Giving up ketchup, specialty Starbucks drinks, and even Sriracha may be doable, but chocolate? That can take superhuman willpower—especially, say, at work around 4 p.m., after dinner, when you have your period.... Okay, anytime really.
While it's awesome that big food brands have noticed the demand for sweet treats that won't spike your blood sugar, a small-batch operation based out of Brooklyn, New York has already mastered crafting a chocolate bar that not only tastes delicious and has no added sugar, but also uses adaptogenic herbs as the core ingredients: Freaky Health Chocolate.
"When I make the bars, I come up with the function first and work backwards, figuring out what will work well together and also taste good."
Founder and chef Karolina Palmer considers herself an alchemist just as much of as a chocolatier. Her bars are all formulated specifically with health-boosting benefits in mind (think high-grade ingredients like ashwagandha, maca, reishi, and goji berries). Good luck finding something that even comes close in the candy aisle.
"When I make the bars, I come up with the function first and work backwards, figuring out what will work well together and also taste good," Palmer says.
Here, she gives more insight into her delicious sweet treats, plus reveals what her next chocolate bar will be. Spoiler alert: you'll want to keep 'em on your bedside table.
Keep reading for the low-down on adaptogenic, wellness-forward chocolate line, Freaky Chocolate.
An accidental enterprise
It was never Palmer's intention to create a chocolate line. "I was more of a traditional chef and didn't mess around too much with desserts, but when my friend threw a dinner party, I decided to bring something different," she says. She showed up with a batch of chocolate, made with cacao, cacao butter, Himalayan salt, and mulberries. And it turned out to be the hit of the party.
"For weeks and weeks after, people were asking me to make more chocolate," Palmer says. Finally, she gave in. Before too long, she was selling them at Gingersnaps Organics and collaborating with CAP Beauty on a specialty bar.
Demand has since spiked in a big way, and Palmer is in talks to get her bars on the shelves of a major retailer. "I never ever expected this to happen, but I'm glad it did," she says.
The not-so secret sweetener
While most brands turn to stevia—and increasingly monk fruit—to use as a sugar substitute, Palmer landed on something else entirely that became the core sweetener in her line: mulberries. "A lot of people were telling me that they were super sensitive to stevia, so I was doing research and came across a random blog that said you could sweeten chocolate with dried fruit," she says. Mulberries were already on her mind since they are high in antioxidants, which was important since she specifically wanted to create a "superfood chocolate bar."
"It was the first one that I tried and it works really well," she says. "The cacao notes that I'm using have a lot of berry undertones and the mulberries have such a subtle berry flavor, so they work really well together." The end result is a slightly bitter taste that's much more comparable to a rich, dark chocolate bar than an overly sweet milk chocolate one, with six grams of sugar per bar. (To compare, most candy bars average 23 grams a bar.)
"It's super low-glycemic and it's not a processed sugar," Palmer says. "I'm actually taking whole mulberries, drying them, and basically grinding them up into a sugar myself."
Going high vibe
Palmer turned to Sun Potion for her adaptogenic ingredients, after using them in her homemade teas. "I researched different brands and was really impressed with how they sourced everything and the quality they were bringing," she says.
With an array of Sun Potion in her arsenal, Palmer has formulated three bars (besides her CAP bar): Energy (made with maca, chlorella, and goji berries), Immunity (with reishi, ashwagandha, and chaga), and Beauty (with rose petals, ho shou wu, and tocos—all of which are anti-aging agents and help rejuvenate hair and skin).
But adding adaptogens to a chocolate bar is more than just a marketing ploy. "Cacao is such a great vehicle for all these herbs because cacao butter naturally has fat in it—so when it binds to the herbs it melds together really well and helps with absorption in the body," Palmer says.
The next Freaky Chocolate bar will literally bring you sweet dreams
Later this year, Palmer will release her fifth Freaky Chocolate product, and this one might be the most beneficial of all: Her Dream bar is being being designed to inspire better sleep.
She's playing around with cacao butter instead of traditional cacao, to make a white chocolate bar that won't give you such a buzz that you can't fall asleep. (Yes, that square of dark chocolate you enjoy after dinner could be to blame for your subpar bed habits.)
Although she's still playing around with the final herbs, she's pulling together ones that will inspire lucid dreaming. Talk about sweet dreams.
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