Part sorceress and part chocolate evangelist, Dominica Schaaf dances around the kitchen to soft jazz, singing positive love affirmations to the organic, raw chocolate truffles she mixes up nearly every day.
“Chocolate is magical. It brings people together, makes people smile and makes them feel amazing,” she says, adding: “Raw chocolate is even more of an enlightening experience.”
The bubbly 24-year-old is the owner and chef behind Love Bird Chocolates, an online shop based in Boulder Creek that offers more than a dozen varieties of rich, intense truffles and peanut butter cups—all raw, vegan, organic and made with low-glycemic agave syrup so they can be enjoyed even by diabetics.
The love Schaaf injects into these sweets isn’t the only thing that makes them good for you. Chocolate has more antioxidant flavonoids than any other food. It contains a substance called theobromine that acts as a mild stimulant, and eating chocolate produces serotonin and endorphins, which contribute to an overall sense of well-being.
In fact, all the local chocolate artisans I met for this story seemed downright jolly, enjoying that sense of well-being that comes with the opportunity to craft—and eat—something they truly love.
Strictly speaking, chocolate may be the last food to offer the frisson of taboo in a true Central Coast locavore’s diet (see story on p. 56 to find out why coffee can now come off the list). But that for- bidden quality just adds to the attraction, and certainly eating locally made chocolate has its own virtues. Whatever its origins, chocolate’s sweet, melt-in-the-mouth deliciousness is especially appreciated at this time of year. From the countdown to the holidays through Valentine’s Day, nothing says love more than an exquisite box of chocolates.
The sweet life—and creations—of our local chocolatiers
By Deborah Luhrman
Photography by Angela Aurelio