As the only U.S. state with the tropical conditions to cultivate cacao, Hawaii has been producing the sweet-yielding bean since the 1850s. In recent years the demand has raised chocolate production in the 50th State, bringing with it a new breed of chocolatiers focused on small-batch, sustainable processes. Central to the movement is Malie Kai Chocolates, which makes an assortment of limited-quantity bars on the North Shore of Oahu, handling each step of production from harvest to processing. The region’s richly fertile soil yields only a small quantity of cacao, making its single-estate chocolates some of the rarest in the world.
With a stock that’s constantly shifting to account for the seasonal availability of ingredients, Malie Kai Chocolates currently offers seven different bars, ranging from traditional dark chocolate to rich coffee-oriented bars with a bit of a kick. Our favorite so far has been the Kona espresso bar, with a rich coffee taste that blends nicely with the chocolate’s native, fruity flavor. Another standout is the limited-edition Cocoa with Nibs bar, made with fermented cacao pods dried in the Hawiian sun for a nice texture and added hint of flavor.
Although mostly only available in brick and mortar stores in Hawaii, some Malie Kai products can be found online through Hawaiian Bath and Body and in Japan at Hawaiian Host Japan.