Saturday, August 31, 2013

Belgian Milk Chocolate - Aug. 31, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Fresh and Easy
Mini Hunk Bar - Belgian Milk Chocolate
Weight: .397 oz. (11.25 g.) in 1/4 bar / 1.59 oz. (45 g.) total bar
Calories: 60 calories in 1/4 bar
Cost: $0.99 for package of 3 bars
Purchased from: Fresh and Easy, Mountain View, CA

Today was Day #5 of Chocolate and Fig Theme Week. It's been easy to find many combinations that work with these two foods.

Today's combination involved shaved Belgian chocolate over chopped figs and vanilla gelato*. The results were on the sweet side, but I enjoyed this cold dessert on a hot summer day. (Optional additions to this sundae: cinnamon, ginger liqueur, crumbled gluten-free ginger snaps, strawberries, almonds, etc.)

*Note: In the past, I've also made fig ice cream by blending vanilla ice cream (or gelato), dried figs and milk chocolate shavings, then re-freezing this mixture.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Chocolate Salami - Aug. 30, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Dude Sweet Chocolate
FDA Chocolate "Salami"
Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 8 oz. (227 g.) total salami
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1 oz.
Cost: $15.00 for 1 salami
Purchased from: Dude Sweet Chocolate, Dallas, TX

Today was Day #4 of Chocolate and Fig Theme Week. This chocolate and fig salami from Dude Sweet Chocolate (Dallas, TX) arrived just in time for a summer picnic.

Slice this salami and serve it up with meat, cheese or sherry and you'll up the creative quotient at your table, inside or out.

Made with 72% South American chocolate, California marzipan (almonds, sugar), dates, dried figs, and cocoa nibs, this cleverly disguised treat looked (and had a bit of the texture) of a salami, but was very rich, dense and satisfying, due in large part to the dates and figs. However, the blend of nibs and marzipan with the chocolate was also just right, and not too sweet. Brava to chef Katherine Clapner.

L'Amourette Figs bar - Aug. 29, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

L'Amourette LLC
L'Amourette Chocolatier - Figs Chocolat Noir bar
Weight: .7 oz. (19.8 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) total bar
Calories: 125 calories for 1/5 bar
Cost: $4.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Today was Day #3 of Chocolate and Figs Theme Week. And I celebrated this occasion with a "Figs" Chocolate Noir (72% dark chocolate) bar from L'Amourette Chocolatier/L'Amourette LLC (San Francisco, CA).

L'Amourette handcrafts a line of chocolate bars that are vegan and soy and gluten free. The chocolate in this bar had a distinct dark, slightly acidic tang, and was made using Venezuelan Trinitario cacao beans. The generous bits of dried figs had just the right texture - not too tough and chewy and not too gooey soft, and poked out of the chocolate enrobing.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Chocolate fudge, fig cheese - Aug. 28, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Original Chocolate Fudge Co.
Weight: .5 oz. (14.1 g.) (estimate) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total container
Calories: 75 calories (estimate) in 1/2 oz. serving
Cost: N/A
Purchased from: N/A

Another late summer day, another chocolate, fig and cheese plate. I could eat these all year long. Fresh figs are a rich, flavorful seasonal treat, and to have figs embedded in a small cylinder of Coach Farm goat's milk cheese -- all the better.

A tiny spoonful of smooth Chocolate fudge from the Original Gourmet Fudge Co. (Salem, NH) provided the chocolate-to-go, and to ground this tasting experience in solid sweet + savory territory. (Note: the company is now primarily focused on lollipops and not chocolate items.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Askinosie Hey, Hey Hazelnut! spread - Aug. 27, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Askinosie Chocolate
Hey, Hey Hazelnut! Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Good + - Very Good
Weight: 1 Tablespoon (18 g.) / 6.5 oz. (184 g.) in total jar
Calories: 100 calories in 1 Tablespoon serving
Cost: $12.00 (estimate) in 1 jar 
Purchased from: Askinosie Chocolate, Springfield, MO (online order)

Today was Day #6 of Chocolate and Cheese Theme Week, and Day #1 of Chocolate and Fig Theme Week.This morning's chocolate, cheese and fruit plate almost made me late for an appointment it was so good. 

