Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Empact Bars LLC - Chocolate Cherry Bling protein bar -

Chocolate of the Day: 

Empact Bars LLC
Chocolate Cherry Bling with cacao nibs and dates bar
Good +
Weight: 1.26 oz. (36 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 130 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $0.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #8 of Chocolate and Cacao Nibs Theme Week.

Today's Chocolate Cherry Bling with cacao nibs and dates bar was distributed by Empact Bars LLC (Boulder, CO).

This protein* and energy bar was a small, cheery package of dense goodness. The "Goal Digger" tagline, on the shiny gold polka-dotted black and pink packaging was a play on gold digger. I'll take it either way.

The bar had well-balanced dried fruit (dates, unsweetened tart cherries), chocolate brownie (cocoa powder, cocoa nibs) and protein (whey protein, golden flaxseeds, white chia seeds) flavor and textures, compressed into a classy dark protein bar.

Today's bar had great natural flavor with less sugar than most other bars. And it was also gluten free. (Thank you!)

*This bar contained 10 grams of protein.




Sunbiotics - Organic Probiotic Raw Chocolate Bar - June 28, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Windy City Organics
Sunbiotics - Organic Probiotic Raw Chocolate Bar
Good
Weight: 1.25 oz. (35 g.) in total bar
Calories: 164 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $missing information
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Cacao Nibs Theme Week.

Today's Sunbiotics Organic Probiotic Raw Chocolate Bar was distributed by Windy City Organics (Northbrook, IL).

The 65% cacao dark chocolate bar was just the right size for a single serving. It had a sweet and mild, authentic raw (un-roasted) chocolate flavor with a hint of vanilla bean marshmallow.

Even though this chocolate bar came loaded with "10 billion active probiotics," there was nothing different about the flavor. And if you didn't get enough "biotics," Yacon* root powder added some prebiotics.

*Yacon is a plant that grows wild in parts of South America. It is grown for its edible root. The older/previous technical name for Yacon was Polymnia sonchifolia (Edible Goddess).






Monday, June 26, 2017

Trader Joe's - Cocoa Nibs bar - June 26, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Trader Joe's
Cocoa Nibs bar
Good+
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / Part of 12-bar portfolio package
Calories: 170 calories in 1 small bar
Cost: $7.99 - part of a 12-bar assortment
Purchased from: Trader Joe's, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #6 of Cacao Nibs Theme Week.

Today's Cocoa Nibs bar was part of a special Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Portfolio assortment (12 individually-wrapped milk chocolate bars—2 each of 6 different flavor inclusions).

This bar was made with sweet, rich milk chocolate, with added flavor from cacao nibs incorporated into the bar.






Sunday, June 25, 2017

Vosges - Super Dark 80% Smoked Salt bar - June 25, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Vosges IP, LLC
Super Dark 80% Cacao Smoked Salt bar
Good+
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 151.3 calories in 1/3 bar
Cost: $8.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Vosges kiosk in O'Hare airport, Chicago, IL

Welcome to Day #5 of Cacao Nibs Theme Week.

Today's Smoked Salt Super Dark 80% Cacao bar was from Vosges IP, LLC (Chicago, IL).

This bittersweet chocolate bar had a pleasant subtle chocolate aroma. It was smooth and even for an ultra-dark bar, and was suffused with a subtle, even touch of Alderwood smoked salt from the Pacific Northwest.

A light smattering of cacao nibs from Ghana on one side provided additional, authentic chocolate flavor depth—more than I remember tasting with other Vosges bars (that would have had more sugar and no nibs).

Vosges started producing chocolate in 1998; and Katrina Markoff, Vosges founder and the brand behind the Vosges brand, seems to exude creative sophistication, as does the packaging for her bars and confections.





Saturday, June 24, 2017

Betty Lou's - Nuts about Energy Balls - Paleo Java - June 24, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Betty Lou's Inc.
Nuts about Energy Balls - Paleo Java
Good
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42 g.) in 1 package
Calories: 140 calories in 1 package
Cost: $2.99 (guesstimate) for 1 package
Purchased from: Village Market, SF Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Cacao Nibs Theme Week.

Today's Paleo Java energy snack was created by Betty Lou's Inc.(McMinnville, OR) and was part of the company's "Nuts about Energy Balls" line of snacks.

