The 10th annual Dallas Chocolate Festival returns in September, offering our city three days to experience the work of more than 60 chocolate makers and chocolatiers from our area and around the world.
While the past nine years have offered us plenty to indulge in, this year some new products will join the party — those that include CBD.
"This is the first year we were approached about it. Incorporating CBD into fine chocolate is a little different than some of the mass market products that have been on the market for a while, and so it’s a little behind some of the mainstream choices," Dallas Chocolate Festival director Emily Mantooth says. "These artisans want to make sure that the CBD products meet the reputation of their other quality chocolate products that they make and sell."
As for what you'll see at the festival: It's still just a whole lot of chocolate.
“I will be bringing up our typical bars; this run is a combination of Ecuadorian and Vietnamese chocolates,” says Brian Mikiten of Casa Chocolates in San Antonio. “This year we’re also going to bring in CBD bars.”
These bars will have 100 mg each (not intended to be consumed all at once). Of course, this isn’t what people usually mean when they say “edibles” — small chocolates with an earthy taste that contain THC.
This ingredient is derived from hemp and has no THC, just the CBD, cannabidiol — and they don’t have that funky taste.
“The problem with CBD is people confuse it with marijuana,” Mikiten says. “It’s not even remotely the same.”
Casa Chocolates is newer to the CBD game. Mikiten started making chocolate four years ago but started using this ingredient less than a year ago.
It all started when he was selling his regular chocolate at his bike shop.
“We were selling CBD lotions at a very small scale,” he says. “I was selling the chocolates right next to it, and people started asking if there were CBD in the chocolate.”
There wasn’t — yet.
“We started doing that, and the chocolate sold even faster than before, especially in Austin,” he says. “It did have a little bit of a skunky flavor … You have to buy really high-grade isolate, pharmacy-grade stuff … (Now) you cannot tell the difference between the CBD and regular (chocolate).”
While Mikiten is reluctant for anyone to talk about the alleged benefits of CBD, a chocolatier coming to the Dallas festival out of Arkansas is excited to discuss the product as a holistic ingredient to wellness.
“We know that the market and our consumer is using CBD on a regular basis,” says Carmen Portillo of Cocoa Belle Chocolates and CB-Dulce. “Obviously health is important to them.”
She’ll bring chocolate bars and fudge bites with CBD. This company sounds cool, too, in that it brought together the Cocoa Belle chocolate company and Tree of Life Seeds.
“We wanted to work with a brand and oil that is superior and we could get in a high enough concentration that it wouldn’t affect the texture or taste,” Portillo says. “It doesn’t add any weird flavor notes or anything that’s off-putting. A lot of people can’t even detect the earthiness because of the concentration.”
Mantooth says she feels confident in the product people will experience next month.
"We were impressed by the quality aspect of it. Both Brian of Casa and Carmen from CB-Dulce have experience with craft chocolate. They are proud to serve it to their craft chocolate customers, so we are happy to have them," she says. "And, we’re always open to alternative chocolates: We’ve supported vegan chocolates, chocolates that have other health benefits like olive oil or quinoa, and so I see this as an extension of that. I think people are curious, so I am excited that they can connect with the makers to learn more about what the CBD really does."
Of course, the chocolate festival will have all sorts of chocolate, and plenty without CBD.
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The festival begins with a VIP party that Friday with chocolates, cocktails and more. The main event is that Saturday and Sunday, where you can sample and buy from all of those exhibitors. Plus, workshops will be going on those two days.
So skip breakfast when you go and save some room to try some new chocolate. And if you stumble across some confections with CBD, maybe give it a taste.
“We are really trying to reach out to the community there and really educating people of the benefits,” Portillo says. “If you’re going to be healthy, you might as well enjoy it at the same time, and enjoy it through the medium of chocolate.”
The Dallas Chocolate Festival is Friday-Sunday, Sept. 6-8 at the Fashion Industry Gallery, 1807 Ross Ave. (downtown). dallaschocolate.org.