I savored every bit of my "Hey, Hey Hazelnut!" Chocolate Hazelnut spread from Askinosie Chocolate (Springfield, MO). I carefully slathered it on a piece of gluten-free toast -- alongside goat cheese, fresh black mission figs and strawberries, and a drizzle of saffron honey. Life was good and so was this breakfast.

Askinosie Chocolate is a bean-to-bar chocolate maker. However, Askinosie's relationships with farmers go beyond most chocolate makers. Pictures of farmers, like Peter Cruz, are featured on chocolate product labels. This hazelnut spread made "from (cocoa) bean to jar" contained cocoa powder (made in the Askinosie factory) using cocoa beans from Davao, Philippines.

The list of ingredients was short, simple, and high-quality: hazelnuts (oil and butter), cocoa powder, organic sugar, and roasted cocoa nibs. The hazelnut butter was made in the Askinosie factory as well, from scratch, "using DuChilly hazelnuts from Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards in Lynden, Washington, USA."

I ate this marvelous hazelnut spread on toast with Laura Chenel's Chevre -- Honey Goat Cheese, from Sonoma, CA, to be exact.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Chobani greek yogurt - August 26, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chobani, Inc.
Greek Yogurt - Bite - Raspberry with dark chocolate chips
Weight: 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in 1 yogurt / part of a larger 4-pack
Calories: 100 calories (plus cream cheese and crust for "shotglass cheesecake")
Cost: $3.49 for 1 4-pack of yogurt
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

A raspberry flavored Greek Yogurt "Bite" (small container) with flecks of dark chocolate chips might be healthier than ice cream, but I probably downgraded the health benefits a bit by mixing this yogurt with some cream cheese. I poured this cheesecake-like filling over a ground nut (almond, pecan, walnut and date) crust -- to make shotglass and miniature ersatz cheesecakes.

I also made a similar pineapple cheesecake with Chobani's pineapple and caramel flavored Bite yogurt.

Neither one was as rich as a full fat New York style cheesecake, but they were tasty all the same. And, small portion sizes work well for me (and my test kitchen).

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

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mole sauce cheese plate - August 25, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chatfield's (PANOS Brands)
All Natural Cocoa Powder
Good - Good +
Weight: 1 Tablespoon (4 g.) / 10 oz. (283 g.) in 1 container
Calories: 20 calories in 1 Tablespoon
Cost: N/A
Purchased from: N/A

I was inspired by a chicken and mole sauce dish last night. So, I made my own savory mole sauce at home this afternoon, using unsweetened (and alkaline free) Chatfield's Cocoa Powder (Manufactured for Panos Brands, Saddle Brook, NJ).

Mole typically is a mix of many flavors. I used, for example, many types of fresh, dehydrated and ground chiles in this sauce (including sweet pepper, ancho, chipotle and red chiles); smoked and garlic salts; a bit of diced onion and roasted garlic; sesame and pumpkin seeds; almonds; a dab of quince paste for sweetness; a dash of fresh tomato salsa; thyme, and other herbs and spices.

This spicy mound of dark sauce was a great accompaniment to small cubes of bbq spiced cheddar, fresh avocado pieces, fresh sweet peppers, carrots, and other cheeses.

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

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mole burrito - Aug. 24, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Fiesta del Mar
Mole Burrito
Good + - Very Good
Weight: unknown
Calories: unknown
Cost: $12.95 for 1 plate
Purchased from: Fiesta del Mar, Mountain View, CA

Today was Day #3 of Chocolate and Cheese Theme Week.

Not all chocolates are sweet. Mole sauce is a dark, flavorful, savory sauce made with ground chiles, herbs, nuts, seeds, and unsweetened chocolate. It is particularly delicious served atop vegetables or chicken, and is often served with cheese (queso).

