Saturday, July 4, 2015

Moonstruck - Raspberries and Fennel Sugar - July 4, 2015

Chocolate of the Day:

Moonstruck Chocolate Co.
Raspberries and Fennel Sugar bar
Good ++ - Very Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 3.17 oz. (90 g.) in total bar
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1 oz. (28.3 g.) serving
Cost: $9.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Today was Day #11 of Chocolate and Botanicals Theme Week; and Happy 4th of July to all out there celebrating the Independence Day holiday.

This dark chocolate Raspberry and Fennel Sugar bark bar from Moonstruck Chocolate Co. (Portland, OR) was adorned with a rosy red riot of freeze-dried raspberry bits, and a sprinkling of pale green fennel sugar pieces (that incorporated "edible fennel flowers").

The raspberry flavor was so concentrated and berry sweet that it almost overshadowed the fennel and chocolate, but the flavors made for a great, visually striking and sweet botanical trio -- one that I hadn't tried before. I like forward to trying a berry + herb topping at home atop a chocolate panna cotta or chocolate mousse.

Moonstruck - Strawberries and Basil Sugar bar - July 3, 2015

Chocolate of the Day:

Moonstruck Chocolate Co.
Strawberries and Basil Sugar bark bar
Good ++ - Very Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 3.10 oz. (88 g.) in total bar
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1 oz. (28.3 g.) piece of bar
Cost: $9.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Today was Day #10 of Chocolate and Botanicals Theme Week. I can't seem to get enough of this theme week that's been filled with examples of fruit, flowers and herb combinations with chocolate.

When I saw today's, visually stunning Strawberries and Basil Sugar bark bar from Moonstruck Chocolate Co. (Portland, OR) at a local supermarket, I knew I'd be hanging out in botanical land for a few days longer.

The carefully arranged topping of rose-colored, freeze-dried strawberry slices and green basil-infused sugar crystals looked, at first glance, like dried peas and carrots, but not so! This unique and flavorful fruit and herb combination atop a base of dark chocolate was great for savoring and enjoying after dinner this evening.

Sirene Chocolate - Lachua, Guatemala duo - Maple Sugar - July 2, 2015

Chocolate of the Day:

Sirene Chocolate
Lachua, Guatemala 73% cacao bar duo pack
1.) Lachua with cane sugar
2.) Lachua with maple sugar
Good ++ - Very Good
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 2.12 oz. (60 g.) in total package of 2 bars
Calories: 159 calories (estimate) in 1/2 of each of the two bars
Cost: $12.00 for 1 package of two bars
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

Today was bonus Day #9 for Chocolate and Botanicals Theme Week.

Most bars and chocolates I write about on this site contain botanicals of some sort. And you could argue that cacao/cocoa is a plant-based flavoring agent all by itself.

Artisan bean-to-bar chocolate bars (like today's bars) are often crafted with just two ingredients: cacao beans and sugar.

Such was the case with today's pair of bars in one package, from Sirene Artisan Chocolate Makers (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada). The sugars used in chocolate (from plants, canes, trees) can also impart botanical flavor.

This package of single origin Lachua, Guatemala dark chocolate contained two slightly different bars that could be sampled and compared. This side-by-side tasting approach is very helpful when trying to figure out what you may like best (or least). The only difference between the two was that the first bar (wrapped in silver foil) was sweetened with cane sugar; and the second bar (wrapped in gold foil) was sweetened with maple sugar.

There was a fairly bold, but balanced fruit acidity to both bars. The maple sugar, from maple trees in the Quebec Appalachian mountains in Canada, added another, very pleasant, but subtle flavor dimension, without shifting or masking the underlying cacao flavor profile.

This 2-bar offering was created for The Chocolate Garage (Palo Alto, CA). Owner, Sunita de Tourreil, grew up outside of Montreal, and the result of her collaboration with Sirene is a natural and delicious pairing.

A Bit of History
For an interesting look at the history of maple sugar in the U.S., see this article "Thomas Jefferson and the Maple Sugar Scheme" on history.org.






Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Miette - Chocolate Lavender Macaron - July 1, 2015

Chocolate of the Day:

Miette Cakes LLC
Chocolate Lavender Macaron
Good ++ - Very Good
Weight: .9 oz. (25.47 g.) (estimate) in 1 macaron
Calories: 100 calories (estimate) in 1 macaron
Cost: $1.85 for 1 macaron
Purchased from: Miette, Jack London Square, Oakland, CA

Today was Day #8 of Chocolate and Botanical Theme Week.

