Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Blue Mountain Organics - Coco Joy - August 19, 2014

Chocolate of the Day:

Blue Mountain Organics
Coco Joy
Good - Good +
Weight: 2 oz. (57 g.) in 1 package
Calories: 240 calories in 1 package
Cost: $6.59 for 1 package
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Today was Day #6 of Chocolate, Coconut and Vanilla Theme Week.

This Coco Joy organic, raw, sprouted superfood bar from Blue Mountain Organics (Floyd, VA) was Non-GMO, Kosher and Vegan. Also, while not nut free (cashew butter was the first ingredient listed), this bar was produced in a peanut free facility.

In addition to the cashew butter, this candy bar alternative contained dates, agave, coconut, cacao, golden flax and, last but not least, vanilla. (I'm rooting for you vanilla; don't get lost in the shuffle.)

The bar was satisfying without being too sweet -- a combination I always appreciate. Flavors were well balanced. The coconut was the dominant flavor, with the outer cacao layer taking a close second. The cashew butter and dates helped keep the bar integrated, moist and chewy. The addition of nuts to coconut and chocolate also seems to mellow coconut flavor -- in a good way.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Eating Right - Chocolate Vanilla cookies - Aug. 18, 2014

Chocolate of the Day: 

Lucerne Foods (Safeway)
Eating Right (for gluten free)
Chocolate Vanilla Flavored Creme Sandwich
Good - Good+
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) 10.6 oz. (300 g.) in total package
Calories: 140 calories in 2 cookies
Cost: (lost information)
Purchased from: Safeway, Palo Alto, CA

I've been writing about a range of chocolate items with coconut and vanilla this week. When these three flavors are combined, chocolate or coconut flavors generally dominate. Very rarely, the vanilla speaks up loudly enough to be heard -- but more often this orchid derivative acts as a soothing peacemaker, bringing some harmony to/between the two stronger flavors, as in today's case.

Today's Eating Right brand Chocolate Vanilla creme sandwich cookies were a gluten-free twist on the traditional chocolate and vanilla sandwich cookie. Happily these gluten-free cookies (made in Germany for Lucerne Foods, part of Safeway) contained natural bourbon vanilla flavor and natural vanilla flavor, and not artificial flavoring.

The vanilla centers were soft and light, and the outside chocolate cookies tasted fresh and crunchy. All in all, the best chocolate and vanilla sandwich cookie I remember tasting.

I enjoyed a non-traditional "milk" with my cookies, made with a blend of iced coconut milk and vanilla yogurt instead. And, while refreshing, the coconut did dominate the vanilla in this blend, despite my best efforts.

Today was Day #4 of Chocolate, Coconut and Vanilla Theme Week.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Baba Joon's - Coconut Chocolate Chewies - Aug. 17, 2014

Chocolate of the Day: 

Baba Joon's Chocolate Chewies
Coconut
Good
Weight: .53 oz. (14.9 g.) (estimate) in 1 piece / 7.5 oz. (212 g.) in total package
Calories: 60 calories in 1 piece
Cost: $6.50 for 1 package
Purchased from: Baba Joon's Chocolate Chewies website

Today was Day #3 of Chocolate, Coconut and Vanilla Theme Week.

These small, gluten- and dairy- free, Coconut cookies from Baba Joon's* Chocolate Chewies (Morgan Hill, CA) were bursting with fresh and chewy chocolate and coconut flavor. They were sweet, without being overly so.

Made with a short list of ingredients, including cane sugar, organic unsweetened coconut, egg whites, cocoa, pure, gluten-free vanilla, and salt -- these "little chocolate miracles" also came in 19 other flavors. (I'd previously tried the Coconut and Almond flavor earlier this year.)

I paired a Coconut Chocolate Chewie with a dish of all natural, strained vanilla yogurt and fresh fruit.

*And yes, there really is a Baba Joon (Dear Father in Farsi) behind this family business.




Saturday, August 16, 2014

GoodOnYa - Superhero bar - August 16, 2014

Chocolate of the Day:

GoodOnYa
Superhero bar
Good ++
Weight: 2 oz. (57 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 283 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $4.39 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Today was Day #2 of Chocolate, Coconut and Vanilla Theme Week.

There are many bars now made with raw, organic, gluten free and other natural ingredients. Coconut oil/butter, and shredded or toasted coconut*; cacao nibs or dark chocolate; and vanilla, are popular inclusions.

It's hard to put a name to this growing category of all natural bars that has encompassed energy bars, health or healthy snack bars, protein bars and granola bars in the past. The newest generation of bars often offer more nutrient dense ingredients (often raw or less processed, with no/fewer preservatives) and gluten-free formulations that also taste good. (All welcome trends for someone like me who wants to eat whole foods and can't tolerate gluten.)

I'm thankful for bars like today's Superhero bar from GoodOnYa (Encinitas, CA); it seemed very satisfying to me. Made with raw ingredients, this gluten-, dairy- and soy-free, Non-GMO bar contained cashew butter, honey, coconut flakes, chia seeds, goji berries, and lucuma, as well as ground vanilla pods and maca. (Yes, whole vanilla pods in the mix!) It was the kind of bar I'd feel confident eating during a long hike on a hot (or cold) day.

