The Brooklyn manufactory of Fine & Raw Chocolate is a spectacle blending in seductive aromas, churning machinery and hand-wrapping that happily ends in decadent chocolate hedonism. Their bean to bar, organic and raw chocolates have been popping up on the trendiest gourmet addresses in New York, through the West Coast to Australia and round to Europe. I have devoured their refined sugar-free goodness for years when visiting New York, while always loading my suitcase for travels to choco-deprived destinations. Compared to the thousands of aspiring raw chocolates on the market in America alone, Fine & Raw Chocolate is by a wide stride the best happy brain booster there. No compromises have been made in their small scale production.
Organic, transparent and truly in love with chocolate production
Burlap sacks of raw cocoa beans pile next to supplies of Indonesian coconut sugar in a contrast to the jewel box display of daily fresh, all organic truffles at Fine & Raw Chocolate manufactory in Brooklyn’s Bushwick. The experientially honed know-how and dedication to the best quality of used raw materials lift this honest American delicacy to the throne of the best morsels of chocolatey indulgence. Daniel Sklaar, the founder of Fine & Raw Chocolate sees the raw form as the celebration of chocolate. The native South African is poetic about his craft, writing; “native chocolate is the artful balance of developing magic in flavours and food alchemy”, therefore “we highly recommend storing at least one on your tongue for 5 minutes everyday”. His humour resonates with my happy life philosophy, since I follow this prescription diligently.
Sustainable production cycle at Fine & Raw Chocolate will clean your indulging karma. Inspired by an honest belief: “We like our planet, it’s the only one with chocolate”, therefore, all is organic, “handmade” with coconut sugar, which with its low GI is a healthier alternative to the usual cane sugar in confectionery. The female hands paper wraps them in attractive floral prints or girly Bonnie cartoons. Every ingredient has been certified organic, even the salt as well as the alderwood smoked salt in the 70% bar from the Brooklyn Bonnie Collection. In this range half of the cocoa is raw (for nutritional value) and the other half was roasted for added flavour. These sophisticated tweaks make Fine & Raw Chocolate unique. The dark 70% cocoa formula is beefed up with intense flavours such as the Alderwood smoked salt, which underlines the complex coffee, earth, tobacco leaf depth with a kick of salt at the start and later in the final aftertaste. Superb! The Habanero salt is a bit racier and perhaps to smoothen it a bit palm sugar was mixed in with the usual coconut sweetener. The mineral tasting salt flakes glued on the bottom of the chocolate bar are dominant, the cocoa is just a bystander. Sea Salt, Hazelnut Butter, and Espresso complement the Bonnie range.
The quality obsession reflects itself in carefully balanced flavours such as seasonally changing cocoa beans in their blended chocolates, the finest natural ingredients and not mixing in any animal products. Keeping it plant-based opens the doors to vegans and health seeking indulgers. Rio Caribe in Dominican Republic provided Hispaniola type of raw cocoa beans in winter when I visited last. It shows off in the 83%cacao bar made from only three organic ingredients: cacao bean, coconut sugar and cacao butter.
I have tried their entire range and re-tasted dozen times my favourites. The only cacao invention of Fine & Raw chocolate I do not like is the Mesquite bar. The low GI mesquite has a powdery taste, and its carob-like sweetness overshadows the 58% cacao. Lucuma was added perhaps for an extra superfood effect, but also to balance the intervening mesquite. The Bonbon, and Lucuma & Vanilla bars were also not ideally balanced yet for my chocolatey intensity seeking palate.
The truffles’ flavours change daily so you can find either himalayan sea salt, chipotle,cinnamon, clove essence, dried orange peel, ginger, hazelnuts, lavender, lucuma powder, toasted sesame oil, tamari, dried strawberries, raspberry, rose essence, peppermint essence, espresso beans, matcha powder, whisky, and other delectable inspirations in the adorable dark chocolate concoctions.
The espresso bar offers seductions like the house hot chocolate and luscious shakes not sold anywhere else than at this brick and mortar Brooklyn shop. Plus the occasional “unicorns” show up for excitement.
Chunky: between a chocolate bar and truffle
The marketable proof of how great the Fine & Raw chocolate is are collaborations with other strong local players in the food sector. Mulberry & Vine teases you at their checkout counter with a mini me version of the 70% square embellished with sea salt. At Organic Avenue after your liquid lunch, the Coconut Chunky fixes your craving for a crunchy substance. Like the Fine & Raw Truffle Chunky, the thick layer of dark chocolate coats the heavenly paste made with agave, coconut sugar, and cacao butter creating a caramel melting feel. My favourite from the perfectly sized, one and half ounce (42g), releases is the Almond Chunky where the bits of roasted almonds play the sexiest duet with the cocoa nib rawness of the cacao bean. This morsel is so addictive that I am grateful for the small size packing. Otherwise, I would devour a gallon with a large smile on my innocent childish face.
Hazelnut Chunky sourced the nuts from a hazelnut farm in Oregon. The Sweet Hazelnut Butter is also churned from the harvest and with its Chocolate Hazelnut Butter alteration was blended with FINE & RAW 60% couverture. The nirvana on Earth is though the lick the spoon until it melts Marcona Almond & Chocolate Butter. The best Spanish almonds are toasted in olive oil and salted for depth and richness, ground with their 70% cacao chocolate. They make one cocoa-free product. Perhaps inspired by the latin ladies working at the manufacture, the Coconut dulce de leche is made naturally from coconut sugar, coconut butter, water, vanilla, sea salt, and is far healthier alternative to this beloved latino gooey treat.
You must come in to try also the unctuously dense house hot chocolate, you will lick your lips in a nirvana of earthly pleasures. I have not sipped on a more luscious and balanced hot chocolate yet, making the trip to the industrial edge of Bushwick in Brooklyn worth the ride. The indulgent goodness is served and sold not far from Roberta’s, the Italianate heartbreaker serving superb pizza, plus when inside the manufactory, you can taste the sublime cocoa/nut spreads and buy the freshest truffles.
Mon-Fri: 10am-6pm; Sat: 12noon-6pm
288 Seigel St, Brooklyn, NY 11206