Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Alter Eco - Organic Dark Mint Truffles - Nov 13, 2018

Chocolate of the Day:

Alter Eco
Organic Dark Mint Truffles
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.27 oz. (36 g.) / 4.2 oz. (120 g.) in total package of 10 truffles
Calories: 240 calories in 3 pieces
Cost: $8.39 total package of 10 truffles
Purchased from: The Market, Palo Alto, CA

Good morning and welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Mint Theme Week.

Today's package of individually-wrapped, Swiss-made Dark Mint Truffles were distributed by Alter Eco in the U.S. (San Francisco, CA). These mint globes were composed of peppermint oil-flavored centers, covered with 58% Ecuadorian cacao.

Mint is a natural match with chocolate. However, a generous serving of mint, likely peppermint oil in most chocolates, can mask aroma and flavor nuances even in dark chocolate. So, if you're in the mood for chocolate, you might go for more dialed back mint.

That said, the dark chocolate in these truffles still tasted rich, smooth and satisfying. And the almost silken centers were crafted with milk, coconut oil, vanilla and were well balanced and not ultra sweet (thank you!).

Alter Eco mindfully constructs their chocolate offerings. For example, each Organic, Gluten Free mint and dark chocolate globe were enveloped in plant-based, Non GMO, compostable wrappers. And these truffles made with fair trade ingredients earned a carbon neutral product rating.

Ingredients: organic raw cane sugar, organic cacao butter, organic coconut oil ("sustainably farmed on India's Malabar coast"), organic cacao beans, organic whole milk, organic peppermint oil, organic vanilla beans 



Monday, November 12, 2018

Alter Eco - Deep Dark Crisp Mint Chocolate bar - Nov. 12, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Alter Eco
Deep Dark Crisp Mint Organic Chocolate bar 
Good+
Weight: 1.41 oz. (40 g.) / 2.82 oz. (80 g.) in total bar
Calories: 220 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $4.29 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA  

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Ecuador Theme Week, and Day #1 of Chocolate and Mint Theme Week. 

Nothing like a little refreshing mint in the morning, or any time of the day. Today's Deep Dark Crisp Mint Organic Chocolate bar was distributed by Alter Eco in San Francisco, CA.

This Swiss-made, 60% cocoa chocolate was brimming with concentrated sweet dark chocolate and peppermint flavor, from beginning to end—with a smidge of fruit acidity from the cacao, and a trace of vanilla from Madagascar, shining through.

Today's dark mint bar was Certified Organic and Gluten Free, vegan, paleo-friendly, no emulsifiers, no soy and was made with Fair Trade Certified ingredients.




Sunday, November 11, 2018

White Label Chocolate - Ecuador Costa Esmeraldas 100% bar - Nov. 11, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

White Label Chocolate
Ecuador Costa Esmeraldas 100% bar
Good
Weight: .57 oz. (16.25 g.) / 2.29 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 86 calories (estimate) in 1/4 bar
Cost: $16.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Mutari Chocolate House and Factory, Santa Cruz, CA

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

Today's White Label Chocolate Ecuador Costa Esmeraldas 100% Cacao bar was purchased at Mutari Chocolate House and Factory (Santa Cruz, CA).

This bar was more savory than sweet. It did have a fleeting fudge note, and relatively balanced bitterness all the way through that alternated with some sharper fruit acidity.

There were also very faint spice (cumin, caraway), buttermilk and salty notes in this chocolate. For those trying to get away from sweet flavors on the chocolate tasting wheel, this may be your bar.

This chocolate might be an interesting ingredient in (or shaved over) other (savory or sweet) items (mole sauce, brownies, salt caramel ice cream, pumpernickel bread and stout).

Fleeting Floral
I have many memories of 65% to 75% Ecuador bars with subtle floral and green notes. However, this week has been filled with ultra-high percentage bean-to-bar chocolate made from cacao grown in Ecuador. (Five of seven bars contained greater than 90% cocoa, including one 102% bar (with nibs)—a new high percentage record for an individual bar.) So, there was only a fleeting aroma or taste of floral or green notes this past week.

Floral notes are also some of the most delicate and volatile, and may disappear during a prolonged conching (grinding of beans into chocolate) process.

The differences in aroma and flavor notes of course are also the result of the farm (terroir), fermentation, roasting, and many decisions made when crafting chocolate from bean to bar.



Saturday, November 10, 2018

Raphio Chocolate - 92% Chocolate Ecuador bar - Nov. 10, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Raphio Chocolate 
92% Chocolate Ecuador bar
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.1 oz. (31.5 g.) / 2.2 oz. (63 g.) in total bar
Calories: 184 calories (per label) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $9.95 for 1 bar
Purchased from: ZombieRunner, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's 92% Ecuador bar from Raphio Chocolate (Fresno, CA) had a rich chocolate aroma and a faint, very light molasses and spice note. This well-tempered bar broke with a hard snap and had a smooth creamy melt.

The chocolate had a smooth, even ultra dark chocolate flavor with a slight nuttiness and a hint of muted red fruit and and mocha. 

