Nibs and salt, salt and nibs. After eating many chocolate bars in my lifetime—some so fancy they ought to count as currency, some so mediocre they shouldn't be sold—I'm convinced that the most perfect addition to a chocolate bar is a little bit of crunch and a little bit of salt. This is why the 72% nibs & salt bar from Endorfin is the answer to my ultimate chocolate dream. Just enough cacao, bits of crunch and savory, creamy dreamy . . . wowee wow how is it that the bar doesn't disappear in moments?
Let's talk about "Mylk", first. You might think it is a little gimmicky, a little silly. Those things could be true, but for the chocolate bars from Endorfin they are deadly serious and seriously delicious. You see, the bars have creamy flavor with zero dairy: that's awesome for those with allergies but seriously milky chocolate cravings. How does Endorfin do it? Simple, really: add some coconut milk to a great dark chocolate formula and watch the smoothness factor go through the roof.
What's it like to taste this bar? Like most 70-ish percent bars, it is the perfect combination of sweet and complex. Not too much sweetener (and what's there is coconut sugar, gentle on the glycemic reaction), not too much bitterness. The cacao nibs add texture that makes you wanting for just one more bite, one more piece.... and the salt, well... Salt on chocolate is about the best thing ever to come out of the "salty/sweet" revolution of the last decade. Salted caramel? Forget it. Over. Done. Salt on chocolate? Absolutely wondrous and perfect. This Endorfin bar is the one most likely to disappear quickly. I blame it on the texture. You just want a tiny bit more of crunch. Then a bit more.... don't say you haven't been warned.
If you are able to split the bar over a few days of noshing, you'll be rewarded with joy and pleasure, day after day. Only until it's gone and it's time to order more. Just a wee bit of self-restraint, and all the better to enjoy some more the next day. That seems as good a reason as any to hold off on immediate chowing down: future enjoyment. Like that famous marshmallow experiment, holding off for a little bit of time does make future experiences sweeter.
The look of the whole package is lovely, a simple paper wrapper with spare graphics and geometric patterns. The name Endorfin scrawls across the top, whimsical and promising merriment. Before long, that paper is parted and the bar reveals itself, shiny with asymmetrical patterns defying any neat break points. I kind of love that – no telling what size piece you'll get. Again, it just makes the eating of this bar joyful and a bit unpredictable.
Honestly, much of the goodness is the simplicity of the ingredients.
Despite the silky richness and creaminess, there is not one bit of dairy in this bar. The name "mylk" is a play on words, hinting at the coconut milk used in each bar to mellow the cacao's potency. I've had dark milk bars before (with dairy); this Endorfin recipe has that same unctuousness without any risk of casein allergies or digestive issues. It's win-win.
Here's what Endorfin says about this bar. See if you agree (I do!).
"This lovely bar starts with a base of our signature 70% dark mylk chocolate – smooth and extra dark with just a touch of creaminess and sweetness. We add a delightful crunch with just the right amount of heirloom Ecuadorian cacao nibs (100% cacao by definition), and seal the deal with a subtle kiss of Himalayan pink salt. This unique bar combines the best parts of milk chocolate and dark chocolate into a pure experience that is in a category all of its own."
Raw cacao is one of the most phytochemically complex foods on earth. Many of its constituents have yet to even be discovered!
Here are just a few compounds found in raw cacao beans: neurotransmitter anandamide (the "bliss" chemical), neurotransmitter phenethylamine (also known as PEA, the "love molecule"), neurotransmitter serotonin (a brain chemical that acts to shield against stress, increasing one's sense of well-being) neurotransmitter dopamine (increases one's sense of pleasure and elevates the mood), phytochemical coumarin (suppresses appetite, and also has anti-tumor properties and helps with blood circulation) enzyme asparaginase (a special enzyme with anti-cancer properties) ergosterol (a necessary chemical for vitamin D assimilation) and sitosterol (helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels). Amazing!
