Sunday, January 21, 2018

Mars dark chocolate M and Ms; A. Mathez French chocolate truffles - Jan. 20, 2018

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

Mars dark chocolate M and Ms
(Blue and White, customized for Junior Museum and Zoo)
Weight: .5 oz. (14.1 g.) / 6 oz. (169.8 g.) (estimate) in total container
Calories: 70 calories (estimate) in .5 oz. serving
Cost: $N/A gift
Purchased from: N/A - gift

Chocolat Mathez SAS
Alaus Mathez Chocolatier
Truffes Fantaisie - Cacao Powdered Truffles
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 17.6 oz. (500 g.) in total container
Calories: 170 calories in 1 serving (3 truffles)
Cost: $ missing information for 1 container
Purchased from: missing information

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

Custom Colored Thank You Gift
Sometimes surprise gifts just happen to be chocolate, like today's first chocolate item. This glass jar of specially customized M and M chocolate candies had blue and white candy shells, with images of a raccoon and the organization name printed on them. They were gifts to volunteers at the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo.

The un-customized/traditional version of Mars dark chocolate M and M chocolate candies appeared years ago on Chocolate Banquet. So the hunt was on for a second chocolate item.

Fortunately, a large canister of truffles that had been hiding in the chocolate vault was discovered, making today a surprise chocolate double header.

Alaus Mathez truffles

These Cacao Powdered Truffles (made in France) were closer to traditional truffles than most filled chocolate confections marketed as truffles.

Summer sun is great for beach weather, but it can ruin chocolate. And these truffles had survived some record heat before being purchased and stored in the vault. The light dusting of cocoa powder had darkened a bit. But, the flavor and texture were surprisingly rich, smooth, satisfying and authentic, i.e. relatively unaffected by the heat.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Good Day Chocolate - Vitamin D3 Candy Coated Pieces - Jan. 19, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Good Day Chocolate  
Vitamin D3 Supplement - Chocolate Candy Coated Pieces
Weight: .99 oz. (28 g.) in 1 package of 8 pieces
Calories: 120 calories in 1 package of 8
Cost: $2.99 (estimate) for 1 package
Purchased from: Pharmaca, Menlo Park, CA

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Surprise Theme Week.
Vitamin D is nicknamed the sunshine vitamin because sun enables human bodies to produce this vitamin.* During cloudy winter days, one can also get Vitamin D from food or vitamins.

What about a Vitamin D supplement made of chocolate? Surprise! One exists.

Today's Vitamin D3 Supplement from Good Day Chocolate (Boulder, CO) materialized in the form of chocolate candy coated pieces (think super-sized M and M candies from Mars).

Each crunchy, naturally-colored red candy shell contained a dark chocolate center made with fair trade cacao. These almost had a slight dairy butter, yellow floral flavor to them; but this could have been my imagination. Yellow sunshine and fields of yellow flowers are a few months away.

*These chocolate candy dietary supplements contained 1,000 IUs per serving (1/2 package). It might take 15-20 minutes of California (winter) sunshine for a person to be able to make this much on their own.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Theo Chocolate - Salted Black Licorice 70% Dark Chocolate bar - Jan. 18, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Theo Chocolate, Inc.
Organic and Fair Trade Salted Black Licorice 70% Dark Chocolate bar
Good ++
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 166 calories in 1/3 bar
Cost: $4.99 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: missing information 
Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Surprise Theme Week.

Some people may be surprised by chocolates with licorice, fennel or anise flavoring. But, in fact, great chocolate + licorice blends exist in candies, cakes, cookies and, of course, bars.*

Today's Organic and Fair Trade Salted Black Licorice 70% Dark Chocolate bar was from Theo Chocolate (Seattle, WA).

Warning: if you like licorice, you may find this bar—flavored with star anise essential oil and licorice root extract—mildly addicting. 

Once again, the origin story for this chocolate is multi-faceted. The dark chocolate 70% cacao base was made with cacao sourced in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Peru. The touch of vanilla was sourced in Indonesia; and the licorice root was sourced in the USA**.

Tasting note on the packaging read: "sweet, salty and complex."

This was a well balanced bar with an aroma and initial flavor of licorice. After the first bite, the dark chocolate flavors gently blossomed into prominence; and the touch of salt was just right.

This bar was Organic, Fair for Life, Soy Free, Kosher, Vegan and Gluten Free.

*Askinosie Chocolate and Patric Chocolate (bean-to-bar makers located in Missouri) have both produced bars with licorice in the past.
**Ingredients: Cocoa Beans, Cane Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Sea Salt, Star Anise Essential Oil, Ground Vanilla Bean, Licorice Root Extract

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ultimate Superfoods - Ojio Shape Shifter Cayenne bar - Jan. 17, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Made for: Ultimate Superfoods, Inc.
Ojio Shape Shifter Cayenne Metabolism 66 percent bar
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.16 oz. (33 g.) / 1.76 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 193 calories in 2/3 bar
Cost: $5.95 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Surprise Theme Week.

Today's Ojio Shape Shifter Cayenne Metabolism bar from Ultimate Superfoods, Inc. (Moorpark, CA) looked exciting and a little scary. Do I really want to be a shape shifter?

