Sunday, October 14, 2018

Natural Decadence - Gluten Free Chocolate Creamless Pie - Oct. 14, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Natural Decadence
Raised Gluten Free - Gluten Free Chocolate Creamless Pie
Good
Weight: 1.5 oz. (43 g.) / 6 oz. (170 g.) in total pie
Calories: 150 calories in 1 serving/piece of pie
Cost: $4.99 for 1 pie
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Hello and welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate and Honey Theme Week.

Today's Raised Gluten Free - Chocolate Creamless Pie was from Natural Decadence (Eureka, CA).

The chocolate pie filling, made with organic coconut milk, organic guar gum and other organic ingredients, including chocolate (with sugar and cocoa butter) and chocolate extract (that latter giving the pie a slight alcohol flavor tinge), cocoa nibs and vanilla. The filling was smooth and fairly creamy (without the dairy cream), as promised.

And yes, it did contain honey. It was the sweetener in the gluten free graham cracker crust.

This demure pie was just the right size to share with a small group—or for one or two people to enjoy over the course of a few days. I like smaller portion desserts. They allow people to comfortably sample a few different chocolate items at a time, and do side-by-side, comparison tastings.



Saturday, October 13, 2018

Endangered Species - Pumpkin Spice Almonds bar; Second Nature - Dark Chocolate Medley - Oct. 13, 2018

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

Endangered Species
Natural Dark Chocolate with Pumpkin Spice with Almonds 72% bar
Good
Weight: .75 oz. (21.25 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: ??? calories in 1/4 bar
Cost: $3.19 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #13 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week. Today I celebrated this day with two chocolate items.

It's October, officially the month to celebrate pumpkins and pumpkin spice, and today's Natural Dark Chocolate with Pumpkin Spice and Almonds 72% bar from Endangered Species Chocolate (Indianapolis, IN) seemed like a great choice. The dark chocolate was dark but smooth and the touch of spice was light and balanced. Almond pieces gave the bar a bit of texture.

The locally famous, annual Pumpkin Festival was under way today in Half Moon Bay, CA. And traffic was backed up for miles as city folk made their way over to this community nestled by the Pacific Ocean to view fields of pumpkins, purchase pumpkin-related items and enjoy pumpkin-related fun.

Thank goodness we have some open spaces left for local wildlife in the mountains that separate the cities and coast. Endangered Species Chocolate donates 10% of their net profits to conservation-related partners/causes. Each bar or chocolate item the company makes features an animal (or area) that may be threatened or endangered. (Today's bar was graced with an image of an Arctic Fox.)

One of the best things a chocolate consumer who care about such things can do is to be curious about supply chains and best practices when it comes to food and chocolate.

Second Nature Snacks Company
Dark Chocolate Medley
Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 12 oz. (340 g.) in total package
Calories: 160 calories in 1 oz. serving
Cost: $4.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #13 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week.

Today's Dark Chocolate Medley was from Second Nature (Madison Heights, MI). (It was one of several chocolate and nut and fruit and nut medley mixes the company offers.)

This blend contained small dark chocolate squares mixed with almonds, pecans and cashews.

It was an appealing, natural mix: not too sweet, and not too salty.
(It was also marketed as Gluten Free and Low in Sodium.)

Surprise. An hour after I wrote this, I discovered that I'd already had this mix several months ago, so I sampled a second chocolate today (above).

After 4,500 chocolates, it's sometimes difficult to remember which chocolates I have tried. (Thank goodness for giant Google spreadsheets, where I keep track of each and every one.)




Friday, October 12, 2018

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate - Candied Almond with Cinnamon 73% bar - Oct. 12, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate
Candied Almond with Cinnamon 73% Northerner Blend bar
Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2 oz. (56.6 g.) in total bar
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $7.20 for 1/2 bar
Purchased from: Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate (online order)

Welcome to Day #12 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week.

Today's Candied Almond with Cinnamon 73% Northerner Blend bar was crafted by Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate (Eureka, CA).

Packaging is the first level of a chocolate tasting experience. And in the case of Dick Taylor, seeing this bar was like coming back to an old friend. The duo behind Dick Taylor (Adam Dick and Dustin Taylor) has focused with great attention to detail on all aspects chocolatemaking, from outer packaging to the bar inside.

What a great bar to warm up an early fall morning.

This bar had an intriguing aroma, with a hint of malty nuttiness and faint fresh bread (freshly baked and toasted rye bread). This bar might pair quite nicely with a beer. (In fact, there is a note on the Dick Taylor website that suggested a Dick Kukmin IPA was enjoyed with this bar.)

Upon biting into the bar, one was greeted with sweetness and chocolate with flavor depth (with balanced stone fruit acidity and true cacao notes). A well-made bar will have few ingredients, but will have the multi-layered voice of a choir.

This four-ingredient bar (organic cacao, organic cane sugar, organic almonds and organic cinnamon) was relatively thin, making flavors very accessible. The flavorful dark chocolate (73% cacao) was interspersed with bits of finely chopped California almonds, "candied" with sugar and cinnamon.

