Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Artisan du Chocolat - Almond Milk bar - Jan. 21, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Artisan du Chocolat
Almond Milk bar
Good - Good +
Weight: .95 oz. (27 g.)/ 1.59 oz. (45 g.) in total bar
Calories: 144 calories (estimate) for 3/5 bar
Cost: $8.00 (estimate)
Purchased from: n/a - sample

Today was Day #2 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week, and I was watching squirrels frolic in the sun and winter greenery in my California backyard this morning. (Winter is when we see green shoots and grass here.) I guiltily admit, I occasionally throw a few left-over almonds outside for these little furry, forest-planters*.

At the same time, I reached into my chocolate vault to pick a bar with almonds, and found this one (packaging adorned with an array of active, green squirrels). Perfect.

Almonds come in many forms: raw, toasted, sliced, and ground into almond butter. However, until today, I had yet to taste a "milk" chocolate bar made from almond milk.

Today's Almond Milk bar from Artisan du Chocolat (London**) is just that, made with almond "milk" -- as a replacement for dairy in this creamy, 40% cocoa chocolate bar with a slight hint of marzipan/almond paste flavor from the holidays.

Speaking of cow's milk alternatives, the company also makes a bar with buffalo milk.

*However surburban dwellers might feel about squirrels in their gardens (digging them up to plant nuts, seeds), it's good to remember that this same annoying habit has resulted in much of the forested land around the globe. 

** Factory moved to Ashford Kent in 2006

Mast Brothers - Almond Chocolate bar - Jan. 20, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Mast Brothers
Almond Chocolate bar
Very Good
Weight: 1.25 oz. (35 g.) / 2.5 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 188 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $ lost receipt (between $8 - $12)
Purchased from: Oxbow Produce and Grocery, in the Oxbow Public Market, Napa, CA

Welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week.

This dark chocolate 73% cacao Almond bar from Mast Brothers (Brooklyn, NY) was adorned with sliced almonds and contained a trace of olive oil and sea salt.  Although the word "adorned" seems out-of-place and a bit fancy for these two chocolate makers who appear to have pruned back their approach to serious, laser-focused basics.

They have a factory in Brooklyn. They make their chocolate from scratch. They craft two-ingredient chocolate bars (cacao beans and sugar). A few of their colorful "wallpaper style" outer wrappers seemed the only element tied to flights of aesthetic fancy.

But the resulting bars pay tribute to their focus. This Almond bar was full of tart, fruit/acidic flavor from the chocolate itself, and a bit of almond help balance this profile and add some texture. All the while the base chocolate was the star. This was not a bar where the inclusions overwhelmed, or helped cover up any shortcomings in, the chocolate. No soy lecithin or vanilla here. Just good, flavorful chocolate with an almond accent.

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