Joy Wilson’s baking career got off to an early start: When she was growing up, her father would wake her up at 4 a.m., when he came home from work, so they could make cookies or pie together. Today she’s the creator of the quirky, beautiful Joy the Baker blog; her cookbook of the same name comes out this month. While she describes herself as “powered by an unbelievable amount of granulated sugar,” she enjoys finding clever ways to make desserts healthier. For instance, she’s a fan of cocoa nibs, the unsweetened seeds of the cacao pod, which are high in antioxidants. “I like eating them by the handful, like M&M’s,” she says. In the recipes here, she uses nibs as well as cocoa powder and chocolate to make delicious, surprisingly light desserts.
Some small, socially conscious chocolate companies are working directly with farmer co-ops rather than buying cacao from middlemen. Here, a few F&W favorites.
TCHO, San Francisco
TCHO makes chocolates to evoke different flavor notes, like citrusy or fruity. Like many chocolate companies, it buys beans from Ghana, where the state-run cocoa industry can make it hard for companies to trace beans to the source. But TCHO recently formed partnerships to work directly with farmers, aiming for better cacao and more money for growers. tcho.com.
Askinosie; Springfield, MO
Shawn Askinosie makes earthy, single-origin bars, sharing profits with the cacao farmers he buys from. askinosie.com.
David Elliott and Nat Bletter produce artisan-quality chocolate and often source their ingredients locally, from cacao to flavorings like strawberry guava and pink peppercorns. madrechocolate.com.