This evening I enjoyed a mole burrito plate at a favorite local restaurant, Fiesta del Mar (Mountain View, CA). I had a similar dish as few years ago with chicken and black beans, and this dish was a variant on this theme. The rich sauce was perfect with the chunks of white meat chicken, melted cheese, and a handful of thin slivers of fresh onion. The raspberry margarita on the side provided some sweetness.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Snack Delights - August 23, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Philadelphia (Kraft)
Snack Delights
Milk Chocolate - Good
Weight: 2 Tablespoon serving / 8 oz. (226 g.) total container
Calories: 110 calories in 2 Tablespoon serving
Cost: $3.29 for total container
Purchased from: Safeway, Palo Alto, CA

Today was Day #2 of Chocolate and Cheese Theme Week. Several of the chocolates selected for this theme week were related to cream cheese. Of all the cheeses, this one may blend the most naturally with chocolate -- whether in cheesecakes, cheesecake brownies, refrigerated pies, parfaits, spreads or other desserts.

Philadelphia is a well-known cream cheese brand in the U.S. Part of Kraft Foods (Northfield, IL), the Philadelphia brand has been extended to include several flavored cream cheese spreads over the years. Today's "Snack Delights" cream cheese spreads were packaged in small recloseable plastic tubs and could be used as dips as well.

Today's two flavors I sampled, Milk Chocolate and Cinnamon*, were also sweet enough to serve as cream cheese frosting for cakes, banana bread, or cupcakes. This could be wonderful news, or not, depending on your preference for sugar.

I assembled a fruit, nut and snack plate (strawberries, blueberries, almonds, gluten free pretzels and gingerbread cookies) to eat with these spreads. I enjoyed the white chocolate cinnamon spread as much as the milk chocolate cream cheese with these snack items.

*Note: I do not normally "count" or feature white chocolate items on; however, the cinnamon white chocolate cream cheese did pair nicely with the snacks and with its milk chocolate sibling.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Albatross Fudge - August 22, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Dude Sweet Chocolate
Albatross Fudge
Good - Good +
Weight: .7 oz. (19.8 g.) / 5.5 oz. (156 g.) total box/package
Calories: 105 calories (estimate)
Cost: $12.00
Purchased from: Dude Sweet Chocolate, Dallas, TX

Certain savory and sweet foods, such as cheese and chocolate, seem to inspire cravings. So, I thought, why not combine the two. Today marked the beginning of Chocolate and Cheese Theme Week.

To kick off the week, I tried a few slices of Albatross Fudge, a sweetened condensed milk fudge with Valrhona African "Abinaio" 85% dark chocolate, Rogue Creamery (dehydrated) Blue Heaven blue cheese, and sea salt, as part of a fruit and cheese plate. This dense fudge (described as "very much a foodies chocolate") was created by the clever people at Dude Sweet Chocolate (Dallas, TX). (The name "Albatross Fudge" was inspired by a Monty Python (comedy) sketch.)

Blue cheese offers a distinct salty, acidic, flavorful bite that complements chocolate nicely if the blend is well crafted. And Rogue Creamery (Central Point, OR) offers some great blue, and other, cheeses as a starting point. (Rogue Creamery's next door neighbor, Lillie Belle Farms, makes a blue cheese (chocolate) truffle, which I had the chance to re-taste last month.) In both today's Dude Sweet Chocolate fudge, and Lillie Belle's truffle, the combined flavors were fun and intriguing.

Pairing suggestions from the Dude Sweet Chocolate website include:
"Great as a griddled sandwich and cappuccino as a dessert, pinot noir, chardonnay"

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mocha Almond Fudge bars - August 21, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Turtle Mountain, LLC
So Delicious - Minis (box of 4 bars)
Mocha Almond Fudge bars
Good - Good +
Weight: 4.6 fl. oz. (136 mL) in 2 bars / 9.2 fl. oz. (272 mL) in total box
Calories: 300 calories in 2 bars
Cost: $4.23 total box of 4 (sale price)
Purchased from: Sprouts Farmers Market, Mountain View, CA

Today was Day #7 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week.

