I’m back to my reviews baby and I love it! Sometimes taking a break from recipe development can help to be incredibly awe inspiring and almost cleansing. I guess sometimes people get writer’s block, well I get recipe block from time to time and it is super lovely to just indulge in something that has been lovingly made by another human being that isn’t me!
Quite a while back I was contacted by Meg from Raw Halo, in fact it was a little before the launch of her stunning range of raw chocolates and superfoods, I absolutely jumped at the opportunity to sample her bars because as you all know I am like the biggest raw chocolate addict ever. Meg is a true entrepreneur and at the mere age of 26 too. She left her career in corporate HR behind to launch her own raw chocolate business after adopting a clean eating lifestyle, giving up refined sugars altogether including, yes – even fruit! Meg reaped the benefits of her clean eating ways but soon began to feel sad at the thought of never eating another chocolate bar again. That’s when Raw Halo was born.
Raw Halo’s ‘Mylk’ bars claim to have half the amount of natural sugars that most raw chocolate bars contain – even though they too use coconut sugar and lucuma, both of which are low GI.
What I think is great about Raw Halo is that not only are their bars organic and raw but they are Vegan except for the Mylk + Salted Caramel (which contains raw dairy), grain-free, lactose free, and suitable for coeliacs and vegetarians. Oh and they are of course GM free. They are sadly however, not suitable for nut allergy sufferers.
So before you can fully appreciate chocolate you need to learn a little bit about it.
Nothing is better than just cracking open a fresh bar of NEW raw chocolate that you have never tasted before. I have to admit whenever I bite into my 90% Lindt bar I often curse at it for not being raw, and eventually just end up making my own bars. Every chocolate bar you will ever taste in your lifetime will be different from the other. Much like coffee it all depends upon the beans that are used.
There are three types of cocoa bean used in chocolate production;
- Criollo – This is a reddish coloured, highly aromatic bean with varying notes of citrus, caramel, nuts, red fruits, tobacco, and vanilla. The Criollo tree is becoming a pretty rare thing these days and when you get to taste a Criollo bar you will be in heaven. The Criollo bean is the finest of all the cocoa beans, it’s basically the Arabica of the cocoa world.
- Forastero – Forastero beans are the ones used in pretty much every chocolate bar in the world. The pods are yellow to orange in colour and the beans have a much less refined flavour, they aren’t very aromatic. The beans tend to be bitter, and are sharper in flavour than those of the Criollo. The Forastero tree can be found worldwide and is cultivated en masse to meet the demands of today’s cocoa production due to it’s high bean yield and fast maturing cocoa pods.
- Trinitario – Trinitario beans are basically a hybrid between Criollo and Forastero trees. Trinitario beans tend to be more earthy and fruity in flavour than Criollo but still not as aromatic, they are however a finer quality bean than that of the Forastero.
Raw Halo uses ethically sourced organic cacao beans straight from the Criollo trees of small farms in Peru, and you can really tell. The depth of flavour is just immense in these bars I won’t lie.
Raw chocolate boasts a whole host of health benefits; it improves digestion, enhances libido, improves cardiovascular function, is packed full of antioxidants that neutralise free radicals, and contains a variety of vitamins and minerals including magnesium, potassium and iron.
To keep their bars in a raw state Raw Halo only minimally heats their chocolate to temperatures of less than 42 degrees, this helps to reduce any damage to the nutrients and antioxidants contained within the cacao. All of the bars are stone ground for a much smoother texture which means that the chocolate melts in your mouth perfectly.
You will find inulin in the ingredients list of the full range of Raw Halo’s ‘Mylk’ bars, not used as a low GI sweetener or probiotic, but rather as a way of increasing the viscosity of the chocolate and giving it a more ‘milk’ chocolate like appearance. The inulin is sourced from Mexico and from pure chicory root.
So before I talk about the beautiful packaging and design I just have to tell you all about the rich bodied flavour of these beautiful bars!
Yup I have started with this one because I am in love with dark chocolate. For a 76% cocoa solids minimum the depth of darkness is just sublime with a nutty but slightly fruity flavour, it is very nice and just a little bitter. If you don’t like dark chocolate because you find the bitterness too much I think that you will warm to this. I am very impressed with this bar but as usual I sooo want it to be even darker. The texture was great – smooth and melts in your mouth slowly. You could chew this one down or suck on it, your choice but don’t worry if you do opt for munching it you won’t miss out on too much of the flavour.
Ingredients: Raw cacao butter*, raw cacao powder*, coconut sugar*. *Certified organic ingredients. Cocoa solids 76% minimum.
Dark + Sour Cherry and Almond
A little bit of a play on the good old British Cherry Bakewell. Smooth and creamy dark chocolate with a nice earthy bitterness, complemented by the subtlety of the almond extract. It’s not too sweet and when you hit the cherry it is gorgeously sour and chewy. Even though the chocolate bar is very thin it still melts in your mouth forever. The best way to eat this is to suck on a piece as you get so many depths of flavour coming through that it really would be a shame to miss them all. The first taste you notice is a little sourness on the tongue before bursting into the creamy bitter dark chocolate. Yums! I loved this one.
