I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Melbourne, Australia about a month ago when Rhys and I went on an Australian road trip for a month! Melbourne is an awesome city- I really enjoyed it. It was very artsy and multi-cultural, and full of flava. We stayed right in the downtown core and everything we wanted to see was in easy walking distance. We visited the Melbourne Museum and found it to be one of our favourite museums we had been to this year (we went to… a lot of museums). We enjoyed a casual drink and meal in the sun in Federation Square, which was always bustling. We took the City Circle Tram on a loop of the city, stopping off at the amaaaazing Melbourne Central mall for a bit of shopping. And we did something I had been looking forward to doing all year- visiting Pana Chocolate, located just outside of Melbourne.
Pana Chocolate was introduced to me by my workmates in Auckland. Pana Chocolate bars are popular among the health food community throughout New Zealand. The chocolate bars are sold in organic shops and run at about $8.00 NZD. A bit pricey..but so worth it. Pana Chocolate is raw and uses ingredients like coconut oil, cacao butter, cacao powder and himalayan crystal salt to make their chocolate. They have a variety of flavours (most of which I’ve tried..) and they are all made with natural flavours like cinnamon, carob, mint oil, and more! The only thing that is a bit disappointing is their use of agave nectar…it’s just an ingredient that I’m not super found of health-wise.
In addition to their chocolate bars which are sold in many stores, they have a cafe location in Melbourne where you can try their insane variety of cakes and gourmet chocolates.
Of course it took me about half an hour to decide what I wanted to order but I am so pleased with what I chose. I have to say that these raw cakes were truly the best raw cakes I have ever tried. The texture of the ‘cheesecake’ was so smooth and rich, and the crust was the ideal thickness and texture. The flavours were beautiful and balanced. It’s hard to find a fault with these cakes.
I ended up choosing a vanilla and mixed berry cheesecake, a chocolate peanut butter caramel cheesecake, a mango and salted caramel chocolate, and a lavender maqui chocolate. The total cost was approximately $24 AUD.
The vanilla and mixed berry cheesecake was so rich. The pieces are not very big for the price that they are, but you don’t need a large portion of these cakes to feel satisfied. To me, the cake tasted like white chocolate. The vanilla flavour was stronger than the berry flavour, but I tried each layer separately and each layer was gorgeous. The berry layer tasted of blueberries and was outstanding, but unfortunately masked a bit by the vanilla. The crust had sesame seeds and coconut in it which went so nicely with the vanilla and berries. Like I said before, it was the perfect thickness and texture. Sometime you get raw cakes and the crust is just overwhelming- you don’t find a normal cheesecake with half the thickness being crust, so a raw cheesecake shouldn’t be that way either. Pana Chocolate nailed it!
The chocolate peanut butter caramel cake was not what I expected- in the best way possible! I thought for sure it would have date caramel in it but instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the caramel flavour was much more subtle. If I had to guess, I would say that the caramel layer may have been made with lucuma powder which made such a nice change. There were chunks of crunchy, chocolately buckwheat groats throughout the cake which made it that much more decadant. There was the perfect amount of himalayan salt in there, too, which just made the peanut butter and caramel irresistible. Again, the crust was right on point.
The mango salted caramel chocolate was a huge surprise. First of all…just look at it! It’s mottled green and brown colour is too cool. When I bit it, I was shocked to see that it burst with smooth mango liquid. I had expected a more solid dried mango centre. It was a work of art! I couldn’t tasted the salted caramel part at all- just the mango, but it was so good I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest.
The lavendar maqui chocolate was exactly what it sounds like. The lavendar flavour was strong. I think you would either love this one or hate. I happen to love lavender! This chocolate is rich, sweet, flavourful and feels like such a fancy treat. You couldn’t eat to many of these, though! For those of you who don’t know, maqui, is a superfood from the maqui berry found in South America. Maqui berries are purple and contain large amounts of anthocyanins- a purple pigment very high in antioxidants.
Pana Chocolate is located at 491 Church Street, Richmond VIC 3121, Australia. Just minutes from the Melbourne CBD.