Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pascha Chocolate - 70% Cacao Peru bar - Oct. 4, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Pascha Chocolate Company
70% cacao bar
Good +
Weight: 1.16 oz. (33.3 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in 1/3 bar
Calories: 208 calories (per label - seems high) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $4.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Whole Foods Market, Los Altos, CA

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

Today's organic 70% cacao bar from Pascha Chocolate Company (Toronto) had uniform sweet floral, green, and marshmallow flavor notes.

This bar was made "bean-to-bar, near the source" with fine aroma cocoa beans from Peru. Ingredients: organic cocoa mass, organic sugar, organic cocoa butter and organic vanilla.

Dedication to chocolate for all
The team behind Pascha is passionate about "pure" ingredients (without additives or allergens) and taste. And those who have special dietary needs or preferences can be grateful for their vigilance in this area.

Pascha bars are made in a dedicated allergen free facility, in part due to founder, Simon Lester's, own experience of having family members with food allergies/sensitivities. The company is dedicated to "full ingredient traceability."

This bar was fair trade certified, vegan, "free from peanuts, nuts, dairy, soy, eggs, wheat and gluten," and contained no genetically modified ingredients.

Maglio - Tingo Maria Peru 65% bar - Oct. 3, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Tingo Maria Peru - Cacao 65% bar
Good ++
Weight: 1.76 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 264 calories (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: $6.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: CocoaBella Chocolates, Westfield Centre, San Francisco, CA

Today was Day #2 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

This 65% cacao Tingo Maria Peru bar was from Maglio (Italy).

Tingo Maria is the capital of Leoncio Prado province in central Peru. It's close to the mountains and is a gateway city to the Amazon rainforest. Coffee and cacao are grown here in the fertile Huallaga (River) valley area.

This bar had an even chocolately aroma and flavor, with balanced fruit (berries, melon) acidity and sweetness.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Amedei - Blanco de Criollo square - Oct. 2, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Blanco de Criollo bar
Good +
Weight: .4 oz. (11.32 g.) (estimate) in 1 small square
Calories: 60 calories in 1 square
Cost: $N/A - free small square, came part of a larger order
Purchased from: N/A - from Chocosphere (online order)

Bienvenidos a (Welcome to) Day #1 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's sample size chocolate square came taped to a Chocosphere business card as part of a chocolate order I'd placed with their site last month. These high-end chocolate squares (I also received a Venchi square recently) are a helpful way to sample new chocolates.

The Blanco de Criollo bar was made by Amedei (Pontedera (Pisa) Italy) with Criollo cacao from Peru. This chocolate had some interesting, but very subtle flavors. It had a very subtle, earthy, roasted dark chocolate aroma, some pomegranate-citrus-woodsy fruit acid notes, a very slight graininess or astringency, and a very slight bitter, roasted coffee aftertaste.

The small sample size was not big enough to re-taste* later. Happily, one can still get a lot of information in one or two small bites.

*Re-tasting a chocolate even only 1/2 hour later will often evoke different flavor notes, so I try to re-taste the Chocolate of the Day over the course of a morning. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Domori - Cacao Criollo 70% Guasare Dark Chocolate bar - Oct. 1, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Cacao Criollo 70% Guasare Dark Chocolate bar
Very Good
Weight: .88 oz. (25 g.) in total bar
Calories: 132 calories (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: $6.85 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere (online order)

Time to bid adieu to Chocolate and Italy Theme Week with one last interesting bar, made by an Italian bean-to-bar maker who works with some of the best cacao in the world.

The Cacao Criollo 70% Guasare Dark Chocolate bar was from Domori (None, Italy) located outside of Turin (Torino).

Company founder, Gianluca Franzoni, started looking for great cacao in South America in the early 1990s. He founded Domori in 1997 with a mission to preserve the biodiversity of fine flavor Criollo cacao. (To help further this goal, he bought a plantation in Venezuela.) Domori offers a variety of single origin and Criollo bars and has been part of gruppo illy since 2006.

Most of Domori chocolate bars are made with Criollo or Criollo hybrid cacao beans. This Guasare bar was made from the "mother of all Criollo" cacao (beans), from Venezuela.

