What happens when two well-meaning Peace Corps volunteers travel to Madagascar and are both appalled and inspired by the beauty and poverty they see? They form Madécasse, one of the first-ever Africa-based chocolate-making companies. It’s creating financial opportunities for poor people while making great bean-to-bar chocolate using heirloom cocoa beans.
Madécasse Chocolate and Vanilla Company uses only cacoa beans grown on the island of Madagascar. The beans they use are some of the most genetically-pure on the planet. They’re grown by farmers who own the land and are shade-grown using forest-friendly methods. Using local workers, the beans are then hand dried, hand selected, and turned into chocolate. Each Madécasse chocolate bar is then hand wrapped in foil and craft paper and tied with raffia.
They make four types of chocolate bars: Salted Almond, Toasted Coconut, Sea Salt & Nibs, and 70% Cocoa. Their 2.64 ounce bars retail for $5.00, a bargain in the pricey artisan chocolate market. Our editors at realfoodtraveler.com sampled all but the 70%.
Salted Almond– This bar is made with 63% dark chocolate, sea salt and roasted almond nibs. The bars, which have finely chopped almonds on the bar’s surface, have a deep chocolate flavor that resembles bittersweet with a tang of sea salt and crunch of the almond nibs. This is a bar that’s not overly sweet.
Toasted Coconut– This bar is made with 70% dark chocolate and Madagascar coconut. Like the Salted Almond, it has dollops of toasted coconut on the bar’s surface and is deeply chocolately without being too sweet. The coconut gives this bar a nice tropical finish.
Sea Salt & Nibs- In this 63% dark chocolate bar, our reviewer’s favorite, the chocolate offers fruity notes. The sea salt and cocoa nibs provide a nice crunch and earthy-salty contrast to the chocolate that’s satisfying.
Real bottom line: Madécasse Chocolate is hand crafted chocolate with a social cause. It’s also pretty good chocolate. Their flavors are unique and not overly sweet. This is not kids’ chocolate; it’s grown-up chocolate. If you’re a chocolate lover who loves the taste of chocolate without the overpowering taste of sugar, this is a chocolate for you. And you can feel good that this fair trade chocolate is making a difference in Africa. www.madecasse.com