Looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your favorite Jewish foodie? Israeli chocolate has all the answers: timeless Middle Eastern herbs, dried fruits, citrus, and spices are finding their way into dark chocolate bars.
Mouthwatering stand-outs include Ika Chocolate’s Za’atar ganache, rosemary infused dark chocolate, and geranium truffles.
While the flavors might sound new, Jewish chocolate is not an entirely new concept. After cocoa beans arrived in Spain in the 1490s, the Jewish community were among Europe’s first cocoa traders and chocolatiers. By the eighteenth century, according to D. Prinz, author of Jews on the Chocolate Trail: Stories of Jews and Cacao, Jews across Europe were considered specialists in chocolate making. Some even credit Jews with bringing chocolate to France!
Today, Israel’s chocolatiers, much like the driven and locally-inspired chefs of Israel, are putting both sustainability and rich, local flavors at the forefront. Holy Cacao, one of Israel’s only bean-to-bar producers, grows their own cacao beans in Peru. According to the Times of Israel, chocolatier Jo Zander explains, “We’re always searching, looking for cacao bean varietals with the best flavors, and finding farmers who care as much as we do.”
The international community of chocolate makers are taking note: Tel Aviv’s chocolatier Ika Cohen’s Za’atar Ganache won two gold medals at the International Chocolate World Final in Italy. Other Ika Chocolate favorites include lemon, black pepper, honey, cardamom, and pistachio marzipan. No food better represents Israel’s melting pot of Middle Eastern and european flavors quite like chocolate!
The third annual Shokoland chocolate festival, a three-day celebration in Tel Aviv on February 12-14, brings this chocolate renaissance to the forefront.
Can’t make it to Shokoland this weekend? We can’t either. Have a chocolate fest of your own with these Israeli favorites:
Max Brenner: Israel’s most well-known chocolate shop with several large cities across the US
Ika Chocolate: order online from Tel-Aviv’s award-winning chocolate shop
Holy Cacao: order online from Israel’s only bean-to-bar chocolatier