In addition to spices like turmeric and cinnamon, this 66% cacao chocolate was powered by some cayenne pepper heat and many other flavor and functional inclusions (ginseng, green coffee, garcinia cambogia, pine bark extract, etc.).

Surprise! There was no need to fear. This was a well-tempered bar that broke with a hard snap. And it had well-balanced, rich chocolate and spice flavors. There was no strange medicinal flavor, and this offering did not take the "fun" out of functional chocolate.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Domori - 100% Criollo Cacao bar - Jan. 16, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

100% Criollo Cacao bar
Good ++
Weight: .66 oz. (21 g.) / .88 oz. (25 g.) in total bar
Calories: 117 calories in 3/4 bar
Cost: $ N/A - gift from a friend
Purchased from: N/A - gift (Apple store, Cupertino, CA)

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

Just when it crossed my mind that maybe 11 years of chocolate might be enough, surprise! This generous gift from a friend arrived. 

Today's single-ingredient,* 100% Criollo Cacao bar from Domori (None, Italy) was purchased by said friend at an Apple Computer store adjacent to the company's Cupertino headquarters. Disk drives and Domori. Interesting combination.

This bar had a slightly bitter, earthy tobacco aroma. The relatively thin bar allowed access to a flavor profile (similar to the aroma) right away; and the chocolate broke with a had snap (a sign of a well-tempered bar). The melt was rapid and even; and the texture was smooth, almost creamy. 

For such a powerful dark aroma and flavor profile, it was surprisingly mild in terms of bitterness and lacked the astringent pucker one might expect. It was like a ship in heavy seas that you expect might founder but it kept miraculously righting itself.

The flavor was very even and persisted with a similar aftertaste for several seconds, then tailed off gradually. 

Tasting notes printed on the packaging read: "...dried fruit with low bitterness and astringency, and an almost immediate balance." It was all of these, but without some of the more delicate dried, fruit acidity at the beginning that is ofter present with bars made with pure Criollo** cacao. 

*One ingredient: cocoa mass, gluten free

**Criollo, a variety of cacao, is known for its subtle, exquisite, usually balanced flavors. Fruits for this tree tend to be slightly smaller, and it is often more delicate, and less disease resistant than Forestaro and Trinitario varieties.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Lindt and Sprungli - Gingerbread Milk Chocolate Truffles - Jan. 15, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Lindt and Sprungli 
Lindor Limited Edition - Gingerbread Milk Chocolate Truffles
Good +
Weight: .848 oz. (24 g.) / 5.1 oz. (144 g.) in total package of 12
Calories: 147 calories in 2 pieces
Cost: $ missing information
Purchased from: Michaels, Mountain View, CA

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

It's always a surprise to discover holiday-related chocolates in mid-January. Normally they evaporate by New Year's Day. However, chocolate and gingerbread are favorites here, all year long.

Today's Limited Edition Gingerbread Milk Chocolate Truffles were created by Lindt and Sprungli (Switzerland), and distributed by Lindt and Sprungli U.S. (Stratham, NH). 

These individually-wrapped, round milk chocolate gingerbread truffles were tasty and satisfying. The fillings inside the milk chocolate outer shells were creamy and smooth, and flecked with tiny crunchy bits. The gingerbread flavor was subtle and authentic.

Note to those who avoid gluten: These truffles did contain barley malt powder.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Bonaris Cacao de Peru - Chocolate Negro con aceite de oliva y sal - Jan. 14, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Bonaris - Cacao de Peru
Dark Chocolate with Olive Oil and Salt 80% Cacao bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.16 oz. (33.3 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 176 calories (estimate) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $N/A - gift
Purchased from: N/A - gift

Welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate and Surprise Me Theme Week.

Surprises come in many forms. Sometimes wonderful chocolate surprises arrive by mail or via an acquaintance who has come back from a trip.

Today's Bonaris Dark Chocolate bar with Olive Oil and Salt was was purchased by a colleague who was visiting Barcelona, Spain.* (Thank you Eileen!)

The bar looked like a conventional dark bar, and had pleasing dark chocolate flavor. However, don't expect this to break with a hard snap, the sign of a fully tempered bar.

It was surprisingly soft and a wee bit granular; however the olive oil, and added cocoa butter, helped give this gluten and dairy free bar an almost velvety stoneground melt. This was labeled as an 80 percent cacao bar, but it was quite sweet and approachable for an ultra-high percentage bar.

A generous sprinkle of salt on the back yielded surprise bursts of salt sparkle, more on some bites than others.

This was a fun bar to try, with a great journey story to tell. And the repurposed envelope and inner wrapper packaging was clever, resourceful and functional.

*As far as I can tell, Bonaris bars (available in Spain in several flavors) are made in the Lleida Province of Catalonia in northeast Spain, using at least some cacao grown in Peru. These bars (or tabletas) are sold through Chocolates IVIS SL at outdoor markets in the region, including in Barcelona. Picture at right is from the company's Facebook page and shows the variety of bars they offer.
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