Monday, March 21, 2016

Sea Salt Caramels + Coconut Seaweed - Mar. 19, 2016

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Chocolate Momotombo
Caramelo y Sal de Mar
(Sea Salt Caramel) chocolate
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) in 5 pieces / 3.18 oz. (90 g.) in total box of 15 pieces
Calories: 129 calories (estimate) in 5 pieces
Cost: $8.00 (estimate) for one 15-piece (90 g.) box
Purchased from: Chocolate Momotombo, Managua, Nicaragua

Today I started my journey home from Nicaragua. I'll take with me memories of mountains and water: mountain lakes, huge inland lakes, lakes inside volcanoes and waterfalls.

It was also easy to imagine the water that, during wet season, helped to nourish plants (like cacao trees) before running off to join rivers moving toward the sea.

So, I'm focusing on flavors from the sea today, lightly salted. After all, without water we wouldn't have sea salt, sea salt caramel and chocolate, or coconut roasted seaweed (see below).

I'll also remember the many good chocolate and food items from the Momotombo Chocolate Factory in Managua, Nicaragua, so let's start there.

Dulce de Leche Caramel and Sea Salt + Chocolate

The primary chocolate of the day was a sea salt caramel-filled chocolate from Chocolate Momotombo (Managua, Nicaragua). Each bean or seed-shaped, rich dark milk chocolate, contained a small, slightly chewy nugget of dulce de leche caramel with sea salt.

Dulce de leche is a popular style of cooked milk and sugar caramel/confection commonly found in Latin American countries.

These Momotombo caramel chocolates are very satisfying just by themselves, or with vanilla ice cream. Or, if you like more adventurous pairings, see below.

Coconut Oil Roasted, Seaweed + Chocolate

If you're not a mad food scientist, please stop reading here...

Now, how about some slightly sweet, small sheets of coconut oil roasted seaweed? Anyone? I like salt and umami* flavors with chocolate. And you can't get much more "umami" than seaweed (besides bacon, cheese or mushrooms perhaps).

In the U.S. might people enjoy thin sheets of dark green seaweed around sushi. This Coconut Oil Roasted Seaweed, with a hint of sea salt, from Seaweed Love (a product of Korea)—distributed by Hong Hae USA Inc. (Hayward, CA)—was also very lightly sweetened with coconut sugar.

The small sealed package of seaweed was light (in weight and calories) and perfect to bring along for a longer chocolate field trip to conduct experimental pairings with leftover chocolates. (This seaweed is also a great snack by itself, or cut up and sprinkled over rice and vegetables.)

So, I found myself at an airport, with no vegetable choices for miles around, and with 19 hours to kill. I enjoyed this seaweed snack, with and without different Nicaraguan and leftover chocolates. Coconut oil and sea salt helped tie the best combinations together. Some chocolates worked better than others. Ginger and/or wasabi chocolates might work too. I expect I'll do more experimenting with this seaweed roasted in coconut oil in the future.

*Umami is a flavor or taste associated with savory (high glutamate) foods. While many umami foods may also be salty, umami is considered a fifth sense, one of five that our taste buds can detect: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami).

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