With my GPS in my hand and I say to my husband, “its only 5 more minutes away, turn right here”. Here, he says”, “No not here the next one” as I am shaking and pointing towards the other street as if he can see where I am pointing to. “Then we should be coming up on Windsor St after this next street light on the left over there in .31 miles.” My husband turns at the light and I say, “oh no not this light sorry, the next one” then my GPS does the little twirly thing and announces – “rerouting”. With a few other rights and lefts, we are back on track and still on schedule. This is typical and how we drive to places while using the GPS; we call it, road adventures of the Pannone’s.
Finally, after just over an hour drive and what seems like a 5 hour drive, we arrive at the one place that we go to every year that is guilt free for one day. A factory where the pure organic goodness called chocolate is made! Right around Valentine’s Day we treat ourselves to go visit Taza Chocolate located in Boston, Ma. We take a tour and sample different kinds of chocolate. It is stone ground organic, non GMO, Kosher, no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or colors, Vegan and direct trade with the farms that grow the Cocoa beans in Haiti and Mexico. Just chocolate, pure cane sugar and flavors from real food sources and simply put, the best chocolate I have ever had. There are so many amazing flavors to choose from including cinnamon, sea salt and pepper, coconut, raspberry, coffee, vanilla, guajillo chili and more. There are chocolate covered nuts, nibs and delicious bark and ice cream pies and teas just for something different.
We both make a dash over to the first display that is labeled raspberry. I delicately pick up the tiny little metal tongs and take a small square of chocolate. My mouth is in a flavor dance of dark stone ground chocolate with sweet raspberry. I look at him and say,” oh wow that is amazing” and before I could finish my sentence we were headed over to the next table labeled sea salt almond. I patently waited my turn as another couple was taking their sample. Again I gently picked up the tongs and took a square trying to control myself from grabbing a hand full and tossing it in my mouth. As we were making our way to each table, the women behind the counter reminded all of us to not fill up to much on samples as we are getting samples on the tour.
Then, a friendly and knowledge young woman announced to everyone to gather around the tour was about to begin. She begins with the history of Taza, how their chocolate beans are grown on farms, how they get them to their factory and how it’s made into bars. She took a few questions then we took a walk through the factory. But, before we could walk through the factory it was required to wear hair nets and even the men who had beards had to cover them up. My husband who shaves his head completely stood there with a grin on his face as if to say, “ha-ha all of you have to wear silly nets”. I grabbed mine out of the box that was passed around and then grabbed another one and held it up to him. He looked at me and simply said, “Really”? I laughed and said, “You think you can get away with not looking silly with the rest of us? No way, put it on” as I laughed. So, just to be silly he put it on as I heard a few other giggles coming from the rest of the group.
We toured around this small but highly clean and functional factory that only has about 60 employees and ships their chocolate all over the world. We saw machines were beans are roasted and other old vintage candy making machines from Mexico that separates bean and nibs and new custom made machines that make their product unique. Once the tour was over, we snuck in a few more samples and grabbed our bars, nibs, chocolate covered nuts, and bark to purchase and take home. I gathered my Taza brown bag by the handles and said, ok let go. I turned around to find that my husband was not behind me, I look over and there he was sneaking one more sample to go. Like a little kid, he placed the tongs back put his head down and followed me out the door.
Once home I looked at all our chocolate and thought, there must be some delicious treat I can make out of some of this, something delicious and chocolatey. I came up with this double chocolate banana bread made with some Taza cinnamon chocolate chunks. It is simple to make and great even heated a bit with a little butter and with a cup of tea. You can certainly make this bread with any old type of chocolate and it is will still taste great however, keep in mind that Taza is the best (of course in my opinion). Sure all chocolate is delicious anyway but, if you want your taste buds to do a happy dance trust me get to whole foods and pick up a bar or order it on line.
Crazy chocolote banana bread
2 cups 100% whole wheat flour
¼ organic cocoa powder
3 overripe bananas
1/3 cup organic apple sauce (I used 2 baby pouches. I didn’t want to buy a whole jar sense I don’t use it much)
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1/2 cup pure coconut sugar or other organic high quality sugar
¼ cup soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 round taza cinnamon chocolate – plus some extra vegan chocolate chips (about ¼ cup depending how many you like)