Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chocolate with Hemp: The Next Big Trend?

Chocolate and hemp products seem to be popping up all over the place this year. In fact, in the last few months I have found three chocolates bars with hemp, just by chance. It began with Living Libations in the Spring, when I sought out their raw chocolate bars and discovered that a main ingredient in their chocolate was hemp.  Then a few weeks ago, I was shopping in Bulk Barn and came across the René Rey’s Organic HempHogs, a milk chocolate-coated hemp-flavoured truffle in the shape of a hedgehog.

My final hemp-and-chocolate discovery was at the Toronto Luxury Chocolate Show where I met ChocoSol Traders.  This Toronto-based bean-to-bar chocolate maker focuses on the symbolic elements of the cacao bean and on being environmentally sound. They make a chocolate bar called Hemp Gold, which I purchased immediately to compare to the other hemp-flavoured chocolate that I had collected.

With five simple ingredients (cacao, hemp seed, maple sugar, cacao butter and sea salt), ChocoSol has created a very interesting flavour. The Hemp Gold bar tasted, oddly, like peanut butter. But perhaps the combined flavours of salt, hemp seed (which has a nutty flavour) and maple sugar create a flavour that is reminiscent of breakfast and my breakfasts always includes some sort of nut butter.

Although all three chocolate bars have a similar nutty flavour to them, they are very different from each other. So to compare them, I can say the following about each:
Living Libations' chocolate has a softer
texture than typical chocolate bars.

ChocoSol`s Hemp Gold is a solid chocolate bar that is not overly processed, so it is not pefectly smooth. But that means the chocolate retains more of its antixoidants because it is minimally processed with ChocoSol's stone ground and pedal-powered production techniques.

Living Libations chocolate is a savoury meal rather than a sweet dessert with its thick, pasty texture and power-packed punch of superfood ingredients.

René Rey’s HempHogs truffle is a coconut oil-based truffle and is very smooth, and is also covered in organic milk chocolate, which makes it sweet with a nearly irresistible texture.

So which one did I like the most?  Well, I liked what the Living Libations chocolate was doing for my health and digestive system, but in terms of taste it was a toss-up between ChocoSol’s Hemp Gold bar and the HempHogs truffle. But being a dark chocolate lover, I most enjoyed and appreciated ChocoSol`s Hemp Gold bar.

Why Hemp?
Hemp has been around for many years, but it seems to be trending now more than ever.  One reason is the increased focus on our health coupled with the belief that we should be eating more ‘complete’ grain products. A complete grain has the usual energy-inducing carbohydrates, but also proteins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients. Hemp is considered one of these ‘complete’ foods because it: “contains all 21 known amino acids, including the 9 essential ones adult bodies cannot produce.” (ref)
Also, we may be seeing it more in Canada, (all three of the chocolate makers mentioned above are Canadian) because we have more access to hemp seeds and hemp oils than in the U.S. In fact, “virtually all hemp nut and oil in U.S. foods are imported from Canada” (ref) because our government allow the plants to be grown in this country. The U.S. government, on the other hand, does not allow farmers to grow hemp because they do not differentiate between hemp and marijuana.
Hemp is also considered environmentally friendly because it has a high yield per acre of crop and requires very little pesticide use. So with increased environmental concern, hemp is emerging as one of the potential solutions and its popularity has increased in North America and Europe.

Is Hemp Chocolate the Next Big Thing?

So the real question is: will this hemp-and-chocolate trend turn into the next big thing?  I do think we will see hemp being incorporated more and more into the flavour range already offered by chocolate manufacturers who make chocolate with ‘healthy’ nuts, seeds and fruit, like almonds, hazelnuts, acai and blueberries. But I do not think hemp will become the next big flavouring in most commercial chocolates, for example, how hazelnut paste is found in so many internationally successful products like the Ferrero Rocher or how peanut butter is incorporated into…well….everything in North America. But who knows?  Perhaps HempHogs will become an international hit and we will find them sitting on store shelves along side Reese Peanut Butter Cups in a few years.

If you know of any other hemp-and-chocolate combinations, feel free to add them to the comments below.  And if you are interested in Hemp Chocolate but cannot find any in your area, maybe you can try your hand at making your own.  Check out my posts on making chocolate from the bean in your own kitchen. 

You can likely find Hemp seeds at your local health food store or online from Manitoba Harvest (see left). I used a package of their raw shelled hemp seeds called Hemp Hearts (pictured on the right). 

If you are in the Toronto area, ChocoSol also sells 400g of hemp for $10 in at least five farmers markets (see list here) and they carry whole hemp seed as well as hemp hearts.
Chocosol uses Peterborough hemp.

Here are the package details of the three chocolate bars that I tasted this week:

René Rey Organic HempHogs® "Milk Chocolate Truffles with Hemp Nut Cream Filling"
René Rey Chocolates Ltd., North Vancouver, B.C. (Canada)
Ingredients: cane sugar*, cocoa mass*, cocoa butter*, skim milk powder*, hemp nuts*, coconut oil*, hazelnuts*, soy lecithin*
*ORGANIC  MAY CONTAIN: other tree nuts and sesame seeds.

AltogetherNow Cacao Clarity Chocolate Bar
Living Libations, Haliburton, ON (Canada)
Ingredients: Brilliant organic raw Bali cacao wow, hemp, maca root, guayusa herb, camu camu, raw honey, vanilla bean, peppermint, grapefruit, cococréme.

ChocoSol TRADERS Hemp Gold bar
ChocoSol TRADERS (Toronto, ON, CANADA)
Ingredients: cacao, hemp seed, maple sugar, cacao butter and sea salt.


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  3. Here is an update to the list of chocolate with hemp:
    Askinosie Chocolate of Missouri (U.S.) makes a chocolate bar with Toasted Hemp Seeds and Cacao Nibs:

    Olivia Chocolat of Quebec (Canada) also makes a hemp-based milk chocolate bar.

  4. Fearless Chocolate also has a 70% Super Seeds Crunch bar with hemp seeds in it:

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