Frozen desserts, popsicles and ice cream were perfectly designed for hot summer days. I enjoyed every bite of today's (two) frozen, "So Delicious" Mocha Almond Fudge Minis (bars) from Turtle Mountain, LLC (Eugene, OR).

These cool treats on a wooden stick were good considering that they were almond "milk" based. They had elements of fudge ribbon sweetness, but weren't too sweet. I carefully ate each frozen mini, bite by bite, in the back yard, until I had to run inside and lean over the sink, to prevent shards of frosty chocolate coating from calving onto my shirt. (Just the way I remember eating similar frozen treats when I was young.)

These non-dairy frozen dessert bars were also gluten free, soy free and vegan. (The So Delicious line of products also included dairy-free ice cream and yogurt.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Coco Nutties - August 20, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Wonder Food Co.
Coco Keeno - Coco Nutties
Good - Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2 oz. (57 g.) in total package
Calories: 170 calories in 1/2 package
Cost: $3.75 in 1 package
Purchased from: SweetE Organic, Mill Valley, CA

I like chocolate, nuts, and monkeys. So, I was drawn to today's Organic "Coco Nutties" -- roasted almonds covered in dark chocolate from Wonder Food Co. (Palm Desert, CA). The packaging was adorned with an illustrated golden lion tamarin monkey.

These Coco Nutties were part of the Wonder Food's Coco Keeno line of chocolates. (A loose translation of cocoa and quinoa, Coco and Keeno are also the names of the company's monkey mascots. Their real world (monkey) counterparts are South American rainforest canopy dwellers.) The company specializes in treats made with (or covered in) "organic cocoa from the rainforest."

The 70% dark chocolate coating enveloping the almonds was rich and complex in natural, undiluted/unadulterated flavor (which I liked); although the overall product seemed quite sweet. (Organic sugar was the first ingredient listed.) The roasted almond center(s), were nicely done, and crunchy.

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

Monday, August 19, 2013

Chocolate Almond Sorbet - Aug. 19, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Scream Sorbet
Chocolate Almond (sorbet)
Very Good
Weight: 3 oz. serving / 12 oz. total container
Calories: 150 calories (guesstimate)
Cost: $9.00 (estimate)
Purchased from: Scream Sorbet, Oakland, CA

Scream Sorbet (Oakland, CA) closed up shop, but a pint of their delicious sorbet, lives on in my freezer. Or, it did, before today.

Scream Sorbet made some of the finest "ice creams" I've ever tasted, loaded with high-quality, fresh-tasting ingredients. It was creamy and rich -- only there was no cream or milk in these sorbets, just pure flavor. I'm guessing there was some special equipment involved that helped create this silken smooth texture.

I savored every bite of the company's Chocolate and Almond sorbet this morning. It was made with "water, organic Inzana Ranch almonds, Ciranda cocoa powder, sugar and sea salt." Occasionally I'll get sucked into an intense tasting experience, where the rest of the world seems to fade away somewhere in the background. This was one of those times.

Thank you Scream Sorbet. Hope to see you again one day.

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

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Almond Cluster - Aug. 18, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates
Almond Cluster
Weight: .6 oz. (16.9 g.) (estimate) for 1 cup/piece
Calories: 90 calories (estimate) for 1 cup/piece
Cost: $1.50 for 1 Almond Cluster
Purchased from: SweetE Organic, Strawberry Village Shopping Center, Mill Valley, CA

Today was Day #4 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week, so this past week I was on the look-out for chocolate and almond items I haven't tried yet. (After eating more than 2,500 different chocolates, this is more challenging than you might think, but certainly not impossible.)

I knew I was in the right place to locate more almond-themed chocolates, when I paid a visit to SweetE Organic (Mill Valley, CA). Elana Turchon has lined her shelves with chocolates and candies that offer alternative choices for those looking for organic, gluten free, nut free, dairy free, or other alternatives. I quickly spotted (with Joy's help) today's Almond Cluster from Mama Ganache (San Luis Obispo, CA), that was individually wrapped in copper-colored foil.

