Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Yomms - Pecans, Roasted & thinly covered in dark chocolate & sea salt - Sept. 29, 2020

Chocolate of the Day

Manufactured for Sunuts LLC
Yomms - Pecans, Roasted and thinly covered in dark chocolate and sea salt
Good - Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 4 oz. (113 g.) in total package
Calories: 180 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $ missing information
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #9 of Chocolate, Nuts and More Theme Week.

Today's Yomms Pecans, roasted and thinly covered in dark chocolate and sea salt were manufactured for Sunuts LLC (Addison, TX) in Mexico.

The thin coating of chocolate around these pecan halves enabled the flavors of the nuts to shine through and added a dark, sweet richness. The pecans lent a lightly roasted, nutty flavor and had a faint brown sugar/caramelized nut note with a hint of mild tannic nut astringency.

A touch of sea salt helped balance the sweetness and complemented both chocolate and nut flavors. 

Ingredients: Pecans, chocolate (cocoa, sugar, cocoa butter), sea salt and contains less than 1% of the following: soy lecithin, vanilla extract.

Monday, September 28, 2020

A.L. Schutzman - GK Select Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds - Sept. 28, 2020

Chocolate of the Day

A.L. Shutzman Company
GK Select Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.448 oz. (41 g.) / 11.5 oz. (326 g.) in total container
Calories: 220 calories in 1 serving (11 pieces)
Cost: $ missing information
Purchased from: missing information

Welcome to Day #8 of Chocolate, Nuts and More Theme Week.

Today's GK Select Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds were from A.L. Schutzman Company (Waukesha, WI).

Whole, roasted almonds were cocooned within a thick, semi-sweet coating of 60% cocoa smooth dark chocolate. These glossy pieces (confectioner's glaze) gave off a pleasing cocoa aroma and had a satisfying melt and texture. Despite the thick chocolate coating, the crunchy texture and nutty flavor of the almonds were still accessible.

Dark chocolate and roasted almonds are almost always a great match, with or without popular additions like sea salt and vanilla. There is rarely a need to embellish this pairing, although many do. Today's chocolate almonds did contain a subtle hint of vanilla, but no salt. 

At 0 mg of sodium (unusual for any snack food), this treat might even be a fit for a low salt regimen. Dark chocolate contains several minerals, including iron, magnesium, copper and manganese, but is naturally low in sodium.

The something "more" today was that I used this (and another) dark chocolate to temporarily improve my lung function* for a few hours, a subtle thing to be sure. But, this week we're experiencing hot weather, high pollen counts and unhealthful air (smoke from wildfires) in northern California, and that was reason enough.

Ingredients: Dark chocolate (chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin (an emulsifier, vanilla, milk), almonds, corn oil, confectioner's glaze (Lac-Resin), gum arabic, corn syrup.

*Coffee and dark chocolate (and the caffeine and theobromine they contain) cause bronchial passages to dilate (open up), improving lung function for a few (up to four) hours.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Cacao Crudo - Raw Organic Chocolate Unroasted Criollo Cacao, Hazelnuts 65% (bar) - Sept. 27, 2020

Chocolate of the Day

Cacao Crudo 
Raw Organic Chocolate Unroasted Criollo Cacao, Granella Nocciole (Hazelnuts) 65% (bar)
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1.76 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 280 calories (estimated) in 1 bar
Cost: $6.49 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Rainbow Grocery, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate, Nuts and Something More Theme Week.

Today's Raw Organic 65% Cacao Granella Nocciole (Hazelnut) bar from Cacao Crudo (Italy) was made from fine, non tostado (unroasted) criollo cacao from the Peruvian* Amazon and Italian hazelnuts.

My first impression: unroasted, delicate Criollo cacao with clean, green aroma and flavor, and low bitterness and acidity and a very slight, dry (green tea) astringency. Cacao Crudo bars offer a different way to enjoy chocolate, in the same way that a fine oolong tea is different than a fine black tea. I felt transported to eating chocolate by a pool, surrounded by green bamboo forest.

The texture was chocolatey with slight courseness due to a generous helping of chopped Italian hazelnuts (Tonda Gentile Romana, an Italian hazelnut cultivar, with trees usually found in Central Italy).

