How does raw chocolate differ from “regular” chocolate? Until I stumbled across Gnosis Chocolate, I had no idea, and in all honesty, I hadn’t given much thought to the matter. But the second I took my first bite of their Simplicity Bar (their no frills, “this is chocolate” version) I truly understood how heat could affect such a seemingly simple food. Your average chocolate bar has a uniform taste … smooth, silky, and predictable; as it melts atop your tongue you pretty much know that the lingering aftertaste will closely mimic the initial flavor. But with raw chocolate, or at least Gnosis’s raw chocolate, every ingredient stakes its claim. None get lost in the crowd, but rather each individual component takes its turn, occasionally working in harmony with the others, but sometimes engaging in a little friendly competition. As a fan of pure chocolate, that “regular” bar still has great appeal, but Gnosis adds a level of intrigue that my palate couldn’t seem to get enough of …
As for that Simplicity bar, the scent of vanilla melded into the initial agave sweetness, which then gave way to a smooth cocoa buttery taste, scent, and feel. Deep cocoa was the final note, leaving behind a rather profound statement that was more bitter than sweet. It was an amusing cycle of sweet to buttery to bitter that my taste buds wanted to repeat over and over.
Now, chocolate may be their business at Gnosis, but flavor adventure is their game. Beyond the Simplicity, there were a dozen unique flavors to sample (I know, I know, tough job):
SuperChoc – The mother load of flavor! This chocolate bar took my taste buds by storm, but they were happy to surrender. The tall and dense block (reminding me of my mother-in-laws most used phrase, Choc-o-block) combines sweet, bitter, fruity, and buttery all in one. My taste buds were in jitter bug heaven. After sampling several flavors, my husband said, “I really liked the raspberry one.” I immediately knew he was speaking of this bar due to its rich berry flavor. Some of the Gnosis flavors are decidedly bittersweet, but the bitter cocoa flavor never fully develops in this bar. Instead it intertwined with the other flavors emerging on occasion to say hello but then disappearing behind the naturally sweet fruit flavor and buttery texture. If this is what healthy raw food tastes like, then I am on board! Of all the Gnosis flavors, I think this one was our favorite.
Cashew Goji Cherry – This flavor combination is beautiful. Overall, this treat provided a wonderfully sweet trail mix kind of experience, where the chocolate was rich and strong enough to hold its own, yet still just one of the gang. In my opinion, this flavor rates a close second, just behind the SuperChoc.
Pomegranate Açai – I expected another berry infusion with this bar, but what I discovered was a wonderfully sweet, yet gentle flavor. The overall theme was semi-sweet (sweeter and butter-ier than some of the other bars), with a calm melding of fruit, almost as if a touch of agave and pomegranate juice had been infused directly into the chocolate. The texture was filled with sizable berry chunks that were surprisingly tame and big bites of very neutral-tasting nuts, which I thought were macadamias at first, but they turned out to be Brazil nuts. Since I am rarely a fan of chunky nuts in chocolate (almonds in the selections below being an exception), I would prefer this bar without the nutty interruptions; but that is just me. Sans nuts, I could easily become addicted to this unassuming “superfood” chocolate.
Coconut Almond – My husband immediately said, “This tastes like a Mounds bar.” To me, it was more like an Almond Joy with darker, richer chocolate. Plus, the coconut chips were pure and unsweetened, unlike the corn syrup infused drugstore brands. The add-ins in this chocolate were so abundant that the chocolate was simply one member of the cast rather than the star of the show.
Vanilla Hazelnut – This flavor started off strong with a smooth vanilla flavor, it moved on to be a bit flat, but then it ended with an intriguing buttery finish. The hazelnuts were fine little bits (unlike the much chunkier almonds in the Coconut Almond) and easy to miss. The chocolate was a bit more present in this bar, yet it still wasn’t as cocoa rich as I expected. In fact, it had somewhat of a white chocolate vibe from the generous use of cocoa butter.
