Sunday, September 29, 2013

Organic Chocolate Chia bar - Sept. 29, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

YogaEarth
Keen-Wah decadence - Organic Chocolate Chia bar
Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 1.5 oz. (42 g.) in 2/3 bar
Calories: 129 calories (estimate) in 2/3 bar
Cost: $2.50 in 1 bar
Purchased from: Whole Foods Market, Los Altos, CA

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

This raw cacao protein bar from YogaEarth (Venice, CA) had a slightly fermented taste. I couldn't make up my mind whether I liked this taste or not. Some bites of this bar had more of a chocolate covered quinoa crunch. Other bites contained hints of dried fruit/almond butter and/or chia seeds.

YogaEarth is one of a handful of similar companies that have created products with natural ingredients: nuts, seeds, cacao, dried fruit (often gluten free and vegan) -- designed to "optimize health," promote sustainable living and to give back to a designated cause or audience. According to the label on today's bar, "one percent of sales supports Kiva."

Healthy is good; and I've always liked chocolate, nuts and seeds. A bar like this, combined with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, may even help compensate for the rare burger I might eat.


Quinoa Agave Crunch bar - Sept. 28, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Bissinger's
Quinoa Agave Crunch bar
Good + - Very Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1 oz. (28.3 g.) serving
Cost: $ 4.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Sigona's Farmers Market, Palo Alto, CA

I enjoyed this "puffed quinoa splashed in agave" dark chocolate bar from Bissinger's (St. Louis, MO). It lacked the faintly bitter* taste present in some quinoa offerings; and it was a perfect blend of dark, sweet flavors and crunchy texture.

This bar also paired well with a variety of snacks and a cocktail - St. George Spirits Qi orange and white tea liqueur over ice with a lemon peel. (This afternoon was brought to you by the letter Q.)

*Quinoa (seeds) are naturally coated with saponin, a bitter substance that helps deter insect pests. This coating is generally removed with light processing.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Keeno Krunchies - Sept. 27, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Wonder Food Co.
Keeno Krunchies
Good
Weight: 1 oz. serving (28.3 g., 1/2 package )/ 2 oz. (57 g.) in total package
Calories: 145 calories in 1 oz. serving (28.3 g.)
Cost: $2.99 (estimate) for 1 package
Purchased from: Wonder Food Co., Palm Desert, CA

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

Quinoa comes from South America (Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, etc.), from many of the same countries where cacao originated. Quinoa, the edible seeds of a vegetable-like plant, rather than a grain/grass, has been cultivated on the slopes of the Andes mountains for many centuries, and has become popular as an alternative to grains for those looking for gluten-free and kosher options. Cacao grows in temperate, rainforested areas of the same countries. Together, these crops have helped raise the incomes of indigenous farmers and farm co-ops in these regions.

Each of today's Keeno Krunchies from Wonder Food Co. (Palm Desert, CA) had a bittersweet core made of 70% organic dark chocolate-coated crunchy rice and quinoa; and this center was covered with a crispy candy shell (dyed naturally with a hint of beet juice).

Today's Keeno Krunchies are part of the company's Coco Keeno line that incorporates organic cacao from the rainforest. The company designed their Coco Keeno line of treats to provide a healthier, preservative free, energy boost alternative to candy bars and other processed snacks. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Keeno Pixies - Sept. 26, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Wonder Food Co.
Keeno Pixies
Good - Good +
Weight: 2 oz. (57 g.) in 1 package
Calories: 320 calories in 1 package
Cost: $3.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Sigona's, Palo Alto, CA

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

The Organic Popped Quinoa at the hear(s) of these glossy, bee-bee sized dark chocolate pearls, from Wonder Food (Palm Desert, CA), were light and slightly crunchy.

The 70% dark chocolate coating had a deep, slightly earthy flavor, helping bring down the sweetness level to one that I enjoyed. And, I did appreciate the lack of extra additives and preservatives -- that allowed authentic flavors to shine through.

