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[Photographs: Carrie Vasios]

There's a trend of increasing transparency in sweets making, and I'm not just talking about letting people know where you source your ingredients. I'm talking about transparent walls and windows—or total lack thereof—that let customers actually see the product being made. One place on the band wagon? Videri Chocolate Factory. Yep, the whole bean to bar process is on view at their shop in Raleigh, North Carolina, though out-of-towners can also buy their chocolates online.

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Dark chocolate with pink peppercorn

The chocolate bars come in vintage looking 3 ounce boxes that contain two foil wrapped bars. The most unique is the 60% Dark Chocolate with Pink Peppercorn, and it's no joke. As you can see in the photo above, pink specks cover the bottom of the dark chocolate, making every bite intensely peppery. The peppercorns have a fruity edge—you'll recognize it if you ever grind your own peppercorns—that compliments the fruity notes in the dark chocolate. The spice hits you in the back of the throat and while it might be overpowering at first, I found the unusual taste became addictive.

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Where there's pepper, there's often salt, and in this case the 60% Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt bar. The crunchy, thick cut salt crystals aren't as tightly packed as the pink peppercorns but still provide an aggressive lick of salt. And I mean aggressive—if you don't like salty-sweet treats with an emphasis on salt, this might not be for you. The dark chocolate itself has the same cherry, fruit forward notes as the pink peppercorn bar.

An unexpected hit was the Dark Milk Bar which is contains 50% cacao. It's got the same creamy texture and rounded sweetness as milk chocolate with a bigger chocolate flavor. It's one I would love to put on a s'more.

All chocolate boxes mentioned are $7.99.

Videri Chocolate Factory

327 W. Davie Street, Sweet #100, Raleigh, NC 27601 (map)
(919) 755-5053; viderichocolatefactory.com

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