Monday, August 29, 2016

The Xocolate Bar - Ginger, Absinthe chocolates - Aug. 29, 2016

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

The Xocolate Bar

1.) Chocolate Dipped Ginger
Good++
Weight: .5 oz. (14.1 g.) (estimate) in 1 piece
Calories: 70 calories (estimate) in 1 piece
Cost: $2.50 (estimate) for 1 piece
Purchased from: The Xocolate Bar

2.) St. George Absinthe Truffle
Good - Good +
Weight: .4 oz. (11.32 g.) (estimate) in 1 piece
Calories: 60 calories (estimate) in 1 piece
Cost: $2.50 (estimate) for 1 piece
Purchased from: The Xocolate Bar

It's Day #22 of Chocolate, Fruit and Botanicals Month. I'm moving away from fruits and into spices today, with a short series of chocolates blended with ginger. The ginger we eat is from a rhizome* of the ginger plant, although it's commonly referred to as ginger root.

Today I enjoyed two bonbons from The Xocolate Bar (Berkeley, CA). One was a generous round slice of candied ginger, partly dipped in dark chocolate. And the second was infused with Absinthe (a botanical based spirit) from St. George Distillery (Alameda, CA).**

The dark chocolate-dipped ginger piece had a great, natural sweet and spicy ginger kick and a slightly chewy texture. The ginger was a great match with the rich, dark chocolate.

The attractive Absinthe chocolate was a shimmering turbaned man's face (Aladdin or a genie perhaps?) and had a creamy dark chocolate melt and faint Chinese five spice flavor (fennel/anise) notes.

*A rhizome is actually a stem that spreads out horizontally in the ground. Both roots and shoots can grow from rhizhomes. I'm growing ginger in my kitchen. I started this plant from a piece of ginger I bought at the store. I hope, by next year if all goes well, to be able to harvest my own crop of fresh ginger. 

**Note: I was tempted to re-sample the company's Cardamom Truffle (a spice made from the seeds of a plant from the ginger family). I'd tasted this Cardamom Truffle in 2010, and it was also came in a face-shape form (Ramses or King Tut perhaps?).

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Santosha Chocolate - Goji Berries, Ginger and Ashwagandha bar - Aug. 28, 2016

Chocolate of the Day:

Santosha Chocolate
Goji Berries, Ginger and Ashwagandha Root bar
Good
Weight: "about 1 oz. (29 g.)" in 1 bar
Calories: 130 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $3.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #21 of Chocolate, Fruit and Botanicals Month.



Today's Goji Berries, Ginger and Ashwagandha Root bar from Santosha Chocolate (Asheville, NC) was made with Raw, Organic 70% cacao.

This dark, raw bar—made from fair trade, "heirloom variety" Peruvian cacao beans—was vegan, and low-glycemic (made with coconut palm sugar.) It was also nut, soy and gluten free.

The flavor inclusions were subtle. I couldn't really taste the ginger. Occasional whole goji berries provided pleasing mild fruit flavor. Ashwagandha is a bit of an acquired taste, but is said to offer certain health benefits.

I bought this bar in Dec. 2014; but it still tasted fine in 2016—in part due to the bar's sealed silver wrapper and careful storage (in a cool, dry place).  That said, I wouldn't recommend keeping most chocolate bars this long.

Even though well-tempered dark chocolate bars can last up to 18-24 months, it's almost always best to eat chocolate as soon as you can.* (And, some chocolates, e.g. truffles, should be eaten within a week or purchase date.)

*Some might actually benefit from a little "resting" or aging during the making process; but that time usually occurs in the early stages, before you purchase a bar.



Himalania - Cacao Dusted Dark Chocolate Goji Berries - Aug. 27, 2016

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

BrandStorm, Inc.
Himalania
Cacao Dusted Dark Chocolate Goji Berries
Good+
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 6 oz. (170 g.) in total package
Calories: 170 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $3.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #20 of Chocolate, Fruit and Botanicals Theme Week.

Himalania Cacao Dusted Dark Chocolate Goji Berries were distributed by BrandStorm, Inc.* (Los Angeles, CA). These dried berries that have mild red fruit, molasses and tea/floral notes were dusted with dark chocolate (alkalinized cocoa powder).

*Thierry Ollivier is the founder, CEO and president of Natierra. In 2014 Natierra became the umbrella for Himalania and Nature's All Foods lines/brands, which Ollivier had previously created. One of the first BrainStorm Himalania offerings was goji berries. 

New Earth Superfoods, Inc.

I also enjoyed trying two raw, organic chocolate offerings from New Earth Superfoods, Inc. (San Luis Obispo, CA).

