After hearing and briefly meeting the chocolate makers behind Puna Chocolate during the D.C. Chocolate Festival, I had to order some of their bars. I didn’t have time to purchase any in person, so I placed a couple of orders for their half-size bars online.
Despite being based out of Wauconda, IL, Puna Chocolate owns a cacao farm in Puna, Hawaii. As mentioned on the back of their plain 70% bar, Puna first planted cacao in the Puna District in 2012. Also mentioned on the packaging is the reason why Hawaii is the only state where cacao can both grow and produce cacao is due to the volcanic soil and tropical climate. Proceeds go toward supporting Hawaiian agriculture.
I’m going to start with tasting Puna’s plain 70% dark chocolate. The scent was wonderful and seemed to be a mixture of fruity/berry and nutty. The flavor exploded in my mouth of fruitiness and nuttiness. While I’m tasting, the screen door is open and I’m listening to the rain fall outside. My memories took me back to the time when I was visiting a rural part of Dominican Republic and I was thinking of the wonderful smell of being surrounded by tropical trees and trying local sweet fruit. I loved this bar!
The cashews and Hawaiian sea salt bar smelled like the plain 70% bar but it was chomp-friendly with delicious cashews and plenty of sea salt. Besides the cashews the sea salt gave a light crunchy texture. It’s a good snacking bar combining two healthy things: nuts and chocolate 🙂
See the pictures above for the pepper and spice ingredients as well as the interesting description for the The Kilauea Volcano Style bar. I could smell and taste the spice medley. It took a little bit of time but eventually my mouth was on fire. The crunchy nibs were helpful in distracting me from the burn. It’s not for the weak of heart but it’s also not too hot. At the end I experienced not just the heat but I could taste the Aleppo pepper, which was nice.
The back of the packaging says, “Fresh golden Macadamia Nuts are roasted to a gentle nutty crunch and combined with crispy coconut flakes for a sweet and salty pairing.” Coconut was forefront in scent and flavor but I could taste macadamia in the background. I find coconut to be relatively savory and combined with the savory roasted macadamia nuts, the sweet and salty combo had more of a subtle saltiness. This was still a delicious combination!
I love coffee + chocolate combinations! Also my brother has visited Kona multiple times and loves Kona coffee, so this made me think of him. The bar had a light fruity scent but the flavor was coffee, nibby (from the nibs), and fruity. Since I’m trying this on a rainy day this bar helped me wake up. It was like consuming a cup of cold brew coffee with a fruity aftertaste. I liked this bar!
The back of the Horchata bar says that this dark milk bar contains less sugar than the 70% dark bar and the dairy used is sourced from the midwest. The flavor was chocolaty with milk creaminess and a touch of cinnamon. The texture of the crispy rice was light. The spiciness of this bar was minimal so it’s perfect for those who have a low spice tolerance but enjoy a sweeter chocolate bar. I could easily eat this bar in one sitting, but I’ve promised to share this with a fellow chocoholic.
The scent of rose and pistachio from the Rose Cardamom Pistachio bar had a calming affect. The rose was the most obvious flavor. I could taste the cardamom as well, which was never overpowering. The pistachio gave a nice light, crunchy texture. A great bar for winding down from a busy day!
To make this Honey Wine Berry bar, Puna let raspberries soak in wine then dried and pressed them into the chocolate. I could smell the raspberries and sweetness of honey. Right away I was in love with this bar! The sweetness of the honey and chocolate nicely balanced out the touch of tartness from the wine raspberries. I could definitely see myself enjoying a full sized version of this bar.
Out of the bars I tried, my top favorites are the Honey Wine Berry, 70% plain, Kona Coffee with Nibs, and Rose Cardamom Pistachio. The Honey Wine Berry might be my number one favorite out of the ones I just listed.
Puna Chocolate: Cacao grown in Hawaii, Bars made in Wauconda, IL
These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.