Friday, March 22, 2019

Luna - Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk (bar) - Mar. 22, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Luna 
Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk (bar)
Good
Weight: 1.48 oz. (42 g.) bar / box of 6 bars
Calories: 180 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $3.49 for 1 box of 6 bars
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Starches Theme Week.

Oats are a popular starch and cereal grain, often combined with chocolate chips or chunks, in cookies, granolas, cereals and oatmeal cereals. 

They're also a popular (non-wheat) inclusion in energy, nutrition and cereal bars, such as today's Luna Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk bar distributed by Clif Bar and Company (Emeryville, CA). 

Oats* can add a bit of substantial cereal oomph and texture/fiber to a bar and, to some extent, can help balance sweetness (if extra sugar isn't added to compensate for this muffling effect). Speaking of sugar this bar was labeled as "low glycemic" (19 grams carbohydrates and 5 grams of sugar).

This bar had mild peanut butter flavor. And small chocolate chunks adhered to one side of the bar, gave it a hint of rich chocolate flavor.

*The first ingredient listed was a Protein Grain Blend (soy protein isolate, organic rolled oats, organic rice flour). This gluten-free bar contained 7 grams of protein.


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Freed Foods - NurturMe Organic Ancient Grain Cookies - Cocoa - Mar. 21, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Made for Freed Foods
NurturMe - Organic Ancient Grain Cookies - Cocoa
Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 5 oz. (1?? g.) in total box
Calories: 130 calories in 1 serving (7 small cookies)
Cost: $ missing information
Purchased from: missing information

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Starches Theme Week.

Today's NurturMe Organic Ancient Grain Cookies - Cocoa - were manufactured for Freed Foods (Austin, TX), and were made from a flour blend of millet, sorghum and quinoa—considered "ancient grains" here (as well as potato and tapioca starch).

Quinoa is a plant from the Andes with starchy seeds that looks like a grain. Technically it's a pseudo-cereal, that has become popular in the U.S. in recent decades. Today's small cocoa-flavored cookies were crunchy, and not too sweet (thank you).

Quinoa can add a satisfying crunchy texture to baked goods, especially cookies. The cocoa gave these cookies a rich flavor. These were a bit on the dry side, but it was nothing a glass of water, milk, coffee, or companion beverage of your choice wouldn't be able to address.

Did I mention these cookies included probiotics? The probiotic(s) listed: GanedenBC30(R) (Organic Inulin, Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086). Sounds technical. We weren't sure what this beneficial bacteria is used for in terms of digestive or overall health. But, it didn't seem to affect the taste of these small cookies.





Natural Nectar - ChocoDream Organic Cocoa Rice Stix - Mar. 20, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Natural Nectar
ChocoDream - Organic Cocoa Rice Stix - Coconut cream filled
Good +
Weight: .88 oz. (25 g.) / 4.4 oz. (125 g.) in total box of 5 packets
Calories: 130 calories in 1 packet (2 pieces/stix)
Cost: $4.49 for 1 box of 5 packets
Purchased from: Whole Foods Market, Los Altos, CA

Welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate, Grasses and Grains Theme Week.

Today's ChocoDream - Organic Cocoa Rice Stix - Coconut cream filled packaged snacks were made in Italy and distributed by Natural Nectar (Huntington, NY).

Why incorporate starch from rice, corn, millet, quinoa, oats, grains, pseudo-cereals, and other grains and root vegetables into a chocolate item? Chocolate can certainly perk up grains. And starches and grains can add crispy texture, e.g. to an oatmeal or quinoa chocolate chip cookie, or to today's organic crunchy rice treats.

Chocolate purists may not agree, but this week we're sampling chocolates with a bit of starch added.

Today's box* of light, sweet, crunchy cocoa flavored** tube-shaped sticks were filled with creamy coconut resulted in an addictive combination—as tasty as any cookie out there (if you like a bit of coconut). And they were gluten free, vegan and organic.

*This box of 5 individually-wrapped packets contained two pieces in each packet.
**Ingredients: organic cane sugar, organic rice flour, organic grated coconut,  organic sunflower oil, organic coconut oil, organic low-fat cocoa powder, organic quinoa flour, organic millet flour, salt.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Chocolate Story Manufaktura Czekolady - House Blend Milk 44% kakao with roasted hazelnuts - Mar. 19, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chocolate Story
Manufaktura Czekolady 
House Blend Milk 44% kakao with roasted hazelnuts (bar)
Good +++
Weight: 1.75 oz. (50 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 279 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $N/A - gift
Purchased from: N/A - gift from maker

Welcome. Sometimes one is in the right place at the right time to hear a wonderful new chocolate story. Such was the case recently, while at Chocolate Covered in San Francisco. Krzysztof Stypulkowski* was in this shop speaking with Jack, the owner, about carrying some new bars from Poland. What luck! We were there too, chocolate shopping.