Coconut has been used by many cultures worldwide for thousands of years, and is well known for its many amazing properties. Coconut is so nutritious, its list of benefits reads like a patent medicine bottle. It’s full of health-boosting lauric acid and medium-chain triglycerides, has antimicrobial and anti-viral qualities, and has been shown to help with weight loss, Alzheimer’s, cognitive function and athletic performance. It nourishes the thyroid, helps prevent candida overgrowth, boosts the metabolism, and makes skin and hair softer. Also, it’s one of the tastiest things a person could eat. (No offense, sea veggies.)
Storing your raw cacao bar is not to be taken lightly. Because the raw chocolate has been tempered oh-so-gently, it will melt easily. Store between 50 and 80 degrees (but I wouldn't throw it in the fridge or freezer, either) for long shelf life and little risk of squish.
From Brian Wallace, the founder: "My spark for chocolate began when I had my first sample of raw cacao beans - the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree and the botanical source of all things chocolate. A subtle euphoria gently washed over me, awakening my mind & enlivening me from within. I quickly realized that the “chocolate” I’d had most of my life was so over-processed and diluted with refined sugar & milk that it barely resembled the original food crop it was derived from. A few months later, I quit my job to travel the world in search of the perfect cacao bean, and to apprentice with any teacher who would share their skills with me. I became inspired to create a new style of chocolate, one that synthesized classical European technology, modern nutritional research, and the ethereal aspects of cacao familiar to the ancient Maya & Aztec. I founded Endorfin several years and hundreds of recipes later, to reintroduce cacao to the modern world as the highly nutritive, uplifting ‘food of the gods’ that it once was."
But wait, there's more. It's not enough to just feel one with your cacao bean, study the plants, and hope that magic happens. There's a lot of work, and a lot of focus. The result is obvious in Endorfin's statement about their ingredients:
"All of our organic vegan chocolate bars are crafted with care & integrity in Oakland, California using ethically traded, unroasted heirloom cacao, coconut mylk, and coconut sugar (a low-glycemic whole food sweetener). We are committed to making pure, wholesome chocolate with real ingredients, which means every bar we produce is approved for vegan, paleo, and/or whole foods diets. All of our chocolate bars are dairy free, soy free, gluten free, agave free, GMO free, and never contain refined sugar. Additionally, we strive to make the earth a better place one chocolate bar at a time, and are committed to utilizing plant-based biofilms, vegetable-based inks, and compostable/recyclable materials for 100% of our packaging."
Brian's quest for amazing superfoods might have reached a recent pinnacle with chocolate making, but his ethnobotany is the guiding foundation behind everything he does. Hear about their latest feats and adventures on their feed, or their Facebook page.
Here's their aim when making chocolate, "We formulate each of our recipes from scratch using the highest quality cacao we can find, employing just the right amount of whole food sweeteners, spices, & essential oils to let the brilliance of the ingredients speak for themselves. We have chosen not to roast our cacao beans, which allows us to deliver the maximum range of flavor & antioxidants possible with every bar we make. We never adulterate or dilute our products with anything that would cheapen or minimize the vitality-promoting aspects inherent to our unique style of processing, hence the lack of any dairy, soy, or refined sugar in anything we create. In essence, our products unite our old school purist ethos with modern technology & craftsmanship, resulting in a timeless picture of indulgence that is intrinsically sustainable and nourishing to the soul."
Honestly, that's up to you. This is a rich and sweet and wholly ethical piece of chocolate. But it's not a super high percentage cacao wedge meant to drive up your tolerance for limited sugar. This bar is sweet in a way that will bring over your Paleo-reluctant relatives, hoping to not give up their conventional dark chocolate. It's the bar that changes hearts and minds. How about that for a side benefit?
Well, yes, true. But you don't really want it to say Milk if there is no dairy involved - that just confuses the heck out of folks. So with the sweet creaminess of coconut milk included in the bar, let's just agree on mylk. Good, that's settled.