I could taste the slightly fibrous, flavorful essence of each unroasted hazelnut, because the entire bar was unencumbered by extra roasting and sugar. Much as I love the smell and flavor of toasted nuts and cacao, conventional chocolate bars often suffer from over-roasted ingredients (with an accompanying loss in subtle flavors and natural textures) and are drowning in sweetness. (This chocolate was sweetened with touch of coconut flower sap.)

The finish had light, lingering green and very faint, clean floral notes and a subtle (tea/tannic) astringency.

Today's chocolate was a welcome change of pace, offering a high-quality, raw chocolate tasting experience. I've described this 65% cacao chocolate bar as "light," but it also felt very satisfying--possibly because unroasted elements retain a higher percentage of their antioxidants or because the coconut sugar (lower on the glycemic index than processed cane sugar) did not spike my blood sugar. 

If you prefer a strong espresso and like to get a buzz from plant alkaloids like caffeine and theobromine, go for a conventional 70% cacao (roasted) bar with plenty of sugar. If you feel like a high-quality alternative, try Cacao Crudo's line of bars.

Ingredients: Organic unroasted Criollo cacao (beans) paste, organic "Tondo Gentile Romana" chopped hazelnuts (18%) criollo cacao, and organic concentrated coconut flower sap.

*Cacao Crudo is a project by Daniele Dell'Orco, a food "anthropologist and researcher" in Italy who wanted to improve on other raw/unroasted cacao offerings. In so doing, he created one of the first raw cacao manufacturing companies in Italy. The cacao used to craft this bar (and others) comes from the Junin Region (mountainous Central Highlands, westernmost area of the Peruvian Amazon), in Satipo Province, in Peru. This cacao is cultivated at high altitudes (600-1,200 meters) by small producers (native Ashanika people). The coconut palm sugar came from a co-op of Indonesian women. The hazelnuts came from the Latium plain area (of west-central Italy). 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Endangered Species Chocolate - Oat Milk Sea Salt and Almond + Dark Chocolate 55% (bar) - Sept. 26, 2020

Chocolate of the Day

Endangered Species Chocolate, LLC
Oat Milk Sea Salt and Almond + Dark Chocolate 55% Cocoa (bar)
Good +
Weight: 3 oz. (85 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 480 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $3.99 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate, Nuts and More Theme Week.

Today's Oat Milk Sea Salt & Almonds + Dark Chocolate 55% Cocoa (bar) was from Endangered Species Chocolate, LLC (Indianapolis, IN).

This bar captured the essence of dark chocolate with almonds and sea salt, a winning combination. And oats and oat milk added the something "more" in this bar yielding an oat-y goodness in the aroma and flavor.

This bar reflected the trend of using alternatives to traditional cow's milk. In the past decade, I have sampled chocolate blended with plant "milks" such as rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk and hazelnut milk--as well as goat milk, donkey milk, water buffalo and camel milk. (Next week I'll feature some variations on traditional dairy cow's milk chocolate, such as A2 milk.)

The dark chocolate was hearty, but smooth and satisfying and it was textured with oat and nut pieces. Just the right amount of sea salt helped temper the sweetness, making this bar taste more like a 65% cocoa bar rather than the 55% cocoa chocolate that it was. A win in my book. And the faint hint of vanilla added a baked cookie floral warmth.

Ingredients: Chocolate (chocolate liquor, cane sugar, cocoa butter), whole grain oats, soy lecithin, vanilla, almonds, pink Himalayan sea salt.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Seattle Chocolate Company - Tukwila Hazelnut Chocolate Truffle Bar - Sept. 25, 2020

Chocolate of the Day

Seattle Chocolate Company LLC
Tukwila Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Truffle Bar with hazelnut butter, rice crisps 
Good +
Weight: 1.25 oz. (35 g.) / 2.5 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 190 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $1.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate, Nuts and More Theme Week.

Today's Tukwila Hazelnut Chocolate Truffle Bar was from Seattle Chocolate Company LLC (Seattle, WA)--a woman-owned and run chocolatier with roots in the Pacific Northwest that manufactures and markets a variety of chocolate products (truffles, chocolate dessert shells, truffle bars, etc.). 