Made with dates, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, honey, raisins, coffee and hazelnuts, this certified gluten-free energy ball tasted authentic and satisfying—without the sugar buzz that can result from energy bars with added sugars.

This energy ball was also labeled as Non-GMO and Vegetarian. (If you're vegan, these do contain some honey.)






Friday, June 23, 2017

Raaka Virgin Chocolate - Maple & Nibs, Mint & Nibs Eastern Congo bars - June 23, 2017

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Raaka Virgin Chocolate

Maple and Nibs (Eastern Congo) 75% Cacao bar
Good
Weight: .6 oz. (16.98 g.)/ 1.8 oz. (50.94 g.) in total bar
Calories: 88 calories (estimate) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $7.95 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Raaka (online order)

Mint and Nibs (Eastern Congo) 56% Cacao bar
Good
Weight: .6 oz. (16.98 g.) / 1.8 oz. (50.94 g.) in total bar
Calories: 93.3 calories (estimate) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $7.95 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Raaka (online order)

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Cacao Nibs Theme Week.

Both dark chocolate bars featured today were from Raaka Virgin Chocolate (Brooklyn, NY), contained a generous sprinkling of cacao nibs, and were made with unroasted ("virgin") cacao grown in Eastern Congo.*

The 75% Cacao Maple and Nibs and 56% Cacao Mint and Nibs dark bars were surprisingly sweet and mellow, in part due to the lack of roasting. The company founders seek to preserve some of the original cacao flavors that are sometimes lost in the roasting process.

The flavors (maple sugar, mint) were subtle, natural and relatively uniform and smooth, with hints of earthiness—which could have been in the nibs. The texture was slightly granular but not objectionably so.

*Raaka partners with Congolese farmers near Virunga National Park in Eastern Congo "to source cacao that supports community and agroforestry. Farmers are paid a minimum of $500 per ton above market price for their fine cacao."


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Valenza Chocolatier - Nibs Bar - June 22, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Valenza Chocolatier
Nibs Bar
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.03 oz. (30 g.) / 3.1 oz. (90 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories (estimate) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $N/A - sample, included in larger order
Purchased from: Valenza Chocolatier, Costa Mesa, CA (online order)

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Cacao Nibs Theme Week.

Great blend of rich flavors and creamy and crunchy textures in today's Nibs Bar from Valenza Chocolatier (Costa Mesa, CA).

The base chocolate was made using Venezuelan origin cacao (fruity, complex chocolate flavor with a very subtle cinnamon spice note). The creamy 73.5 % cacao dark bar had a dense layer of finely ground, crunchy nibs on one side; and the nibs contributed their own slightly earthy, true chocolate/brownie flavor depth to the mix.

Nibs are pieces of cacao seed or bean, that can be eaten plain, unsweetened. Or they can be finely ground and made into chocolate. The essence of the cacao aroma, flavor and texture is usually evident in the nibs. Every once in a while when sampling chocolates with cacao nib pieces on or in them, there can be a small piece of funky nib (less obvious when beans are fully ground together with sugar perhaps). However, there were no bitter or "off" flavors in this bar.

Thank you to Amy Jo Pedone, Master Chocolatier at Valenza for her talents, and for including this sample Nibs Bar into a previous order. I was looking forward to trying this bar for quite awhile.




Big Tree Farms - Cashew-Cacao Cluster - June 21, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Big Tree Farms
Cashew-Cacao Cluster
Good - Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 4 oz. (113 g.) in total package
Calories: 167 calories in 1 oz. serving
Cost: $missing information for 1 package
Purchased from: missing information

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Cashew Theme Week, and Day #1 of Cacao Nibs Theme Week. Today's crossover entry contained both cashew nuts and cacao nibs.

Crunchy and not too sweet, these Cashew-Cacao Cluster pieces from Big Tree Farms (Bali, Indonesia) were very lightly sweetened with coconut palm sugar and had a pleasant nutty crunch with distinctive yet smooth cacao nib flavor.

