Sunday, June 25, 2017

Vosges - Super Dark 80% Smoked Salt bar - June 25, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Vosges IP, LLC
Super Dark 80% Cacao Smoked Salt bar
Good+
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 151.3 calories in 1/3 bar
Cost: $8.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Vosges kiosk in O'Hare airport, Chicago, IL

Welcome to Day #5 of Cacao Nibs Theme Week.

Today's Smoked Salt Super Dark 80% Cacao bar was from Vosges IP, LLC (Chicago, IL).

This bittersweet chocolate bar had a pleasant subtle chocolate aroma. It was smooth and even for an ultra-dark bar, and was suffused with a subtle, even touch of Alderwood smoked salt from the Pacific Northwest.

A light smattering of cacao nibs from Ghana on one side provided additional, authentic chocolate flavor depth—more than I remember tasting with other Vosges bars (that would have had more sugar and no nibs).

Vosges started producing chocolate in 1998; and Katrina Markoff, Vosges founder and the brand behind the Vosges brand, seems to exude creative sophistication, as does the packaging for her bars and confections.





Saturday, June 24, 2017

Betty Lou's - Nuts about Energy Balls - Paleo Java - June 24, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Betty Lou's Inc.
Nuts about Energy Balls - Paleo Java
Good
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42 g.) in 1 package
Calories: 140 calories in 1 package
Cost: $2.99 (guesstimate) for 1 package
Purchased from: Village Market, SF Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Cacao Nibs Theme Week.

Today's Paleo Java energy snack was created by Betty Lou's Inc.(McMinnville, OR) and was part of the company's "Nuts about Energy Balls" line of snacks.

Made with dates, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, honey, raisins, coffee and hazelnuts, this certified gluten-free energy ball tasted authentic and satisfying—without the sugar buzz that can result from energy bars with added sugars.

This energy ball was also labeled as Non-GMO and Vegetarian. (If you're vegan, these do contain some honey.)






Friday, June 23, 2017

Raaka Virgin Chocolate - Maple & Nibs, Mint & Nibs Eastern Congo bars - June 23, 2017

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Raaka Virgin Chocolate

Maple and Nibs (Eastern Congo) 75% Cacao bar
Good
Weight: .6 oz. (16.98 g.)/ 1.8 oz. (50.94 g.) in total bar
Calories: 88 calories (estimate) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $7.95 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Raaka (online order)

Mint and Nibs (Eastern Congo) 56% Cacao bar
Good
Weight: .6 oz. (16.98 g.) / 1.8 oz. (50.94 g.) in total bar
Calories: 93.3 calories (estimate) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $7.95 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Raaka (online order)

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Cacao Nibs Theme Week.

Both dark chocolate bars featured today were from Raaka Virgin Chocolate (Brooklyn, NY), contained a generous sprinkling of cacao nibs, and were made with unroasted ("virgin") cacao grown in Eastern Congo.*

The 75% Cacao Maple and Nibs and 56% Cacao Mint and Nibs dark bars were surprisingly sweet and mellow, in part due to the lack of roasting. The company founders seek to preserve some of the original cacao flavors that are sometimes lost in the roasting process.

The flavors (maple sugar, mint) were subtle, natural and relatively uniform and smooth, with hints of earthiness—which could have been in the nibs. The texture was slightly granular but not objectionably so.

*Raaka partners with Congolese farmers near Virunga National Park in Eastern Congo "to source cacao that supports community and agroforestry. Farmers are paid a minimum of $500 per ton above market price for their fine cacao."


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Valenza Chocolatier - Nibs Bar - June 22, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Valenza Chocolatier
Nibs Bar
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.03 oz. (30 g.) / 3.1 oz. (90 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories (estimate) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $N/A - sample, included in larger order
Purchased from: Valenza Chocolatier, Costa Mesa, CA (online order)

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Cacao Nibs Theme Week.

Great blend of rich flavors and creamy and crunchy textures in today's Nibs Bar from Valenza Chocolatier (Costa Mesa, CA).

The base chocolate was made using Venezuelan origin cacao (fruity, complex chocolate flavor with a very subtle cinnamon spice note). The creamy 73.5 % cacao dark bar had a dense layer of finely ground, crunchy nibs on one side; and the nibs contributed their own slightly earthy, true chocolate/brownie flavor depth to the mix.

Nibs are pieces of cacao seed or bean, that can be eaten plain, unsweetened. Or they can be finely ground and made into chocolate. The essence of the cacao aroma, flavor and texture is usually evident in the nibs. Every once in a while when sampling chocolates with cacao nib pieces on or in them, there can be a small piece of funky nib (less obvious when beans are fully ground together with sugar perhaps). However, there were no bitter or "off" flavors in this bar.

Thank you to Amy Jo Pedone, Master Chocolatier at Valenza for her talents, and for including this sample Nibs Bar into a previous order. I was looking forward to trying this bar for quite awhile.




Big Tree Farms - Cashew-Cacao Cluster - June 21, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Big Tree Farms
Cashew-Cacao Cluster
Good - Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 4 oz. (113 g.) in total package
Calories: 167 calories in 1 oz. serving
Cost: $missing information for 1 package
Purchased from: missing information

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Cashew Theme Week, and Day #1 of Cacao Nibs Theme Week. Today's crossover entry contained both cashew nuts and cacao nibs.

Crunchy and not too sweet, these Cashew-Cacao Cluster pieces from Big Tree Farms (Bali, Indonesia) were very lightly sweetened with coconut palm sugar and had a pleasant nutty crunch with distinctive yet smooth cacao nib flavor.

If you're ever in Bali, the company also gives tours of their factory facility, where you can see one of the largest commercial structures made of bamboo in the world. (They produce coconut sugar, aminos and nectar as well.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Torn Ranch - Milk Chocolate Cashews - June 20, 2017

Chocolate of the Day:

Torn Ranch
Milk Chocolate Cashews
Good - Good+
Weight: 1.875 oz. (53 g.) / 3.75 oz. (106 g.) in total tin
Calories: 330 calories in 1/2 container
Cost: $7.99 for 1 container
Purchased from: Draeger's Market, San Francisco, CA

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

Today's jumbo-sized Milk Chocolate Cashews from Torn Ranch (Petaluma, CA) had a thick coating of flavorful milk chocolate.

And the shiny metal container helped keep them in pristine shape.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Stone Grindz Chocolate Mint Cashew 60% bar; Torn Ranch Cashews Cranberries & Chocolate - June 19, 2017

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

Stone Grindz Chocolate
Mint and Cashew 60% Cacao bar
Good +
Weight: .66 oz. (18.8 g.) / 2 oz. (56.6 g.) in total bar
Calories: 100 calories (estimate) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $7.95 for 1 bar (part of a larger order)
Purchased from: Stone Grindz Chocolate, Scottsdale, AZ


Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Cashew Theme Week, where we have two entries today:

Today's chocolate was a Mint and Cashew 60% Cacao bar from Stone Grindz Chocolate (Scottsdale, AZ) was the first. This was re-sampled (to focus on the cashew part) this time.

Cashew and Mint is a relatively unique combination. How did they taste together in one bar?

The chocolate had a pleasing aroma with a hint of mint and some very subtle cashew nut flavor and texture. The chocolate was relatively smooth for a bar with nuts.

Torn Ranch
Cashews, Cranberries and Chocolate
Good
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.5 g.) in total package
Calories: 190 calories in 1 package
Cost: $3.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Draeger's Market, Los Altos, CA

The second chocolate item was similar to a high-end trail mix, and was composed of small, coin-sized round discs of dark chocolate, dried cranberries and cashews.












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