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Review and Giveaway: Cocoa Camino Chocolate


As an avowed chocaholic, I can’t help but notice when there’s a new nib in town.  When I first started eating along NAG guidelines about ten years ago, there weren’t too many organic, fair trade chocolate companies around.  I remember how my naturopath suggested the “new” 70% cocoa bars by Lindt (which were, it’s true, quite yummy).  But these days, there’s a plethora of chocolate companies selling delicious, ethical treats.  How to choose?

One such company is Cocoa Camino. Based in the Ottawa-Gatineau region of Ontario,  Cocoa Camino is part of La Siembra Cooperative, which was launched in 1999.  To read more about their humble beginnings and their incredible, ethical business model, its seven guiding principles, and award-winning innovative structure, click here.

Well, trading fairly and good business models may all be well and good, but what does it taste like? 

I confess, I’ve eaten my fair (trade) share of Cocoa Camino chocolate bars over the years.    With flavors like matcha green tea (a new love of mine!), caramel crunch, orange (photo courtesy of Cocoa Camino, at left) or chili & spice (chili with cinnamon and ginger), the bars offer a deep semisweet or bittersweet base with some very alluring add-ins.  Ah, yes, back in the days when I consumed chocolate bars, I enjoyed these immensely. I also had the opportunity to use some Cocoa Camino cocoa powder and chocolate chips back in September, when I cooked up some sweet treats for the Vegetarian Food Fair.  I made chocolate macaroons and butterscotch blondies, both of which were enhanced by the blissful addition of high quality cacao.

More recenlty, I spoke as a panelist at a Women’s Culinary Network event.  It turned out that Cocoa Camino reps were at the event as well, introducing their brand-new baking line:  200g (about 3/4 pound) boxes of unsweetened and semisweet chocolate, bags of natural sugars, tins of cocoa powder, and packages of semisweet chocolate chips.  I stood in a daze  before the table heaving with samples, cursing the ACD for preventing me from trying even one teeny little square.

“Would you like a sample?” the rep inquired.

“Sorry, I’m not allowed anything with sugar in it,” I sniffed.

“Well, how about a piece of the unsweetened baking chocolate? I can assure you, it’s nothing like those squares you buy in the supermarket.” She persisted, “I think you’ll be surprised at how good it is.” 

What did I have to lose?  I took a bite.  It was rich. It was dark. It melted slowly and languidly and easily on the tongue.  And–how odd!–it didn’t seem to have a bitter taste at all.  The only sensation that that lingered was deep, smooth, intense chocolate. Was it my sugar-deprived taste buds deceiving me?  Perhaps.  But I knew immediately that this was going to be one of my all-time favorite chocolates, based on that texture alone.

And guess what?  I ended up bringing a box of that unsweetened chocolate home with me, and even used it in a few delectable recipes, from truffles to ACD-friendly fudge to marble cake

[A little slice of marbled heaven]

And now, I’d love for you to try out these wonderful products, too!

Note: Prize Number One is for Canada only; Prize Number Two is worldwide!

Prize Number One:

Cocoa Camino has generously donated a “Cuisine Camino” chocolate and baking package like the one at the top of this post to a lucky reader of Diet, Dessert and Dogs! 

Here’s what you’ll get:

  • A box of the new unsweetened baking chocolate
  • A box of semisweet baking chocolate
  • A bag of semisweet chocolate chips
  • A cannister of cocoa
  • A bag of the new unrefined cane sugar (similar to Sucanat)

Think of all the amazing goodies you could bake up with these ingredients!

Because Cocoa Camino products are available only in Canada, however, the company will ship the package to a Canadian reader only.  Sorry!

BUT. . .

Prize Number Two:

I love Cocoa Camino products so much that I’m going to send one of the flavored chocolate bars out to a second reader–and anyone can win this prize, worldwide! 

[Update, January 2010:  Shannon at Cocoa Camino tells me that Equal Exchange in the US is a partner with their company, and carries a line of chocolates very similar to the Cocoa Camino brand (also Fair Trade and organic).  Since they collaborate on ingredients sourcing and recipe development, you’ll find equal taste and quality in the Equal Exchange line of products in the US!]

To enter to win either prize, see below.

To Enter:

The giveaway will run until Monday, January 4th, 2010.  Just leave a comment at the end of this post telling me your favorite use for chocolate (cooking or eating, that is) 😉  or which flavor of chocolate bar you’d choose from the Cocoa Camino selection.  Be sure to specify if you live in Canada or elsewhere (only Canadian residents will be eligible for the baking package; everyone else can win the flavored chocolate bar).

For extra entries (one each), you can tweet, post on Facebook, or post on your blog about the giveaway, or send out an email to an interested party (and copy me at dietdessertdogs AT gmail DOT com).  Then, please come back here and leave another comment letting me know each time you’ve done so, so that the entries can be tabulated fairly. 

I’ll choose two winners at random after midnight on January 4th and will announce them here the next day.  Good luck, all! 🙂


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