If you’ve seen my ode to chocolate, you know that one of my (usually frustrating) pastimes is scouring the ingredient labels in the chocolate aisle. I’m always on the hunt for the perfect chocolate that isn’t “manufactured in a plant that processes nuts.” Ninety-nine percent of the time, my efforts are futile.
For a while my go-to chocolate bar was Scharffen Berger. This artisanal brand started in the Bay Area (like I did!) and a majority of their chocolate is nut-free. Then Hershey bought them, which I was ok with because the chocolate didn’t seem to change. But then they disappeared from Whole Foods, which I found concerning. Turns out, they came under fire for apparently sourcing cocoa in areas known for child labor. Whole Foods dropped them as a result, even though Hershey has agreed to be free of this sourcing issue by 2020. I love chocolate, but not enough to have child labor or other ethical concerns on my conscience. Sigh…what’s a nut-free chocolate lover to do?
Enter: PASCHA chocolate.
Not only is PASCHA overtly and passionately allergen-free (this means free from: nuts, peanuts, dairy, soy, eggs, wheat and gluten), their chocolate is also USDA organic, fair trade certified and non-GMO verified, among other fancy certifications that help tell us they are doing the right thing.
And guess what else? This stuff is delicious. I am a hardcore dark chocolate lover – the darker the better. The 85% cacao bar is intense, and right up my alley. This is some serious chocolate, folks. You won’t want to eat an entire bar in one sitting, which is a huge bonus for people like me with zero willpower. I broke off squares one at a time and let them melt on my tongue while attempting to decipher the flavors I experienced. Coffee? Raisin? All I know for sure is that I loved it, and I’ll be driving the 7.3 miles to the only co-op in my area that carries it so that I can enjoy some more. Or I could order online, but I love any excuse to check out a new grocery store. Twist my arm, I’ll do both!
If super dark chocolate isn’t your thing, there’s more good news. PASCHA also comes in 55% and 70% cacao, both of which I tried. The 70% is amazing. All the bars are much thicker than the Scharffen Berger ones, which makes me feel like I get more bang for my buck. They also make that great snapping noise when you break a piece off, which makes eating a bar a full sensory experience.
My only complaint about the less-dark bars is that I eat them too quickly. The 85% lasted me several days. The 70% was gone in a matter of hours, though I can blame at least a quarter of the damage on my boyfriend, who also loved it a little too much.
The 55% bar that I tried had cocoa nibs, which I hadn’t tried before at all. I loved the extra texture! It reminded me a little of the chocolate bars I ate as a kid that had puffed rice in them, only this was way better. And word on the street is that the cocoa nibs have good stuff in them, like antioxidants and such. Bonus! If you’re really not into dark chocolate, I recommend the 55%, which is sweeter and more accessible to those who have a distaste for more bitter, intense chocolate. Like kids.
My obligatory disclaimer for this post is that PASCHA sent me the chocolate on the house. However, I never endorse anything that I haven’t or wouldn’t purchase myself. This chocolate has earned the #1 spot on my list of best chocolate bars for nut-free people like me, and I feel like you need to know about it. In fact, I’d be doing paleo, nut-free people everywhere a disservice if I didn’t tell you that this existed.
I hope you’re able to find some close to you (they have a store locator on their website) and give it a try. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. And if you are, just leave me a note. I’ll give you my mailing address and happily eat the leftovers for you.