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For the Love of Chocolate

Create "chocolate" experiences with friends and loved ones

Looking for a new adventure for the new year? How about a chocolate tourism excursion? New to me, but certainly on a bucket list of fun experiences, I have found some unique chocolate companies to visit, and more importantly, why we should allow ourselves this delectable indulgence.

Unique places to travel for chocolate

If you are heading to the United Kingdom, drop by the world-famous Pump Street Chocolate factory in Suffolk, where you may enjoy their bean-to-bar tour. Their "must try" is the famous sourdough bar made using bread baked on-site.

Heading to Iceland? Drop by Omnom chocolate company in Reykjavik. Omnom produces small-batch, bean-to-bar chocolate using cacao beans sourced worldwide. Their Icelandic milk adds character to their chocolates and distinguishes them from many other chocolates.

Looking for something closer to home?

French Broad Chocolate in the heart of downtown Asheville, North Carolina, is the perfect place to sit in the Chocolate Lounge and enjoy their menu of drinking cocoa and eating chocolates, cookies, cakes, brownies, and of course, chocolate bars. Tours are conducted Monday through Saturday and include a  history of French Broad Chocolate, learning about the chocolate-making process, and comparing and contrasting chocolate flavor notes and samples of delicious chocolates.

Even closer to home is Ritual Chocolate in Heber City, Utah. Anna Seear and Robbie Stout are the founders, and they say it all began with a love of chocolate. They believe chocolate is about creating experiences: a simple moment to share, a break in a long day, or a reward to share with a close friend. Their tours are at their new factory in Heber City. The tours are 30 minutes and will take you from the cacao bean-to-bar process. At the end, you get to taste their delicious chocolates and receive a discount for any bars purchased. These bars have won several awards and are some of my personal favorites. Private tours are available as well.

Why eat and enjoy chocolate?

Why eat chocolate? According to the Eden Prescription, a new study found that a person eating just one ounce a week (28 grams) of chocolate had a 15% less risk of dying from any cause during the 14-year study. There was also a 23% risk reduction of death from Alzheimer's disease. Chocolate is a rich source of powerful antioxidants called proanthocyanidins or PACs, which have been associated with lower risk for several types of cancer, heart disease and dementia. Moderation is the key, of course.

How to savor the flavors of chocolate

Simply snap off a piece of a good quality bar, press it against the roof of your mouth, let it slowly melt, and enjoy the creamy sensation, the luscious flavors of the different cacao beans, the flavors of citrus, rose hips, vanilla, fudge and earthy flavors according to each bar and origin.

Why not treat yourself, your heart and your loved ones to one of life's greatest treasures by making brownies?

Ritual Chocolate in Heber City says: “We love sharing the experience and satisfaction of making something delicious, and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.”

This recipe for Ritual Chocolate Brownies is by Anna Jones. Says Anna, “We love these dense, gooey brownies with the perfect addition of fruity and crunchy from the raspberries and pistachios. We also love to make this recipe vegan by using chia seeds and coconut oil!


3 eggs (or 3 tablespoons chia seeds + 1 teaspoon baking powder)

1 Ritual Chocolate bar

½ cup coconut oil or butter

½ cup soft brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup ground almonds

3/4 cup ground drinking chocolate

1 cup raspberries

¼ cup pistachio nuts (or any other nut)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or line a small brownie pan. If using chia seeds rather than eggs, put the seeds into a little bowl and add 9 tablespoons of cold water. Leave to form a gel-like paste.

Melt half of Ritual Chocolate bar with the coconut oil by steaming the underside of a heat proof bowl, stirring occasionally.

Once melted, take the bowl off the heat and stir in the sugar, followed by the beaten eggs, one by one, or the chia seed mixture, and finally the vanilla, ground almonds, baking powder (if using), half the raspberries and half the pistachios.

Roughly chop the remaining chocolate bar and fold through the mixture. Pour the brownie mix into the lined tin and scatter over the rest of the raspberries and the pistachios.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until just cooked but still a little soft in the middle. Cool for at least 20 minutes.

Valentine's Day is a $23.9 billion industry, with about $2.2. billion of that amount spent on candy, according to Vested, a global marketing and communications consulting firm. Also, estimates 58 million pounds of chocolate are bought during Valentine's Day week. Indeed, that is a lot of chocolate!

  • Chef Jackie Dodart; photo by Asher Swan
  • Ritual Chocolate Brownies (Photo courtesy of Ritual Chocolate)
  • Photo courtesy of Ritual Chocolate