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Best Locally Made Chocolate Phoenix 2013 - Nutwhats

There are two top contenders for bean-to-bar chocolate producers based in Arizona: Stone Grindz, a Scottsdale maker that offers unique flavors like Moroccan Mint and Cashew, and Nutwhats, whose signature confections are clusters of sticky, crunchy goodness in flavors like jalapeño beer brittle, cinna walnut oat, and bacon pecan scribble. But as of late 2012, Nutwhats' most impressive offering is the 92 percent Cacao Bar. Yes, 92 percent — and it's meant to be savored all on its own, not sweetened by being baked into a cake. The beans used to make this incredible bar are sourced from Ocumare, Venezuela, and they lend a subtle note of ripe plums to the über-bold dark chocolate. Given the high cacao content, the bar's not as smooth or fast-melting as most chocolate, yet it's not chalky. The biggest and best surprise of all is the lack of bitterness. The 92 percent is still for serious chocoholics only, but Nutwhats also makes six 75 percent chocolate bars, each featuring the distinctive flavor profile of a different locale's cacao beans. You can find chocolate bars including Peru (banana-cherry tasting notes), the Dominican Republic (coffee with soft raspberry), and Bali (berry and papaya) at Dos Cabezas WineWorks, Smeeks, Downtown Phoenix Public Market, and Bodega Market at FnB.

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