Thursday, December 3, 2020

Manoa Chocolate - Ko'olaupoko O'ahu Island Chocolate 70% Cacao (Spring Harvest) (bar) - Dec. 2, 2020

Chocolate of the Day

Manoa Chocolate
Ko'olaupoko O'ahu Island Chocolate 70% Cacao (Spring Harvest) (bar)
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1.05 oz. (30 g.) /2.1 oz. (60 g.) in total bar
Calories: 180 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $24.00 for set of 2 bars ($12.00 for 1 bar)
Purchased from: Manoa Chocolate, online order

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

Today's Ko'olaupoko O'ahu Island Chocolate 70% Cacao (Spring Harvest) bar was manufactured in Hawaii by Grass Shack Industries LLC/Manoa Chocolate (Kailua, HI).

What a great opportunity to compare two 70% cacao bars, both made from Hawaiian-grown cacao growing at the same location (Ko'olaupopo* O'ahu Island), but harvested at two different times of the year (spring and winter). 

Today I'll be focused on the Spring Harvest version of this bar, and tomorrow I'll feature the Winter Harvest version of this bar. 

This bar had an aroma had green (green banana, green floral, green tea) and a very slightly bittersweet dark chocolate and faint spiced fruit (peach, red berry) notes. The melt and texture was smooth and creamy. The flavor also had green notes and additional (less faint) fruitiness. There were very fleeting earthy green (and green nut/seed) notes in one bite. Overall the flavor was complex and appealing. 

Ingredients: Cacao, organic cane sugar, cocoa butter

*Ko'olaupoko refers to a relatively small, windward district in Honolulu County, on the "east" shore of O'ahu. This district has some lush green areas where cacao grows (that are also near where this chocolate is made in Kailua).


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Manoa Chocolate - Flavors of Hawaii - Liliko'i 60% Dark Milk Chocolate (bar) - Dec. 1, 2020

Chocolate of the Day

Manoa Chocolate
Flavors of Hawaii - Liliko'i 60% Dark Milk Chocolate (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 2.1 oz. (60 g.) in total bar
Calories: 360 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $9.50 for 1 bar (part of a 3-bar set)
Purchased from: Manoa Chocolate, online order

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

Today's 60% Dark Milk Liliko'i (passion fruit) chocolate from Manoa Chocolate (Kailua, Oahu, HI) was part of a 3-bar "Flavors of Hawaii"* set. 

Many fruits were brought to Hawaiian islands from either Southeast Asia/Pacific Islands or from South America. Many credit Eugene Delmar for bringing the passion fruit to Hawaii around 1880, from Australia, when it was planted on Maui (in the Liliko'i district). However, this fruit likely got its original start from South America (Brazil). Thankfully it is available in more places now so many of us can appreciate it, with or without chocolate. (Although it does pair very nicely with the latter.)

The passion fruit incorporated into this bar came from dehydrated passion fruit juice powder. Fruit powders offers tantalizing concentrated fruit inclusion possibilities for chocolate bars and confections.

Today's attractively patterned and packaged bar had an aroma with sweet tropical fruit (mango, passion fruit). It broke with a well-tempered snap and had a delightful creamy melt and texture.

The dark milk chocolate had a medium fruit acidity (mild tart-sweetness) that was tempered a bit by creamy caramel note from the milk powder. The passion fruit flavor lingered in the finish.

Manoa Chocolate beverage pairing suggestions included the following: 1.) wine - Oregon Pinot Noir; 2.) liquor - Tequila Blanco; and 3.) beer: lager.

Ingredients: Cacao, organic cane sugar, organic whole milk powder, cocoa butter, passion fruit juice powder

*The other two flavors included in this 3-bar Flavors of Hawaii set were banana (mai'a) and coconut (haupia). And these two bars will be featured later.  

Nine Fine Mynah Estates - Waillua, Oahu, HI / Madre Chocolate 70% (bar) - Nov. 30, 2020

Chocolate of the Day

Nine Fine Mynah Estates
70% (bar) Made by Madre Chocolate
Good ++
Weight: 1.5 oz. (43 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 230 (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: $15.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Missing information 

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

Today's 70% Nine Fine Mynah Estates bar was made by Madre Chocolate (Honolulu, HI).

This award-winning Hawaiian chocolate had a unique and interesting aroma and flavor. 

