If you’re like us here at realfoodtraveler.com, you agree that good chocolate is one of the treasures of life. But for many who have allergies, trace elements like peanuts, treenuts, dairy, soy, egg, and wheat may be lurking in the factory where chocolate is made and packaged. For those who are sensitive, it can make enjoying chocolate a health challenge. Enter the makers of Pascha Organic Chocolate who have created allergen-free chocolate–what they call “the purest, safest chocolate without any allergenic ingredients.”
Pascha Chocolate is not only allergy-free, it’s certified organic by the USDA Organic Certified label. That means, unlike many commercially-made chocolate, it’s free from pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, irradiation, preservatives, and artificial colors and flavors. It also is free from any genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
It’s also fair-traded, which means the small farmers who grow the cacao for the chocolate are given a fair price for their products. And vegans and those who keep Kosher can celebrate too. Pascha Chocolate is both vegan (no meat, fish, fowl, animal by-products, eggs/egg by products, milk/milk products, and it involves no animal testing or animal-derived GMOs) and can be eaten according to dietary or ceremonial Jewish law.
Whew! That’s a lot of certifications, but, of course, the proof is in the tasting. Pascha offers eight, 3.5 ounce allergen-free chocolate bars and three different 8.8 ounce bags of allergen-free chocolate chips. Our tasting panel sampled three organic dark chocolate bars and one bag of semi-sweet dark chocolate chips.
Organic Dark Chocolate 55% Cacao. This chocolate, hands-down the panel’s favorite, has a smooth mouthfeel and a complex chocolate flavor with floral rose-scented notes. It’s a satisfying bite.
Organic Dark Chocolate 70% with Organic Arabic Coffee. I personally loved this chocolate, but then I’m a real choco-coffee fan. It offers an intense coffee flavor that’s sure to please java lovers.
Organic Dark Chocolate 85%. This was the one chocolate bar our panel felt wasn’t successful. It’s not sweet and has sharp chocolate flavors that leave a sour aftertaste. This chocolate might make a good baking chocolate, but, in our opinion, it’s not an out-of-hand eating chocolate.
A note about cacao: In recent years, the percentages of cacao seem to be rising in artisan chocolate. At first, 60 or 70% was considered quite dark. Now, however, 80-85% or even 100% cacao is common and Pascha has followed this trend. We’re great lovers of dark chocolate here at realfoodtraveler.com. However, we feel when you get beyond about 70% cacao, the chocolate becomes too bitter to really be enjoyable. Our panel of tasting experts found that to be the case with Pascha’s 85% Dark Chocolate Bar. Pascha also makes an 85% bittersweet chocolate chip as well as unsweetened 100% chips (undoubtedly just for baking).
Organic Semi-sweet Dark Chocolate Chips 55% Cacao. Our panel enjoyed these chips. They were creamy and soft-flavored. After sampling, we made cookies with the rest of the bag and found them to be even more delicious.
Real Bottom Line: If you’re sensitive to allergens, you’re vegan or you keep Kosher, Pascha has a line of chocolate for you. At realfoodtraveler.com, we sample a lot of great chocolate and Pascha Chocolate is a solid contender. While it doesn’t have smooth mouthfeel of some other gourmet chocolates and we feel they get a bit carried away with too much cacao in one of their bars and some of their chips, we give Pascha plenty of points for being allergen-free and super healthful. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor