Bean-to-bar chocolate makers in Delaware balance taste and nutrition

Mhairi and Stuart Craig are originally from Scotland, but today they call the arts and crafts community of Arden, Delaware home.

Mhairi, a registered nurse, had always had an interest in the relationship between diet and health. Stuart, with a doctorate in biochemistry, had spent a career in food and nutrition science. Both were satisfied in their careers, but were looking for something to do as a hobby.

Along came chocolate-making and particularly, how to make dark chocolate with unrefined sugar. This was something they hadn’t seen done and couldn’t understand why. This lead to days of research on the internet and the discovery of the whole beans-to-bar movement. They set out traveling around the world to learn more about the cacao bean.

The cacao bean, known to most people as the cocoa bean, is the fermented seed chocolate comes from. The pods containing the seeds grow on trees found in rainy, tropical areas and are often grown on large farms where workers are overworked and grossly underpaid. It was important to Mhairi and Stuart that their beans originate from small producers certified as organic, fair trade, rain forest alliance, or direct trade. This assures they were developed under sustainable practices and the farmers earned a fair profit. They want ethically traded cacao, which they say the majority of that made by large chocolate companies, is not.

It was also important that Double Spiral Chocolate would balance taste and nutrition as much as possible, using minimal processing of only two or three ingredients. In fact, the Craigs named the business Double Spiral because the logo is a Celtic symbol that means “Balance”. All of their dark chocolate contains 70 percent or more cacao beans. Science suggests you have to have at least that level to have all of the health benefits that are associated with cacao. Many major chocolate companies produce using as little as 10 percent cacao.

The other missing ingredients in their chocolate are lots of sugar and fat. The other two ingredients that define the taste of Double Spiral chocolate are the use of unrefined cane sugar and whole food ingredients like mint leaves, raspberry, ginger, or an array of other flavors. According to Mhairi, “A lot of people say it’s bitter, it’s strong, because they’re not use to it. But you have to develop a taste for it. It can be challenging.”

For now, they’d like to keep the business small, as they still have their day jobs and don’t want the business to get out of control. Currently, Double Spiral chocolate can be found several places around Wilmington, and can be purchased from their online store. They’ve also started hosting occasional tasting events around town, where they bring along bite-size samples of all the different flavors, and if you’re lucky enough you might get invited to one.

For more about Double Spiral you can visit their website at http://www.doublespiralchocolate.com.

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