Leah has been our Culinary Liaison since 2017. She introduces our cocoa ingredients to professional chefs, bakers, baristas, and brewers across the country. This is her first post for the blog, and she’s going to share the story of how and why she obtained a kosher certification for our single-origin, one-and-two-ingredient chocolate.
My mom had been nudging me about getting Dandelion Chocolate kosher-certified since my first day on the job. Mom’s always right, right? In fact, I attribute my career in the food industry to her because baking together has always been our weekly tradition.
My family keeps a kosher kitchen, which means that in our house, we never mix any dairy products (milk, cheese, butter, etc.) with any meat products (beef, chicken) within the same meal. This means cheeseburgers or ice cream after a chicken dinner are big no-no’s. We also look for kosher symbols on packaged food to inform us that the ingredients are in alignment with our family’s dietary laws. There are many different kosher symbols, but some of them look like this:
Growing up, the chocolate options for dessert were fairly limited. For as long as I can recall, Scharffen Berger had been our best bet. (Parenthetically, our company’s own early history began soon after “Big Chocolate” bought Scharffen Berger.) Both my mom and I have always seen the opportunity for Dandelion Chocolate in the kosher market. And after receiving a couple of wholesale inquiries from kosher-certified businesses who were interested in buying our chocolate, I justified researching what the kosher certification process would mean for us.
I had hoped the certification process for our chocolate would be simple since we only use two ingredients—cocoa beans and organic cane sugar. This also designates our chocolate as pareve, meaning it’s not made with dairy or any animal derivatives and it can therefore be eaten with any meal. Furthermore, our chocolate-making equipment wasn’t previously used for non-kosher production.
I was connected to Rabbi Welton of the Vaad of Northern California, a.k.a. Sunrise Kosher, through the Illuminoshi, the not-so-secret society of SF Bay Area Jews who work in food. Caitlin, our Director of Production and I gave Rabbi Welton a tour of both of our San Francisco production facilities (Valencia Street and 16th Street) so he could see the process, the equipment, and the product first-hand.
Soon thereafter, we received our official kosher certification. It has been effective since August 2019, and it applies to both of our SF factories and to all of the one- and two-ingredient cocoa bean and chocolate products we make (single-origin chocolate bars, cocoa nibs, ground chocolate, Chef’s Chocolate, whole roasted beans, single-bottles of Hot Chocolate Mix, and our soon-to-come chocolate chips).
Sunrise Kosher is based in the East Bay, and its accreditation is accepted nationally by kosher consumers who abide by varying degrees of kosher stringency. We’re planning to update our packaging (hopefully in late 2020), at which point we’ll revisit adding the kosher symbol. Until then, we have the digital certification to show for it!
One might say we’re celebrating a “Bar” Mitzvah! My mom and I say mazel tov to that.