Almond Fig Spice – I only got a small bite of this delightful chocolate, but could have easily devoured an entire 2 ounce bar. Dotted with large chunks of almonds, sweetened with cocoa-friendly figs, and beautifully flavored with cinnamon and vanilla, this chocolate variety seemed like a natural combination. Once again, the chocolate was just another flavor amongst this pleasant meld of flavors. However, I must note that the cinnamon after-taste was definitely potent, and may be a bit too spicy for the cinnamon-shy.
Cool Peppermint – Noting the superpower flavors that Gnosis typically arms their flavored chocolate with, I braced myself for a minty rush. But instead, I was greeted with a soothing, minty essence that tingled slightly on my taste buds but never fully developed. This truly bittersweet (almost coffee-like) chocolate possessed just a hint of sweet and a gentle nudge of cocoa butter, allowing the cocoa to take center stage. Overall, it was a satisfying experience that I would describe as a “grown-up” chocolate mint.
Mayan Heat – Surprisingly, the chocolate used in the Mayan Heat bar is quite mellow and rich with cocoa butter rather than sharp with cocoa. The various and unique ingredients (figs, cashews, cranberries) offer a light sweetness, and at first the heat is virtually nonexistent. But slowly it emerged to warm my entire mouth without venturing into overly spicy territory. As someone who is a little timid around the fire, I appreciated this. Overall it was an interesting marriage of sweet and hot against a very mellow cacao backdrop.
Blackberry Mint – While one might expect the Cool Peppermint to be the boldest option, the Blackberry Mint turned out to be the more potent of the two. In fact, just a little goes quite a long ways. As I opened the package, the scent was pure and awesome. The flavor had a rich, natural mint flavor against a decidedly bittersweet backdrop, with specks of berry throughout. The overall flavor left me indifferent yet wanting for just a bit more. The only thing off-putting was all of the seeds that got caught in my teeth. Otherwise the flavor had grown-up appeal for a perfect after-dinner treat.
Orange Blossom – While I love oranges and I enjoy chocolate, I have never been a fan of the two together. Unfortunately, this seems to hold true with Gnosis’s version, but for a different reason. I did like the substantial strips of zest that could be easily spotted in this bar, but the strong essential oil scent and taste just didn’t work with my senses. Beyond orange, the masculine notes of bergamot were ever-present. This was far from a dainty chocolate, but for the adventurous, I definitely recommend giving it a shot.
Lemon Berry Rose – Perhaps my nose is one of my stronger senses, as the Gnosis chocolates that were bolder with scents just weren’t up my alley. While the lemon appeal was pleasant against the bittersweet backdrop, the rose scent overpowered the flavor a bit too much for my liking. But, with a dozen flavors to choose from … I think I will simply move on and leave the citrus varieties for others to enjoy.
- Gnosis’ raw chocolate is a touch softer than “regular” chocolate, and slightly more eager to melt against the heat of your fingers. For this reason, it is great to store in the refrigerator, where it remains firm, but does not become rock hard, as so many chocolates do. Also, it is very easy to break into pieces so that you don’t devour the entire bar in one sitting!
- Gnosis uses boxes that are made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper with vegetable-based ink. In addition to being “green” they are very attractive and excellent for gift-giving, even if the recipient is yourself!
- As you might expect, Gnosis uses all natural and raw ingredients only. What surprised me though was their use of essential oils. Rather than extracts (with the exception of vanilla) they used essential oils to manipulate the flavors.
- Gnosis is making its way into natural food markets, such as Whole Foods, but you can easily order it online.
The Facts on Gnosis Raw Chocolate
Certifications: Gnosis Raw Chocolate is Certified Kosher Parve, Certified Vegan, Certified Raw, Certified Organic, and has Certified FSC Packaging.
Dietary Notes: By ingredients, Gnosis Raw Chocolate is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan / plant-based, vegetarian, raw, and paleo-friendly. Most varieties are nut-free. Nonetheless, always read the ingredient statement and check with the company on their manufacturing processes for all varieties if potential allergen cross-contamination is an issue for you. Processes and labeling are subject to change at any time for any company / product.
For More Product Information: Visit the Gnosis website at gnosischocolate.com.