I sampled: 1.) Probiotic Chocolate Truffles (Goji), and 2.) Probiotic Chocolate Bars (Goji Cream flavor).

(Thanks David and Katy for sharing these not too sweet, non-GMO chocolates with a quick, slightly velvety melt.)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Next by Nature - Dark Chocolate Goji Berries - Aug. 26, 2016

Chocolate of the Day:

Next by Nature
(Tropical Valley Foods)
Dark Chocolate Goji Berries
Good +
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total package
Calories: 190 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $1.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Today I "tasted" the lack of certain ingredients in these chocolates; and that was a good thing. What was missing? Ingredients (and processing) that can mask or dampen authentic flavors, or seem to seek 100% uniformity as a goal.

When eating fruits and other plant-based foods (like chocolate), it's important to have a minimum level of quality and freshness. However, beyond that, slight variations in (and natural unfolding of) flavors are what make many foods more interesting and delicious.

Welcome to Day #19 of Chocolate, Fruit and Botanicals Month.

Next by Nature Dark Chocolate Goji Berries were "produced by Tropical Valley Foods" (Plattsburgh, NY).

Today's small, elongated red berries had hints of mild dried berry fruit, molasses, faint earthiness and almost floral sweetness, and all the true goji flavor and texture that I would have hoped for. I could taste the real fruit and the dark chocolate in this gluten free and well balanced snack (with no additives or preservatives).


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Brookside - Dark Chocolate Goji and Raspberry - Aug. 25, 2016

Chocolate of the Day:

The Hershey Company
Brookside - Dark Chocolate Goji and Raspberry Flavors
Good
Weight: .7 oz. (20 g.) / 7 oz. (198 g.) in total package
Calories: 85 calories in 1/2 serving (8 pieces)
Cost: missing information
Purchased from: missing information



Welcome to Day #18 of Chocolate, Fruit and Botanicals Month, and a transition day from raspberry to goji berry flavors.

These Brookside Dark Chocolate Goji and Raspberry "Flavors" were from The Hershey Company (Hershey, PA) and were made in Canada. The round pieces consisted of "soft fruit flavored centers, covered in smooth dark chocolate."

I would call these chocolate candies. The dark chocolate was very sweet, as were the fruit centers. I have a bias: I like to taste the chocolate and the fruit(s); and I prefer sugar as a light accent flavor.  So (news flash to myself) I probably shouldn't be reviewing most candies.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Gratify - Raspberry Flavored Dark Chocolate Pretzels - Aug. 24, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Osem USA, Inc.
Gratify Foods
Raspberry Flavored Dark Chocolate - Gluten Free Sweet Pretzels
Good
Weight: .7 oz. (20 g.) / 5.5 oz. (156 g.) in total package
Calories: 95 calories in 1/2 serving (5 pretzels)
Cost: $1.99 (estimate) for 1 package
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #17 of Chocolate, Fruit and Botanicals Month.

Today's heart-shaped Raspberry Flavored Dark Chocolate Gluten Free Sweet Pretzels were from Gratify Foods, part of Osem USA, Inc. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ).

Gratify Foods offers a variety of gluten free pretzels (sweet and savory) and crackers.

Gluten baked goods don't always translate well. Thankfully, gluten free pretzels are generally very good, and these today's pretzels provided a hearty, crunchy interior (under a faintly raspberry flavored chocolate coating). And the sea salt on the pretzels balanced the sweetness.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Chobani Simply 100 - Raspberry Chocolate Twist - Aug. 23, 2016


Chocolate of the Day:

Chobani, LLC
Chobani Simply 100
"Crunch" Raspberry Chocolate Twist
Good
Weight: 4.2 oz. (119 g.) in total container 
Calories: 100 calories in 1 container
Cost: $missing information
Purchase from: Safeway, Palo Alto, CA

Back on Aug. 26, 2013, I featured a Chobani (Norwich, NY) "Bite" 100-calorie offering with raspberry yogurt and chocolate chips. I'm not sure the smaller-sized (3.5 oz. or 100 g.) "Bite" line of flavors are still sold.

Today's newer Select 100 "Crunch" Raspberry Chocolate Twist (yogurt) flavor, also was only 100 calories and had flavors that included raspberry and chocolate. However, today's "Crunch" also contained acai and coconut, giving it a bit more varied texture (creamy, chewy and slightly crunchy).

Raspberry Acai non-fat Greek yogurt was blended with "Raspberry Milk Chocolate and Toasted Coconut."

The two-compartment yogurt snack was naturally sweetened (with monkfruit and stevia) and made from Non-GMO ingredients. The natural sweetener blend was quite good compared to artificial sweeteners or sugar and corn syrup blends of the past.

Today was Day #16 of Chocolate, Fruit and Botanicals Month.







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