If you're ever in Bali, the company also gives tours of their factory facility, where you can see one of the largest commercial structures made of bamboo in the world. (They produce coconut sugar, aminos and nectar as well.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Torn Ranch - Milk Chocolate Cashews - June 20, 2017

Chocolate of the Day:

Torn Ranch
Milk Chocolate Cashews
Good - Good+
Weight: 1.875 oz. (53 g.) / 3.75 oz. (106 g.) in total tin
Calories: 330 calories in 1/2 container
Cost: $7.99 for 1 container
Purchased from: Draeger's Market, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Cashew Theme Week.

Today's jumbo-sized Milk Chocolate Cashews from Torn Ranch (Petaluma, CA) had a thick coating of flavorful milk chocolate.

And the shiny metal container helped keep them in pristine shape.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Stone Grindz Chocolate Mint Cashew 60% bar; Torn Ranch Cashews Cranberries & Chocolate - June 19, 2017

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

Stone Grindz Chocolate
Mint and Cashew 60% Cacao bar
Good +
Weight: .66 oz. (18.8 g.) / 2 oz. (56.6 g.) in total bar
Calories: 100 calories (estimate) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $7.95 for 1 bar (part of a larger order)
Purchased from: Stone Grindz Chocolate, Scottsdale, AZ


Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Cashew Theme Week, where we have two entries today:

Today's chocolate was a Mint and Cashew 60% Cacao bar from Stone Grindz Chocolate (Scottsdale, AZ) was the first. This was re-sampled (to focus on the cashew part) this time.

Cashew and Mint is a relatively unique combination. How did they taste together in one bar?

The chocolate had a pleasing aroma with a hint of mint and some very subtle cashew nut flavor and texture. The chocolate was relatively smooth for a bar with nuts.

Torn Ranch
Cashews, Cranberries and Chocolate
Good
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.5 g.) in total package
Calories: 190 calories in 1 package
Cost: $3.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Draeger's Market, Los Altos, CA

The second chocolate item was similar to a high-end trail mix, and was composed of small, coin-sized round discs of dark chocolate, dried cranberries and cashews.












Sunday, June 18, 2017

Cocoa Parlor - More Please 35 Roasted Cashews (bar) - June 18, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Cocoa Parlor Premium Organic Chocolate
More Please 35 Roasted Cashews (bar)
Good - Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2.82 oz. (80 g.) in total bar
Calories: 161 calories in 1 oz. of bar
Cost: $N/A - part of a gift basket
Purchased from: N/A - gift basket from Present, Los Altos, CA

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Cashew Theme Week.

Today's More Please 35 Roasted Cashews (bar) was from Cocoa Parlor Premium Organic Chocolate (Laguna Niguel, CA).

The sweet 35% cacao organic milk chocolate paired nicely with the roasted cashews and a hint of Himalayan Pink Salt.






GourmetNut - Dark Chocolate Covered Cashews - June 17, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

GourmetNut
Dark Chocolate Covered Cashews
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 7 oz. (198 g.) in total package
Calories: 210 calories in 1 serving (6 pieces)
Cost: $5.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Kohl's, Mountain View, CA

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Cashew Theme Week.

Today's Dark Chocolate Covered Cashews were produced by GourmetNut (Brooklyn, NY).

These glossy, comma-shaped confections with a cashew inside were chocolatey, crunchy and satisfying.

Like most chocolate-covered cashew treats, the mild, sweet nut flavor of this nut got overshadowed a bit. The relatively thick 52% cacao chocolate covering had a pleasing, rich brownie flavor and dominated the mix. 

World Market - Bark Dark Chocolate with Everything - June 16, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Cost Plus, Inc.
World Market Bark - Dark Chocolate with Everything... (bar)
Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 146.6 calories (per label) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $ missing information
Purchased from: World Market, Mountain View, CA

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Cashews Theme Week.

Today's "Bark - Dark Chocolate with Everything..." bar was distributed by Cost Plus, Inc. (Oakland, CA).

The "everything" in the title here I'm guessing is derived from the expression "everything but the kitchen sink."

The Belgian dark chocolate bark came in rectangular bar form and was adorned with five flavor inclusions: pieces of coconut, cashews, bits of dried cranberries and apricots, and a pinch of chipotle chili powder that gave the chocolate a few bursts of spicy flavor.

It was a bit of a jumble, but it was interesting to try.

