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Photo from Shawn Askinosie

One of Penn's top administrators has spent the past year creating a gourmet $12 chocolate bar. 

Ezekiel Emanuel, a globally recognized bioethicist and the vice provost for global initiatives, developed the Zeke Bar in collaboration with Askinosie Chocolates, a chocolate company based in Springfield, Mo. and owned by Shawn Askinosie.

The limited-edition bar will be released on Oct. 17. Emanuel describes the chocolate as rich and dark, with a long aftertaste and notes of tart-dried cherry and burnt caramel. The chocolate is made out of Madagascar cocoa beans, organic cane sugar and cocoa butter.

“It’s a very bold flavor,” Emanuel said. “As we like to say, it’s not for people who like heavy sugar, milk chocolate. This is a real dark chocolate.”

Emanuel said his inspiration for creating the Zeke Bar came from his lifelong love of chocolate, a trait he inherited from his father, as well as his longstanding desire to try something new.

“Three years ago I decided that every year I would like to do something totally out-of-the-box,” Emanuel said. In 2015, he spent two weekends serving breakfast as a guest chef at D.C. restaurant Masseria, and in 2016, he wrote a book. 

His 2017 out-of-the-box experience took him back to his love of cooking.

Emanuel and Askinosie met in 2013, when Emanuel was master of ceremonies at the Good Food Awards and presented Askinosie with an award. Unbeknownst to Askinosie, Emanuel was already a fan of his chocolate. 

A few years into their friendship, Emanuel became interested in making a chocolate bar of his own. 

“I have probably a person a week who says they want to make a chocolate bar, and I don’t think very much of it,” Askinosie said. “Zeke told me he wanted to make a chocolate bar probably every week.” 

Emanuel involved himself in every aspect of the chocolate-making process, including the package design. After he chose to work with Criollo beans from Madagascar, he and Askinosie visited cacao plantations there to retrieve the beans. 

Askinosie said Emanuel was the first collaborator to be a part of the creation process from start to finish. He is also the first collaborator to not be, as Askinosie puts it, “a professional food person.”

“What’s it like working with a tornado?” Askinosie said of their partnership. “Zeke is a complete bundle of energy from here to Madagascar and back, and I know because I’ve traveled with him.”

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