The company has a presence in Tukwila, south of downtown Seattle. The word Tukwila comes from a native tribe's word for nut or hazelnut, and refers to hazelnut trees that have grown in the region historically.

This aroma of this milk chocolate bar evoked visions of chocolate hazelnut spreads (like Nutella). 

The texture was a blend of creamy milk and hazelnut chocolate and crunchy, crispy rice bits, and the flavors reflected a sweet blend of these same ingredients with a light touch of vanilla.

Ingredients: Milk chocolate (cane sugar, milk, cocoa powder, chocolate liquor, soya lecithin, natural vanilla, hazelnut butter (hazelnuts), organic crisp rice (brown rice flour, cane sugar, sea salt, molasses), sea salt. 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Charles Chocolates - Ode to Joy (bar) - Sept. 24, 2020

Chocolate of the Day

Charles Chocolates 
Ode to Joy (bar)
Good +
Weight: 1.3 oz. (36 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: $4.00 (estimate) in 1 bar
Purchased from: SweetE Organic, Mill Valley, CA

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate, Nuts and More Theme Week.

Today's Ode to Joy (bar) from Charles Chocolates (San Francisco, CA) was a high-end homage to American chocolate-covered candy bars with nuts (almonds) and caramel.

The core of this small, chubby bar was milk chocolate ganache, "deep" roasted almonds, and soft fleur de sel (salt) caramel that was coated in 65% bittersweet chocolate. It was small, sweet and successful as a high-end candy bar.

Ingredients: Bittersweet chocolate (cacao beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin, vanilla beans), almonds, cane sugar, butter, milk chocolate (cane sugar, cocoa butter, full cream milk, cacao beans, sunflower lecithin, vanilla beans), cream, glucose syrup, salt, vanilla beans.

Re-Think Ice Cream - Chocolate Orange with Almond Butter - Sept. 23, 2020

Chocolate of the Day

Re-Think Ice Cream
Chocolate Orange with Almond Butter Ice Cream
Good +
Weight: 1/2 cup (92 g.) / 14 fl. oz. (414 mL) in total container
Calories: 190 calories in 1 serving (1/2 cup)
Cost: $1.99 for 1 container
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate, Nuts and More Theme Week.

Today's Chocolate Orange with Almond Butter ice cream was from Re-think Ice Cream  (San Francisco, CA).

The company described this ice cream as "the first and only collagen-infused, lactose free, A2/A2* dairy ice cream"..."Indulgence with benefits." Today's flavor included 9 grams of protein, 9 grams of sugar and 11 grams net carbs in one (1/2 cup) serving.

Aroma tends to be muted with frozen items like ice cream. There was a nutty, and faint chocolate, aroma. 

The base chocolate-orange ice cream had a very light chocolate flavor with very low chocolate/cocoa acidity. (The company may use Ghirardelli Majestic Cocoa which is apparently not dutched or alkalized, but it has an unusual, slightly alkaline pH. (It wasn't acidic like most natural cocoa tends to be.) Bakers and ice cream makers may milder flavor if they're highlighting other flavors. The natural orange flavor paired nicely with the chocolate and was allowed to shine.

Two additional flavors were added: chocolate flakes, and ribbons of almond butter. 

The initial frozen texture was hard, but it quickly softened, creating a pleasing smooth and creamy texture with a relatively rapid melt. Finely ground almonds (almond butter) added nutty texture and authentic nutty almond flavor.

This was a nicely balanced flavor combination of chocolate, nuts and something more. The orange added flavorful, sweet citrus to the mix. This ice cream also contained fiber (organic inulin) and whey protein. The latter helped to boost the protein content.

Ingredients: Milk, cream, whey protein concentrate, organic agave syrup, almond butter (almonds, canola oil and invert sugar), chocolate flavored flake (sugar, coconut oil, cocoa processed with alkali, butter oil, soy lecithin (emulsifier), natural flavor), cocoa processed with alkali, almonds, organic inulin (agave fiber), natural flavor, green tea extract, locust bean gum, guar gum, citric acid.  


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