Silk Chocolate Cashewmilk - June 15, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

WhiteWave Foods
Silk Chocolate Cashewmilk
Good
Weight: 4 oz. (118.3 mL) / 12 oz. (355 mL) in total container
Calories: 46.6 calories in 1/3 bottle
Cost: $missing information
Purchased from: missing information

Welcome to the first day (Day #1) of Chocolate and Cashew Theme Week.

While most chocolates this week involve chocolate-covered cashews, or cashews as inclusions in chocolate bars or confections, this first entry today was an alternative (nut) chocolate "milk" beverage.

Today's Silk Chocolate Cashewmilk from (WhiteWave Foods, Broomfield, CO) was advertised as being "free of dairy, soy, lactose, gluten casein, egg and MSG," and having "55% fewer calories and 33% less sugar than low-fat milk." Also, there were "no artificial flavors, colors or funny business," and no saturated fat.

Yes, but how did it taste?

It tasted a bit like commercial chocolate milk. Cashews were high up in the ingredients list, but the nut flavor was relatively mild. (Cashews do have a very subtle flavor, as far as nuts go; so perhaps they are the best choice for a dairy milk-like taste.)

The texture and sweetness level was also similar to regular chocolate milk. There was a very faint chemical/artificial flavor note, similar to what one might find in commercial chocolate milks.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Zokoko - Goddess Milk Chocolate with Coffee bar - June 14, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Zokoko Artisan Chocolate
Goddess Milk Chocolate with Coffee bar
Good ++
Weight: .458 oz. (13 g.) / 2.29 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 69 calories (per label) in 1/5 bar
Cost: $9.99 for 1 bar (need to find receipt)
Purchased from: Village Market, SF Ferry Bldg., San Francisco, CA

G'day mates and welcome to Day #8 of Chocolate and Coffee Theme Week.

Today's Goddess Milk Chocolate with Coffee bar was made down under, by Zokoko Artisan Chocolate—a bean-to-bar maker based in Emu Heights, NSW, Australia.

The company description for this bar read: "The smooth and velvety milk chocolate is paired with the rich flavour of freshly roasted coffee."

I don't know about goddesses; however, the bar did in fact have a heavenly, creamy texture.

The coffee aroma and flavor were fairly strong. It was difficult to pick out the nuances of the base chocolate flavor with the milk and the coffee, but the combination worked.


Black Mountain Chocolate - Espresso Bar - June 13, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Black Mountain Chocolate
Espresso Bar
Good+++
Weight: .75 oz. (21 g.) / 2.29 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 127 calories (estimate per label) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $5.00 (estimate) for 1 bar (part of a larger order)
Purchased from: Black Mountain Chocolate, phone order

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Coffee Theme Week.

Today's 70% Cacao Espresso Bar came from Black Mountain Chocolate (Winston-Salem, NC), a family owned business that has been offering bean-to-bar chocolate since 2007.

The company began operations near Asheville, NC. Later their "Visible Factory + Kitchen" moved to their present day location in Winston-Salem, NC.

This 70% cacao dark chocolate bar was "dusted with finely ground espresso beans" from Dynamite Roasting Company (Black Mountain, NC). In fairness to Brent Peters and team at Black Mountain, by the time I ate this bar (today) it was past its expiration date. However, it was still very good.

The chocolate had rich, smooth dark chocolate aroma and flavor with dried fruit (raisins) and freshly ground coffee notes. The dusting of finely ground coffee gave it additional dark depth, without smothering the fruit notes that still shone through.






Monday, June 12, 2017

Pamela's - Ambition Bar, Cold Brew Chocolate - June 12, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Pamela's Products, Inc.
Ambition Bar - Cold Brew Chocolate bar
Good - Good +
Weight: .47 oz. (13.3 g.) / 1.41 oz. (40 g.) in total package
Calories: 63.3 calories in 1/3 bar
Cost: $1.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Ava's Downtown Market, Mountain View, CA

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Coffee Theme Week.

The Ambition Bar - Cold Brew Chocolate bar from Pamela's Products, Inc. (Ukiah, CA) was made with cold brew coffee (and green coffee); and was one of 5 different, new caffeinated Ambition Bar flavors from Pamela's.

The company has been producing and working on their expanding gluten-free product line for many years now. Their ginger, chocolate chunk/chip and other cookies were a welcome addition to grocery shelves many years ago when there were few good-tasting gluten-free options available in the U.S.

