Friday, December 2, 2016

SOMA - Birch branch filled with hazelnuts, cherry jam - Dec. 2, 2016

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

SOMA Chocolate
Birch Branch with Hazelnut Crunch, Montmorency Cherry Jam
Very Good
Weight: .25 oz. (7 g.) / 11.3 oz. (320 g.) in total box
Calories: 37.5 calories (estimate) in 1 small piece
Purchased from: N/A - gift from Megan (Thank you!)

Welcome to hazelnut heaven, and Day #7 of Chocolate, Almond and Hazelnut Theme Week.

Today's chocsimile* of a birch branch from SOMA Chocolatemaker (Toronto) looked very much like the real thing, because it was carefully crafted from a real birch branch.

A mold was made from a special branch, and the mold is carefully "lined" with chocolate, and stuffed with a soft hazelnut crunch filling with Montmorency Cherry Jam in the center.

The result was magical—the envy of every squirrel and snowman in the forest I'm sure. And it tasted as wonderful as it looked. This very special treat would be great for a holiday party or sharing with others. It's likely to be seasonal, so check with SOMA (and/or their website) about availability.

Where's the Almond you say?
Funny you should ask. I also enjoyed another slice of heaven found in a Barre Infernal (Dark) from Francois Pralus** (France). I tasted the first of these Infernale bars (there's a milk and a dark version, and the dark version has hazelnuts and almonds) five years ago in 2011 at The Chocolate Garage (Palo Alto, CA).

This substantial Pralus bar reminded me of today's hazelnut Birch Branch from SOMA. This dark Pralus bar was large enough to be sliced and contained a hazelnut (and almond) filling. (Picture of bar at right is from the Francois Pralus website.)

*Chocolate facsimile
** Francois Pralus is a Master Chocolatier and chocolate maker based in France who makes single origin and bean-to-bar chocolate.
***Note: This item was not gluten-free. There was some flour involved in making the hazelnut filling crunchy. And while the type of flour was not specified, I'm assuming it was conventional (wheat) flour. 

SOMA - tumbled Hazelnuts - Dec. 1, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

SOMA Chocolatemaker
tumbled Hazelnuts
Good++ - Very Good
Weight: 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total package
Calories: 525 calories (estimate) in 1 package
Cost: $10.00 for 1 package
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate, Almonds and Hazelnuts Theme Week.

More hazelnut goodness today. These tumbled Hazelnuts—Slow Roasted Hazelnuts tumbled in Dark Chocolate—from SOMA Chocolatemaker (Toronto, CA), were crunchy and covered with just the right amount of chocolate/cocoa coating. Enough so that you knew you were tasting high-quality chocolate, but not enough cacao to mask the genuine flavor of perfectly roasted hazelnuts.

Justin's - Chocolate Hazelnut Butter - Nov. 30, 2016

Chocolate of the Day:

Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Blend
Good ++
Weight: 1.15 oz. (32 g.) in 1 total packet
Calories: 180 calories in 1 packet
Cost: $1.29 for 1 packet
Purchased from: Lucky, Union City, CA

Today I enjoyed packets of Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Blend (made with roasted hazelnuts and almonds)—and Justin's Classic Almond Butter— on thin slices* of toasted white bread from Arise Gluten Free Bakery (Arcata, CA).

Justin Gold founded Justin's (Boulder, CO), a successful nut butter business when he moved west; and over time expanded the number of offerings to include today's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Blend in jar and packet form—as well as other nut butter snack items.

Made without artificial flavor or preservatives or extra sugar and salt (thank you), this butter/spread was gluten free and packed with natural nut (roasted hazelnuts and almonds) and chocolate flavor.

*Those used to eating gluten-free bread may appreciate how thinly sliced gluten-free (or conventional) breads can be a crumbly challenge. Not so here. This was good bread.

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