Friday, June 24, 2016

Signature Select - 85% Cacao Dark bar - June 24, 2016

Chocolate of the Day:

Signature Select
(Distributed by Better Living Brands LLC*)
85% Cacao Dark Chocolate bar
Good - Good +
Weight: .7 oz. (20 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 115 calories in 1/5 bar
Cost: $2.50 for 1 bar (2 bars for $5.00)
Purchased from: Safeway, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #6 of Swiss Chocolate Week. When people think of Swiss chocolate they often think of milk chocolate, but in the closing days of this theme week, we'll look at a few ultra-dark bars made in Switzerland.

Today's Signature Select 85% Cacao Dark Chocolate bar (made in Switzerland and distributed by Better Living Brands LLC, Pleasanton, CA*) had a dark, complex but well balanced aroma and flavor profile.

Far from being a one-note bar, there was a bit of earth, a bit of chocolate fudge, and even a bit of a sweet green, floral top note. Flavors unfolded nicely without any huge spikes or "off" flavors.

Speaking of flavor, this five-ingredient** bar did contain some "natural flavor," although that doesn't tell us much. It could be natural fruit or nut flavorings; or it could be almost anything really.

There was a tiny bit of granularity in the texture, but nothing too off-putting. (Given a choice, I'd rather have a slightly shorter conch time and retain more volatile flavor elements than have a sub-micron level smoothness with less flavor.)

I don't know what the origin(s) and supply chain were for this ultra-dark bar, but for $2.50, it was a commendable and reasonably-priced bar for eating; and it might be great in a dark brownie mix.

*Better Living Brands LLC is associated with Safeway (Pleasanton, CA). In 2008, Safeway (large U.S. grocery store chain) unveiled the Better Living Brands Alliance to market health brands (e.g., O Organics, Eating Right product lines). Brand and private labeling strategies have continued to evolve since then. Sometimes it's easier to keep brands floating above underlying corporate mergers and acquisitions; although it does make tracking more difficult.

**Ingredients: Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Sugar, Cocoa Power, Natural Flavor

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Menrose - MilkBoy Milk Chocolate bar - June 23, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Menrose GmbH
MilkBoy Milk Chocolate bar
Weight:  .7 oz. (20 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 110 calores in 1/5 bar
Cost: $6.49 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Draeger's, Los Altos, CA

Welcome to Day #5 of Swiss Chocolate Week. Yo-de-le-hee-hoo (as my mom used to say).

Today's MilkBoy "Finest Alpine" Milk Chocolate bar from Menrose GmbH (Zurich, Switzerland) was made in Switzerland and imported to the U.S.

The bar's packaging was adorned with the same charming black and white mountain scenes that were on yesterday's MilkBoy dark chocolate with essential pine oil bar.

This 33% cocoa bar was quite sweet with a thick and creamy mouthfeel. (The bar also contained sunflower lecithin.)

The 24% milk solids portion of this bar was achieved using whole milk powder. Because chocolate is somewhat hydrophobic (fear of water is not correct but will do here), and will seize up if water is added at the wrong time, (dairy) milk chocolate bars are created with milk powder.

It's the first week of summer. Perhaps the cows in Switzerland are already being guided up to higher alpine pastures. As part of a seasonal traditional to celebrate the ascent (and descent of the cows in September), villagers may dress up. Thus the picture of the milk boy (in traditional garb carrying a milk bucket over his shoulder) on the MilkBoy label.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Menrose - MilkBoy Switzerland bar with Pine - June 22, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Menrose GmbH
MilkBoy - 60% with Pine bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 220 calories in 2/5 bar
Cost: $5.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Draeger's, San Mateo, CA

Welcome to Day #4 of Swiss Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's 60% Cocoa* MilkBoy bar from Menrose GmbH (made in Zurich, Switzerland) felt a little more authentically Swiss. After all, the packaging was adorned with a black and white illustration** of villagers frolicking through a Tyrolian village somewhere in the Alps.

I'm sure of it. I can almost see the white Edelweiss flowers and smell the clean, pine-scented mountain air. The "MilkBoy"—dressed in traditional gear and carrying a milk pail on his back—is about to lead his cows up to higher pastures for the summer.

So, what was the very subtle hint of mint + mild floral citrus note I tasted in this bar?

I should have guessed. The dark Swiss chocolate bar was flavored with just the right amount of essential pine tree oil: enough to have some fun without being overpowering. So, a few extra points for the creative flavor infusion.

And speaking of fun, look at those goats up in those trees. And what are those two monkeys doing inside the Swiss chalet? Oh, wait, those are two cats with long curling tails. Never mind.

*This bar was made from Utz certified cocoa.

**The image on the packaging was the work of an artist skilled in the traditional art of papercut silhouettes (decoupaging incredibly carefully trimmed black paper shapes on white paper).

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Toblerone SnowTop bar - June 21, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Mondelez International
Toblerone - SnowTop bar
Weight: 1.17 oz. (33.3 g.) / 3.52 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 180 calories in 1/3 bar
Cost: $0.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

It's the beginning of our summer here in California, and I'm already hoping I can make a trip to the cooler Swiss Alps to check out local Swiss chocolates. Maybe next summer.