The package was adorned with two adorable golden tamarind monkeys ("Coco" and "Keeno") who serve as the mascots for the company's Coco Keeno product line -- made up of several products. Stay tuned tomorrow for another Coco Keeno quinoa and chocolate offering (with colorful candy shells).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mountain Trail Mix + Quinoa - Sept. 25, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Deerfield Farms (Walgreen Co.)
Mountain Trail Mix
Weight: 1/4 cup (1 oz., 28 g.) / 10.5 oz. (298 g.) in total bag/package
Calories: 148 calories (estimate)
Cost: $2.49 (estimate)
Purchased from: Walgreens, Palo Alto, CA

Today was the final day (Day #7) of Chocolate and Cashew Theme Week, and Day #1 of Chocolate and Quinoa Theme Week.

Since I was in eating-chocolate-for-breakfast mode this morning, I added a scoop of today's Deerfield Farms Mountain Trail Mix from Walgreens (Deerfield, IL) to a single-serving sized pouch of gluten-free, wild blueberry quinoa cereal from cocomama.

The Mountain Trail Mix contained raisins, peanuts, chocolate candies, cashews and almonds. And, I also added a few extra  cashews to today's portion. All this made for a very festively colored bowl of cereal. I enjoyed the nut and fruit flavors together with the chocolate highlights.



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Torn Ranch - Milk Chocolate bar - Sept. 24, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Torn Ranch
Organic Signature Milk Chocolate bar
Good +
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.5 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 210 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $4.50 (estimate)
Purchased from: Torn Ranch table at event, San Francisco, CA

Today was Day #6 of Chocolate and Cashew Theme Week, and I combined a sea salt roasted cashew nut mix with milk chocolate.

The Organic Signature Milk Chocolate bar from Torn Ranch (Petaluma, CA), did, in fact, taste like it was made from ethically sourced and carefully selected, high-quality cacao beans. It had a rich, complex chocolate flavor (often not found in a milk chocolate) and a smooth texture.


Raw Revolution bar - Sept. 23, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Raw Indulgence Ltd.
Raw Revolution - Chocolate Coconut Bliss bar
Good +
Weight: 1.8 oz. (51 g.) in total bar
Calories: 240 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $1.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Sprouts Farmers Market, Mountain View, CA

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

Cashews frequently turn up in raw items, likely due to their smooth, and sweet, rather delicate nutty flavor. Cashew bits were pressed together with sunflower seeds, agave, dates, cocoa, almonds and coconut in this organic live food bar from Raw Indulgence (Hawthorne, NY). The result was sweet (but not too sweet), densely moist and satisfying -- and gluten free, kosher and vegan as well.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Trek Mix - September 22, 2013

Chocolate of the Day:

Trader Joe's
Just a handful of Simply Almonds, Cashews and Chocolate Trek Mix
Good
Weight: 1.5 oz. (43 g.) in 1 bag / 15 oz. (425 g.) in total package of 10 bags
Calories: 260 calories in 1 bag
Cost: $5.49 in total package of 10 bags
Purchased from: Trader Joe's, Mountain View, CA

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

Today's "Just a handful of Simply Almonds, Cashews and Chocolate Trek Mix" from Trader Joe's (Monrovia, CA), helped power my day.

Nuts and chocolate are natural bedfellows when it comes to trail mix, or in today's case -- trek mix. I happen to be a hiker, so I'm fond of packing a small bag of trail mix when I depart on a day trek, photo safari, or just a local amble around town.

This package of 10 individually-wrapped single servings was designed for grab-and-go convenience, and may also help limit consumption. (It's all too easy to reach into a large plastic bag and grab an overly large handful of of toasted, lightly salted almonds and cashews and semi-sweet chocolate chunks.)


Saturday, September 21, 2013

SunRidge Double Nutz mix - Sept. 21, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

SunRidge Farms
Double Nutz and Coconut Chews (bulk mix)
Good - Good +
Weight: 3 oz. (84.9 g.) / 6.88 oz. (.43 lbs.)(194.7 g.) in total bag
Calories: 435 calories (estimate) in 3 oz. (84.9 g.) serving
Cost: $4.04 total cost of bulk bag
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

I scooped up a bag of Double Nutz and Coconut Chews (bulk trail/snack mix) from a local market. This mix was likely from SunRidge Farms (Royal Oaks, CA), a company specializing in organic and natural food (fruit, nuts) products. This Double Nutz mix contained cashews, almonds, dried cranberries and cherries, and generous dark chocolate covered chewy coconut squares.

