COLORADO’S BEST CHOCOLATE ARTISANS ARE TRANSFORMING CACAO INTO EXQUISITE, AWARD-WINNING CHOCOLATE BARS.
Colorado’s artisanal bean-to-bar chocolates are meant to be savored. PHOTO BY RIMMA BONDARENKO/ISTOCK
COLORADO GETS RAVES FROM FOODIES for its fresh trinity of Palisade peaches, Pueblo chiles and Olathe sweet corn. And for connoisseurs of all things sweet, the Centennial State has a growing crop of first-class bean-to-bar chocolatiers who source high-quality, sustainably raised cacao from all over the globe.
Clockwise from top left: It all starts with cacao nibs; Animas chocolate bars; Moksha criollo bars; Nuance boxed truffles; Nuance chocolate bars; Bibamba chocolate bark. PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRANDS
These decadent handcrafted bars are meant to be savored square by square. For devotees of the dark side, the dark chocolate 72% Peru bar from Moksha Chocolate (mokshachocolate.com) is legitimately intense. The organic, vegan, barely sweet bars are made in Boulder from rare Peruvian criollo cacao beans that fill the palate with fudgy flavors and the nose with a distinctive dark berry aroma. Boulder’s Fortuna Chocolate (fortuna-chocolate.com) crafts an elevated iteration of the York Peppermint Pattie with its Denver Botanic Gardens mint bar with organic dark chocolate (65%). The memorably aromatic bar is made with roasted heirloom Mexican cacao, cocoa butter, sugar and fresh mint leaves grown at the Botanic Gardens.
Milk chocolate is often considered a less-refined offering, but Nuance Chocolate (nuancechocolate.com) in Fort Collins makes a 55% dark goat milk bar that is a rich, craveable exception. The melt-on-the-tongue treat is made with cacao from Ghana, super-creamy goat milk and Madagascar vanilla beans. Animas Chocolate & Coffee Company (animaschocolatecompany.com) provides a perfect opportunity to taste and compare bean-to-bar chocolates in Durango. Its Highline chocolate bar series uses only organic cacao and organic sugar in small-batch chocolates showcasing cacao flavors from Uganda, Guatemala, Belize and Haiti.
Patrick and Mara Tcheunou of Denver’s Bibamba Artisan Chocolate (bibamba.com) grow their own cacao and other crops in Cameroon. The brand’s signature farm-to-bar dark chocolate comes in different varieties with inclusions such as plantain crisps, ground roasted coffee, coconut crisps and dried orange and spice. The Spirit Series of chocolate bars from Denver’s Cultura Chocolate (culturachocolate.com) features cacao from Belize and Guatemala blended with spirits like Leopold Bros. Navy Strength gin with juniper.
For a full immersion in Colorado artisanal chocolate, visit Cultura, Nuance and Animas, all of which have storefronts featuring drinking chocolate, truffles and bean-to-bar chocolates.