Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Oakland Chocolate Co. - Wild Onion Roasted Almond Truffle - July 11, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

The Oakland Chocolate Company
Wild Onion Roasted Almond Truffle
Good ++
Weight: .49 oz. (13.8 g.) (estimate) in 1 truffle
Calories: 74 calories (estimate) in 1 truffle
Cost: $2.50 for 1 truffle
Purchased from: The Oakland Chocolate Company, online order

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

Today's Wild Onion Roasted Almond Truffle was created by chocolate-maker Nancy Nadel of The Oakland Chocolate Company (Oakland, CA). 

Nadel makes her chocolate bars and bonbons from scratch using cacao beans from Jamaica (Bachelors Hall). And flavor inclusions in her bean-to-bar, small batch chocolates are often locally (San Francisco Bay Area) sourced, from a farmers market or garden.

This dark chocolate truffle was filled with a creamy smooth dark chocolate ganache that contained a tiny sprig of wild onion and piece of roasted almond--inside and outside--embedded in the filling and as a topping. This garnish created a lovely appearance as well.

Balance is important in all food preparation, perhaps especially so for food items that combine sweet and savory. While salt is the most frequently used way to create a savory-sweet chocolate, there are other ways to incorporate an umami flavor or two, such as using herbs and spices people associate with savory dishes (e.g. rosemary, tarragon or black pepper). A dash of sea salt often balances out lots of sugar or or caramel and appeals to our food cravings. But no heavy dose of salt was required or desired today. Just a whisper would do just fine.

Today's wild onion truffle was not too sweet (thank you!). And because of the lack of extra sugar one could really taste the layers of sweet, rich and savory authentic flavors. 


Savory ice cream coconut sundae & Safeway Milk Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel - July 10, 2020

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Sweet and Savory Ice Cream Sundae
Peanut Butter cup ice cream, toasted coconut strips, savory seed and nut blend, cacao nibs
Good ++
(Various vendors)
Weight: Approx. 16 oz. (1 lb.)
Cost: Approx. $10.00
Purchased from: three different suppliers/stores

Safeway
Signature Reserve Milk Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel
Good
Weight: .8 oz. (23 g.) in one piece
Calories: 100 calories in 1 piece
Cost: $0.60 for 1 piece 
Purchased from: Safeway, Mountain View, CA

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Coconut Theme Week and Day #1 of Chocolate and Savory Theme Week.

Today's chocolate double feature, began with a large sweet and savory, homemade ice cream sundae made using ingredients from several companies.

Savory Ice Cream Sundae
The base vanilla ice cream was embedded with slightly salty flecks of chocolate peanut butter cups. And the toppings included a generous serving of organic, toasted coconut chips, a savory nut and seed blend that added crunchy texture, and a little sprinkle of cacao nibs.

The savory elements balanced out the sweetness very nicely. And layering toppings elements (vs. being homogenized together in one ice cream flavor) added flavor fun and depth and kept the topping textures fresh and crispy/crunchy. I'll be making this sundae again in the future.

Safeway - Milk Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel
I also tasted a Signature Reserve Milk Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel from Safeway (Pleasanton, CA).

Crunchy crystals of salt made this substantial milk chocolate covered caramel seem less sugary sweet--a neat trick given that caramel is mostly (heated) sugar. The caramel stretched into soft points with each new bite. 





Living Intentions - Activated Superfood Nut Blend - Dark Cacao - July 9, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

Living Intentions
Activated Superfood Nut Blend - Dark Cacao
Good 
Weight: 1/4 cup (28 g.) / 4 oz. (113 g.) in total package
Calories: 120 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $5.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Sprouts Farmers Market, Mountain View, CA

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

Today's Dark Cacao Activated* Superfood Nut Blend was made by Living Intentions (Point Richmond, CA). 

The company produces a variety of cereals, popcorn(s), and other nut and seed blends; and others with cacao have been featured on this site previously.

This satisfying, slightly crunchy mix of nuts (sprouted almonds, raw cashews), coconut chips and fruits (raisins, dried blueberries) was covered with an ebony-colored chocolate glaze that added cacao flavor but was not overly sweet. The raisins provided plenty of fruit sugar on their own; and there was also a touch of coconut sugar. A hint of sea salt, vanilla and olive oil rounded out this blend.

*The company describes "activated" as a philosophy and a practice--possibly involving sprouting (ingredients) with active enzymes, the inclusion of superfoods (with high levels of phyto-nutrients) and/or prebiotics.








Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Hungry Buddha - Coconut Clusters Cocoa Crisp - July 8, 2020

Chocolate of the Day:

Hungry Buddha 
(Distributed by Temple Lifestyle Inc.)
Coconut Clusters Cocoa Crisp
Good 
Weight: 1.76 oz. (50 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total package
Calories: 260 calories in 1 serving (3/4 cup)
Cost: $5.99 (estimate) for 1 package
Purchased from: missing information

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

Today's Coconut Clusters Cocoa Crisp were from Hungry Buddha (Montreal, Quebec, Canada).

