Chocolate in Hawaii
Is Hawaii "known" for any special varieties of chocolate? I'm looking for something uniquely Hawaiian, especially dark chocolate. The woman at the front desk of the hotel recommended Hawaiian Host, but after seeing it in every ABC store, I'm skeptical.
I'm in Waikiki, if that matters...
Not really known for any particular chocolate, that I know of. On a recent trip to Maui I picked up some "Wow Wee" bars with local chocolate and ingredients. They are decent and fun. My fav chocolate store on Oahu is the Honolulu Chocolate Factory in Ward Center, but there's nothing partilarly local about it as far as I know, but they are fabulous. Other than that, you could probably find some chocolate mochi...
If you come to Kauai, you could visit the Steelgrass Chocolate Farm.
They offer tours and obviously chocolate: http://www.steelgrass.org/chocolate/i...
I have heard that the tour might not be worth the price, but definitely visit the shop.
Also, in the Port Allen shopping center (go down past Mcdonald's, towards the pier) you can visit the Kauai Chocolate store. They make chocolate opihi candy (they don't have anything to do with real opihi) that are REALLY good.
99.99% of the chocolates sold here are not "Hawaiian" chocolate. It has only been within the last decade that any commercial chocolate has been grown here, and the only place I have seen it sold is at the KCC farmer's market on Saturday morning.
Some appears to be available on line (http://www.maliekai.com/) is an example. Perhaps if you get in touch with them, they can give you more information.
Hawaiian Host and Mauna Loa are the two best known "Hawaiian Candies", availiable at all ABC stores, Longs/CVS, K-mart, and Wal-Mart, as well as most supermarkets. As far as chocolate goes, its not bad, but the chocolate is mainly a macadamia delivery vehicle.
Big Island Candies are seen by many as a premium product, check out their website as well. http://www.bigislandcandies.com/
edit/add: honolulu chocolate company are good people too.
Big Island Candies is where it's at! Chocolate-dipped mac nut shortbread to die for. The new lemon dipped and mint dipped are phenomenal.
Sometimes we skip breakfast and just go to Big Island Candies instead. You are given samples and coffee the second you walk in the door.
They also carry some unusual treats like chocolate dipped ika (cuttlefish).
A small amount of cocoa is grown on Oahu's North Shore by Dole, who are working a bit to maintain the agricultural heritage of their former sugar and pineapple plantations. Like the coffee they grow, they leave the processing to others -- the cocoa is processed by Guitard, the excellent chocolate maker in South San Francisco that until very recently sold only to the trade. (They have killer chocolate chips, found them at Safeway, making the best chocolate chip cookies in the history of the planet.)
Anyway, Dole sends all the cocoa to Guitard but the only way to get the 100 percent Oahu chocolate is from them at the Dole Plantation between Waipahau and Waialua. It is pricey, and you have to look closely for the real deal local stuff ($5 for a small box with five small bars). It has a distinct coffee note in it, no coffee is added so it must see some regional characteristic. Guitard wouldn't touch the stuff, even for processing, if it wasn't good quality. I don't know, and Dole won't say, what happens to the rest of the chocolate that they don't sell under their label.
An outfit called Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate makes some good items and there is a chocolate shop (or there was) in the strip mall/shopping center on Ala Moana where Borders, Kua Aina et al are located, across the street from Pier One.
There are a number of small cocoa growers on the Big Island, in Kona near a some of the coffee growers, but not sure where/who processes it.
Processing cocoa into chocolate is a long and involved process and one wonders how the Aztecs/Mayans figured it out.
I cannot believe none of you people recommended the Chocolate Gecko in Haleiwa! The owner is a semi-retired local who makes a large majority of her product on an antique stove in the back of the store. Can't get much more local than that. She supplements her own stuff with imports from all over the island and beyond. The lady has an impeccable taste for exotic flavors and quality ingredients. Getting a box of Hawaiian Host over Chocolate Gecko stuff would be a crime!
I've never heard of it, but the one review I could find (on CitySesarch) was less than complimentary. The post was from May of this year, and apparently a change in ownership has not been for the better.
If you have more recent or different information, would love to know about it.
To the best of my knowledge she didn't use local cocoa (Oahu) because it isn't available, it all goes to Guitard Chocolate on the Mainland (according to the manager of the Waialua cocoa plantation.) There's a big difference between making chocolate candies and making the chocolate itself. Don't know if they sourced any chocolate from the Big Island, which is quite pricey, more than some *single plantation* stuff from established spots in South America.