next door to Market Restaurant on Blount Street. They make all of their chocolates and bars from the cacao bean itself. They source the beans, sort them, roast them and turn them into chocolate using small batches and a level of hand crafting that is impressive. My only other experience with chocolate making was the Chocolate World tour at Hershey Park. In case you’re wondering, this was waayyy better. Escazu doesn’t have dancing M&Ms, but they do have a small group of artisans who care deeply about making beautiful chocolates. And now that I’m over 10, that’s more important.

The chocolates they make come in a wide variety of sophisticated and fun flavors like bacon, rosemary and sea salt, white chocolate and cardamom, goat’s milk ganache, NC strawberry and balsamic, piaroa chili, coffee, mint, passion fruit and sour cream and vanilla. They also sell chocolate by the bar with chili flavor, sea salt and chocolate with cacao nibs.

Cocoa nibs are the pieces of roasted, deshelled and cracked cocoa bean before it is ground and turned into the paste or liquor that becomes most chocolate. Because the nibs are straight from the cocoa tree, they are very high in theobromine, a natural chemical used to reduce high blood pressure and alleviate circulatory problems. Cocoa nibs are crunchy, slightly bitter and a wonderful addition to baked goods! Good and good for you!

I purchased a bag of organic cocoa nibs at Escazu and used them in this delicious Gorilla Bar recipe from Creative Noshing. We made these the other night and they are not only tasty and high in protein, they were a great way to use up our remaining pecans, peanut butter and banana.

So if you haven’t had “enough” chocolate, check out Escazu, and eat lunch at Market. Then go home and make Gorilla Bars. A win-win kind of day!

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