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Best of Baltimore 2017

Best candy: Pure Chocolate by Jinji

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.

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