The base chocolate, Dick Taylor's own Northerner Blend, was made from a combination of Madagascan and Brazilian cacao.



Thursday, October 11, 2018

tinyB Chocolate - Dark Chocolate Almond, Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate brigadeiros - Oct. 11, 2018

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

tinyB Chocolate
Four-piece box of Brigadeiros
1.) Dark Chocolate Almond - Good ++
2.) Coconut and Cream - Good
3.) Dark Chocolate and Sprinkles - Good ++
4.) Milk Chocolate and Milk Sprinkles - Good
Weight: 2.6 oz. (73.5 g.) in total box of 4 pieces
Calories: 240 calories (per tinyB) in 4 pieces 
Cost: $ N/A - gift/sample from tinyB Chocolate
Purchased from: Sample box was supplied by tinyB Chocolate 

Welcome to Day #11 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week. 

Today's box of brigadeiros from tinyB Chocolate (San Francisco, CA) were made in San Francisco, by Renata Stoica who was born in Brazil.

What is a brigadeiro? Think of this popular confection as a Brazilian cousin to the American chocolate truffle. Brigadeiros have a smooth, creamy texture, and no hard shell. (They are related to other Latin American confections that are carefully stirred and cooked in a pot on a stove.)

My favorites in this 4-piece box were the Dark Chocolate Almond (upper right in photo) and Dark Chocolate and Sprinkles (lower right in photo). The company also offers a variety of other tempting flavors, including Raspberry and White Chocolate, Cinnamon and Dark Chocolate, and Half Dark and Half Passion Fruit.

Eaten fresh they are creamy, sweet and wonderful. Store in the refrigerator to prolong life.

Ingredients for the base chocolate were: organic sugar, organic milk, organic butter, organic chocolate + flavor inclusions (most of which are organic).

barkthins - Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt - Oct. 10, 2018

Chocolate of the Day:

(Made for Ripple Brand Collective, LLC)
barkthins snacking chocolate
Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt
Good - Good+
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 4.7 oz. (133 g.) in total package
Calories: 220 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $4.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #10 of Chocolate and Almond Week.

Today's Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt barkThins were manufactured for Ripple Brand Collective, LLC (New York, NY).

These snack-size dark chocolate pieces were embedded with pieces of dry roasted almonds and seasoned with sea salt, as advertised. They were just the right size to share with family and friends or to take to a staff meeting at work.



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Hageland - 54% Cocoa Dark Chocolate with Almonds bar - Oct. 9, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Hageland
54% Cocoa Dark Chocolate with Almonds (bar)
Good+
Weight: 1.02 oz. (29 g.) / 10.5 oz. (300 g.) in total package
Calories: 150 calories in 2 pieces 
Cost: $3.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #9 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week.

Today's rather gigantic Hageland 54% Cocoa Dark Chocolate with Almonds bar was made in Belgium and was distributed in the U.S. by Sco Laden, LLC (Hayward, CA).

This bar was made with a short list of ingredients (no added "stuff"). It was not clear where the chocolate came from, but at this (low) consumer price, I'm guessing Africa. The chocolate was smooth and had a darker chocolate taste (a bit less sugar too, thank you) than other bars with cacao percentages in the 50s. And it had a relatively smooth, even finish with a very slight fruit acidity.

This large (and thick) bar might be good for baking, desserts and fondue, or as chocolate chunks for s'mores at a campfire. The thickness prevented overly fast consumption. It is not a bad thing to savor your chocolate more slowly; but you really have to get your molars around each bite to take off a piece. So, this may not be to everyone's liking.




Monday, October 8, 2018

Eating Evolved - Primal Chocolate Almond Sea Salt 72% bar with Organic Coconut Sugar - Oct. 8, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Eating Evolved
Primal Chocolate - Almond Sea Salt 72% Cacao bar (Made with Organic Coconut Sugar)
Good+ - Good ++
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2.5 oz. (71 g.) in total bar
Calories: 140 calories in 1 oz. (28 g.) of bar
Cost: $4.49 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Sprout's Farmers Market, Mountain View, CA

Welcome to Day #8 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week.

Today's Primal Chocolate Almond Sea Salt dark chocolate (72% cacao) bar was made by Eating Evolved (Setauket, NY).

First, I feel I need to make a few personal disclosures:
I prefer chocolate bars with five (or fewer) ingredients.*
I like a bar that can convey balanced sweetness with less sugar.
I believe "salt," if added, should not eclipse other flavors.
I will buy almost any chocolate item with a monkey on it.

This 72% cacao, coconut sugar sweetened dark bar resonated with the preferences mentioned above. It had smooth, authentic chocolate flavor, without a sugar buzz. It was dairy free, soy free, paleo, vegan, and organic. And while there was no explicit claim of this bar being gluten free, there were no gluten-containing ingredients listed on the label.

And, having a monkey on both label and bar did not hurt either.

*Today's bar contained five ingredients: organic cacao, organic coconut sugar, organic cacao butter, organic almonds, and Himalayan sea salt.
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