Friday, September 20, 2013

TCHO - Cashews - Sept. 20, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

TCHO
Cashews Drenched in Dark Chocolate
Good+
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.5 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in 1 package
Calories: 200 calories (estimate) in 1/2 package
Cost: $4.99 in 1 package
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

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

I enjoyed these Cashews Drenched in Dark Chocolate from TCHO (San Francisco, CA).
The flavor of the cashew nut is delicious, sweet and subtle -- and it is to TCHO's credit that these honey roasted, whole cashew nuts were not drowned out by the dark chocolate covering.

I always feel the temptation to add a little extra salt (applewood smoked salt worked nicely) to savory-sweet treats like this that err on the sweet side. But, I believe most people will like these mild, crunchy "TCHO2GO" nuts with flavorful dark chocolate as is.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Charles Salty-Sweet Cashew bar - Sept. 19, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Charles Chocolates
Salty-Sweet Cashew Bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1/3 bar - 1.3 oz. (37.3 g.) / 3.9 oz. (112 g.) total bar
Calories: 195 calories (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: $9.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

Today was the first day of Chocolate and Cashew Theme Week. Frankly, it's about time that the cashew nut is being honored with its own theme week here on ChocolateBanquet.com. Almonds seem to hog the spotlight when it comes to nuts blended with chocolate.

This Salty-Sweet Cashew Bar from Charles Chocolates (San Francisco, CA) highlighted this special nut. First, rather than incorporate shards of nut (shrapnel bits) into their 41% milk chocolate bar base, chocolatier Chuck (Charles) Siegel used freshly roasted, whole cashew nuts that were coated in both salty and sweet flavors.

I found myself wanting more salt after the first few bites of this "salty-sweet" bar. However, when I re-tasted this chocolate later, I could taste more salt, which helped balance the sweetness of the milk chocolate.


One Planet Granola - Sept. 18, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

One Planet Granola
Chocolate Jubilee Organic Granola
Good - Good +
Weight: 1/4 cup / 12 oz. total bag/package
Calories: 120 calories in 1/4 cup serving
Cost: $6.98 (sale price)
Purchased from: Raley's supermarket, Incline Village, NV

I needed a breakfast this morning that would fuel my planned mountain hike. This called for... chocolate granola! -- paired with some strawberry rhubarb yogurt.

The Chocolate Jubilee organic granola mix was introduced by the mother-daughter team at One Planet Granola (Larkspur, CA) at their Ross, CA, cafe.  This chocolate flavor, one of several flavors in their granola line-up, contained dark chocolate; large, whole dried cherries; almond bits; oats; coconut; and other ingredients.

This crunchy, flavorful cereal paired well with the smooth, creamy strawberry rhubarb yogurt (also available in blueberry) from Noosa yogurt. I used this yogurt instead of milk. Happily this granola was not overly sweet, nor was it overly chocolatey -- making it easier to enjoy the individual constituents in the mix.

And, the granola-powered hike was a great success.

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

Note: This post was delayed (posted a day late) due to out-of-state travel and limited Internet access.

Super Red Chocolate Bar - Sept. 17, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

B.T. McElrath Chocolatier, Inc.
Super Red Chocolate Bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 140 calories in 1/3 bar
Cost: $5.49 in 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

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

This Super Red Chocolate Bar from B.T. McElrath Chocolatier (Minneapolis, MN) contained 15% fruit -- dried tart cherries, strawberries and raspberries -- in 70% dark chocolate.

There are several bars I've tasted that contain crystalline bits of berry fruit. These, often colorful, berry bits seem a bit sweeter and more concentrated than mere chewy shreds of dried fruit; and they are occasionally more crystalline in texture as well. In any case, the berry pieces were a bit sweet, but were just fine for this bar.

Note: This entry was posted late due to out-of-state travel, and lack of Internet access.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Pacari - Andean Blueberry bar - Sept. 16, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Pacari Chocolate
Andean Blueberry bar
Good +
Weight: 1.76 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 250 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $ N/A - sample
Purchased from: Pacari Chocolate, (event)

Today was Day #5 of Chocolate and Berry Theme Week, and the chocolate of the day was a 70% dark chocolate bar from South America, with wild Andean Blueberries, native to Ecuador.

