Hawaii is rapidly becoming a center for chocolate growing, production and experimentation. We are the only state that has the climate for growing cacao. Our first chocolate processing plant was launched in Kona, the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, still going strong. Now there are numerous other producers–and two are on our island, right in Kailua. Both Madre and Manoa Chocolate are grinding the Reppun family’s Waiahole cacao in their conches, along with other varieties.
My favorite for best cost-benefit, flavor to price, is Waialua Estate extra dark chocolate in large 8-ounce bars. This isn’t processed here, but the cacao is grown in Waialua and sent to the Guittard plant in San Francisco for processing. The attractively packaged bars are available at Whole Foods, Island X in Waialua, and the Dole Plantation. The price is $22-$30 per pound.
Simple serving tip: Toss a few squares into the microwave with a touch of milk. Heat for a minute or so, stir, and serve on top of vanilla gelato with a sprinkling freshly roasted and ground coffee.