Thursday, July 31, 2014

Endangered Species - Sea Salt and Almonds bar - July 31, 2014

Chocolate of the Day: 

Endangered Species Chocolate
Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Almonds bar
Good ++ - Very Good
Weight: .6 oz. (17 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 100 calories (per label)
Cost: $2.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: New Leaf Community Markets, Santa Cruz, CA

Today was the final day (Day #7) of Smoke and Savory Theme Week, and the last day of July. Farewell July, I hardly knew ye. Summer does seem to evaporate all too quickly.

This Smoke and Savory week has been a great way to capture the flavor of outdoor barbecues and summer cook-outs, even if I can't always enjoy a lingering picnic myself.

Today's Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Almonds bar from Endangered Species Chocolate (Indianapolis, IN) provided just the chocolate I needed for eating enjoyment, and for a key ingredient in a miniature, smokey chocolate almond cake (see below).

The smooth tasting, bittersweet dark chocolate (72% cocoa) had visible bits of almonds embedded into the bar, and contained just a hint of sea salt. This bar was Certified Gluten-Free, NonGMO Verified and Rainforest Certified.

Endangered Species donates 10 percent of their net profits to species conservation efforts. Each of their bars features a bird or animal that has been impacted (generally by humans). Today's Sea Salt and Almonds bar features a Eurasian Eagle Owl, one of the largest owls in the world. Thankfully populations of these owls, after experiencing a significant decline, have rebounded somewhat, in part due to better forest management and greater awareness around pesticide use.

Smokey Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

How does one infuse smoke into chocolate cake or brownies? One excellent way to do so is to add "Smoke Infused Extra Virgin California Olive Oil" made with early harvest Arbequina olives grown in the Capay Valley.

This flavorful "Turbo" olive oil from enFuso (purchased at The Olive Press in Sonoma, CA) was the closest thing to barbecue by the spoonful I've tasted (outside of liquid smoke or smoked salts. It was a wonderful replacement for butter/oil in a miniature (gluten-free) chocolate cake. I grated part of today's Endangered Species Sea Salt and Almonds bar into this single-serving cake, and topped the cake with almonds and a sprinkle of smoked sea salt. Done, and eaten in short order.

Francois Pralus - Vanuatu bar - July 30, 2014

Chocolate of the Day:

Francois Pralus
Vanuatu Amelonado bar
Very Good
Weight: .875 oz. (25 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 130 calories (estimate) in 1/4 bar
Cost: $11.00 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

Today was Day #6 of Smoke and Savory Theme Week.

Smokey Dark Bar
Today's Vanuatu Amelonado single origin, dark chocolate (75%) bar from Francois Pralus (Roanne, France), was made with cacao grown in the South Pacific.

The bar was rich, dark and velvety smooth, with a smokey finish. According to notes on the bar's wrapper, the hint of smokey flavor comes from drying cacao beans on copra mats.

I love the opportunity that chocolate has given me to learn new things about the world. This chocolate was made from cacao beans grown on the West Coast of the island of Epi. (Epi is part of the island nation of Vanuatu, about 1,000 miles east of Northern Australia and west of Fiji.) I enjoyed learning a bit more about Vanuatu and Epi when researching today's post. Apparently "85 farmers produce 3 tonnes of cacao per year, primarily Amelonado."(Amelonado is a variety of Forastero cacao.)

Savory Milkshake
And, for a savory addition to today's smokey Vanuatu dark bar, I sipped a chilled chocolate + salted caramel milkshake, that = quite good, at The Fremont Diner in the Sonoma-Napa countryside, north of San Francisco. It was so country, that I found myself illegally feeding a chicken some cornbread under the patio table. (It's hard to resist a begging chicken.)

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