The Andean Blueberry bar, from Pacari Chocolate, was part of an Andean flavors bar series. It was slightly crunchy, with a flavorful, natural blueberry note that harmonized well with the dark chocolate.

Pacari Chocolate (a family owned company based in Quito, Ecuador) makes a line of organic chocolate bars and chocolates -- combining Ecuador Arriba cacao with herbs, fruits, spices and other flavors in-country, via partnerships with local/regional farmers. Some of their chocolates have slight floral notes which I like. Most have a very pleasant tasting arc.

This dairy, soy and gluten free, dark bar ("Chocolate Fino Organico con MortiƱo") was also made tree-to-bar, in Ecuador. (Cacao beans are often grown in one country, and processed or made into chocolate in another country.)


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Donkey Bites - Blueberries - Sept. 15, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

KRM Distributors LLC
Donkey Bites - Dingle Berries (Blueberries)
Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 4 oz. (114 g.)
Calories: 150 calories (estimate)
Cost: $6.95 (estimate) for 1 package
Purchased from: Donkey Balls store, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

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

I found these chocolates -- adorned with a Hawaiian shirt-wearing cartoon donkey -- in a Donkey Balls store in Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii. These, and other chocolates I purchased on the same trip, were being sold via KRM Distributors.

The distributor of Donkey Balls (a popular chocolate line from Hawaii), also offered Donkey Bites. Today's featured Bites, or Dingle Berries, were blueberry flavored. Whole blueberries in milk/white chocolate, with a confectioners glaze polish. They were sweet, berry-flavored candies, with a hint of sweet milk chocolate flavor.

Starbucks berry medley - Sept. 14, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Starbucks
berry medley
Good
Weight: 2 oz. (57 g.) in one container
Calories: 270 calories in 1 container
Cost: $2.50 for 1 container
Purchased from: Starbucks, Palo Alto, CA

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

Inside a small plastic "berry medley" tube offered at a local Starbucks (Seattle, WA) were shiny berry colored orbs. At the core of these "Chocolate Bites" were sweetened blueberry and raspberry fruit pieces, coated with layers of dark and white chocolate, and covered with a confectioners coating.

The berry taste of these half-candy, half chocolate pieces was natural and authentic, and they hit the spot. Although they were a bit on the sweet side.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Wowza Bar, Nespresso Mousse - Sept. 13, 2013

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Zingerman's Candy
ZZang! Candy Bars
Wowza - Raspberry
Good
Weight: 1.5 oz. (41 g.) / 3 oz. (82 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 150 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $ N/A - gift from friend
Purchased from: N/A - friend bought in Ann Arbor, MI

Thanks to a friend's recent trip to Michigan, today I was able to sample a WowZa bar from Zingerman's (deli/store in Ann Arbor, MI). The bar contained layers of raspberry chocolate ganache, raspberry preserves, and fresh raspberry marshmallow nougat, and was covered in dark chocolate. The dark chocolate helped tone down the cotton-candy level sweetness a bit.

Nestle Nespresso - San Francisco, CA

Later in the day I drove into San Francisco. The America's Cup (sailing) races were still in progress on San Francisco Bay this week/month, and Nespresso (Nestle) has been a major sponsor.

I had lunch at a Nespresso boutique and bar near Union Square, and taste-tested (for a future chocolate of the day) a duo of diminutive chocolate mousses -- one with raspberry and chocolate layers, the second mousse incorporated white chocolate and milk chocolate -- and a small shot of coffee over vanilla ice cream. The smaller portion sizes made it possible to enjoy these lovely flavor combinations without suffering from sugar overload. I'll be back.

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


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Donkey Balls - Dark Strawberries, Sept. 12, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Donkey Balls
(Packaged by KRM Distribution LLC)
Dingle Berries - Whole Strawberries Smothered in Dark Chocolate
Good
Weight: 1.17 oz. (33 g.) / 4 oz. (114 g.) in total package
Calories: 175 calories (estimate) for 5 pieces
Cost: $6.95 for 1 package
Purchased from: Store in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

I can always count on a new chocolate in the Donkey Balls product line-up. This Hawaii-based brand started with several chocolate covered macadamia nut items and has expanded to other chocolate-covered nuts and berries, such as today's Dingle Berries -- strawberries covered in glossy dark chocolate.

