If you know me from my blog posts, then you know I’m not a huge fan of chocolate and sweets. I’m much more of a savory girl. But if there were a chocolate that could change my mind, Madécasse is the company that makes it.
The story of Madécasse is enough to make you fall in love. Tim McCollum and Brett Beach were Peace Corps volunteers in Madagascar. While they were there, they realized that the country had a lot of resources including cocoa that had not been genetically modified. According to Tim McCollum, the cocoa is “genetically identical to cocoa that was found in Mesoamerica 300 years ago.”
McCollum and Beach loved the country and the people and wanted to do more. Most of us may know Madagascar from the animated movies but in reality, it’s the fourth poorest country in the world – even with all the great resources.
Seventy percent of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa yet less than 1% of the world’s chocolate is made there. Africa also grows 65% of the world’s vanilla yet produces less than 1% of the world’s vanilla extract. It is strikingly sad that a country so rich in resources remains in poverty. Madécasse is trying to change this by making their products entirely in Africa.
“We were convinced that making finished products in Africa was the key to real change. Our experience making chocolate there confirmed it. So we started making vanilla, too. And the next chapter began. We are a social enterprise. We measure success by the quality of our product and our social impact in Africa.”
Madécasse empowers Madagascar’s cocoa farmers with training and higher wages. Ingredients are sourced locally and the chocolate is made on the island. By doing this, Madécasse has provided income for over 200 people in Madagascar. You can learn even more about Madécasse and their mission in the video on their web site.
When I contacted Madécasse about reviewing their product, I didn’t know all the gifts I was about to receive. Then one day this gorgeous box arrived in the mail from the company’s headquarters in Brooklyn.
The gift box is crafted from sustainably harvested raffia, hand-woven in Madagascar. In itself, this box is such a beautiful gift that I will treasure always.
Inside the box were more gifts: 2 bags of baking discs in 70% and 100% cocoa, 4 assorted chocolate bars, a bottle of pure vanilla extract and a bottle with bourbon vanilla beans. There was also a postcard from Madagascar! 🙂
It was such a special assortment and after learning the story of Madécasse, it felt even more special. I put everything back in the box and tried to think of special ways to use the chocolate – other than just letting Tom have at that box. 🙂
I didn’t want to make more truffles, though even I like truffles. I wanted to make something different. Tom loves cheesecake so I decided to make him chocolate covered cheesecake but in little bite-sized squares.
When I opened the bag of 70% cocoa, I pulled out one disc to taste and was expecting to grimace from the bitter taste….but there was none. I have tasted 70% cocoa before and it’s usually sharp and bitter. This was smooth and delicious. Not even a hint of bitterness.
I melted the cocoa discs down with a drop of coconut oil and it made the most luxurious chocolate. It was tempting to just get a spoon and eat it like soup. Even I kept licking the spoon and I’m not usually like that with chocolate.
The cheesecake bites were made with cashews and Madécasse Pure Vanilla Extract. The smell of the vanilla is intoxicating.
I made the cheesecake bites in a silicon mold (the one I use to make vegan butter). After they set in the freezer for a few hours, they were covered in the luxurious chocolate and back into the fridge to set again.
We cut into them the next day. The cashew cheesecake was tangy and smooth and the chocolate covering was so delicious, I kept breaking pieces off to eat.
I made more chocolate than I needed so it’s in the fridge waiting for the next recipe. Though I was planning to wait until we had tried all the chocolate bars to write the review, I figured I’d get the word out now with the recipe for the cheesecake bites. When I post the next chocolatey, vanilla-y recipe, whatever that is – I haven’t decided yet – I’ll let you know how amazing the chocolate bars are because I know they will be.
So check out the Madécasse web site and get yourself the BEST chocolate and vanilla you’ve ever tasted. Not only do you get incredible products but you get to help the people of Madagascar! Chocolate with a social impact. Can’t beat that.
And try my Chocolate-Covered Cheesecake Bites. They are so cute and so delicious! Enjoy!
Thank you, Madécasse, for the beautiful box of chocolate and vanilla.
Chocolate-Covered Cheesecake Bites
Makes 6 bites
For the cheesecake:
1 cup raw cashews
2 Tbs. coconut oil
2 Tbs. agave nectar
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/3 cup non-dairy milk
A pinch of kosher salt
For the chocolate:
1 Tbs. coconut oil
1 Tbs. agave nectar (optional)
Soak the cashews in boiling water for 30 minutes (or warm water for 3 hours). Drain and discard the water.
In a food processor, add all the ingredients for the cheesecake and process until smooth. Taste for any necessary adjustments. Fill the 6 compartments of a silicone mold with the cheesecake. Freeze for several hours.
In a small saucepan, add the chocolate and coconut oil (and agave, if desired). Melt over low heat while stirring. If the chocolate seizes, add a bit more coconut oil or milk. Transfer the chocolate to a bowl.
Gently remove the cheesecake bites from the mold. Using a fork or two spoons (my desired method), cover the cheesecake bites in chocolate and put on a parchment-lined baking sheet or plate.
Refrigerate for several hours until the chocolate sets. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.
The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.
- For the cheesecake
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 2 Tbs. coconut oil
- 2 Tbs. agave nectar
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup non-dairy milk
- A pinch of kosher salt
- For the chocolate
- 4 oz. dark unsweetened chocolate
- 1 Tbs. coconut oil
- 1 Tbs. agave nectar (optional)
- Soak the cashews in boiling water for 30 minutes (or warm water for 3 hours). Drain and discard the water.
- In a food processor, add all the ingredients for the cheesecake and process until smooth. Taste for any necessary adjustments. Fill the 6 compartments of a silicone mold with the cheesecake. Freeze for several hours.
- In a small saucepan, add the chocolate and coconut oil (and agave, if desired). Melt over low heat while stirring. If the chocolate seizes, add a bit more coconut oil or milk. Transfer the chocolate to a bowl.
- Gently remove the cheesecake bites from the mold. Using a fork or two spoons (my desired method), cover the cheesecake bites in chocolate and put on a parchment-lined baking sheet or plate. Refrigerate for several hours until the chocolate sets. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.