The aroma included caramel with herbal spice; green, woodsy (freshly cut wood); maple syrup with butter, chocolate; and authentic forest-harvested, vanilla pod notes.

The chocolate had taste (flavor) that were similar to the notes in the aroma--and medium tropical fruit (mild pineapple, guava) acidity, and light seed notes.

This bar had a creamy smooth texture. 

Ingredients: Hawaiian cacao beans, organic sugar, organic cocoa butter, whole vanilla.

 

Monday, November 30, 2020

Manoa Chocolate - Hawaiian Sea Salt 72% Chocolate (bar) - Nov. 29, 2020

Chocolate of the Day

Manoa Chocolate
Hawaiian Sea Salt 72% Chocolate (bar)
Good ++
Weight: .7 oz. (20 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 120 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $4.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: SweetE Organic,* Mill Valley, CA

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

Today's Hawaiian Sea Salt 72% Chocolate (bar) was from Manoa Chocolate (Kailua, HI).

This well-balanced chocolate contained a range of sophisticated and well-behaved flavors--that one might see on a chocolate tasting wheel. 

The aroma and flavor notes were very similar to each other: 1.) fruity (medium acidity red fruit/berry, sweet tangerine, peach jam), 2,) savory salt, 3,) true chocolate (flourless chocolate tart), and 4.) faint roasted coffee, nut and earth notes. A minute or two later a very light buckwheat pancake finish was the only thing that remained.

The melt and texture for his 72% dark bar was smooth and creamy. 

This vegan, gluten free, soy free, Non-GMO, Direct Trade Hawaiian sea salt bar was crafted from bean to bar in Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii, using Hawaiian salt (made from evaporating Pacific Ocean sea water until only salt and trace minerals are left).

Suggested beverage pairings from Manoa: Wines: Sparkling and Buttery Chardonnay; Liquor: Rum; Beer: Sours and Saisons.

Ingredients: Cacao, organic cane sugar, cocoa butter and sea salt. 


Saturday, November 28, 2020

Madre Chocolate - Kona Criollo Limited Edition 70% Dark Chocolate (Kololeka Hawaii) bar - Nov. 28, 2020

Chocolate of the Day

Madre Chocolate
70% Kona Criollo Limited Edition Dark Chocolate (bar) 
Kokoleka Hawai'i*
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1.5 oz. (43 g.) in total bar
Calories: 227 calories (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: $11.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Madre Chocolate, online order 

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Hawaii Theme Week.

Today's Limited Edition Kona Criollo 70% Dark Chocolate (bar) was crafted by Madre Chocolate (Honolulu, HI) and is one of a series of Kokoleka Hawai'i* bars made the company.

The aroma of this bar had notes of baked goods (freshly baked bread, arrowroot spice cookies, graham cracker), very mild fruit notes (light peach, goji berry) and a green (almost floral) note I couldn't quite put my finger on (lilies?). 

The chocolate had a creamy melt and mouthfeel. Flavors included sweet nutty (roasted, naturally sweet hazelnuts, almonds), green nutty seeds (Jaguar cacao?**) notes, and a very mildly green, aromatic woodsy/rootsy (parsnip green tea with woodland flower nymphs?) finish. Any bold bitter-sweetness normally associated with conventional dark chocolate was absent.

This bar was crafted from a unique Criollo variety of cacao, yielding a very soft, suave and special tasting experience. Thank you to Nat and all at Madre for offering this bar. 

The Covid-19 virus is permitting only virtual travel (via chocolate) this month. However, if I were in Hawaii, I'd stop by Madre Chocolate and thank them personally for their work with local farmers and for making great chocolate using Hawaiian-grown cacao and inclusions over the years. 

Today's Kona Criollo bar was a largely a result of a relationship between Madre Chocolate and farmer Virginia "Gini" Choobua of Kikao Kula Cacao Farm in Holualoa, south of Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii--an area historically known for its rich, volcanic soil and Kona coffee.

Madre Chocolate tasting notes

Th Madre Chocolate maker's tasting notes read as follows: "We have selected the finest creamy sweet Criollo cacao beans grown to make this limited edition chocolate bar for you to enjoy. Criollo is a variety bred by the Maya and their predecessors for a mild nutty non-bitter flavor that lends this bar overtones of amaretto and hazelnut rarely seen in an unflavored chocolate bar."

Ingredients: Criollo cacao, organic sugar, organic cocoa butter, whole vanilla.

