Fine & Raw Chocolate out of Brooklyn subverts a lot of what we might assume about high-end chocolatiers, the first being a healthy dose of humor. You will notice upon visiting their website that their mission statement reads “To save the world through laughter and chocolate.” Having spoken with Daniel Sklaar of Fine & Raw, he was able to address why they appreciate that even a fine chocolate can address a cosmic humor, develop community, healthy innovation, and ultimately chocolate heresy.
With hardly a moment between greeting Daniel at his loft, now synonymous with Williamsburg creatives, I was treated to the innards of a Fine & Raw creation called the Almond Chunky. This nugget of subtle, nutty delight had yet to be covered in its chocolate shell. It was a mouthful of clay, chocolaty goodness that dissipated on my tongue and hinted in turns at the almond butter, coconut oil, agave nectar, and Himalayan salt used to create it. One of the many things I find so enticing about Fine & Raw’s chocolate is its unusual texture. This particular bar disintegrated as the coconut oil rose in temperature and turned from being a solid while refrigerated to liquid in my mouth. The salt remained crystalline and gave a satisfying crunch. The almond butter lent itself to the intense creaminess of the bar rather than the often times abrasive pebble present in a lot of nutty chocolates. The cacao itself held it all together and balanced the sweetness with wonderful, slightly bitter, earthy notes. Clearly having lost my cool at the hands of my first sample, Daniel took the lead and welcomed me to the birth place of Fine & Raw.
He playfully refers to the chocolate that continued to rock my world as “chocolate heresy.” The surprising creaminess makes it hard to believe that the two mortal enemies of chocolate apparently are water and heat. This information makes it all the more shocking that instead of traditional sweeteners Fine & Raw have opted for a few simple, healthy ingredients including heirloom cacao, Blue Agave Nectar, and coconut oil. No dairy and no additives. The relatively high water content of Blue Agave Nectar makes it a ludicrous–or at least insanely labor-intensive–substitute in the world of traditional chocolate making. Daniel and his rag tag chocolate crew must keep close watch of the water content of not only their ingredients, but also incoming cacao beans whose water content fluctuates every season. The temperatures hover at a point to marry the ingredients but never high enough to kill off delicate flavors or nutrients. It’s a labor of love informed by Daniel’s experience as a raw chef and his commitment to healthy, delicious indulgence.
Although this careful crafting has now moved to a larger space in Brooklyn, the WIlliamsburg loft continues to represent the community that inspired this unusual chocolate. In addition to Daniel’s experience as a raw chef he is quick to include the rotating crew of couch surfers, artists, foodies and friends who contribute to the aesthetic and ingredients of Fine & Raw. He points to the community that gathers at Brooklyn Flea every weekend and claims that is where the business “really gets to play.” Also, Fine & Raw Chocolate currently does not have its own retail space meaning their participation at Brooklyn Flea and their connection to many of the small retailers in Brooklyn and parts of Manhattan, as well as mail order is critical to the success of the business.
Having first discovered Fine & Raw Chocolate at the Brooklyn Flea, I would like to think that that is where they are at their best. If you don’t find yourself crossing over to Brooklyn anytime soon I highly encourage you to seek out this chocolate in other New York retailers listed on the Fine & Raw website. Or simply order yourself a smattering of chocolates right to your home. I think you will agree that Fine & Raw Chocolate amounts to a playful, inventive and above all sensuous chocolate that reflects the artisanal ethos found here in Brooklyn.
Fine & Raw Chocolate
151 Kent Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(by appointment only)