I suppose Ohio isn’t much known for its chocolate—other than that key ingredient in Game Day Buckeyes—but that’s all starting to change thanks to four new companies getting in the game:
Dan Hankle’s tale traces back to the subtropical mountains of Puerto Rico. In 2007, he purchased a few acres of land in hopes of retiring and leaving behind his snow shoveling days in Ohio. During one of his early visits to his future Caribbean home, Hankle took his first bite of raw cacao bean, and the way he thought about chocolate was forever changed. Upon returning to the U.S., he began a period of extensive experimenting and ultimately decided to transform his chocolate hobby into something more. Hankle started fincaChocolate with the mission of producing small batch, bean-to-bar, responsibly made chocolate. Today, he is busy planting and nurturing cacao trees on his property in hopes that one day his own beans will be turned into fincaChocolate bars. Buy: the Goat’s Milk Chocolate bar—created for Hankle’s lactose intolerant friends, but its unique flavor is something everyone can enjoy.
Founder Stacy Peters confessed that although she loves a nibble of dark chocolate, she surprisingly doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. Four years prior to launching her first chocolate enterprise, O’Chocolate, Peters was making truffles in the kitchen of an organic bakery where she worked. This self-taught chocolatier doesn’t come from a formal culinary background, so she engrossed herself in learning the science behind the food, and although it’s hard to believe when you taste her creations today, she overcame a number of failed attempts while perfecting her craft. This spring Peters is hitting the road as she unveils the next phase in her chocolate endeavors —Petru, a food truck offering a menu that will showcase her decadent truffles, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate bars, and homemade caramels. Buy: the Ohio bar—dark chocolate with vanilla-infused sea salt.
Food allergies are as common as spotting a Central Ohioan wearing scarlet and grey, so imagine for a moment that you have a sensitivity to off-the-shelf chocolate. Instead of crying over a bowl of melty morsels, Mike Condo set off to make his own unprocessed bars, sans all the unpronounceable ingredients and soy additives. His company, Ohiyo Chocolate, was conceived last fall and is already garnering a lot of attention in a short period of time. With plans to increase his production capabilities by moving into a food incubator kitchen and infuse his bars with more locally sourced ingredients, Mike’s future surely looks sweet. Buy: the 70 percent Dark with Espresso bar—Jamaican cocoa beans blended with locally roasted coffee from rōst.
A mechanical engineer who traveled the globe selling jet engines, Paul Picton took advantage of his time on the road, spending years collecting the world’s best chocolates. After Picton moved on from the sales position that enabled the building of his confectionary stockpile, his wife Marlene noticed the supply was slowly dwindling. Instead of a panicked response to this potential pantry emergency, the duo chose to start making their own bean-to-bar, small-batch, single-origin chocolate using quality organic ingredients. Visit their space in the Findlay Market in downtown Cincinnati where you can observe their beautifully packaged bars being made right in front of your eyes. Buy: the Fahrenheit 513 bar—70 percent dark chocolate made with Peruvian cocoa beans and blended with chilies and spices, and the winner of a 2015 Good Food Award.