And speaking of "kind," I paired this GoodOnYa bar with an Almond and Coconut bar from Kind LLC (New York). While this bar packed a sweeter, coconut crunch, this Non-GMO, gluten and dairy free bar was made with whole, identifiable ingredients (I didn't need a label; I could see the ingredients); and it was marketed as very low sodium, and low-glycemic. Again, not your father's candy bar. (Note: There was no chocolate in this fruit and nut bar; but dipping pieces of this bar into chocolate fondue is not out of the question.)

*Note: In fact, this is third coconut-related theme week this year (2014) on ChocolateBanquet.com


Friday, August 15, 2014

Timothy Adams - Coconut Bonbons - Aug. 15, 2014

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Guppy's Chocolates
Dark Chocolate with a hint of Raspberry bar
(See yesterday's entry)

Timothy Adams Chocolates
Coconut
Good +
Weight: .4 oz. (11.32 g.) (estimate) in 1 piece
Calories: 60 calories in 1 piece
Cost: $2.25 (estimate) for 1 bonbon
Purchased from: Timothy Adams Chocolates

Coconut Caramel
Good ++ - Very Good
Weight: .4 oz. (11.32 g.) (estimate) in 1 piece
Calories: 60 calories in 1 piece
Cost: $2.25 for 1 bonbon
Purchased from: Timothy Adams Chocolates

Today was the last day of Chocolates of Northern Yorkshire Theme Week, and Day #1 of Chocolate, Coconut and Vanilla Theme Week.

Guppy's Chocolates, Yorkshire Puddings
I used yesterday's Guppy's Chocolates (York, Northern Yorkshire, U.K.) dark raspberry bar as the basis for a chocolate sauce over gluten-free Yorkshire puddings. I added smoke-infused olive oil and sea salt to the puddings. And to the chocolate pieces I melted for the sauce, I added fresh English lavender buds, lemon infused olive oil and butter, to this chocolate to make a fruit and floral warm chocolate sauce. Apologies to those who find this California deviation from the original Yorkshire puddings offensive. But, they did taste good.

Timothy Adams Chocolates
And now, I move on to chocolate, coconut and vanilla. A holy trinity to some, and not so much to others (who dislike coconut). Timothy Adams Chocolates, a new shop in Palo Alto, CA, had on display several interesting chocolate covered bonbons.

Two coconut flavors caught my eye. The Coconut bonbon, drizzled with a slender thread of white (vanilla?) icing offered a concentrated tasty burst of finely shredded tropical coconut flavor and texture.

And the Coconut Caramel chocolate had a wonderful layering of fresh caramel, chocolate and coconut flavors. I commented to Timothy Woods (the "Timothy" in Timothy Adams) that I loved the layering of these flavors and he mentioned his background as a chef. No surprise then. I look forward to trying other flavors soon.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Guppy's Chocolates - Dark Raspberry bar - August 14, 2014

Chocolate of the Day: 

Guppy's Chocolates
Dark Chocolate with a hint of Raspberry bar
Good +
Weight: .82 oz. (23.3 g.) / 2.47 oz. (70 g.) total bar
Calories: 123 calories (estimate) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $ N/A - gift from relatives (Thank you Wendy!)
Purchased from: N/A - gift from relatives, York, North Yorkshire, U.K.

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolates of North Yorkshire Theme Week.

Today's Dark Chocolate (55%) with a hint of Raspberry bar from Guppy's Chocolates (York, North Yorkshire, U.K.) was infused with natural tasting raspberry flavor (Sharp Raspberry essential oil, dried raspberry powder).

Guppy's Chocolates are produced and packaged from the home of Peter and Fran Guppy in York. I'm grateful to the Pegrams, and Wendy Pegram in particular, for hand-carrying, hand-crafted Guppy's Chocolates from York to California this past week. It's been like taking a virtual chocolate field trip to Northern Yorkshire.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Guppy's Chocolates - Milk Chocolate Smarties bar - Aug. 13, 2014

Chocolate of the Day: 

Guppy's Chocolates
Milk Chocolate with Mini Smarties bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 3.53 oz. (100 g.) total bar
Calories: 159 calories (estimate) in 3/10 bar
Cost: N/A - gift from relatives (Thank you Pegrams!)
Purchased from: N/A - gift from relatives

Today was Day #5 of Chocolates of Northern Yorkshire Theme Week.

What are Smarties? They are brightly colored, candy covered chocolate discs (more precisely, oblate spheroids) are made by Nestle (U.K.) (formerly Rowntree and Company). Smarties are a little like m and ms, only the candy shell is a bit thinner and the colors are different. Smarties are well known elsewhere, but are not distributed in the U.S.

A festive shower of miniature Smarties adorned this Milk Chocolate with Mini Smarties bar from Guppy's Chocolates (York, Northern Yorkshire, U.K.). And the smarties gave this otherwise mild mannered milk chocolate bar a satisfying, happy crunch. The "plain" side of this bar must be jealous.

Guppy's Chocolates (Peter and Fran Guppy) must have had fun designing this suitable-for-any-party bar.
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