Mama Ganache specializes in organic, fair trade confections. I bought two Almond Clusters, and ate one on the drive back home (for research purposes). The dark chocolate was rich in flavor, and embedded in the cup-shaped chocolate was a generous helping of chopped toasted almonds that seemed to have a sweet crunch to them.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Organic Almond Toffee - Aug. 17, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Amy E's Bakery, LLC
Organic Almond Toffee
Good + - Very Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 8 oz. (227 g.) total bag
Calories: 155 calories for 1 oz. piece
Cost: $8.95 total bag
Purchased from: SweetE Organic, Mill Valley, CA
Today was Day #3 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week.

Breakfast this morning was on the sweet side: one tiny espresso cup of affogato (vanilla ice cream and coffee), with a hearty piece of Organic Almond Toffee from Amy E's Bakery, LLC (Coquille, OR/Moscow, ID).

Amy E's thick, buttery slabs of toffee were coated with organic dark chocolate and toasted almond pieces. Thank you to Amy Edwards for creating tasty, organic treats.

Donkey Balls - Almonds - Aug. 16, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Donkey Balls
Donkey Blitz - Chocolate Covered Almonds
Good - Good +
Weight: 4 oz. (112 g.) in total package
Calories: 600 calories (estimate) in 1 package
Cost: N/A
Purchased from: shop in Kailua-Kona, HI

What is a Donkey Ball you may ask? Donkey Balls (made and sold in Hawaii) are generally large and round chocolate spheres with whole macadamia nuts residing in the centers. But, today's "Donkey Blitz"bag from the Big Island were bite-sized chocolate covered almonds.

Keoki the Donkey is a cartoon character that appears on Donkey Balls chocolate mac nut packaging. He seems to be the source of two quotes that appear below him: "Nuts to you and chocolate too" and "Chocolate people sure are smart." Yes, Keoki, they certainly are. Smart enough to know that chocolate and almonds are a winning combination.

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

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dark Chocolate Almond Crisps - Aug. 15, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Good and Delish
(distributed by Walgreen Co.)
(Grand) Dark Chocolate Almond Crisps
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 5 oz. (142 g.) total package
Calories: 210 calories in 1.4 oz. serving
Cost: $2.99 (sale price)
Purchased from: Walgreens, Palo Alto, CA

I admit, my head is easily turned by clever packaging. When I spotted a magical nut (almond) sitting upright on a pink-cushioned, black laquered piano bench, poised to play a grand piano with a lid made of dark chocolate, I thought to myself: you don't see that every day.

So, I couldn't resist picking up a package of Good and Delish Dark Chocolate Almond Crisps (distributed by Walgreen Co.) from a local Walgreens store.

I carefully opened the silver, re-sealable pouch, to discover several slim sheets of dark chocolate studded with salted almond bits that were quite tasty. There were no pianos inside or magical piano-playing almonds. However, in fairness, there was a disclaimer in tiny print on the package that read:

"*c'mon, did you really expect each crisp to be shaped like a piano?"

Today was Day #7 of Chocolate and Music/Audio Theme Week, and Day #1 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week.

Note: There were so many great ideas and submissions for Chocolate and Music Theme Week, that I will surely have another similar theme week soon. I'm hoping someone will compose a short (20-second) piece inspired by a piece of chocolate. Ideas welcome.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Totally Tubular 80's chocolates - Aug. 14, 2013

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Imagine Chocolate/Imagine Flavor, Inc.
"Totally Tubular 80's" chocolate assortment box
1.) "Purple Rain" - OK+ - Good
2.) "Funky Cold Medina" - OK+ - Good
3.) "Thriller" - Good
4.) "White Wedding" - OK+
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 2.8 oz. (80 g.) in 1 box
Calories: 195 calories for 1/2 of 4 pieces
Cost: $5.00 for 1 box of 4 pieces
Purchased from: Imagine Chocolate/Imagine Flavor, Inc. (Studio City, CA)

Today was Day #6 of Chocolate and Music/Audio Theme Week.

"Purple Rain" (Prince) was represented as a milk chocolate lavender almond center covered in milk chocolate. I couldn't taste any floral (lavender) or almond flavor, but it was a pleasant, fudgy chocolate decorated with purple icing.