Whole fresh strawberries partially dipped in melted chocolate can brighten up a lot of dessert plates. But, if its the wrong time of year for fresh berries, and you want something on the irreverent side, check out what Donkey Balls has in season.

Today was Day #1 of Chocolate and Berry Theme Week.

Pralus - Barre Infernale - Sept. 11, 2013

Chocolate of the Day:

Francois Pralus
Barre Infernale - Lait (bar)
Very Good - Yum!
Weight: .8 oz. (22.64 g.) / 5.64 oz. (160 g.)
Calories: 124 calories (estimate) for .8 oz. (22.64 g.) serving
Cost: $25.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

Great chocolate seems to attract adjectives that involve angels and devils in equal measure. Heaven in a bar. That's a good way to describe slices of today's chocolate bar. Each piece of this bar tasted like a high end truffle with a creamy* chocolate hazelnut center. Or, one could call this French bar devilishly good -- as the name (Barre Infernale) suggests. Either way, this filled milk chocolate bar from Francois Pralus (France) was memorable and extremely good.

*Note: "Creamy" doesn't quite cover it. Think buttery, only better.

The Barre Infernale (that comes in both milk and dark chocolate versions) is a bar you take to a dinner party with very good friends, or one you save for a special occasion. (This week I reached my seventh year of eating a different chocolate every day this week; and also celebrated my birthday.)


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

SOMA - Pantanemo bar - Sept. 10, 2013

Chocolate of the Day:

SOMA Chocolatemaker
Patanemo (Venezuela) 70% bar
Very Good
Weight: .47 oz. (13.3 g.) / 2.82 oz. (80 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 71 calories in 1/6 bar
Cost: $14.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

This week I've been celebrating year number seven of eating a different chocolate each day, with a great line-up of dark chocolate, single origin bars from Venezuela.

People have asked me for the past seven years if I'll run out of different chocolates to sample. After more than 2,500 chocolates, I'm happy to say there are still many good bars to try. Such as today's Patanemo (Venezuela) 70% cacao bar from SOMA Chocolatemaker (Toronto, Canada).

Yesterday, I enjoyed SOMA's El Vigia (Venezuela) bar. Both bars were made using Criollo cacao beans and had smooth texture and uniformly rich, dark flavor, with a well-balanced dried fruit acidic bite.

Monday, September 9, 2013

SOMA - El Vigia bar - Sept. 9, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

SOMA Chocolatemaker
El Vigia 70% bar
Very Good
Weight: .353 oz. (10 g.) / 2.82 oz. (80 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 53 calories (estimate) in 1/8 bar
Cost: $14.00 in 1 bar
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

Today was Day #7 of Chocolate and Venezuela Theme Week. This smooth, rich El Vigia 70% bar from SOMA Chocolatemaker (Toronto, Canada) was made with Criollo and Criollo-related cacao beans. "Vigia cocoa is produced in the area southeast of Lake Maracaibo (a large lake in Venezuela)."

Tasting notes printed on the label, affixed to a silver packet, read as follows: "Notes of cream, cashews, and raisins." I would agree with this. The taste and texture was fairly creamy and smooth. There was a well-balanced, somewhat sharp, fruit acid taste (that was raisin-like). And there was an harmonious rich, earthy flavor undercurrent as well.

This bar was made for/in collaboration with The Chocolate Garage, in Palo Alto, CA.



Sunday, September 8, 2013

Francois Pralus Caracas bar - Sept. 8, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Francois Pralus
Caracas Trinitario 75% bar
Good ++
Weight: .4 oz. (12.6 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 66 calories (estimate) in 4 small squares (1/8 bar)
Cost: $10.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

There is a lot to like about the smooth, European-style, chocolate from Francois Pralus (Roanne, France). Unlike some, more rustic (cocoa beans + sugar) single origin dark chocolate bars, today's bar had a buttery mouthfeel - thanks to a bit of added cocoa butter and non-GMO soy lecithin.

