Welcome to part five of our Pure Chocolate Wisdom series of information, sponsored by Pascha Chocolate. I hand-picked Pascha Chocolate for Go Dairy Free, as it is made in a top allergen-free facility (dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, and even soy-free!), and is certified organic, vegan, fair trade, kosher, and non-GMO verified. They even offer 100% cacao chocolate chips that are suitable for paleo diets.
Today we’re discussing the often misunderstood term ‘Bean to Bar‘ and I’ve got a special everyone-friendly recipe from my kitchen for Double Chocolate Orange Cookies!
What is Bean to Bar Chocolate?
Though many large chocolatiers may claim to have special divisions that are churning out bean to bar chocolate, true artisan bean to bar processes aren’t quite so common.
How Chocolate is Crafted: Chocolate starts in the cacao fields where the beans are harvested, fermented, and dried. When the cacao beans arrive at a chocolatier, they are tested, cleaned, and then roasted. While roasting, the cacao beans crack, allowing the shells to be removed, revealing the coveted cacao nibs. The nibs are then milled to separate the cocoa solids (chocolate liquor – no, there isn’t any alcohol!) from the cocoa butter (don’t worry, it’s naturally dairy-free!). After a long period of milling, the desired ratio of chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sweetener (in the case of Pascha Chocolate, it’s organic cane sugar), and sometimes flavors (such as pure vanilla) are blended. The chocolate is then “conched”, heated and stirred for days to evenly distribute the ingredients and develop the chocolate’s unique flavor. Finally, the chocolate is tempered and molded into the bars and chips we get to enjoy in our kitchens.
Calling Out the Cheaters: Most chocolate producers add soy lecithin to emulsify the ingredients, allowing them to drastically cut down the time and cost of conching. But craft chocolatiers, such as Pascha, don’t believe in these types of short cuts. Pascha stays soy-free and produces the purest chocolate possible.
What Makes it Bean to Bar: A true bean to bar chocolatier, like Pascha Chocolate, manages the entire process – from roasting to molding – in a single factory. They tightly control every step of production, from sourcing the cacao beans to the finished, wrapped chocolate.
The Effect on Taste and Quality: By controlling the chocolate-making process from the farm to the bar, chocolate artisans say they can create better chocolate that preserves the cacao beans’ distinctive flavors. The founder of Pascha Chocolate, Simon Lester, agrees. “Because you can intimately control the bean selection, bean temperature and roasting time, bean processing into liquor and fineness of the particle size, temperature conditions, and the addition of cocoa butter and sugar, including the amount, type, time, and temperature … there are endless possibilities.”
Why Bean to Bar is Better for Food Allergies: But Lester sees another big benefit of doing it all under one roof. “Because we have much greater control than processors using multiple factories, we can provide better visibility of the process and sourcing, and much greater allergen protection.” For the dairy-free, vegan, and food allergy communities, this is pretty huge. Pascha Chocolate is able to process just beans, using equipment that never touches milk, soy, or nuts, for a product that goes straight from organic farms in Peru to finished bars and chips without entering another facility that could contain allergens.
A Bean to Bar Recipe: To honor the free-from nature of Pascha’s bean to bar chocolate, I’ve created a recipe for Double Chocolate Orange Cookies that is top allergen-free (that includes both the top 8 in the U.S. and the top 11 in Canada)! And have no fear if you aren’t avoiding all top allergens, I don’t use any specialty flours or replacement products – these are just delicious, chocolaty treats (with semi-sweet – pictured above – AND dark chocolate – pictured below – options) using everyday ingredients!
Special Diet Notes & Options: Double Chocolate Orange Cookies
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan / plant-based, vegetarian, and generally top food allergy-friendly. Note that I did use certified gluten-free oats and top allergen-free Pascha chocolate chips for all testing of this double chocolate orange cookies recipe.
- 1 cup rolled oats (certified gluten-free, if needed; can sub 4 ounces of oat flour)
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup organic sugar (a.k.a. evaporated cane juice)
- 6 tablespoons (generous ⅓ cup) mashed avocado
- ¼ cup grapeseed, rice bran, or melted coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon pure orange extract (sold in most stores)
- ½ to ⅔ cup dairy-free Pascha 55% Organic Chocolate Chips
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- Preheat your oven to 375ºF and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Place the oats in a spice grinder or food processor and whiz into flour, about 30 to 60 seconds. Add the cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt, and briefly whiz again to combine.
- In a mixing bowl, blend the sugar, avocado, oil, and extract with a hand mixer until relatively smooth (no big green bits). Add the oat mixture and blend with the hand mixer until a dough forms. Stir in the chocolate chips and zest.
- Scoop the batter by the level tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly; they will spread a little. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.