Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Jennies Gluten Free Bakery - Double Chocolate Sea Salt Mararoons - Dec. 9, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Jennies Gluten Free Bakery
(manufactured by Red Mill Farms)
Double Chocolate Sea Salt Macaroons
Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 10 oz. (283 g.) in total container
Calories: 145 calories in 1 macaroon
Cost: $2.99 (estimate) for 1 container
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's Jennies Double Chocolate Sea Salt Macaroons were manufactured by Red Mill Farms (Moosic, PA) for Jennies Gluten Free Bakery (Moosic, PA).

These classic, slightly chewy coconut and chocolate macaroons were embellished with a friendly dose of sea salt. The recipe seemed to be updated to address changing tastes in the past few years. The chocolate had a slightly richer flavor, there were no sulfites,* and these were certified gluten free, Non GMO, and made in a peanut-free facility.

These were substantial, sweet, and natural coconut and chocolate macaroons. One was enough to satisfy.

*Shredded coconut is often treated with sulfites to preserve color and freshness. However, some people do not tolerate sulfites, have respiratory symptoms after ingesting sulfites, or can be allergic to them. And these people would likely be happy to compromise a bit on the original color if they could find a sulfite-free product. (Frankly, with chocolate macaroons, you might not notice if "white" coconut shaded down a bit to a duller ivory color.





Sunday, December 8, 2019

Arete - Coco Powder; Coconut Drinking Chocolate - Dec. 8, 2019

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Arete
Expeller Pressed Cocoa Powder
Good - Good +
Weight: 4 oz. (113 g.) (estimate) in 1/2 cup hot chocolate / 8.8 oz. (250 g.) in total package of ("dry") cocoa powder
Calories: 200 calories in 1 small cup serving
Cost: $ Missing information
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate and Coconut Theme Week.

To make a good hot chocolate or drinking chocolate, you need to start with high-quality ingredients, like rich, flavorful, authentic Expeller Pressed Cocoa Powder from Arete Artisan Fine Chocolate (Spencer, TN).

To this cocoa powder I added (dairy) milk, homemade coconut milk, coconut oil and spices and a hint of monkfruit (sweetener)—resulting in a very rich hot drinking chocolate which was cooked and stirred and then run through a sieve into a cup.

"Zombie" Chocolates, Sticky Wilson's Candy Shop, Palo Alto

Chocolates have been available in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 150 years. It's always interesting to research ghosts of chocolates past in one's own neighborhood.


A century ago Wilson's Candy, initially located on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, CA, opened its downtown Palo Alto store. An article in the December 2017 issue of the Stanford Illustrated Review talked about the new candy shop on University Avenue. Wilson's chocolates were described as superior, "College Educated Chocolates."


This and related information surfaced when I attended a talk at a local Palo Alto Historical Association meeting this evening.

Chocolates served at this event re-created a recipe for "Zombie" chocolates—sold by "Sticky" Wilson at his Palo Alto Candy Shop—including a coconut flavor. The truffle-shaped rounds were soft and chocolatey and rolled in flaked coconut.

Thank you to Nicole (and mom Kristen) and grandparents for bringing these historic chocolates back to life, and for explaining how they were made. The Coconut Zombie chocolate I tasted was great!












Saturday, December 7, 2019

Chocolate Filled Raspberries; Cheesecake Cups; Raspberry Almond Yogurt; small desserts - Dec. 7, 2019

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

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

Greetings busy people. Here is a trio of small, easy to make chocolate and raspberry desserts 1.) Dark Chocolate Filled Fresh Raspberries, 2.) chocolate and raspberry Cheesecake Cups and 3.) Raspberry Almond Milk Yogurt with chocolate shavings.

Dark Chocolate Filled Raspberries

Dark Chocolate Filled Raspberries
Good +++
Weight: unknown - less than 1 oz. (28.3 g.)
Calories: 35 calories (estimate) in 5 berries
Cost: $5.00 (estimate) for organic, fresh raspberries and dark chocolate

Simple is better. A shout out to Robyn Stone's recipe for chocolate filled fresh raspberries (found on her Add A Pinch website).

