When I was in ninth grade, our high school made us live in the woods for two weeks. Along with cooking over open fires and building our own latrines and A-frame shelters, we had to bathe in a lake. We couldn’t just use any soap for bathing, though. We had to use Dr. Bronner’s — and only Dr. Bronner’s (probably because it’s biodegradable and therefore more ecofriendly). I bought it begrudgingly, but ultimately I found that I loved the stuff: how my hair felt squeaky-clean after I used it, how good that fresh peppermint smelled. I use and love the soap to this day, even though my lake-bathing years are far behind me.
When I heard from a publicist that Dr. Bronner’s was launching a chocolate line, I was skeptical. What are soap people doing making chocolate? And vegan chocolate at that! But like any brand loyalist (and chocolate fan), I graciously accepted her offer to send all six bars to try.
I’m ashamed to say how quickly I devoured them all. While you can get ones studded with almonds or whole hazelnuts, the true stars are those filled with nut butters and praline. They’re like flat, sophisticated Reese’s cups. The chocolate is dark and rich — a stunning achievement for vegan chocolate — and the fillings are sweet but not tooth-achingly so. I love the creamy-crunchy hazelnut-butter bar the most. It offers the splendor of Nutella but with a punchy dark-chocolate exterior. And although the bars are sweetened with coconut sugar, you don’t taste or smell the coconut (a relief to this writer) — except in the coconut-praline bar, of course, which my vegan sister-in-law had no trouble taking off my hands.
Speaking of my sister-in-law, in the three years we’ve been family, this is the first time we’ve been able to agree on anything dessert related. With her love of flaxseed eggs and butter replacements, she and I rarely see eye to eye in the after-dinner arena, but these bars are something we can enjoy together. Even if they didn’t provide a new form of family bonding, I would still buy them. I’ve already broken off precious bites to share with other members of my family and delivered a bar to a kosher friend who often laments the world’s lack of delicious nondairy desserts. I’m also becoming that person who sneaks a few nuggets between every meal and after my workouts because I need (and deserve) a treat. Since Dr. Bronner’s chocolate bars are new, though, the only challenge to my new habit is that they’re a little tricky to find. Right now, your best shot is your local health-food store, but they are available online at Hive Brands. Dr. Bronner’s says the bars will be rolling out at Whole Foods soon, too — and on the Dr. Bronner’s website in February, but I wouldn’t recommend waiting that long.
As cheesy as the label looks — it literally has the word magic in large metallic, Willy Wonka–worthy lettering — the bars are indeed something of a miracle. A sisterhood-of-the-traveling-pants type of bar that everyone can love. In my lifetime, I’ve eaten more chocolate than I care to admit and am often the one hating on dark chocolate (and not even acknowledging the vegan varieties). But Dr. Bronner’s has landed on something special here. Its soap might have been forced on me all those years ago, but the chocolate took no such convincing.
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