"Funky Cold Medina" was a 1989 rap hit performed by L.A. native, Tone Loc. The song appeared as a dark mint chocolate almond center in dark chocolate in this assortment. The mint flavor was pleasant.

"Thriller" (a hit by Michael Jackson) was my favorite 80's inspired hit and chocolate in this collection. The pumpkin spiced milk chocolate center in milk chocolate was infused with authentic tasting spices (cinnamon, nutmeg).

The fourth and final chocolate in this box was "White Wedding" (a reference to a ) Super creamy vanilla walnut (?) center in white chocolate, decorated with white sprinkles. If you like white chocolate, this one's for you.

These chocolates were a bit heavy on the sweetness, preservatives and additives for me, but I loved the concept and packaging.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Megahits chocolates - Aug. 13, 2013

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

Imagine Chocolate/Imagine Flavor, Inc.
Megahits Gourmet Chocolate Assortment
1.) "Party Rock Anthem" - OK+ - Good
2.) "Rolling in the Deep" - Good
3.) "Pumped Up Kicks" - OK+ - Good
4.) "Good Feeling" - Good
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 2.8 oz. (80 g.) in 1 box of 4 pieces
Calories: 190 calories for 1/2 of 4 pieces
Cost: $5.00 for a 4-piece box
Purchased from: Imagine Chocolate/Imagine Flavor, Inc. (Nessy N. - school music program fund-raiser)

Today, as part of Day #5 of Chocolate and Music/Audio Theme Week, I continued with a new box of music-inspired chocolates by Imagine Chocolate/Imagine Flavor, Inc. (Studio City, CA). The company's tagline read: "Gourmet Chocolate That Rocks!" "Gourmet" is a word that may have lost some credence in recent years, but Chocolate That Rocks fit the theme week this week. Today's box of "Megahits" included the following four pieces:

"Party Rock Anthem" (a megahit song by Los Angeles duo LMFAO) was represented by a milk chocolate honey almond piece. I couldn't really taste the honey almond flavor for the sweetness, but was covered with a festive sprinkle of multi-colored, tiny candy orbs.

"Rolling in the Deep" (a megahit by British singer and songwriter, Adele), translated into chocolate, took the form of a satisfyingly fudgey, chocolately piece with cashew pieces.

"Pumped up Kicks" was a 2011 megahit by the Los Angeles trio, Foster the People, and the chocolatier behind this piece rightly capitalized on similarity between the word "Kicks" and a certain popular corn-based cereal, KIX(R). The four, round, golden KIX puffs were somewhat absorbed by the milk chocolate they were embedded in, but it was a clever mix.

"Good Feeling" (a megahit by Flo Rida) was coated with white, and had a vanilla center with a hint of peanut butter flavor. This creamy, ivory-colored square decorated with threads of purple icing, made me feel I'd dipped my finger into a cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting. If you like vanilla frosting and don't mind a little sugar high, you'll love it. There was no chocolate (cocoa solids) in this piece.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Punk Passion chocolates - Aug. 12, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Imagine Chocolate
(Imagine Flavor, Inc.)
Punk Passion chocolate assortment
1.) "London Calling" - Good
2.) "Blitzkrieg Bop" - OK+ - Good
3.) "Personality Crisis" - Good
4.) "Brain Stew" - OK+ - Good
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) for 1/2 of 4 pieces / 2.8 oz. (80 g.) in 1 box
Calories: 192.5 calories for 1/2 of 4 different chocolates
Cost: $5.00 for 1 box of 4 pieces (school music program fund-raiser)
Purchased from: Imagine Chocolate, Studio City, CA via Nessie Noel (parent of high school student)

Today's Punk Passion assortment box from Imagine Chocolate/Imagine Flavor, Inc. (Studio City, CA) contained four different flavors, each inspired by a different song and group.

"London Calling" (a 1979 hit by The Clash) was up first. This milk chocolate peppermint center with peanuts, covered in milk chocolate, and topped with green sprinkles, was my favorite piece in this Punk-influenced collection. The hint of peppermint gave this chocolate a punch and the peanuts gave it a bit of a crunch.

