Taste of the week: S’mores soar with local bean-to-bar chocolate

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Courtesy Moksha chocolate

From Mallomars to Moon Pies to cannabis edibles, we love the flavor fusion that is s’mores. The easiest way to upgrade that experience is to use exceptional milk or dark chocolate. After a year of leading virtual chocolate bar tastings on Zoom, I’ve learned at least two things. 

One: The cacao conglomerates that make most of the commercial chocolate sold in the U.S. can’t guarantee that child workers or wage slaves weren’t employed to grow and harvest it, or that farmers got a fair share and that the environment wasn’t destroyed in the process.

Two: There is a lot of incredible tasting chocolate made by artisans around the world that respects the farmers and the environment. These reduced-guilt bars cost a lot more than Hershey’s, Lindt or Cadbury and they should — as they source, roast and grind cacao themselves using a minimal number of ingredients. Transparency tastes better.

Excellent bean-to-bar chocolate makers have started producing first-class bars in Boulder and around Colorado. 

Fortuna Chocolate Dark 75% (Mexico): The Boulder company uses only organic cacao from Chontalpa, Mexico, and organic sugar to make a fine dark bar that genuinely melts in your mouth. (fortuna-chocolate.com)

Moksha Chocolate Dark Chocolate 72% (Peru): Meanwhile, Boulder’s Moksha is supporting farmers in Peru’s Alto Mayo valley sustainably growing rare heirloom Criollo cacao that make fudgy bars with a hint of various berries. (mokshachocolate.com)

Cultura Craft Chocolate 70% Whiskey and Nibs: Denver’s Cultura is a chocolate culture destination worth visiting for its bars and drinking chocolate. I like the Cultura bar incorporating cocao nibs soaked in Deerhammer Whiskey. It’s a s’mores-ready, fun, grownup candy bar. (culturachocolate.com

Other Recommended Colorado Bars:

DAR Chocolate Fireside 60% (milk), darchocolate.com

Nuance Chocolate Dark Goat Milk, nuancechocolate.com

Bibamba Palms & Paradise (dark chocolate with coconut), bibamba.com 

Courtesy Boulder County Farmers Market

WHAT TO DO WITH TOO MANY RIPE TOMATOES? 

With the prime season for garden and farm tomatoes in full swing, Matt Collier, chef at Seeds Library Cafe, shares this simple recipe to make a smooth summer bisque. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad. 

Fresh Tomato Bisque

1 yellow or white onion, chopped

4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons olive oil or butter

8 fresh tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream 

Salt, to taste

Optional: Black pepper, fresh basil garnish

Place the onions, garlic and oil in a large pot and cook over medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent.

Add the tomatoes and pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, and cook for about 60 minutes. 

Add all ingredients to a blender. Leave the blender lid cracked, and cover the crack with a folded kitchen towel to allow steam to escape. Blend until smooth. Add cream. Adjust salt to taste.

Garnish with fresh basil. 

Note: For a dairy-free version, replace the cream with coconut milk or pureed white beans mixed with water.