Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Endangered Species - Dark Chocolate 88 percent bar - Dec. 30, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Endangered Species Chocolate
Dark Chocolate 88 percent bar
Good +
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.5 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 210 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $2.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: CVS/pharmacy, Mountain View, CA

Welcome to the extended edition (Day #9) of Chocolate, Smoke and Fire Theme Week.

When I imagined a chocolate that was strong, black and slightly smokey, I thought of today's dark bar, emblazoned with a haunting photo of a black jaguar.

Jaguars in the Jungle
When I was in Costa Rica, a man once described a black jaguar in the jungle as being stealthy and dangerous as smoke. And if you heard a hoarse coughing sound in the darkness, he said, it may not be due to your campfire smoke, but rather it could be a jaguar closeby communicating to another jaguar about its territory—that you may be sharing.

Jaguars are the largest members of the cat family, with the strongest bite, in the Americas. They might be found moving quietly through forests in Central and Latin America, in cacao-growing countries. Black jaguars are more rare than the spotted variety; however, all jaguars seem to be diminishing in numbers.

A photo of one of these black beauties graced today's Dark Chocolate 88 percent bar from Endangered Species Chocolate (Indianapolis, IN).

Endangered Species has continued to donate a portion of their earnings to organizations like Panthera.org, or The Xerxes Society that help conserve endangered species and their habitats.

Today's bar was dark indeed; it was made from 88 percent cacao. (This is the highest percent bar the company offers.) Its bite was relatively bold but not too dangerous—unless you're worried about overindulging.

This fair trade, non-GMO verified, certified gluten free and vegan chocolate had a faint cocoa and coffee aroma; a bold dark acidic flavor; an aftertaste with a slightly tangy, woodsy, burnt bittersweet bite; and a finish that, like a jaguar, eventually disappeared without a trace.

Please do try chocolate all by itself first. Afterwards you can experiment with pairings.

More Smoke, Umami
This thick, dark bar was later part of a snack today that included smoked almonds and chips (barbecue, maple bacon). I love umami* foods with smokey-sweet and savory flavors like this, and these items complemented and tamed some of the stronger notes in this chocolate.

Assuming you like smokey flavors, some harmonize better with chocolates than others. Like all pairings with chocolate, try your items side-by-side, a few at a time (pausing for a palette cleanse or drink of water periodically), to determine which combination you like best.

*Umami foods are naturally high in glutamates and tend to be on the savory side. Examples include parmesan cheese, soy and fish sauces, meats such as ham and bacon, certain vegetables, mushrooms, and kelp/seaweed. Not everyone in the chocolate world shares my love for umami pairings, but please do go with what you like in this world. 

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