Next, I tried "Blitzkrieg Bop" (a "fast, loud, and fun" hit by The Ramones from 1976). This milk chocolate toffee almond center in milk chocolate with sweet, but lacked full flavor I'm used to with higher end toffee creations. I loved the excuse to listen to "Blitzkrieg Bop" again though.

The third chocolate in this 4-piece box was "Personality Crisis" (an early punk hit in 1973 by the New York Dolls) had a vanilla walnut center covered in semi-dark chocolate, and decorated with pink icing. Often vanilla nut nougat centers are too sweet for my taste, but this one was about right, and the semi-dark chocolate coating helped balance the sweetness.

Last, was "Brain Stew" (referencing a 1995 hit track from Green Day's Insomniac album). This milk chocolate with (white) chocolate crunchies in milk chocolate was a bit mellower than the other chocolates in this group, except for a slightly crunchier texture.

The company's music-themed chocolate collection boxes are available through school fund-raisers, and are being updated over time to capture the latest hits.

Today was Day #4 of Chocolate and Music/Audio Theme Week.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Love assortment - Aug. 11, 2013

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Imagine Chocolate
(Imagine Flavor, Inc.)
"Love" Gourmet Chocolate Assortment
1.) "Wicked Game" - OK+ - Good
2.) "Love" - OK+ - Good
3.) "Addicted to Love" - OK+ - Good
4.) "Moondance" - Good
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) for 1/2 of 4 pieces / 2.8 oz. (80 g.) total box of 4 pieces
Calories: 190 calories for 1/2 of 4 pieces
Cost: $5.00 - part of a school music program fund-raiser purchase

Today's 4-piece Imagine Chocolate "Love" box by Imagine Flavor, Inc. (Studio City, CA) was inspired by hit love songs from the late 1900s. The company offered several different assortment boxes that were carefully crafted, cleverly designed and lovingly curated by a music fan(s). "Liner Notes" inside this box gave information about 4 singers/songwriters and their songs, and the corresponding chocolates:

"Wicked Game" (a song by Chris Isaak) in chocolate form was a semi-dark square beauty with a bourbon-infused chocolate pecan center. The bourbon flavor was barely detectable, but added interest. The two nut pieces added some crunchy texture.

The "Love" chocolate (inspired by John Lennon's song of the same title) translated into a semi-dark chocolate with a rum infused center (decorated with red icing). Again, as with the first piece, the alcohol (rum) flavor was very subtle.

Next up was "Addicted to Love" (by Robert Palmer). This chocolate was semi-dark chocolate with a macadamia nut center (topped with white sprinkles).

And last, but not least, was "Moondance" (inspired by Van Morrison's hit). This piece incorporated milk chocolate and almond butter, with an almond center (and thin whisps of yellow icing), and was my favorite chocolate in this assortment. The almond flavoring hit the spot and enhanced the taste of the chocolate.

Today was Day #3 of Chocolate and Music/Audio Theme Week.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Patric Chocolate - Mizzou Crunch - Aug. 10, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Patric Chocolate
Mizzou Crunch bar
Good+ - Very Good
Weight: .766 oz. (21.9 g.) / 2.3 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 114 calories (estimate) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $10.00 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

Today was Day #2 of Chocolate and Music/Audio Theme Week. There are many ways to define this week's theme. While one can make musical instruments from chocolate (molded items, chocsimiles of musical instruments), this week I'm also focusing on audio or music inspired by chocolate and/or the tasting arc of a given chocolate.

The Mizzou Crunch bar from Patric Chocolate (Columbia, MO) combined a high-quality dark milk chocolate bar base with crunchy chopped peanuts, cacao nibs, and a touch of salt. Throughout the tasting arc, these flavors formed a well balanced and interesting and satisfying blend.

This bar was a tribute to the University of Missouri, thus the black and gold colors and tiger stripes on the packaging. I could almost hear the school song ("Old Missouri") playing as I ate this bar. Go Tigers go!

