Q. The holiday baking frenzy has begun in my home. I go through a lot of bittersweet baking chocolate around this time of year, but there don’t seem to be any organic or sustainable options at my local grocery store. Are there good ones out there, and I’m just missing them? – Anne, N.C. 

A. Aw, how sweet of you to make brownies for us! We like walnuts, chocolate chips and coconut flakes in them, okay?

You’ve already taken the most important step toward sustainable baking, which is planning ahead. There are quite a few incredibly eco-baking chocolate options out there, but since they’re not all sold at your average grocery store, it’ll take a bit of online detective work to stock your kitchen with them. Luckily, we’ve already done that work for you. And all you have to do in return is bake us brownies.

First, check out Green & Black — a company that really pioneered the ethical, organic chocolate market — known for its rich, pure, dark chocolate bars (how do Maya gold, caramel, almond and cherry sound?). Happily, they also make an excellent baking bar. Just like all the company’s products, it’s made with beans that are shade grown, organically raised and fairly traded. It’s got a cocoa content of 72 percent, which should be high enough to satisfy most recipes, and Green & Black has even added a bit of extra cocoa butter to their usual recipe so that the bar melts easily and mixes smoothly into batters.  

Another sustainable, ethical chocolate company we love is Dagoba, which also makes a baking bar. This one is totally unsweetened — 100 percent cacao content — and you can order it online. Depending on how many loved ones you bake for during the holidays, it might be worth it to do a little calculating and bulk order for all your cooking needs.  

And, of course, a large part of eating (baking) sustainably is knowing where your ingredients come from and how they get from the field to your plate. If you feel like your understanding of how chocolate makes its way to your kitchen (or why buying organic and fair trade is important) is a little lacking, check out Dagoba’s info page for the lowdown.  

Story by Tobin Hack. This article originally appeared in Plenty in Decmber 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008.