The clusters had a substantial crunch and light coconut and cocoa aroma and flavor. The additional inclusions of puffed rice and cranberries added accent flavors and textures; but this was a coco + cocoa show.

West Thomas Partners - GFB - Dark Chocolate Coconut Bar - July 7, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

West Thomas Partners LLC

GFB - Coconut Cashew Bar (mini bars)
Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 8 oz. (227 g.) in total package
Calories: 120 calories in 1 mini bar
Cost: $4.99 for 1 package of individually wrapped mini bars (2 flavors)
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA 

GFB - Dark Chocolate Coconut  (mini bars)
Good - Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 8 oz. (227 g.) in total package
Calories: 120 calories in 1 mini bar
Cost: $4.99 for 1 package of individually wrapped mini bars (2 flavors)
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA 

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

Today's two GFB* Coconut Cashew and Dark Chocolate Coconut mini bars from West Thomas Partners LLC (Grand Rapids, MI) were packaged together.

Both of the coconut mini bars were individually-wrapped, chewy protein bars. But only one contained chocolate.

The plant-based protein sources included cashews, brown rice protein and pea protein.

Protein ingredients tend to muffle, or balance out, sweet and acidic flavors. For this reason, the GFB Dark Chocolate Coconut mini bar didn't appear to taste too sweet--even though the bar contained organic dates (the first ingredient**) and three more sweeteners (brown rice syrup, agave nectar and cane sugar).
 
I could taste the dark chocolate in this bar, but it was in a supporting role; and I was unable to detect any cacao flavor nuances.

*GFB stands for Gluten Free Bar

**Ingredients for Dark Chocolate Coconut mini bar: Organic dates, Complete Protein Blend (organic brown rice protein, pea protein), organic brown rice syrup, organic dark chocolate (organic chocolate liquor, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter), organic agave nectar, toasted coconut, organic brown rice, organic sunflower seeds, cocoa powder, natural vanilla flavor, natural coconut flavor, flax seed, sea salt.



Monday, July 6, 2020

Oakdale Orchards - Milk Chocolate Coconut Cashews - July 6, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

Oakdale Orchards
Milk Chocolate Coconut Cashews
Good 
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 9 oz. (255 g.) in total package
Calories: 150 calories in 1 serving (approx. 2 Tablespoons)
Cost: $2.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's Milk Chocolate Coconut Cashews were manufactured for Oakdale Orchards (Oakdale, CA).

For chocolate and nut lovers with a sweet tooth, this snack had an appealing description: "roasted cashews caramelized with coconut and covered in milk chocolate.

These milk chocolate drenched pieces had a sweet coconut aroma. The outer chocolate shells (shiny with confectioners glaze) had a creamy melt and mouthfeel. The inner coating was crunchy, crystallized sugar(s) with a coconut flavor. And, at the heart of each piece was a cashew nut.

These cashew confections were a bit too sweet for me. I like to taste the subtle chocolate and the nut flavors; and sugars tend to overpower these flavors. But, those with a sweet tooth who appreciate chocolate and nut candy bars would likely enjoy these.

Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, chocolate liquor, non-fat dry milk, soy lecithin - an emulsifier, vanilla), cashews, sugar, coconut; tapioca dextrin, natural flavor, butter, salt, confectioners glaze.


Sunday, July 5, 2020

Bare Foods - Chocolate Coconut Chips - July 5, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

Bare Foods Inc.
Chocolate Coconut Chips
Good
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 2.8 oz. (79 g.) in total package
Calories: Approx. 200 calories in 1/2 package
Cost: $2.99 (estimate) for 1 package
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's Chocolate Coconut Chips from Bare Foods Inc. (San Francisco, CA) pare down the combination of chocolate and coconut to the very basics. The company* makes preservative-free, Non-GMO fruit and veggie baked snacks.

This simple, baked snack had mild roasted coconut aroma with nutty, cocoa notes. The crunchy, cocoa-colored coconut shavings were sweetened with coconut nectar and were not too sweet (thank you)!

The cocoa was uniformly applied and the product was a balanced melding of cocoa and coconut.

At 19 carbs for one (1/2 cup) serving these were not a low carbohydrate snack (although 6 grams of that was fiber); but they were still relatively healthy, based on the following reasoning:

 1.) This snack had only three ingredients: coconuts, coconut nectar, and unsweetened cocoa. There were no additives, preservatives or refined white sugar(s) added. (Coconut nectar is lower on the glycemic index than beet or cane (white) sugar.)

2.) These were baked, not fried. There were no palm oils or other vegetable oils that had been heated or processed along with these three ingredients. Therefore, no worry about trans fats either.

3.) This product was not organic, but it was Non-GMO Project Verified, along with being gluten free.

4.) For those who are looking for roughage, there was 6 grams of dietary fiber in 1 serving (1/2 cup).

Note: I am assuming the cocoa powder is not alkalized cocoa--that is lower in health benefits (polyphenols/anti-oxidants) and still relatively high in phosphorus (for those with kidney issues watching their phosphorus-calcium balance).

*In 2018, PepsiCo announced it was acquiring Bare Foods.


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