Crackle Crunch bar - Aug. 9, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Hammond's Candies
Crackle Crunch bar - milk chocolate with raspberry popping candy
OK+- Good
Weight: .5 oz. (14.1 g.) piece / 2.1 oz. (59 g.) total bar
Calories: 49 calories (estimate) for .5 oz. (14.1 g.) piece of bar
Cost: N/A
Purchased from: N/A

Today was Day #1 of Chocolate and Music/Audio Theme Week.

The list of items that make sounds and can also be added to chocolate is not infinitely long. One such item: Pop Rocks, or popping candy. Popping Candy may not be audible to an outside observer, but it can make a racket inside your head.

Today's Crackle Crunch milk chocolate bar from Hammond's Candies (Denver, CO), was packed with tiny raspberry-flavored explosives.

My only quibble: the tiny fizzy riot from the raspberry popping candy overwhelmed the milk chocolate and tasted a bit artificial. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Rogue Chocolatier Silvestre 75% bar - Aug. 8, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Rogue Chocolatier
Silvestre 75% bar
Very Good
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) in 1/2 bar / 2.12 oz. (60 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 159 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $ N/A part of a Kickstarter campaign/pledge*
Purchased from: Rogue Chocolatier/ The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

Today I wrapped up Chocolate and Banana Theme Week with a single origin chocolate bar from Rogue Chocolatier (Three Rivers, MA). This Silvestre 75% cacao bar, made from rare, wild cacao harvested by "cacao hunters" in the Amazon Basin region, along Bolivia's Rio Beni. The bar was designed and hand-crafted, from bean to bar, by Colin Gasko, the head chocolate maker at Rogue Chocolatier.

Like many higher end dark chocolate bars, it contained only a few ingredients. In this case two: cocoa beans and sugar.

And, like many bars from a single region, there were flavor "notes" that were characteristic of the beans grown and fermented in that area of origin. There was no banana flavoring or bits in this bar. This bar had a subtle complex flavor arc that contained hints of implied flavor. Colin listed plum, jasmine,  banana and nuts as notes often associated with Silvestre cacao.

The fruit acidic notes were akin to a deep plum flavor, and I did indeed pick up banana notes as well, especially with bars that were hot off the presses (newer, vs. stored for a longer period of time). Last time I looked on the Rogue website, they were down to the last batch of beans for this bar, so act fast if you're interested.

As a general rule, dark chocolate bars can be kept in a cool, dark place, for months; however, while bars may still be good after this time, more volatile or delicate flavor components can attenuate over time.

*Note: I participated in a Kickstarter (fund-raising) campaign in 2012 for new equipment/bar-making capability, in exchange for a number of limited edition chocolate bars that were subsequently produced and delivered. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The $9.25 Banana Split - Aug. 7, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Tin Pot Creamery
Roasted Banana Fudge Ripple ice cream
(part of a banana split)
Very Good
Weight: 1 bowl with 3 scoops of ice cream and 3 sauces - weight unknown
Calories: unknown
Cost: $9.25 for 1 banana split with custom flavors
Purchased from: Tin Pot Creamery, Palo Alto, CA

The Tin Pot Creamery is a relatively new ice cream scoop shop that opened in my neighborhood this summer (June 2013). I sauntered in this afternoon to try some of their specialty, house-made flavors. And, because today was Day #6 of Chocolate and Banana Theme Week, I decided to order up something rich, decadent and calorific: a banana split with three custom ice cream flavors.

The Tin Pot Creamery's banana split was priced at $8.50, but because I wanted to swap out the standard chocolate, vanilla and strawberry shortcake flavors -- for roasted banana fudge ripple, toasted coconut and vegan peanut butter ice creams -- this split cost $9.25. Was it worth it? I think so.

The three sauces (berry compote, salted caramel and chocolate) were good in small amounts, and the whipped cream and nuts tasted fresh. The ice cream flavors were rich, creamy and authentic. The fresh banana, sliced into quarters, arranged carefully, and flame caramelized or "bruleed" in the bowl, was a nice touch as well.

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