This is an easy, fresh way to combine berries and chocolate. Even though finding fresh berries in December required a fairly extensive search, it was worth the drive to be able to create these flavorful little beauties.

Melt a little dark chocolate with a bit of coconut oil and either carefully spoon the melted chocolate* into individual berries, or put this chocolate a plastic bag and cut off a small corner to pipe warm chocolate into each berry. Chilling these for even a few minutes firms up the chocolate.

Philadelphia Cheesecake Cups

Kraft Heinz
Philadelphia Cheesecake Cups
(chocolate and raspberry)
Good
Weight: 3.25 oz. (92 g.) / 6.5 oz. (184 g.) in 1 package of 2 servings
Calories: 240 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $3.99 (estimate) for 1 package of 2 servings
Purchased from: Missing information

This off-the-shelf snack dessert package of Philadelphia "cheesecake cups" (contained two serving containers and) was made with a pocket of chocolate cream cheese and a pocket of raspberry sauce, and no artificial flavors or colors (thank you!).

A consumer can mix the chocolate and raspberry pockets or sides together as they wish. Just grab a spoon and eat.

Raspberry Yogurt with Dark Chocolate Shavings

Kite Hill 
Raspberry Artisan Almond Milk Yogurt (dairy free)
Weight: 5.3 oz. (150 g.) in 1 container + dark chocolate shavings
Calories: 150 calories in 1 container + dark chocolate shavings
Cost: $0.89 for 1 serving
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Kite Hill Raspberry Artisan Almond Milk Yogurt—distributed by Lyrical Foods, Inc. (Hayward, CA)—with dark chocolate shavings was the third small dessert for the day.

It's nice to have a non-dairy yogurt alternative that can be eaten plain or incorporated into some dessert like this. The texture was smooth and velvety. The raspberry flavor was authentic and the yogurt had a very faint plant/nut taste at the end.

And dark chocolate shavings seem to be right at home with any yogurt, or ice cream.

*Note: An 80% cocoa dark chocolate single origin bar, and a Tart Raspberries + Dark Chocolate 72% Cocoa bar (featured earlier version of this site) from Endangered Species (Indianapolis, IN) were also used to make these desserts.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Hu Kitchen - Cashew Butter and Raspberry Jelly Dark Chocolate bar - Dec. 6, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Hu Kitchen
Cashew Butter and Raspberry Jelly Dark Chocolate bar
Good ++
Weight: 1.05 oz. (30 g.) / 2.1 oz. (60 g.) in total bar
Calories: 180 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $3.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: The Market at Edgewood, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Raspberry Theme Week.

Today's Cashew Butter and Raspberry Jelly Dark Chocolate bar was from Hu Kitchen (New York, NY).

This vegan, paleo, filled bar was made with "organic house-ground cacao." The bar had a light, clean, green aroma with chocolate and fruit (berry) notes, and natural raspberry and rich, smooth chocolate flavor. This was a nicely balanced and executed chocolate bar with a slight cashew nut finish.



Thursday, December 5, 2019

Sjaak's - Organic Melk Chocolate with Almond Butter bar + raspberry sundae - Dec. 5, 2019

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

Sjaak's Organic Chocolates
Organic Melk Chocolate with Almond Butter bar
(with raspberry preserves) in vanilla ice cream
Good
Weight: 1.75 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 280 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $2.49 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Raspberry Theme Week.

Today's Melk Chocolate with Almond Butter bar was from Sjaak's Organic Chocolates (Petaluma, CA).

This sweet, non-dairy "melk" chocolate was made with organic rice milk chocolate and had an organic almond butter filling. It had a soft and creamy texture. It also had a distinct almond extract flavor note to it.

I had intended on pairing this Sjaak's Melk Chocolate Almond Butter bar with Sjaak's Organic Dark Chocolate with Raspberry bar. However, I discovered when checking my spreadsheets that I'd already tasted this bar before. (I've sampled over 4,700 different chocolates in the last 13+ years; so this does happen occasionally.)