Welcome to Day #3 of Swiss Chocolate Theme Week. Most of the chocolates I'm featuring this week are Swiss-made for U.S. or International companies. Toblerone, part of Mondelez Global LLC, makes a variety of iconic triangular-shaped bars in Switzerland.

Today's Limited Edition Toblerone SnowTop offering—the Swiss Milk and White Chocolate with Honey and Almond Nougat bar—had the classic mountain range shape, a row of 12 perfectly aligned chocolate peaks fused together. The difference? This bar was topped with white chocolate "snow."

Creamy and crispy, this milk bar was quite sweet.

Truffili - Coconut Curry and Ginger truffles - June 20, 2016

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

Truffili di Pellegrini
1.) Coconut Curry - OK+
2.) Ginger - Good
Weight: .8 oz. (22.5 g.) / 3.2 oz. (90 g.) in total box of 8 pieces
Calories: 120 calories (estimate) in 2 pieces
Cost: $22.00 for 1 box of 8 truffles
Purchased from: Draeger's, San Mateo, CA

This was Day #7 of a theme week devoted to India-inspired Chocolates, and Day #2 of Swiss Chocolate Theme Week.

Today I sampled the two remaining flavors in an India-inspired variety box of truffles, made in Switzerland for Truffili di Pellegrini (Point Richmond, CA): Coconut Curry and Ginger.

Of the two, the Ginger was my favorite. It was quite sweet, but had authentic tasting ginger flavor.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Truffili - India-inspired Cardamom and Chai Tea truffles - June 19, 2016

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Truffili di Pellegrini
(Swiss made for)
1.) Aromatic - Cardamom (milk chocolate) - Good
2.) Chai Tea - (milk and white chocolate) - OK +
Weight: .8 oz. (22.5 g.) / 3.2 oz. (90 g.) in total box of 8 pieces
Calories: 120 calories (estimate) for 2 truffles
Cost: $22.00 for 1 box of 8 truffles
Purchased from: Draegers, San Mateo, CA

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and India Theme Week, and Day #1 of Swiss Chocolate Week.

Today's box of 8 Swiss-made*, India-inspired truffles included two each of 4 difference flavors: Aromatic - Cardamom, Chai Tea, Coconut Curry and Ginger. I sampled the first two today.

The Aromatic truffle, topped with a green floral graphic across the top, was my favorite of the two. Both were quite sweet and had a creamy (cocoa butter) melt and texture, but the authentic-tasting cardamom flavor shone through with this one.

I didn't taste any chai spices in the second truffle, which contained an infused milk chocolate ganache and was enrobed in white chocolate. I did pick up a slight sweet alcohol and bubble gum note though.

*These chocolates were made in Switzerland for Truffili di Pellegrini (Point Richmond, CA).

Note: These truffles contained glucose, maltodextrin and other ingredients that may not be suitable for very food-sensitive or gluten-free readers.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Endorfin Foods - Dark Mylk bar - June 18, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Endorfin Foods
Dark Mylk bar
Weight: .7 oz. (20 g.) / 1.4 oz. (40 g.) in total bar
Calories: 105 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $5.00 for 1 bar ($45 box with 9 different bars)
Purchased from: Endorfin Foods

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

Today's Dark Mylk bar was from Endorfin Foods (Oakland, CA). The non-dairy (soy and gluten free) bar was made with un-roasted cacao, coconut sugar, cocoa butter and coconut). The 56% cacao chocolate bar had a smooth, relatively rich cacao flavor with a hint of coconut and brown sugar. (Other Endorfin bars I've enjoyed thus far have had flavor additions.)

Indian Dessert Pairing
After sampling the bar, I thought I would try part of this unflavored bar to pair with some Indian desserts. And I thought a bar made with un-roasted cacao might fare better with the pairings I had in mind.

I paired this Endorfin Dark Mylk bar with various popular Indian desserts. And I have to say, there is a reason why not all things should be mixed together. This had less to do with the chocolate than common sense on my part.

Chocolate is not a common ingredient in Indian cuisine. And now I understand why.

Mostly, today I had fun trying gluten-free Indian desserts that I hadn't tried before: such as diamond-shaped Kaju Katli (cashews, sugar, rose water); and Motichoor Ladoo, tiny muffin-shaped (chickpea flour-based sweet cakes flavored with saffron and cardamom).

Adding chopped pistachio nuts to these two desserts worked, but adding chocolate did not. Far from me to argue with the wisdom of sweets. Lighter, floral and fragrant traditional flavors with a very long tradition like this were better left un-messed with.

The least objectionable pairing: a tiny bit of chocolate bar with candy-coated fennel seeds (from a traditional Indian digestive mix). And I couldn't help but wonder what Endorfin's Absinthe bar might be like...double dose of fennel/anise flavor? But I digress.

Failed experiments aside, I hope to try Indian-made chocolates in the future. For example, I was communicating with Filter (Chocolates) online (Mumbai, India). They offer a series of attractively packaged chocolate bars with flavors inspired by different regions in India. Unfortunately, there is no easy way for me to sample these at the moment, short of flying to India. Field Trip!

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