In 2009, a 24-year-old AJ Wentworth decided he wanted to make and sell bean-to-bar chocolate based on two simple, high-quality ingredients—organic cacao beans and local unprocessed honey. A raw food chef and a holistic health counselor, he wanted to create a sweet treat that was luscious and outrageously delicious, but not overloaded with sugar.
AJ explains that, until two or three years ago, other chocolatiers didn’t take him seriously. Many seasoned chocolate makers he met had told him, “You can’t use raw cacao. You can’t peel beans by hand. You can’t make chocolate with honey.” Turns out they were wrong. AJ explains, “The Chocolate Conspiracy is one of the few companies in the United States that makes honey-sweetened chocolate. A lot of chocolate makers are blown away by the fact that I use honey because it is so difficult. There’s no equipment made for using honey—it’s a really sticky, moist, humid product and the water content in honey makes it difficult to combine with the fat in the chocolate.” AJ highlights three things that set his products apart:
No roasting: AJ says that using unroasted cacao beans preserves more of the chocolate’s nutritional value and delicious flavor.
No refined sugars: His chocolate is sweetened with local, raw, unfiltered Utah honey—a truly unprocessed sweetener.
Dairy-free: According to AJ, “chocolate has a lot of antioxidants. When you combine milk or dairy fat with a high-antioxidant food, it can block your body from absorbing a lot of the antioxidants in that food.”
These choices impact the flavor and texture of his bean-to-bar products. AJ explains that unroasted chocolate has a bolder flavor than its roasted counterpart, but doesn’t have the bitter finish that can sometimes result from over roasting. Using honey, which has a different melting point than sugar, makes his bars softer and a little chewy (but in a good way).The integrity of The Chocolate Conspiracy’s products is echoed throughout. The company’s ethically sourced, high-quality ingredients—certified organic, fair trade, kosher cacao; local raw honey from a Utah farm that’s currently seeking their organic certification—are just a start. Their beautifully designed packaging is biodegradable (it breaks down completely and decomposes within a year of disposal) and is printed using soy-based inks, and they collect their cacao shells and coffee grounds and drop them off for composting at a nearby farm. In 2016 The Chocolate Conspiracy received the Utah Recycling Alliance’s Zero to Zero award for their reuse, recycling, and conservation practices.
Hatch Lab is delighted to profile The Chocolate Conspiracy and offer a limited supply of a three-bar sampler pack. Enjoy! And, if you find yourself in Salt Lake City, be sure to visit their shop to pick up some yummy chocolate treats or sign up for the chocolate classes AJ offers.
Want to learn more about chocolate making? Check out Setting a High Bar: Chocolate’s Flavors, Farmers, and Magic on the Hatch Lab blog.
Is there an artisan we should feature on Hatch Lab? If so, please take a minute to nominate him or her. We take your recommendations very seriously!
Each month we introduce a new cohort of artisans from around the country. Want to be the first to know and receive special discount codes? Sign up for the newsletter and we’ll keep you in the loop.