It's impossible to do justice to the huge range of plant-based edibles that pair well with chocolate in one week -- even if I am adding a few extra days to this "week."

I featured a lavender item a few days ago. But, it's a flavor that bears repeating. Lavender buds can stand up to the rich flavor of chocolate. And Miette does a nice job of infusing bold botanical flavors (like lavender, or rose geranium) into delicate (gluten free) macarons.

Four of today's Chocolate Lavender Macarons were carefully extracted from a glass jar, by staff in Miette's Oakland location. The two flavors co-existed very nicely in this little round, creamy and chewy, sandwich confection.

One macaron was eaten immediately, a second was shared with a friend, and two made it home. If you like your macaron crunchier rather than chewier, let it sit in a car for two days in a brown paper bag. Surprisingly, I liked this "crunchy" version too; although some of the fresh lavender flavor dissipates over a day or two. (Don't try leaving a chocolate bar in this bag; you'll end up with chocolate fondue.)



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Manoa - Ghost Pepper bar - June 30, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Manoa Chocolate
Ghost Pepper 60% bar
Good - Good +
Weight: .66 oz. (18.9 g.) / 2 oz. (56.7 g.) in total bar
Calories: 99 calories (estimate) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $10.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

Today was Day #7 of Chocolate and Botanicals Theme Week.

Chili was an early plant-based addition to cacao, dating back to days when beans were first roasted over a fire and stone-ground by hand in Central and Latin America.

Today's Ghost Pepper 60% dark milk chocolate bar from Manoa Chocolate (Kailua, Oahu) was a hand-crafted (bean-to-bar), Hawaiian-made chocolate with some chili pepper heat.

The first few bites of this bar yielded smooth, chocolatey, dark milk chocolate flavor. Then a slight burn warmed things up in my mouth, but never to the point of being unpleasant. The chili heat hovered at a low sizzle, and then gently faded away.

Manoa chocolate maker, Dylan B., uses local ingredients when he can. Cocoa beans often come from Hawaiian cacao growers; the cane sugar is from Maui.

Ghost peppers (Naga Bhut Jolokia) are from northern India I'm told, and are rumored to be the hottest chili peppers in the world, with a Scoville rating that's hovers around 1 million Scoville Heat Units (SHUs), under ideal growing conditions. It's possible these hotter-than-hot peppers could have been Hawaiian-grown as well, but you'd have to check with Manoa. Good news, just a few small peppers could probably liven up a whole batch of bars.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Manoa - Ali'i Kula Lavender bar - June 29, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Manoa Chocolate
Ali'i Kula Lavender 60% bar
Good++ - Very Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2 oz. (56.7 g.) in total bar
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) for 1/2 bar
Cost: $10 for 1 bar
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

Today was Day #6 of Chocolate and Botanicals Theme Week.

Lavender is a strong floral flavor often linked to soaps, perfumes, and teas. For an unlucky few, the association between these fragrant, almost pine-y purple buds and soap/perfume is so strong that the thought of eating lavender is considered odd at best. But, for lavender lovers, today's freshly minted Manoa Chocolate Ali'i Kula Lavender bar would be a special treat.

Manoa Chocolate (Kailua, Oahu) founder and chocolatemaker, Dylan Butterbaugh, was born and raised in Oahu, and makes bean-to-bar chocolate -- using local ingredients when possible. For example, the cacao beans frequently come from "a network of farmers" across Hawaii (the only U.S. state that currently grows cacao commercially). And the cane sugar is from Maui.

The dehydrated lavender buds used to flavor this 60% cacao chocolate came from Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm in the hills of Maui -- a beautiful spot. The dried buds were ground into a fine powder that imparted a uniform lavender flavor throughout this bold-flavored dark milk chocolate bar.




Sunday, June 28, 2015

SOMA Chocolatemaker - Bergamot - June 28, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

SOMA Chocolatemaker
Bergamot
Good ++ - Very Good
Weight: .4 oz. (11.32 g.) (estimate) in 1 piece
Calories: 62 calories (estimate) in 1 piece
Cost: $N/A - part of a larger box of chocolates
Purchased from: SOMA Chocolatemaker, Toronto, Canada

Today was Day #5 of Chocolate and Botanicals Theme Week.

This creamy, dark Bergamot truffle from SOMA Chocolatemaker (Toronto, Canada) had subtle but clear bergamot notes.

This chocolate was flavored with Bergamot Orange oil, also used to flavor Earl Grey tea. I happen to love the aroma of this citrus-based scent, and having its essence infused into a chocolate was a special treat.



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