Island Bars

All-American chocolates from Hawaii

The vast majority of artisanal-chocolate producers work with beans shipped in from far-off lands. There hasn't even been an all-American chocolate bar–until now.

The Hawaiian chocolate industry is taking off, thanks to the efforts of two producers. The islands are the only state that can grow cacao; the same subtropical climate and mineral-rich volcanic soil that yields supersweet pineapples and smooth coffee is also perfect for high-quality cacao.

On the Big Island, the Original Hawaiian Chocolate is a family-owned operation that grows, harvests and processes high-quality cacao into dark and milk chocolate. Its plumeria-shaped confections are rich and fruity, but chocolate aficionados go for their special dark chocolate bar made from Criollo beans, considered the cacao world's finest variety.

Oahu's Malie Kai produces a line of single-origin chocolate bars made entirely from beans grown on a 20-acre orchard on Dole Plantation's sprawling North Shore estate. The company is still building its processing facilities, so for now the beans are shipped to California, where Guittard turns them into the final product.

The partnership has paid off: The star of Malie Kai's line is the North Shore chocolate bar. Made with 55 percent cacao, it's on the sweeter side, with a sweet berrylike tang and velvety texture.