by The Urban Grocer in New Food and Packaging on Friday 7 October 2011

Askinosie Chocolate likes to be first. They’re the first small-batch, 100% traceable bean-to-bar boutique chocolatier in the US to import cocoa beans from the Philippines in 25 years. They’re the first small-batch chocolate factory to press their own cocoa butter. And they’re leading the pack in sourcing their cocoa beans directly from small farmers, paying them above Fair Trade prices while sharing 10% net profits too. Indeed, this unassuming Missouri chocolatier — the genius of a former criminal defense attorney — is like the little chocolate company that could.

Oh, and how it can. In addition to Askinosie’s organic, natural, shade-grown, sustainable, single origin, bean-to-bar practices, they’re chocolate is good. Damn good. One bite of their dark chocolate bar reveals an intense, almost coffee like, richness that is pure and creamy, without being even a touch too sweet. Better yet, its cocoa beans come from the only woman led farmer group in Tanzania.

While their dark milk and fleur de sel bar is just as smooth and delightful, it’s slightly less intense than their dark variety but perfectly balanced out with surprising – and welcomed – bites of briny salt. Askinosie’s Hey, Hey Hazelnut chocolate hazelnut spread too is nuttier and tastier than it’s corporate, European counterpart (hey Nutella, we’re looking at you).

And the icing on this scrumptious Fair Trade cake? Thepackaging. It’s dreamy. A reflection of Askinosie’s philosophies, the eco-inspired packaging rocks an organic, well-traveled feel. Passport-like stamps, photos of farmers, twine ties, typewriter font, and a striking natural paper wrap-up their handmade bars.

So go on, take the guilt out of your chocolate addiction.