Tuesday, March 20, 2018

No Cane Sugar Chocolate Treats by Heavenly Organics; Taste the Sweet Honey in 100% Dark Chocolate

Are you in love with the taste of honey? Have you excluded cane sugar from your diet? If you said 'yes!' to both of those questions, then I have found the perfect chocolate treat for you.  I was shopping at The Island Jar, a local favourite health food store here on Manitoulin Island, and noticed some new little packaged treats: Heavenly Organics chocolate honey patties. They came in three flavours: Double Dark, Ginger chocolate honey pattie, and Peanut (ahem, it's peanut butter flavour even if the package does not describe it that way).

And if you have been reading my blog regularly, you'll know that in the winter months, I try out all sorts of unsweetened, 100% and cane-sugar-free chocolate to tell you about here. Since it is still winter here on Manitoulin Island, with a wake-up call of -14ºC this morning, then I can still tell you about these fantastic no-sugar chocolate finds.

The Double Dark is my favourite, with just two ingredients: 100% dark chocolate and raw white honey. It has a mildly sweet centre of creamy (although not liquidy, more like a ganache texture) honey which is dipped in a very thin coating of 100% dark chocolate. Normally 100% dark chocolate can be off-putting, and nearly too bitter to palate for most people, but in this case, the honey and bitter chocolate combine in your mouth for the perfect combination. Only the after taste leaves a little bitterness, mixed with honey. It really is a perfect combination for a dark chocolate lover like myself, and for anyone who is trying to stay away from cane sugar, or overindulging in sweet treats. Even my six-year old son loves them, and hasn't seemed to notice they are made with unsweetened chocolate (although he likes dark chocolate, up to about 85% dark, so this wasn't surprising).

The peanut pattie was less sweet than the Double Dark, but if you eat natural peanut butter, this will be like breakfast for you. The peanuts and honey were mixed together with a touch of Himalayan sea salt for the pattie in the centre, and again this pattie was enrobed in 100% dark chocolate. I see this as more of a low-carb (no-grain) snack and afternoon healthy pick-me-up.  This one won't appeal to a child, since it lacks both the creaminess and sweetness of the Double Dark treat, but it may satisfy your mid-day craving for protein and dark chocolate. It tastes great with a coffee.

The Ginger chocolate honey pattie was not my favourite at first, but it has really grown on me over time. The ginger taste is not over-powering, mild in fact, but the flavour is there. The honey centre is creamy and the after taste of 100% dark chocolate is very nice. I recommend trying this one too.

The brand, Heavenly Organics, can be found online at: https://heavenlyorganics.com/, where you can learn all about the company founder, Amit Houda.  The patties are available in Canada on Well.ca in three-packs for only $2.49 Canadian, or in larger bags of about 12 for $8.99. They are made from certified organic honey and organic chocolate, fair trade certified and gluten free. Also, you will find only 50-60 calories per pattie, so you can indulge guilt free.

You can purchase cases of the larger bags or individually wrapped patties on the Heavenly Organics page on Amazon.ca. And for more information or wholesale information, you can contact Fairfield Organics, LLC from Keota, Iowa at INFO@HEAVENLYORGANICS.COM.

And if you are reading this from Manitoulin Island, you can find these treats at The Island Jar at 15 Water Street in Little Current, Ontario.

Happy Healthy Chocolate Tr-eating!

I have not been paid or compensated (or even provided with information from any company) to write this blog post. These are my own opinions and I liked this product so much that I did my own research.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The #1 Reason to Visit Almonte, Ontario

My family visited the Hummingbird Chocolate Factory in Almonte, Ontario a few weeks ago. We were on our way to Ottawa for a few days, and I'd been wanting to get to Hummingbird since they started making chocolate several years back. Their Dominican Republic origin chocolate bar - the 'Hispaniola' bar - made with the coveted 'La Red' cocoa bean, was (and still is) a favourite of mine back when I wrote about it in 2012, and since then, it has won several awards, including the Golden Bean Award from the Academy of Chocolate.

The little company began with chocolate-making couple Erica and Drew and has grown into a full, yet still quaint-sized factory in Almonte with over 10 people working there. The cute little store-front rests in the newest shopping and entertainment district of Almonte, tucked in close to a fabulous craft brewery and an amazing coffee roaster & its eat-in café. So for my family, we were able to enjoy a Saturday morning full of food and drink, starting with Hummingbird's factory tour and chocolate-tasting in the store front, then a quick pick-up of Crooked Mile craft beer, and a rather enjoyable lunch at Equator Coffee Roasters.

Hummingbird's quaint storefront offers not only their chocolate bars,
but gift packages, confections and seasonal treats.

During the tour, we learned that Erica and Drew have maintained the 'craft' part of chocolate making, by using a hands-on and hand-made approach. There are no wrapping machines, moulding machines or even new-age stainless steel winnowers on site. Nope, the original winnower which removes the husks from cocoa beans, is still standing in the factory and used regularly. Drew built it in the company's humble beginnings, with a few shop vacs, wood and some Plexiglas. I have a smaller version of this for my little workshop, so it was nice to see a chocolate maker who has built up a successful Canadian brand still using a homemade classic. And along with that, a team of people were buzzing around the space, doing the bar moulding, wrapping, and all the other work that comes with craft chocolate making.

This little tour was not about tasting chocolate (you can do that in the storefront), it was more about learning where the chocolate comes from, how it is made and the process Hummingbird goes through to make their craft chocolate. It only cost $5 per person and was fairly short and sweet (just long enough to get all the information, and just short enough so the children didn't lose interest and start some chaos in the factory).  The kids had fun putting on hair nets and seeing their parents in the same silly get-up. And for my kids, who have watched chocolate making on a small scale, they were excited about the size of the equipment, the fact that the winnower looked like a giant version of the one their grandpa built, and the sheer volume of cocoa beans that were piled up in bags in one corner. They were also excited to taste cocoa beans.

As for the goodies that we purchased in the store, there were some old favourites, like the 70% Hispaniola bar and its darker 85% version, and my new favourite, the Cap-Haitien, made from very fruity cocoa beans from Haiti. The Honduras 'Copan' bar is also a relatively new addition to Hummingbird's line, made from caramelly-flavourful cocoa beans that I am very familiar with, since I also make a few different chocolate bars from those beans.

Hummingbird also recently introduced a 60% dark-milk chocolate to the mix, which made my milk-chocolate-loving daughter very happy.

All in all, it was wonderful to see how Erica and Drew have grown their business over the last six years, from those first bars they sent me back in 2012, to the award-winning range of chocolate they now have available in FarmBoy stores across the Ottawa region, and many other retail locations worldwide.

Aging chocolate on the shelves inside Hummingbird's chocolate factory.
Chocolate moulds awaiting washing at Hummingbird Chocolate factory.

If you would like to see the factory, check Hummingbird's website at www.hummingbirdchocolate.com to book your tickets and a time, as well as find out where you can buy their delicious chocolate.