Top Pick Of The Week

August 2, 2005

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Chuao Chocolate Bars
Chuao Chocolatier’s sugar-free bars: so good it’s hard to tell they’re sugar-free. Photo by Gina Erdmann.

Sugar-Free Delights

When you’re a top chocolatier and your father needs to restrict his sugar intake, what do you do? You take the finest couverture (the large blocks of chocolate professionals buy to create their products) and the finest non-sucrose sweetener, and blend creative flavors to give the chocolate more dimension than any plain sugar-free bar could offer. The result is Chuao* Chocolatier’s sugar-free bars, which any chocoholic who needs to be off sugar† will be  grateful for.

*Pronounced chew-ow and founded in the San Diego suburb of Encinitas, the company was named after a town in the north of Venezuela that grows some of the finest cacao in the world.

†The bars are not low calorie or low carb, so the target market is diabetic or those with high blood sugar who want to reduce their sugar intake.

Made from Guittard dark or milk chocolate sweetened with maltitol, plus all natural spices and flavors, these skillfully handmade bars burst with tastes and dimensions you never thought you would enjoy in sugar-free chocolate.

  • Coffee and Anise in Dark Chocolate blends two complementary favorites—think of having a sambuca with a cup of coffee after dinner. In fact, that is how the chocolatiers suggest you enjoy it; but you hardly need to wait until then. While coffee gets first billing, the anise flavor is more prominent, which makes it even more special. There is a nice crunch from the flavorings—ground coffee beans and anise seeds.
  • Spicy Maya in Dark Chocolate is the most strongly flavored bar. It combines cinnamon, pasilla chile (also called chile negro, a blackish-brown, medium hot chile used in mole sauce), and cayenne pepper; and the ground spices provide an attractive texture. The profusion of spices are an homage to the original chocolate, the spicy xocoatl‡ (sho-KWA-tel) and cacahuatl (cah-KWA-tel) drink prepared by the Olmecs, Mayas, and Aztecs. They give one much to contemplate, especially one accustomed to the rather drab world of sugar-free chocolate. The peppery heat of the spice combination gets warm but never hot, so it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the chocolate. As with the other bars, the flavors are beautifully balanced; if you like spice, this is the more exciting of the bars—and possibly our new favorite chocolate bar. We paired Spicy Maya with a cup of spicy chai which complemented it, and also with a smoky lapsang souchong tea which balanced the spice in the opposite direction.

‡Xocoatl is the Aztec word, Cacahuatl is the Maya word.

Of course, coffee and tea pairings are purely optional. These bars are to be enjoyed anytime, anyplace, with or without beverages.

We must underscore our delight in finding these wonderful, flavored sugar-free bars. We tasted them alongside Chuao Chocolatier’s regular flavored bars. While there is a discernable difference between the sugar and the maltitol bars, it is remarkable that the latter are so well made, that the gap is not large. Someone could enjoy the maltitol chocolate without realizing it was sugar-free. (That being said, only those with sugar restrictions should consume maltitol as excessive consumption can potentially cause gastric distress, a polite term for a very temporary condition that shouldn’t be named in a chocolate review. The emphasis here is on the word “excessive”: while a regular portion should have no significant effect, previous experience restrained us from eating all three bars at once.)

Because maltitol has half the calories of sugar, there is some caloric savings; but because the cacao and butterfat contents are the same in both bars, it’s not a total giveaway. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the regular and sugar-free spicy bars:

Earl Grey Milk Chocolate Bar
With Sugar
With Maltitol
Calories Per Serving
Calories From Fat
Total Fat
Total Carbohydrate

Now that Chuao chocolatiers Michael Antonorsi and Brian Vandenbroucke have set a standard, hopefully others will apply their skill and imagination until wonderful sugar-free chocolate is the rule rather than the exception.

If have a sugar restriction, buy some at once; if you don’t, buy them for friends and order yourself a set of the delicious flavored bars.

—Karen Hochman
Revised April 2006

FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to your friends with sugar restrictions.


Sugar-Free Chocolate Bars in Coffee &
Anise and Spicy Maya

  • 3-Pack Chocolate Bars
    2.8 ounces (80g) Each

Purchase online at

Shipping additional. Prices and flavor availability are verified at publication but are subject to change.

Chuao Chocolatier Sugar-Free Chocolate Bars
Chuao Chocolatier’s sugar-free chocolate bars taste as good as the “real thing.” From left to right: dark chocolate bars in Coffee and Anise Bar and Spicy Maya Bar, which combines the flavors of pasilla chile, cayenne pepper and cinnamon.

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