So, half of the Almond Butter bar was sampled, then the other half was chopped and used to make a very small almond butter and raspberry ice cream sundae (using vanilla ice cream from Three Twins (Novato, CA) and raspberry sauce.

Fresh raspberries in December are very scarce. (It's cold. Can we see our breath yet?) However, the bright, tart flavor of red raspberries keep the promise of more summers and fresh berries to come alive. This is why I'm featuring a raspberry week during a time when I feel very grateful to find even frozen raspberries in a back of my freezer, and any and all raspberry chocolates, made with fruits from summers past. 





Wednesday, December 4, 2019

El Buen Cacao - 80% Raspberry Chocolate Bar - Dec. 4, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

El Buen Cacao
80% Raspberry Chocolate Bar
Good
Weight: .875 oz. (25 g.) / 1.75 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 110 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $6.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's Organic 80% Raspberry Chocolate Bar was made by El Buen Cacao (Idyllwild, CA). This small batch, bean-to-bar company was founded by a couple in southern California who, like many artisan chocolate makers, likely started making chocolate in their kitchen and have continued to refine their art and craft.

This chocolate had smooth dark flavor with natural (fully incorporated) organic raspberry (freeze dried particles) and was not too sweet (thank you)! Improved freeze drying techniques have led to some very tasty fruit inclusions (such as Dick Taylor's tasty seasonal raspberry dark bar, topped with a thin layer of bright, intense raspberry "dust") and today's bar where the fruit has become one with the chocolate in a perfectly balanced way.

Tasting chocolate in winter
I tasted this ultra dark bar on a cool, wintery morning. Ambient temperature affects how food tastes. While storing chocolate at 63 degrees F. (17 degrees C.)—my current room temperature as I write this—is OK, warming it up just a little before tasting, can make flavors and texture more approachable/enjoyable.

Cold creates several things to happen. Chocolate becomes firmer, with a slightly different melt. Sometimes the flavors are more locked in (with the crystallized structure of the cocoa fat/butter) making them not as readily accessible. The amount of added cocoa butter (and sugar) can also influence melt, texture and flavor as well. (There was no added cocoa butter. in this or other El Buen Cacao  bars from what I could see.)

Today's 80% raspberry bar broke with a nice, well-tempered snap. The melt was initially slow and uniform (almost waxy in the cold). Then, toward the end, the melt peaked with a very faint*, fleeting miniature expansive fullness/pleasant mushiness at the end, due to the berry powder perhaps? and the cold temperature).

When I taste chocolates in the summer (or in a hot room), the melt experience is different. (Just like drinking cold wine is different than sipping warm wine.) The ideal temperature is often in the middle, for me it's about 70 degrees F./approx. 21 degrees C.)

Ingredients: Organic cacao bean(s), organic cane sugar, organic freeze-dried raspberries

*The average person will not notice any of this. Just chocolate tasting weirdos such as myself would comment on a nit like this. This observed experience was not a negative, just interesting.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Equal Exchange - Organic Bittersweet Chocolate Chips 70% Cacao - Dec. 3, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Equal Exchange
Organic Bittersweet Chocolate Chips 70% Cacao
Good ++
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42? g.) in 1 serving / 10 oz. (283.5 g.) total package of chocolate chips
Calories: 350 calories (estimate) in 1 small piece of tart made with chocolate chips
Cost: $5.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Raspberry Theme Week, and Day #1 of Chocolate and Coconut Theme Week.

Today's homemade gluten-free, dark chocolate raspberry tart was made with several ingredients, including Organic Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (70% Cacao), produced in Peru for Equal Exchange (W. Bridgewater, MA).

The crust for this very tasty no-bake tart was made with cocoa powder, finely ground roasted almonds, coconut oil, and small amounts of honey and maple syrup.

The chocolate filling contained melted chocolate chips, raspberry jam, almond "milk" and coconut oil. And the tart was topped with organic frozen raspberries (as no fresh berries were available this time of year).

Raspberries remind me of warmer weather. So, it's challenging to feature a chocolate and raspberry theme week when berries are not in season. However, these frozen raspberries today held up well and looked and tasted bright and refreshing.
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