How did today's 92% Ecuador bar stack up against yesterday's 102% Ecuador bar by the same maker? Both were quite smooth and well balanced for ultra dark bars with interesting flavor complexity and no off notes. These bars may have been crafted from the same shipment of cacao beans. (Both had the same maker's tasting notes printed on the packaging: "macadamia nuts, malt, berry.")

Yesterday's 102% two-ingredient (organic cacao beans, organic cacao butter) bar offered more bitter flavor and sharper red fruit/berry notes than is 92% sibling (which also contained a small quantity of organic cane sugar). And today's 92% bar lacked the tiny bursts of authentic cacao flavor from the light sprinkle of roasted cacao nibs that adorned the back side of yesterday's 102% bar. (In fact, the nibs are what allowed the maker to exceed the 100% mark.)

Raphio offers a range of Ecuador bars, each with a different percentage of cocoa solids. I'm always grateful to makers who offer guideposts for learning like this—the best way to appreciate and learn about which chocolate you might like best is via interesting side-by-side tasting experiences.






Friday, November 9, 2018

Raphio Chocolate - 102% Ecuador bar - Nov. 9, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Raphio Chocolate
102% Ecuador bar
Good+
Weight: 1.1 oz. (31.5 g.) / 2.2 oz. (63 g.) in total bar
Calories: 194 calories (per label) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $8.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA
Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Ecuador Theme Week.

How dark can chocolate get? 100% cacao? Apparently not.

Today's 102%* Ecuador bar was from Raphio Chocolate (Fresno, CA). Raphio's chief chocolate maker, Elisia Otavi, was inspired by her family to make healthy chocolate ("not candy"), from scratch using only "organic and natural ingredients." The company's name, Raphio, is a distillation of Raphael and Rio, the names of her two sons. 

The 102% number may sound intense; however, this ultra dark bar was relatively smooth in aroma, texture and flavor, with malt, dark chocolate, nut and berry fruit aroma and flavor notes. It was a friendlier, more approachable 100% cacao chocolate than most other 100%ers.

"Macadamia nuts, malt, berry" were the flavor notes that the maker listed on the bar's packaging. This is one of those instances where what I was tasting matched up 100% with the maker's tasting notes.

*Is it possible to have a 102% cacao chocolate? Perhaps the sprinkle of cacao nibs on the back of this bar comprised that additional 2%.





Thursday, November 8, 2018

Alter Eco - Deepest Dark Super Blackout 90% Cocoa bar - Nov. 8, 2018

Chocolate of the Day:

Alter Eco
Deepest Dark Super Blackout 90% Cocoa bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.325 oz. (37.5 g.) / 2.65 oz. (75 g.) in total bar
Calories: 250 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $4.29 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

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

This ultra dark bar from Alter Eco (Europe and San Francisco, CA) had the kind of bold aroma that often promises deep chocolate and a relatively high degree of fruit acidity. That said, there was a very fleeting floral note that managed to peek through.

The texture was smooth, and the first bite was surprisingly sweet*, with true chocolate, nutty and acidic fruit flavor notes. However, this quickly simmered down to a more intense but balanced, bitter, acidic fruit sustained note toward, and into, the finish.

Alter Eco, a certified B Corporation, has specialized in a line of chocolate bars made with fair trade cacao (as well as coffee and quinoa) from the Americas (Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and other locations), and has also been involved with reforestation projects (PUR in Peru).

Today's Super Blackout bar is the even more intense and daring sibling of the company's 85% Blackout bar. This certified organic and gluten free (and Non GMO Verified) bar was made in Switzerland with cacao from Fortaleza Coop in Ecuador—and was distributed in the U.S. by Alter Eco in San Francisco, CA.

*This chocolate was surprisingly sweet for a 90% bar with only 3 grams of sugar for 1 (1/2 bar) serving.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Cacao Sampaka - Chocolate Negro/Dark Chocolate 100% Cacao Ecuador bar - Nov. 7, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Cacao Sampaka S.L.
Chocolate Negro 100% Cacao Ecuador bar
Good
Weight: 1.32 oz. (37.5 g.) / 2.64 oz. (75 g.) in total bar
Calories: 212.3 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $8.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

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

Today's ebony-colored Chocolate Negro/Dark Chocolate 100% Cacao Ecuador bar was created by Cacao Sampaka (Barcelona, Spain).

The beautifully-designed* bar (with two interlocking, raised swirls on the bar itself) had an even dark aroma with fleeting, light nutty, floral fruit and spiced hazelnut hot chocolate notes—all the while conveying what lay ahead would be a fairly robust, dark, slightly bitter flavor.

The two-ingredient (cocoa mass, cocoa butter), ultra-dark, bar had an even, unadulterated, balanced bitter flavor with a hint of fruit acidity. The acidity lingered a bit in the finish, which was relatively clean with no off notes.

*The outer packaging was decorated with a collage of colorful ceramic tile pieces, evoking a wall or floor one might see when strolling through Barcelona in Spain.




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