“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Who doesn’t remember that famous quote from the movie Forrest Gump? I know he is referring to life, but why choose any box of chocolates? Why not choose chocolate from Cocoa Parlor? One thing you can be sure of with Cocoa Parlor’s chocolates is that you are getting high quality, organic, delectable chocolate made from fairly-traded cacao beans. For all of us health-conscious chocoholics who want to indulge, Cocoa Parlor has some of the best chocolate around, and it is locally made.
Located in Laguna Niguel, entering this small organic chocolate shop is like stepping into a European chocolatier that has a SoCal flair. The walls are filled with rows of handmade artisanal chocolate bars with names like Strawberry Mermaid, (organic dried strawberries), Surfer Girl (pineapple and coconut), Cowboy Up (roasted almonds & salt) and Night Train, which is my favorite, containing 75% cacao with cacao nibs. If you want a real intense chocolate experience then you must try Garden of Eden; 100% cacao with no sweetener, just a sprinkling of Zante currants. There are 16 total varieties of chocolate bars to choose from ranging from 35% to 100% cacao.
You can buy Cocoa Parlor chocolate bars at Whole Foods, Mother’s Market and Bristol Farms, but only in the shop can you find their exquisite truffles, organic coffee and tea, granola, bulk chocolate and other specialty items. I love to support local businesses so I keep a supply of their chocolates on hand for gifts, guests and for when the chocolate mood strikes.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and if you want to score some points with your sweetie, this is the place to go. For your Valentine, hand-pick some of their delicious and exotic truffles such as Black Seed Curry, Caramel de Oaxaca or Chili Lime. Some of the local favorites are the Vegan Peanut Butter and the Espresso Truffle. The truffles are made with fresh ingredients and have about a 5-day shelf life. If truffles are not what you’re looking for, try a box of the popular Brazilian Date Night chocolates. These are made with chopped organic dates and Brazil nuts covered in rich dark chocolate all wrapped in a beautiful package. With so many things to choose from you won’t go home empty handed.
When local, organic strawberries are in season at South Coast Farms, make sure to visit Cocoa Parlor for the chocolate covered strawberries. They should be in by Valentine’s Day. They won’t use any other strawberries, so when the farm runs out of the strawberries, so do the chocolate covered strawberries at Cocoa Parlor.
Tonic Scene is the sister brand to Cocoa Parlor and contains only raw, organic chocolate in exciting flavors like Apricot Ginger and Jungle Peanut. You can also find bulk chocolate in varying cacao percentages if you make your own chocolate confections. I use their chocolate to make my favorite nutty bark and coconut almond cups.
I have enjoyed chocolate for years, and since I have cleaned up my diet, I won’t eat just any chocolate. When I indulge, it is dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cacao that is organic and fairly traded. The higher the percentage of cacao, the higher the health benefits due to the flavanols. Also, higher concentrations of cacao often have less sugar. With Cocoa Parlor chocolates they have all these bases covered. Even though you can find their chocolate bars in the stores listed above, their store is worth a visit. Take home some of their creative combinations of delicious truffles or other heavenly confections… a few for you, a few for your Valentine.