Pure Chocolate by Jinji is the winner of best candy. Jinji Fraser creates handcrafted raw, organic chocolates that are free from dairy, gluten, and refined sugars. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun video)
Jinji Fraser is not just a chocolatier. She is a storyteller. Her raw chocolates, made with cacao from a small farmer in Ecuador, express her memories, dreams and feelings.
For instance, for Valentine's Day, Fraser, 33, created a chocolate that reflected her experience with lost love, using flavor notes like tahini white chocolate, black pepper, citrus and poppy seeds.
"It became a story to me," she said. "It's why I'm doing this."
A nutritional health counselor, she stumbled upon a flyer for a raw-chocolate workshop in summer 2012. By fall, she was making her first candies, using a process in which the chocolate isn't heated above 95 degrees to maintain its healthful properties. In 2014, she opened her 80-square-foot Belvedere Square shop with her father, Guy, who handles the finances.
Fraser* doesn't use refined sugars, instead sweetening her chocolate with lucuma powder, mesquite powder and coconut blossom.
She recently started a program, Cacao Crossings, which features a monthly box of chocolates focusing on one particular cacao region around the world. She will soon head to Cuba. Her destiny wasn't planned.
"I didn't grow up a chocolate person," she said. "Chocolate found me."
— Suzanne Loudermilk
* This article has been updated. In a previous version, a reference to Fraser misspelled her name as Frasier.