Yes, origin stories are interesting, but how did this bar made from this intriguing cacao taste?

Reviewers comments I'd read mentioned "...aromas of dried fruits and honey. Unique..." and
"cream, fruit, sweetness..." and "floral notes, toffee, cream..."

I found the flavor to be bolder (less subtle) than I supposed it would be after reading the above reviews. The 70% bar had a mild aroma, but had a uniformly full flavor, starting with red fruit, followed by fudge, nut, sweet cream notes. The second bite had a brief exotic floral flourish to it about halfway through, followed by a slight citrus woodsiness. I'm convinced if I kept eating a bit more of this bar during the day, the flavors would just keep unfolding. However, don't count on being able to do this. This bar, weighed less than 1 oz. (28.3 g.), and disappeared quickly.

Thank you to Domori and others who are helping to keep these strains of Criollo alive and well. It's a pleasure to taste bars like this.

*Guasare is a type of heritage or origin cacao, (re-)discovered near the Guasare River, in the Zulia state of western Venezuela surrounding Lake Maracaibo. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Caffarel - Latte, Gianduia chocolates - Sept. 30, 2015

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

- Latte chocolate
- Gianduia chocolate
Good ++
Weight: .7 oz. (19.8 g.) (estimate) in 2 pieces
Calories: 105 calories (estimate) for 2 pieces
Cost: $ ?.?? (lost info)
Purchased from: SweetE Organic, Mill Valley, CA

Today was Day #6 of Chocolate and Italy Theme Week.

Today's small, egg-shaped, Latte and Gianduia chocolates from Caffarel of Torino, Italy (now part of Nestle), were swathed in cheery yellow and green paper outer wrappers. Inside each was a foil-wrapped egg.

These milk chocolates where coated with creamy chocolate and were stuffed with an even creamier, slightly buttery and flavorful ganache (filling); the latter (green) one was hazelnut flavored.

Thanks to Elana T. at SweetE Organic (Mill Valley, CA) for stocking some great Italian sweets. I picked these up at her store earlier this year.

Cloetta Italia - Sperlari Granperle chocolates - Sept. 29, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Cloetta Italia
Sperlari Granperle Fondente con Granella di Torrone - 60% cacao
(Extra Dark Chocolate Pralines - 60% cacao)
Weight: 1.378 oz. (39 g.) / 5.6 oz. (160 g.) in total package
Calories: 210 calories in 3 pieces (approx. 1/4 package)
Cost: $6.25 in one package
Purchased from: The Greedy Ant, Belmont, CA

Today was Day #5 of Chocolate and Italy Theme Week.

These elegantly and individually wrapped chocolate covered nougat spheres were part of the Sperlari* brand, from Cloetta Italia (Italy). The texture was both creamy smooth and softly crunchy, with some small air pockets between layers as I bit into this Granperle chocolate.

These Granperle Fondente con Granella di Torrone (Extra Dark Chocolate Pralines) were covered with 60% cacao "nel guscio."

*The Sperlari brand dates back to 1836.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Element - Dark Chocolate Rice Cakes - Sept. 28, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Dark Chocolate Rice Cakes - Good ++
Sweet Orange Rice Cakes - Good ++ - Very Good

Weight: 1.75 oz. (50 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in 1 package of 6 cakes
Calories: 240 calories in 3 rice cakes
Cost: $3.99 for 1 package of rice cakes
Purchased from: Sprouts, Mountain View, CA

Today was Day #4 of Chocolate and Italy Theme Week.

Life is all about managing expectations. I wasn't expecting much from these Element Dark Chocolate and Sweet Orange, gluten free, non-GMO rice cakes (distributed by Manifesto Industries (NY, NY) and Made in Italy. But they certainly over-delivered.

The dark chocolate coating was of a much higher quality than expected. I could smell the rich, dark difference within several inches of my nose.

Similarly, the orange yogurt coating on the Sweet Orange rice cakes tasted very natural, fragrant with a light touch of orange.

So nice to enjoy a natural tasting product with no artificial flavors, that wasn't over-sweetened.
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