She grew up on a kibbutz in Jerusalem called Beit Yisrael. (House of Israel) Her father instilled a love of nature in her, taking her for walks in the Jerusalem Forest and the Negev Desert. Together, they would harvest fruit and plants, and Yaara fell in love with the tastes of the Holy Land! Even her name hints at her love of the land. Yaara comes from the Hebrew root for the word ‘forest!’
Yaara had a fascinating journey to becoming a chocolatier. She worked as a lawyer for eight years and ran a center for at-risk youth. Yaara saw the best way to help people struggling within the system would be to engage them in creative, productive work. She saw that a little bit of stability could change lives.
Cocoa Forest boutique chocolate factory is nestled behind a signature blue door in the Jerusalem Talpiot neighborhood. Yaara's business has humble beginnings.
She first became interested in making chocolate when she attended a short course for hobbyists. The chocolate bug bit her, and she joined an online chocolate-making group. It started with trading recipes and became a regular meet-up where group members shared their creations.
Yaara's first big success was inspired by Jerusalem Kuge, which has a sweet and spicy flavor. She wanted to bring this distinct Jerusalem flavor into the world of chocolate, so she mixed salt and caramel with the chocolates and had a hit! She loves the flavor, which is always a reminder of Jerusalem for her!
She brings her childhood's wild flavors to her chocolate. Unexpected additions of fresh pine nuts from the Jerusalem Hills, mint and basil, passionflower, mulberries, cherries, apples, dates, and even halva make their way into her creations!
Yaara is obsessed with using the best quality ingredients she can source. She believes that if a recipe calls for fruit, it has to be real Israeli fruit picked at its peak and freeze-dried to preserve and maintain its flavor. Her raw materials are sourced from Israeli farmers and the best chocolate producers in the world.
The cocoa Forest products are made with milk produced in dairies in the Holy Land, which is another way of honoring the land.
Each chocolate bar, truffle, or praline that Yaara and her team make is her way of sharing Israel's beauty, sweetness, and love with others. It is her way of passing the gift her father gave her to others.
Lev Haolam has played a significant role in the growth of Cocoa Forest.
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