Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Moonstruck - Caramelized Hazelnuts and Summer Fruits - May 25, 2016

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Moonstruck Chocolate Co.
Caramelized Hazelnuts Tumbled in Milk Chocolate
Weight: 1.41 oz. (40 g.) / 4 oz. (113.4 g.) in total package
Calories: 220 calories in 1 serving (about 13 pieces)
Cost: $5.00 for 1 package
Purchased from: Moonstruck, Portland, OR

Moonstruck Chocolate Co.
Summer Fruits Collection
Dark Chocolate Strawberry Truffles + Peach Truffles
OK +
Weight: 1.41 oz. (40.2 g.) / 2.83 oz. (80.4 g.) in total package of 4 pieces
Calories: 210 calories in 2 pieces
Cost: $10.00 for 1 package of 4 pieces
Purchased from: Moonstruck, Portland, OR

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate, Fruit and Nut Theme Week. This week includes fruit and nut chocolates confections from the Portland, OR, area, purchased during a visit last weekend.

Today's chocolates were bought at Moonstruck Chocolate Co. (Portland, OR). Their tiny gem of a chocolate shop (in downtown Portland) was at capacity with 5 or 6 people inside; but it contained a dazzling display of sugary confections, filled chocolates and a few bars.

Today's Caramelized Hazelnuts Tumbled in Milk Chocolate were sweet and crunchy with a smooth, almost velvety jacket of 31% cacao milk chocolate. These were too sweet for me, but might be perfect for someone who has a sweet tooth, and appreciates the company's use of local foods and flavors (local distilled spirits, beers, hazelnuts, fruits, etc.)

I paired these with two different kinds of fruit-shaped truffles from Moonstruck's Summer Fruits Collection. They seemed like a good visual match or pairing with the hazelnuts. And, it just seemed like a Chocolate Banquet thing to do. The dark chocolate filled strawberry and the lighter-colored peach were also too sweet for me but, visually, they looked great, rivaling the traditional small whole "fruits" crafted from marzipan (sweet almond paste).

Moonstruck has been producing chocolates in the Portland area for more than 20 years. Thank you to the young woman in the shop who provided great counter help.

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Creo Chocolate - Portland, OR - May 2016

Creo Chocolate, Portland, OR
May 2016

When you eat a lot of chocolate, every trip seems to become a chocolate field trip. And while the same could be said of any hobby or passion, it's been my good fortune to meet others who have turned their passion for chocolate into a business across the globe.

During a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, I was able to stop at at several (although not all) chocolate hot spots in this city of roses. The Portland area has a fairly high chocolate IQ, with lots of chocolate makers and chocolatiers.

Coming from further south, one of the first things about Portland I noticed was how green everything was. The trees, grass and plants were shades of radiant jade and emerald. And when the sun showed through to dazzle on occasion, it was easy to believe how everyone might want to live in the Pacific Northwest, in Portland or Seattle, or other cities.

Creo Chocolate, a family-founded and run bean-to-bar chocolate business, was my first stop. The founders (Tim and Janet Straub) experimented with roasting beans and making chocolate from scratch for several years, before selling their own family farm (where they'd grown raspberries for 16 years), and getting into the business of making craft chocolate.

The company name "creo" means "I believe" in Spanish, and "I create" in Latin. Co-founder, Janet Straub, says she felt she made a "heart connection" when they met with other family farmers in Ecuador and other cacao-growing countries. They felt they could make a difference when they used the farmers' cacao to make into great chocolate, and to bring to others in the cities to enjoy.

Creo Chocolate (located in the Lloyd District, east of the Willamette River) is a factory and cafe, a place where tours are given and chocolate is sold.

The May Saturday when I stopped by, the shop was full of browsers and buyers, but Kevin Straub (described on the Creo website as the family's "chocolate maker and maintenance geek") made time to speak with me about their bars and confections (that were made by someone else).

I sampled a Yuzu Gimlet from the glass display case. The fresh gin and yuzu (citrus-like) fruit flavors, infused into a chocolate truffle format, tasted vibrant and clear and were well balanced.

Today I also tried two other Creo filled chocolates: a mystery sample (white chocolate with a spicy kick) that Kevin provided; and a maple cream-filled dark square. The maple caramel filling was light, almost silky and creamy.

I'm saving the Creo (bean-to-bar) chocolate(s) and cacao nibs for upcoming theme weeks.

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