We're all for experts telling us that one of our vices can actually be healthy. So when we heard local chocolatier Norman Love's latest line of ultra-premium dark chocolates contain health benefits like antioxidants and endorphins, we didn't wait around — we headed right over to Norman Love Confections to try a piece (or three) of the aforementioned chocolate line, "Black."
The "Black" collection includes chocolates made with five distinctly different cocoa beans from different parts of the world. The treats are distinguished by percentage of cocoa mass, the portion of a finished chocolate that came directly from a fermented, dried cacao seed.
"Consumer interest is pushing artisans to provide better-quality chocolate," Love. "The single-origin hype is very much like wine. The soil, sunlight, rainfall and how (the cocoa) is processed creates a flavor profile."
Nine months in the making, the confections are designed to take advantage of increasing interest in single-source food products and in the health benefits of dark chocolate, Love said during a preview party Thursday at his factory and store in south Fort Myers.
Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of heart disease as well as endorphins that produce a feeling of well-being. It also can help lower blood pressure in a way that milk and white chocolates cannot, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Love's creations reach as high as 74 percent cocoa mass in Hacienda Elvesia, which originates in the Dominican Republic. The chocolate has a strong, dry taste with hints of black tea, sort of like a very dry red wine. At the other end of the range, the comparatively sweet, fruity Madagascar chocolate is 64 percent cocoa mass.
The cocoa beans are incorporated in Love's creamy ganache filling as well as in the exterior coating enveloping the morsel.
Unlike Norman Love Confections' other hand-crafted sweets using white, milk and dark chocolate, the "Black" line does not contain fruit or other flavorings to distract from the chocolate. But they are beautifully airbrushed in jewel tones and packaged in luxe-looking black boxes.
"Black" is available in a five-piece box containing one of each chocolate ($15), a 10-piece with two of each ($25) and a 15-piece with three of each ($35).
Norman Love Confections is at 11380 Lindbergh Blvd., off Daniels Parkway east of Interstate 75. The store is open 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday Call 561-7215 or visit www.normanloveconfections.com for more information.