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I once had the luxury of working for a publishing company that produced a book on chocolate. When the photo shoot was complete, the art director loaded an immense conference room table with all the gourmet chocolate they had photographed and said, “Dig in.” While everyone else seemed to get their fill with a few nibbles, I kept going back to the room all day long to taste all of the different varieties. By the time I left the office that night, I had eaten so much high-quality chocolate that my hands were shaky and the roof of my mouth went numb. It was a very good day.
We were allowed to take home as much of the remaining chocolate as we wished. I showed some restraint, but I do admit to being fairly greedy. Over the next few weeks, my husband and I would put the kids to bed, drag out our secret stash, and try one little square of chocolate at a time. I came to enjoy that ritual. Rather than being overwhelmed by a huge, overly sweet Hershey’s bar, I found that I could slowly nibble a small taste, letting it melt in my mouth and breathing in the complex notes. It was far more like holding an evening wine tasting than mindlessly bingeing on a bag of chocolate chips.
Despite my affinity for the good stuff, I was dubious when my six-pack of chocolates arrived from Addictive Wellness. Carefully tucked in a box with pillowy foam and cold packs, the chocolate was cool and undamaged. I spread out the bars: Beauty, Tranquility, Focus, Energy, Love, and Recharge. Each one felt substantially heavy at 1.7 ounces. Inside each package was a lovely set of 4 chocolate squares, each embossed with Addictive Wellness’s unicorn logo. They smelled fantastically rich and broke apart neatly with just a bit of force.
None of this caused my hesitation; it was the list of ingredients that almost made me turn away. Ashwagandha, the stress-relieving herb? Blue butterfly, the antioxidant pea flower? Reishi, the immune-boosting mushroom? In my chocolate?
Addictive Wellness touts a list of good-for-you ingredients and a big deficit of not-good-for-you stuff. Ready? Here we go. The chocolate is made from heirloom artisanal cacao. It is free of sugar, gluten, soy, and GMOs. You can eat it if your diet is vegan, keto, or paleo. The ingredients are ethically sourced and rainforest friendly. Organic? Yes. Raw? Yes. Pure? Yes. Allergen-free? Yes. Whatever your food needs may be, chances are you can eat this.
And I did. A few nibbles in, I became convinced that I want to have this chocolate often. It’s dark and complex with just a touch of sweetness from the xylitol and stevia. I found the texture to be a bit grainy, but it’s still remarkably smooth for raw chocolate. As chocolate expert Megan Giller says in Bean-to-Bar Chocolate, “. . . texture isn’t the same as taste. Grittier chocolates often have flavor profiles that are as complex as—if not more so—those of smooth chocolates.” Some of the varieties have slightly larger bits of herbs and mushrooms than others, yet nothing stopped my 13-year-old from gobbling a couple of squares with me.
So the big question: Can you taste the mushrooms? Answer: Not really. Although some of the varieties have a subtle earthiness, it’s not enough to register umami. It’s more like drinking coffee with a slightly woody aftertaste. However—and call me crazy if you will, but know that I am quite the skeptic myself—the sinus headache I’d been trying to ignore for a few hours went away about half an hour after my taste tests. I looked up a few of the adaptogenic superthings and discovered that some of them are reputed to help with seasonal allergies and respiratory ailments. I can tell you, I’d much rather let one of these babies melt on my tongue than a Claritin.
If I have any complaint, it’s that I wish Addictive Wellness had more information on their site. For one thing, I’m sure they’re a trustworthy bunch, but since we’re trained to look for certifications, it would be great to see some fair trade or GMO-free labels somewhere. Also, I could stand to learn more about the wellness part of their goods. Along with chocolate, they sell elixir blends and superherbs, and they do offer a few videos. But someone as impatient as myself wants to see the main beneficial ingredients in each chocolate variety along with a short list of purported benefits. Given that this is produced in Beverly Hills, though, maybe their primary buyers already know about these benefits, and I’m just a hot dog–eating clod from the East Coast who needs to bone up on herbalism.
In the meantime, if you’re into great chocolate and you’re looking for ways to get more immune support in your life, I urge you to give these chocolates a try. You may never feel this good about anything else you eat.
Chocolates range from $7.75/bar to $84.95 for a sampling of 12. Free shipping for orders over $50.00.