Ingredients: Raw cacao butter*, raw cacao powder*, coconut sugar*, dried sour cherries* (11%), pure almond nut extract* (0.2%). *Certified organic ingredients. Cocoa solids 67% minimum.
Mylk + Pink Himalayan Salt
So why ‘mlyk’ you all ask – in the raw Vegan chocolate world you simply cannot call a milk chocolate bar well… a milk chocolate bar. You’re actually not allowed! Raw Halo uses cashew nuts in its ‘mylk’ chocolate to create that creaminess that you would get from dairy. I often add cashew butter to my raw chocolates, especially when making white chocolate!
So, again you have to suck on this chocolate or else you will miss out on some great flavours. The first taste is that of a strong but not cloying saltiness but the intense creaminess of the mylk chocolate steadily creeps through, you then taste the subtlety of the cashew nuts followed by a hint of toffee like lucuma. The salting in this bar is beautifully done, there are little tiny grains (smaller than sand) that burst with saltiness every now and then as well as an overall taste of the Himalayan pink salt. This melts perfectly in your mouth and is incredibly smooth.
Ingredients: Raw cacao butter*, coconut sugar*, raw cacao powder*, cashew nuts* (9%), lucuma powder*, inulin powder*, vanilla powder*, pink Himalayan crystal salt (0.6%). *Certified organic ingredients. Cocoa solids 64% minimum.
Mylk + Salted Caramel
This bar was the bar I was most excited about trying because it contains RAW DAIRY!!! That’s right the caramel flavour is extracted from raw dairy cream. I think that this is genius. If you’re strict Paleo then this one is not for you, again if you’re Vegan it’s a no go, if you’re lactose intolerant don’t worry though as this bar contains no lactose! If you’re Paleo 2.0/primal like me then this is the bar for you. This bar has a beautifully creamy cashew flavour coupled with a gentle caramel taste. The saltiness doesn’t initially come through but it is very similar to the Mylk + Pink Himalayan Salt bar. The caramel flavour becomes more intense but not as you eat it I guess as more of an after taste. This bar was lovely and it’s really innovative but I wanted the caramel flavour to come through so much more than it did.
Ingredients: Raw cacao butter*, coconut sugar*, raw cacao powder*, cashew nuts* (10%), lucuma powder*, inulin powder*, vanilla powder*, pink Himalayan crystal salt (0.6%), pure caramel extract* (from raw dairy cream 0.2%). *Certified organic ingredients. Cocoa solids 64% minimum.
The packaging and overall design of the brand is just impeccable. It’s modern, it’s classy, it’s elegant, and it screams ‘indulgent diva’ all over (in a good way). My only worry is that the logo itself is too subtle to see on a shelf in the shops or even an advert for that matter. Don’t get me wrong though I really loved the packaging, it attracted me to the product a lot because it almost looks like it belongs in a display case but that’s the problem – it’s almost too elegant to the point that it just isn’t bold enough. The branding definitely appeals more to a female market than male but the chocolate certainly does not so please don’t be fooled!
All of the bars are lovingly hand wrapped – the outer paper wrappers are super colourful and almost act like little slip cases to hold the yummy foil wrapped chocolate bars. The bars are then sealed with a thick, textured, paper sticker toting the Raw Halo logo, folded over the top, and sealed at the back. The chocolate itself is wrapped in food grade, wax paper-backed, rose gold foil – this is where the indulgent touch definitely comes in.
The outer paper wrapper is recyclable, as is the food grade wax paper backed foil so definitely scores some Brownie points from me for being super green! Love it!
The bars weigh in at around 32g, although I think that one may well be 33g, and they cost £3.50. This is the priciest bar that I have seen in the raw chocolate world bar Pacari which costs the same but the bars weigh around 50g. I would put the cost down to the high quality beans and ingredients that are being used, as well as the nice packaging. So although it may seem quite dear please do bear in mind that Raw Halo are a brand new venture and with new businesses are large set up costs and smaller batches of products are being made and sold. The larger the amount of product you buy the cheaper it gets (same goes for manufacturing) so I should imagine as the brand grows, and as does it’s wholesale market, these prices may come down somewhat.
As you can probably tell I really enjoyed these wonderful bars, in fact I was pretty reluctant to share it with the rest of the family but I kinda had to because that’s what mums do. There are 5 other bars in the range that I think I might have to purchase at some point:
- Pure Mylk
- Mylk + Crispies Bar (the crispies are made from dehydrated sprouted buckwheat so totally Paleo!)
- Mylk + Goji Berry and Vanilla Bar
- Dark + Nibs
- Dark + Sweet Orange
I would love to see Raw Halo grow as a brand and I think it’s great to see more artisan brands popping up every year that support those who follow a clean living, Paleo, or Vegan lifestyle. The chocolate is of great quality, the flavour combinations are unique and you can just see the amount of hard work and love that has been put into the brand as much as the bars. I would love to see the range expand as time goes on and with the innovative thinking and energy that Meg possesses I can only imagine success is on the horizon for Raw Halo. Meg thank you once again for my wonderful chocolate and good luck with the future!
If you’d like to follow Meg and all of her Raw Halo adventures then check out the links below: