Sunday, June 23, 2019

Health Lab - Cacao Protein Ball - June 23, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Health Lab
Cacao Protein "Energize" Ball
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.41 oz. (40 g.) in 1 ball
Calories: 172 calories in 1 ball
Cost: $0.69 for 1 ball
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's Cacao Protein "Energize" Ball was made in Australia for Health Lab (Australia, with a U.S. presence).

Health Lab was founded in 2015 by Jess Thomas (who formerly worked at L'Oreal), as a "wellness and beauty brand inspired by what read women need and want." Great marketing statement, but how did the product taste?

The generously-sized, date-sweetened Cacao Protein Ball had a fudgey, substantial chew and flavor; and it contained a short list of ingredients* including Whey Protein and cashews, that made it more satisfying.

According to Health Lab representatives, their protein balls are gluten and grain free and the balls contain "no gluten, no soy, no palm oil, no artificial colors or flavors."

*Ingredients: "Dates, Cashew Nuts, Organic and Fair Trade Coconut, Raw Cacao (8%), Whey Protein Concentrate (8%), Water, Sea Salt" 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Justin's - Dark Chocolate Cashew Butter Cups - June 22, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Justin's LLC
Organic 2 Dark Chocolate Cashew Butter Cups
Good ++
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) in 1 package of 2 cups
Calories: 230 calories in 2 cups
Cost: $0.99 for 1 package of 2 cups
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's package of 2 Organic Dark Chocolate Cashew Butter Cups was distributed by Justin's LLC (Boulder, CO).

The company, founded by Justin Gold,  got its start with jars of natural nut butters sold at the Boulder Farmers Market, and eventually grew to incorporate chocolate as well.

Justin's organic, versions of chocolate covered nut butter cups have been a delicious and welcome addition for those wanting a healthier version of this tried and true confection. Today's dark chocolate cashew butter filled cups were no exception.


Friday, June 21, 2019

Brownie Brittle, LLC - Sheila G's Thindulgent Milk Chocolate Bark - June 21, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Sheila G's - Brownie Brittle, LLC
Thindulgent Milk Chocolate Bark - Cashew Toffee
Good - Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 4.7 oz. (133 g.) in total package
Calories: 140 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $ missing information
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's Sheila G's Cashew Toffee Thindulgent Milk Chocolate Bark was created and distributed by Brownie Brittle, LLC (West Palm Beach, FL).

The bark had a sweet, berry aroma, and was a blend of sweet, creamy milk chocolate, crunchy toffee bits and mild nutty bits.

The sweetness level overpowered the more delicate nut flavor of the cashews (their flavor was more evident in the aftertaste)—a common challenge with cashews. However, some looking for a chocolate confection might prefer tasting the sugar. A subtle hint of Himalayan sea salt helped balance out the sweetness a bit.

The base chocolate was reasonably high quality for a commercial milk chocolate. I could still taste that it was chocolate, unlike many other sweet brittles.

The pieces of bark are a good size and are easy to share with others. And the resealable packaging made it transportable for an outdoor adventure or snack on the go.





Argencove Fine Artisan Chocolate - Cashew 70% Dark Chocolate Nicaragua bar - June 20, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Argencove Fine Artisan Chocolate
Cashew 70% Cacao Dark Chocolate Nicaragua bar
Good++
Weight: 1.055 oz. (30 g.) / 2.11 oz. (60 g.) in total bar
Calories: 158.25 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $16.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Day #13 of Chocolate and Nicaragua Theme Week, and Day #1 Chocolate and Cashew Theme Week.


Today's Cashew 70% Cacao Dark Chocolate Nicaragua bar was from Argencove Fine Artisan Chocolate (Granada, Nicaragua).

This dark bar had a slight cookie/biscuit/cracker aroma and a smooth chocolate with delicate, complex fruit flavor notes.

Lightly salted and roasted cashew halves on the back of the bar gave the chocolate a soft crunchy texture.




Thursday, June 20, 2019

Blanxart - Organic Dark Chocolate Nicaragua 85% Bosawas bar - June 19, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

Blanxart
Organic Dark Chocolate 85% Bosawas Nature Preserve, Nicaragua bar
Good +++
Weight: 1.1 oz. (31.25 g.) / 4.4 oz. (125 g.) in total bar
Calories: 170 (estimate) calories in 1/4 bar
Cost: $8.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: The Spanish Table, Mill Valley, CA

Buenos Dias y Bienvenidos al dia #12 de la semana tematica del Chocolate y Nicaragua. Welcome to Day #12 of Chocolate and Nicaragua Theme Week.

Today's Organic Dark Chocolate (Chocolat Bio Noir) 85% Bosawas Nature Preserve, Nicaragua, bar was from Blanxart* (based in Barcelona, Spain since 1954). As the name implies, the cacao used to make this bar was grown in the Bosawas Nature Preserve in Nicaragua.

This ultra-dark bar had light, complex fruit (grapes, peach jam), malt, peanut butter and jelly, oatmeal cookie, and light caramel aroma, and a smooth melt and texture.

The flavor profile was remarkably mellow for an 85 percent bar. It contained chocolate, very light fruit acidity, nutty and very faint, balanced earth/dirt notes with a very subtle, balanced bitterness and a pleasant finish. Again, an intriguing complexity with a light touch and not too sweet. There was much to like here.

Thank you to Spanish Table for their assistance in selecting some great Spanish chocolates in their store, amidst paella pans, spice jars and packets and other interesting Iberian items.

*BB Chocolate Grup, S.A. This bar was imported by Culinary Collective (Lynnwood, WA).


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Raphio Chocolate - 72% Nicaragua bar - June 18, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Raphio Chocolate, LLC
72% Nicaragua (bar)
Good+
Weight: 1.1 oz. (31.5 g.) / 2.2 oz. (63 g.) in total bar
Calories: 170 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

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

Today's 72% Nicaragua bar was made by Raphio Chocolate, LLC (Fresno, CA), using cacao beans from Matagalpa, Nicaragua. The inside flap of the bar included a map and information about the origin of this cacao.

Founders, Elisia Otavi and Yohanes Makmur, have roots in chocolate and Indonesia*—and recall visiting family and cacao farms there. Otavi was inspired by her two sons (Raphael and Rio) to name their chocolate company "Raphio," and to make healthy dark chocolate bars with natural ingredients.

This Nicaragua bar had a nice aroma with fruit and faint roasted malt notes. It had a creamy melt, fruit, earth/dirt and fleeting roasted nut and cinnamon flavor notes, and some astringency in the finish.

It was not too sweet (thank you!) and the sweetness that was there seemed to be more natural and less sugar-forward than in many 70 percent bars.

Maker's notes read: "Flavor notes you may taste: Pecans, dates, molasses."

This bar was gluten free, vegan and made with Non-GMO ingredients and no soy. Ingredients: Organic cacao, Organic cane sugar, Organic cacao butter.

*Indonesia is a fairly large producer of cocoa (approximately 240 thousand tons in 2017/2018 season). However few single origin bars made from Indonesian cacao can be found in the U.S., to date. Perhaps we might taste a single origin Indonesia bar from Raphio in the future? 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Zotter Chocolates - Labooko Vegan Dark Chocolate Nicaragua 70% bar - June 17, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Zotter Chocolates US LLC
Labooko - Vegan Dark Chocolate Nicaragua 70% bar
Good ++
Weight: 1.23 oz. (35 g.) / 2.46 oz. (70 g.) in total package of two bars
Calories: 200 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $9.00 for 1 package of 2 bars
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Day #10 of Chocolate and Nicaragua Theme Week.

Today's Labooko Vegan Dark Chocolate Nicaragua 70% Sail Shipped Cocoa bar was made by Zotter in Austria and distributed by Zotter Chocolate US LLC (Cape Coral, FL). Josef Zotter started his family chocolate business in Austria in 1987 and he's been an innovative and creative maker in the chocolate world.

And he reminds us (with a printed enclosed card) to stop and smell and savor the chocolate rather than gobbling it up in one go.

This Nicaragua bar had a fruity aroma, creamy melt and light, almost whipped cream (whipped cocoa butter?) texture. Its light dried fruit flavor was more fruit and less heavy acidity (thank you)—a uniformity that was brightened by a small frisson of fruit and very faint roasted nut or roasted coffee complexity. It was sweet without being too much so (thank you).

Zotter's maker's notes read as follows:

Fragrance notes: dried fruit with accents of fermentation, notes of caramel and nuts with hints of malt.

Taste notes: an intense aroma of roasted nuts with malt, caramel and subtle hints of whipped cream and fruit (jammy dried fruit, in particular berries and raisins), nutty and malty finish with echoes of fruit.

A Sustainable Transportation Twist
In case you were curious about the images sailing ships printed on the packaging...

A few bean-to-bar chocolate makers have experimented with cleaner maritime shipping alternatives. The cocoa used to make this bar was "transported from Nicaragua to Hamburg on a sailing vessel," instead of large (fossil-fueled) cargo container ship. (The cocoa's last leg from Germany to Austria was by train.)

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter. All three ingredients were "fair traded" and "from controlled organic cultivation." Certified Organic by LACON GmbH.


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