* Kokoleka Hawai'i translates to Hawaiian Chocolate. Kokoleka is the Hawaiian word for chocolate.

**What is Jaguar cacao? When we eat chocolate, we are eating the seeds/beans from Theobroma cacao trees, the rock star of the Theobroma family. Much rarer is the Jaguar cacao tree (Theobroma bicolor--also known as mocambo, balamte, pataxte and white cacao). Theobroma bicolor fruit's large, slightly wrinkled white seeds are also edible, but are much milder than the seeds/beans from Theobroma cacao used to make chocolate.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Somerville Chocolate - Hawaii 70% Cacao from Papaikou, HI (bar) - Nov. 27, 2020

Chocolate of the Day

Somerville Chocolate
Hawaii 70% Cacao from Papaikou, Hawaii (bar)
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 2.5 oz. (70.75 g.) in total bar
Calories: 378 calories (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: $13.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Missing information

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

Today's Hawaii 70% Cacao from Papaikou, Hawaii (bar) was hand-crafted from bean to bar by Eric Parkes at Somerville Chocolate (Somerville, MA). The company is co-located with a brewery and wraps their bars using papers printed with attractive images of antique maps.

The aroma for this bar had a shape-shifting quality to it. First, I experienced a bold dark chocolate with a roasted (very faint charcoal smoke) note. However, two minutes later, the aroma grew much milder, taking on a green (green forest, green nut) scent with a very faint waxy nut note. A magic trick of sorts.

The flavor of this bar was quite sweet (high-end, dark chocolate frosting). It's likely there were bright fruity notes from the cacao that amped up the cane sugar sweetness; but it was hard to tell. (Think of bright sunshine blasting you on a black sand beach on the Big Island* of Hawaii. Beautiful. But, sometimes too much of a good thing.) 

Some cacao has a naturally bright sweet flavor, and making a 70% cacao version (with 70% cacao and 30% cane sugar), which is generally considered an "optimal" percentage in chocolate-making circles, much sweeter than another 70% bar. Today's bar may be a good example of just that.

I'd be curious to taste a 73% or even 75% version of this bar (i.e. one with less sugar) to see if I could taste more of the chocolate's nuances/fruitiness. However, those with a sweet tooth should be quite happy with this well-made bar.

The finish had a very faint, balanced astringency, and it shifted from a lingering sweet, fruit acidity to something a bit of mellow, green nut flavor at the very end.

Ingredients: Cacao, cane sugar

*The cacao used to make this dark bar was from Papaikou, which is located on the east shore of the Big Island of Hawaii (south of the Tropical Botanical Garden and bioreserve) and about 5 miles (8 km) from Hilo. The area is described as a "tropical paradise on the Hamakua coast." And, happily for us, at a few hundred feet above sea level and at approx. 19 + degrees N. Latitude, it's also well-suited for growing cacao.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Christopher Elbow Chocolates - Macadamia Hawaiian Sea Salt Dark bar - Nov. 26, 2020

Chocolate of the Day 

Christopher Elbow Chocolates
Macadamia Hawaiian Sea Salt Dark Chocolate bar
Good +
Weight: 2.65 oz. (75 g.) in total bar
Calories: 410 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $7.95 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Christopher Elbow Chocolates, online order

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

Today's Macadamia Hawaiian Sea Salt Dark 63% Dark chocolate bar was from Christopher Elbow Chocolates (Kansas City, MO).

This gluten free and vegan chocolate bar was speckled with toasted macadamia nut bits and infused with Hawaiian red/pink sea salt. 

The aroma reminded me of butter cookies with cashew nuts from childhood.

The flavors were a melding of smooth, sweet, rich dark chocolate, salty sparkles from the sea salt crystals and tiny, soft nutty bits. (There was also a fleeting, very faint mineral and even fainter menthol notes.*)

Ingredients: Dark chocolate (cacao mass, cocoa butter, sugar, soy lecithin, vanilla), macadamia nuts, Hawaiian Red sea salt 

*I wondered whether the fleeting mineral note might have been from the Hawaiian Red sea salt. The red color in this salt is due to red colored clay, earth. Some think this salt has a faint nutty flavor. Impurities, including small quantities of minerals can impart color and taste in sea salt. And the larger the salt grains or crystals, the more detectable flavor it might have.

The menthol note could have been from an accidental flavor inclusion or might even date back to post-harvest cacao fermentation. 


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