I have tried several chocolate bars that combine chocolate with chili flavor of one sort or another, and this one is by far my favorite. No great surprise, really, given the amazing nature of all Theo chocolate bars.
I didn't want my impressions to be guided, so I tried my first bite without having read the label. (Beyond seeing the chili pepper on the front and thinking, "MINE.") I was surprised at the complexity of the flavor. The bars I have tried before have been very one-note flavors: you got your "chocolate," and you got your "spicy heat," and that is about it. But in this bar, the spice fades in and out depending on the bite. And at least once, I got a pretty good little kick from an extra-hot bit of chili.
When I finally read the ingredients label, I understood why: this bar is actually made with four different kinds of spicy (pasilla chili powder, guajillo chili powder, cayenne powder, and cinnamon), plus the intriguing addition of orange zest and orange essential oil. This gives it a bright finish, and really kicks up the flavor profile. Add in some vanilla bean, and you have yourself a real winner.
Pairing chili with chocolate is an ancient tradition, of course. I love adding a dash of cinnamon to my hot cocoa. Those Aztecs really knew what they were doing!
The pedigree of a Theo chocolate bar is impeccable. Their bars are organic and fair trade certified - a rare distinction in America these days. Even though Europe and UK markets have demanded fair trade certified chocolate, it is still a rarity in America. Which is too bad, because chocolate that is not fair trade certified has been produced with slave labor, much of it provided by children, and that's a fact (albeit a very sad one). Hershey, Snickers, Mars Bars, M&Ms… all made with a generous dollop of human misery, thanks to the horrors of the cacao trade.
These are some of the best chocolate bars on the market today, and it's a pity that they are not more easily found across the country. I count myself lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest, where you can reliably find them in upscale grocery stores
. If you are having trouble locating Theo chocolates in your area, you can order them directly from the website.
Or hunt down a Whole Foods store, as this is the nationwide distribution point for Theo deliciousness.