Today's Ambition Cold Brew Coffee Bar had a warm, pleasing cookie aroma reminiscent of fig bar, graham cracker, dates, blended with chocolate chips and a faint hint of coffee and malt.

The ebony-colored bar had the look and texture of a soft brownie cookie bar. It was satisfying and flavorful without being too sweet. The chocolate chips yielded bursts of rich chocolate flavor and it had a mild coffee and chocolate cookie finish.

The amount of caffeine (70 mg) in this organic and gluten- and grain-free energy bar was clearly listed on the packaging. Very useful for those watching their caffeine intake. (The bar was also vegan.)



Sunday, June 11, 2017

TCHO - Mokaccino Organic Milk Chocolate Discs - June 11, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

TCHO
TCHO Bites - Mokaccino Organic Milk Chocolate Discs
Good+ - Good++
Weight: .8 oz. (22.8 g.) / 5 oz. (140 g.) in total package
Calories: 130.8 calories in 4 drops
Cost: $N/A for 1 package (included in a gift bag at an event
Purchased from: N/A - part of a gift bag at an event

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Coffee Theme Week.

Today's Mokaccino Organic Milk Chocolate Discs from TCHO (Berkeley, CA) were delicious. Creamy organic 45% cacao (dark milk) chocolate discs were infused with the bold flavor of Blue Bottle Coffee* espresso roast coffee.

This gluten free, Non-GMO Bay Area created blend would be a hit with anyone who enjoys coffee and/or mocha blends.

*Blue Bottle Coffee is based in Oakland, CA







Saturday, June 10, 2017

Trader Joe's - Milk Chocolate Portfolio - Coffee bar - June 10, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Trader Joe's
Milk Chocolate Portfolio
Coffee (Milk Chocolate) bar
Good +
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) in 1 small bar
Calories: 85 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $N/A - part of a 12-bar variety box purchased earlier
Purchased from: Trader Joe's, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Coffee Theme Week.

Trader Joe's (Monrovia, CA) has been offering collections of individually-wrapped dark single origin bars, as well as chocolate bars with flavor inclusions, for several years. These dark (or milk) bars are great for a group tasting experience, or for just one person.

This past year's Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Portfolio (Made in England) contained 2 each of 6 different flavored bars (12 small bars total); and it included this Coffee bar.

Today's Coffee milk chocolate bar contained authentic coffee flavor, making the milk chocolate seem a little darker and richer. The base chocolate, sugar and vanilla also had a slight toffee flavor, creating a tasty finished blend.

These bars contained no wheat or gluten ingredients, but were made in a shared facility.





Friday, June 9, 2017

The Hain Celestial Group - Chocolate Mocha Greek Style Yogurt - June 9, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.
The Greek Gods - Greek Style Yogurt
Chocolate Mocha flavored with other natural flavor
Good - Good +
Weight: 1/2 cup (113.5 g.) / 24 oz. (680 g.) in total container
Calories: 150 calories in 1/2 cup serving
Cost: $1.99 for 1 container
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Coffee Theme Week.

Today's chocolate and coffee flavored item was a yogurt. The Greek Gods Chocolate Mocha Greek Style Yogurt was Manufactured for and Distributed by The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (Lake Success, NY).

It's not always easy to blend chocolate and yogurt. The slightly acidic tangy flavor of yogurt can clash with chocolate. Today's Chocolate Mocha yogurt was successful in making this mix work.

The yogurt was smooth and creamy and the mocha blend was flavorful without being too sweet.

While it did contain vegetable gums, the ingredients list was relatively straight-forward, mercifully short and "natural," with no starches or artificial colors or flavors added.





Thursday, June 8, 2017

Torn Ranch - Caramel Macchiato Almonds - June 8, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Torn Ranch
Caramel Macchiato Almonds
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.5 g.) in total package
Calories: 220 calories in 1 package
Cost: $3.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Draeger's Market, Los Altos, CA

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Coffee Theme Week.

Today's chocolate comes in the form of chocolate covered almonds with just a hint of coffee flavor.

These Caramel Macchiato Almonds from Torn Ranch (Petaluma, CA) were covered with flavored milk chocolate that complemented the crunchy almonds nicely.
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