Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Fine and Raw Chocolate - Cashew Butter 54% bar - June 25, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

Fine and Raw Chocolate
Cashew Butter 54% bar
Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 2 oz. (56 g.) in total bar
Calories: 140 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $11.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Cashews Theme Week, and Day #1 of Chocolate and Peruvian Superfoods* Theme Week—featuring chocolates that contain two or more of the following items: cacao, maca, lucuma, camu-camu and/or quinoa.

These items generally arrive in North America (and likely Europe and Asia as well) in powdered or partially processed form, and we rarely see the original source vegetable, fruit, nut, seed or plant associated with their respective claimed health benefits. Nonetheless it is interesting to try these exotic plants and botanicals that co-evolved with cacao trees in Central and South America.

Today's Cashew Butter 54% bar was handmade, from bean-to-bar, by Fine and Raw Chocolate / Fine and Raw LLC (Brooklyn, NY), and contained cacao and lucuma. The base chocolate was relatively mild (often the case with unroasted/raw cacao).

Lucuma is a round fruit with green skin and golden flesh that imparts a multi-layered sweet flavor. (Some liken it to a cross between an avocado and a mango, with mild sweet potato, caramel and maple flavor notes.) Like cacao fruit**, it starts to ferment quickly after harvesting, making it difficult to ship to other parts of the world.

This raw, gluten free, and Kosher chocolate was smooth, and had a relatively creamy melt and texture due to organic cashews (butter) and added cacao butter that were both fully blended with the cacao.

It was sweetened with organic coconut sugar and lucuma and was not too sweet, especially unusual for a lower % cacao bar (thank you!). The lucuma did in fact add subtle aroma and flavor notes mentioned above (sweet potato, caramel, maple). Ground vanilla bean added a light, sunny, upbeat floral note.

Ingredients: organic cacao bean(s), organic coconut sugar, organic cashew nut, organic cacao butter, organic ground lucuma, organic whole ground vanilla

*While I inherently dislike the term Superfoods, and believe it is overused, it is difficult to come up with another term that summarizes this category.

**Cacao fruit/pulp is quite delicious but, unless you live in Hawaii, or perhaps south Florida, the odds are if you live in the U.S. or Canada that you've only tasted it in its refreshing, ivory-colored, frozen pulp form that tastes nothing like chocolate.

Keep Healthy Fruitkies - Chocolate Covered Mango bar - June 24, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Keep Healthy Fruitkies
Chocolate Covered Mango bar
Good
Weight: 1.6 oz. (45 g.) in total bar
Calories: 132 calories in 1/2  bar
Cost: $1.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, Menlo Park, CA

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

Today's Chocolate Covered Mango bar was made in the U.S. and distributed by Keep Healthy Inc. (Northport, NY).

The bar had a medium-soft chew and contained a relatively light colored, sweet filling (dried mango, cane sugar and citric acid). The chocolate coating yielded a subtle, smooth chocolate flavor.

This bar did not contain cashews. But, to keep the connection with Cashew Theme Week, it was consumed with a handful of cacao nibs and cashews. And, did you know that mangoes are part of the cashew family?*

*Mangoes and cashews are also related to poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac; so being botanical relatives isn't always what it's cracked up to be.

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).


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