Other contributing factors to a smoother texture lie in decisions made in the chocolate-making process.  Conching chocolate for long periods, yields a smaller ground cacao bean particle size. However, this extra processing may also allow certain volatile flavor compounds to escape, so care must be taken.

Today's Caracas 75% bar made with beans from Venezuela, had both smoothness and relatively robust flavor that I associated with Trinitario cacao beans from South America.

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

Friday, September 6, 2013

Dandelion Cumbato bar - Sept. 6, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Dandelion Chocolate
70% Cumboto, Venezuela, Dark Chocolate bar
Very Good
Weight: .44 oz. (12.6 g.) / 2 oz. (57 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 66 calories (estimate) in 4 squares (1/9 of bar)
Cost: $9.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

This 70% dark chocolate bar made from beans from the Cumboto region of Venezuela, had a very pleasing slightly smokey, earthy, strong, well balanced satisfying flavor.

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

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dandelion Rio Caribe bar - Sept. 5, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Dandelion Chocolate
70% Rio Caribe, Venezuela bar
Good +
Weight: .44 oz. (12.57 g.) - 4 of 18 square bar / 2 oz. (56 g.) total bar
Calories: 66 calories (estimate) in 4 squares
Cost: $9.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

I first became acquainted with Dandelion Chocolate at The Chocolate Garage (Palo Alto, CA). The Garage (aptly named for a 3-year old startup in Silicon Valley) is a great place to meet interesting people and to sample chocolates that have been carefully curated by Chief Garagista, Sunita de Tourreil.

Sunita carries many great chocolates from Venezuela, most (but not all) made by American craft chocolate makers. Dandelion Chocolate (San Francisco, CA) is one such maker.

I sampled the first of three Dandelion bars from Venezuela this morning. All three were made from cacao beans from 2012 harvests. Today's 70% Rio Caribe, Venezuela, bar dates back to Batch #1. (Dandelion indicates the Batch # on their carefully and beautifully-wrapped bars.)

Because this was an older bar (probably squirreled away for too long in my chocolate vault, waiting eagerly for Venezuela week), it had taken on a very slightly chalky texture. However, as I held a bite in my mouth to dissolve, I enjoyed the rich, acidic chocolate flavor with a hint of an earthy finish.

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

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

No. 11 White Nib bar - Sept. 4, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Christopher Elbow
No. 11 White Nib bar
Good
Weight: 1.16 oz. (33.3 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 178 calories (estimate) for 1/3 bar
Cost: $7.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: CocoaBella Chocolates, San Francisco, CA

White chocolate doesn't usually "count" as a Chocolate of the Day for me. It generally is too sweet for my taste, and any cocoa flavor or aroma is often lost in the processing.

However, this No. 11 White Nib bar from Christopher Elbow Chocolates (St. Louis, MO) contained Venezuelan white chocolate and roasted cacao nibs -- and nibs contain cocoa solids (that give chocolate its deep brown color). The cacao nibs embedded in this bar added some crunchy texture and their stronger, slightly more acidic bite helped temper the sweet white creamy cocoa butter, sugar and milk powder that made up the white chocolate base.

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

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Woodblock Venezuela bar - Sept. 3, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Woodblock Chocolate
Venezuela - Ocumare 70% cacao bar
Very Good
Weight: .88 oz. (25 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 134 calories (estimate) for 1 bar
Cost: $4.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

Today marked the beginning (Day #1) of Chocolate and Venezuela Theme Week. I've been looking forward getting back to featuring plain (unflavored), single origin bars for some time. First, it's interesting to see what flavors predominate in, or are unique to, a single region or country. Second, I enjoy seeing what different chocolate makers are able to produce, using similar cacao beans.

High-quality beans from Venezuela, in the hands of a good maker, yield dark chocolate bars that I can only compare to fine, full-bodied red wines, with a well balanced, fruit/acidic bite to them. Such was the case today, with this dark, slightly fudgey bar that was made, bean-to-bar, by family-run Woodblock Chocolate manufactory (in Portland, OR).

The small, dark 70% cacao bar from the Ocumare region of Venezuela packed a big flavor punch. And, without any effort at all, I savored each bite of this rich tasting, two-ingredient bar (cocoa beans, sugar).
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