Nirvana Belgian Chocolates
Organic Belgian Dark Chocolate
Crispy Almonds bar
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.5 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 230 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $5.95 for 1 bar
Purchased from: SweetE Organic, Mill Valley, CA
Gianduja Roasted Hazelnut drinking chocolate
Weight: 1.325 oz. (37.5 g.) / 2.65 oz. (75 g.) in total package
Calories: 188 calories (estimate per label) in 1/2 package
Cost: $8.00 for 1 package
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA
Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate, Almonds and Hazelnuts Theme Week.
Squirrel haters should stop reading here; because I've dedicated today to these furry, nut-loving balls of mischief. Happily I may not be the only one who enjoys them. Both of today's chocolates have illustrations of squirrels on their packaging.
The first chocolate was a Crispy Almonds bar from Nirvana Belgium Chocolate (product of Belgium). The 72% cacao Organic dark chocolate base was sprinkled with a sea of caramelized almond bits. Thankfully, this well-tempered dark bar was smooth and rich, without being too sweet. The illustrated red squirrel with tufted ears in the branches of an almond tree (due to clever packaging design and cut-out above the bar) appeared to be dreaming of the chocolate and nuts inside.
SOMA Chocolatemaker (Toronto) goes one step farther, by stating its yummy Gianduja Roasted Hazelnut drinking chocolate was "approved by squirrels everywhere." That's good enough for me.
Mix a little hot water with the rich contents of this SOMA packet and you'll get a highly edible, velvety paste with concentrated chocolate hazelnut flavor that's worth sampling a la carte. And, if you must dilute it further to make a traditional cocoa, you might add some milk or cream.
However, I like the more concentrated version myself, and it's pictured here in a tiny, Italian-themed espresso cup with a Tasmanian Devil—the closest animal I had on hand that might convey a squirrel's crazy passion for almonds and hazelnuts (and chocolate* too if the truth be known).
*Rats, mice and squirrels are known to nibble on cacao pods, and chocolate and nuts if they can find them. They seem to have less trouble digesting/processing the theobromine in cacao/chocolate that upsets dogs, cats and other animals. Theobromine is an alkaloid that's a close cousin to caffeine.