New at Mānoa Chocolate: A Flight of Hawai‘i-Grown Chocolate, Mililani Cacao, a Honolulu Cookie Co. Collab and More
But you missed the camel milk chocolate.
PHOTOS: MARTHA CHENG
Pandemics make strange bedfellows. Like camel milk and Mānoa Chocolate. Like Mililani cacao and Mānoa Chocolate. And Honolulu Cookie Co. and Mānoa Chocolate. OK, for the last one, make that bedfellows who should’ve gotten together a long time ago.
Like many during the pandemic, Dylan Butterbaugh of Mānoa Chocolate has launched himself into new projects—some that were already in the works, like the Mililani cacao, and some a product of “how do we get through this?” Over the years, Butterbaugh had more than doubled chocolate production, up to 1,000 pounds a week before the pandemic. Not all of it was locally grown, but as Hawai‘i farmers have planted more and more cacao, Mānoa Chocolate now has a diverse range of Hawai‘i-grown chocolate bars, made with cacao grown in Kealakekua on Hawai‘i Island to Ko‘olaupoko on O‘ahu and, perhaps most surprising, Mililani. The latter is thanks to Danny Green of Southern Turf, who had planted 10 acres of cacao trees alongside his sod. The fruitiness of the chocolate made with his cacao is also astonishing—it tastes like chocolate-covered raspberries. Mānoa Chocolate now has an exciting array of bars that highlight the range of nuances of Hawai‘i-grown cacao, from the Kealakekua, which tastes like Raisinets, of dark dried fruits, to the Waiāhole, nutty, dark and more typically chocolate-y tasting, with few of the bright notes I’ve come to associate with local chocolate.
Butterbaugh also unveiled a Flavors of Hawai‘i line, packaged in the colorful drawings of Punky Aloha—each bar of world cacao blended with banana, coconut or liliko‘i. And he kept up the unique flavors of the monthly Mānoa Chocolate subscription, including a mango mochi chocolate bar and one made with camel milk (yes, camel), cardamom, pistachios and almonds.
Mānoa Chocolate’s latest debut is a collaboration with Honolulu Cookie Co. The latter is using Mānoa’s locally made chocolate (with cacao sourced globally) to dip its treats. And Mānoa Chocolate wants your input. It’s deciding among chocolate combined with banana, lavender, ghost pepper or sea salt for the cookie dips. Vote for which you want to see made, and you’ll be entered to win a box of cookies with all four flavors.
But win or lose, I highly suggest a stop at Mānoa’s factory and tasting room (order for pickup or delivery while the tasting room is closed) to pick up everything from chocolate discs for your pandemic baking needs to a flight of Hawai‘i-grown chocolate bars, which are the most exciting tastes in local cacao right now.