Best Of 2011

Best Chocolate: Askinosie Chocolate

A few years ago, Shawn Askinosie was a hard-driving trial lawyer in Springfield. He worked on high-profile cases and was respected in his field. This did not make him happy. In his spare time, he began making chocolate from raw cacao beans in his law-office kitchen. This grew into a full-time business. Now Shawn Askinosie is a happy man. It has been scientifically proven that chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a chemical that stimulates the pleasure center of the brain. And Askinosie chocolate tastes divine in all its different varieties: dark, milk, even white (which defies the preconceived notion that white chocolate must taste like wax). But that's not the only way Askinosie Chocolate makes people happy. The company shares its profits with the farmers in Africa, Central America and the Philippines who grow his cacao and buys books for their village schools. He invites the students of his own village's schools into his factory and involves them in the chocolate-making process; last summer a group joined him on a trip from southwest Missouri to Africa to source beans. The lawyer has made his case: Happiness -- and chocolate -- come in infinite, unexpected forms. Askinosie Chocolate is available locally at the Whole Foods in Brentwood and Town & Country, Local Harvest Grocery, Straub's, the Wine and Cheese Place, the Wine Merchant and Winslow's Home.

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