Today's House Blend Milk 44% kakao with roasted hazelnuts bar was made by Manufaktura Czekolady (Chocolate Story) based in Poland.

The aroma was one of high-quality dark milk chocolate. The melt and texture were smooth, and the mouth feel became even creamier after the first bite. The chocolate tasted richer and darker than its 44% cacao content. The carefully distributed whole roasted hazelnuts added fresh nut flavor and a satisfying soft crunch.

Looking forward to tasting and featuring more Chocolate Story bars in the near future. (The taste we had of the company's Uganda bar recently caught our attention.)

*Krzysztof has background as an Information Technology (IT) professional. This is not unusual for artisan chocolate makers. Some of the best bean-to-bar chocolate we've seen has come from people with technical backgrounds, who feel as at home building and fixing machines and problem-solving as they do with sharing their chocolate story with others.


Solstice Chocolate - India 70% Dark Chocolate Anamalai bar - March 18, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Solstice Chocolate
India 70% Dark Chocolate Anamalai bar
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: .766 oz. (21.6 g.) / 2.3 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 106.6 calories in 1/3 bar
Cost: $13.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Day #8 of Chocolate and India Theme Week.

Today's 70% Dark Chocolate Anamalai (India) bar was from Solstice Chocolate (Salt Lake City, UT).

This bar had a stronger fruit aroma and flavor than other bars made with cacao from Anamalai* featured this week.

The aroma of today's 70% dark bar had dried fruit (golden raisins, goji berries) and very faint spice notes. The bar broke with a hard snap; and the melt and texture were smooth.

The flavor had strong fruit notes (tangy red raspberries, passion fruit) and a faint hint of of acetic acid (fruit vinegar), followed by light black pepper and spice.

The packaging was attractive and unique in that it was also a re-sealable pouch.

*Anamalai is a cacao, coconut and nutmeg farm in southern India. 


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Tiny House Chocolate Artisans - 67% India Dark Chocolate (Anamalai) bar - March 17, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

Tiny House Chocolate Artisans
67% India Chocolate bar - Source: Anamalai
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: .705 oz. (20 g.) / 1.41 oz. (40 g.) in total bar
Calories: 112 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $9.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and India Theme Week.

Today's 67% Anamalai India Chocolate Artisans bar was from Tiny House Chocolate Artisans (Santa Cruz, CA).

Tiny House Chocolate was featured in an article in Good Times (Santa Cruz, CA). (Photo of founders at right is from this article.)

Gustavo Hilsdorf and Maiana Lasevicius, the artisans behind small batch Tiny House Chocolate Artisans, moved to Santa Cruz, California, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and started offering bean-to-bar chocolate in 2015. (Lasevicius's father makes chocolate in Brazil, likely providing them with some helpful background and experience.)

The duo roast and grind cacao beans from multiple origins around the globe and sell two-ingredient (cocoa beans and sugar) single bars as well as bars with carefully selected inclusions. (Look for a write-up on their Sarsaparilla bar in a few weeks.) Today's bar was made from Forastero and Criollo cacao beans grown in the Anamalai area of Southern India.

This bar had an aroma with light green, fruit and faint spice notes, and a creamy, smooth melt,  texture and finish.

The 67% bar was similar in flavor profile to other Anamalai bars featured this week (all were well-executed and balanced) only with a tiny bit more fruit acidity (which some will like) that was perhaps highlighted by a tad more sugar than the other bars. Although it certainly was balanced and did not taste too sweet.

Makers tasting notes listed on the packaging read: "Dried fruits and Brazil nuts."


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Pascati - 81% Dark Idukki, Inda bar - March 16, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Pascati Foods LLP
81% Dark Idukki, India bar
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1.32.5 oz. (37.5 g.) / 2.65 oz. (75 g.) in total bar
Calories: 230 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $8.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com (online order)

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and India Theme Week.
Today's 81% Dark Idukki, India bar was manufactured by Pascati Foods India LLP (Palgahar, Maharashtra, India).

Like its sibling, the 72% Dark Idukki bar (featured yesterday), this darker 81% version had an aroma with green, dried fruit, slight earth and very faint spice/herb notes.

The flavor* was similar to the aroma with green, fruit, green herb, and mild earthiness throughout.

This bar possessed a balanced dark flavor profile without the bitterness or sharpness you might find in other high-percentage, ultra-dark bars. It had a creamy melt and texture, smooth taste, and subtle finish.

This organic bar contained/listed three ingredients: organic cocoa beans, organic cane sugar and organic cocoa butter.

*This bar contained "added natural flavours;" and details concerning these flavors were not specified.
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