Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sahale Snacks - Banana Pecan with Cocoa Nibs & Cinnamon bar - Dec. 13, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Distributed by Sahale Snacks
Banana Pecan with Cocoa Nibs and Cinnamon Bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) in 1 bar / 5.6 oz. (160 g.) in box of 4 bars
Calories: 200 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $?.?? for 1 box of 4 bars
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate, Fruit and Nuts Theme Week.

Today's box of 4 individually-wrapped Banana Pecan with Cocoa Nibs and Cinnamon Bars were distributed by Sahale Snacks (Seattle, WA).

These bars were natural tasting and well-balanced, with a hint of banana bread and nuts. They had a pleasing chew to them (not too soft or too stiff). They had a rich flavor; the first ingredient listed was cashew butter (dry roasted cashews, date paste, brown rice protein).

Despite the sweet ingredients (bananas, dates) and tapioca syrup, caramelized sugar, they were refreshingly restrained in terms of sweetness. The dark chocolate flavor was supplied by cocoa nibs. Again, not too sweet, but flavorful. Light hints of cinnamon and vanilla gave the bar a slight warmth—a nice touch in the cooler months.

The Banana Pecan snack bar contained 5 grams of protein; and it was a satisfying bar for breakfast and as an any-time-of-day snack.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Praim Confections - Gelt-y Pleasure Dark Chocolate bar - Dec. 12, 2017

Chocolate of the Day:

The Praim Group/Praim, LLC
Gelt-y Pleasure Dark Chocolate bar
Good
Weight: 1.75 oz. (50 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 245 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $4.00 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: missing information

Welcome to Day #8 of Chocolate Snacks Theme Week.

This week we've covered a variety of different snack items: protein bars, granola bars and cookies with chocolate, gluten-free snack mixes with chocolate—even an organic, single-serve chocolate mousse.

But, this week wouldn't be complete without a few holiday-related, novelty chocolate items.

Today's Praim Confections Gelt-y* Pleasure Dark Chocolate kosher bar (from The Praim Group/Praim, LLC, Salem, MA) appeared in a local store just in time for Hanukkah (Dec. 12-20 this year).

The outer wrapper was adorned with the drawing of "The Mensch on a Bench"** and images of chocolate gold foil wrapped "coins."

The inner gold foil wrapper contained a fairly mild (chocolate liquor processed with alkali), sweet dark chocolate bar (that contained cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin and vanilla). The bar had even taste and consistency.

**"Mensch on a Bench" is a Registered Trademark of Monkeybar Consulting LLC and is used under license here.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Urban Remedy - Raw Cacao Mousse - Dec. 11, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Urban Remedy
Raw Cacao Mousse
Good ++
Weight: 4.06 oz. (115 g.) in 1 container
Calories: 240 calories in 1 container/package
Cost: $N/A - gift from family member 
Purchaesed from: Draeger's Market, Los Altos, CA

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate Snacks Theme Week.

Today's Raw Cacao Mousse from Urban Remedy (Richmond, CA) may be one of the healthier snacks featured this week.

Many popular snack items contain a long list of processed ingredients. Today's mousse, not so much: "Almond milk (filtered water, almond), date syrup, coconut oil, date, cacao powder, vanilla extract, Irish moss, sunflower lecithin, Himalayan pink salt."

For creamy dessert lovers who are unable to eat gluten, dairy or soy and prefer organic foods, Urban Remedy may offer something appealing for you, such as this single serving container* of (refrigerated) organic, creamy and flavorful mousse made with raw cacao and almond milk.

*The container and packaging are made from 100% recycled ingredients. 








Sunday, December 10, 2017

Clif Bar - Luna High Protein Chocolate Walnut Fudge bar - Dec. 10, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Distributed by Clif Bar and Company
Luna High Protein Bar - Chocolate Walnut Fudge
Good
Weight: 1.59 oz. (45 g.) / 9.54 oz. (270 g.) in total box of 6 bars
Calories: 170 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $3.49 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate Snacks Theme Week.

This Luna Chocolate Walnut Fudge bar was Distributed by Clif Bar and Company (Emeryville, CA). The bar was part of the company's High Protein Bar lineup.

The 12 grams of protein in this protein bar was supplied by soy protein isolate, the first ingredient listed (followed by sugar).

The fun flavors of chocolate (cocoa) and nuts (tiny bits of walnut + macadamia nut butter) took a back seat to the soy protein and sugar.  This was a snack bar more serious in its intentions than most. However, protein apparently cut the effects of sugar, as this gluten free bar was also labeled low glycemic.

Spearheaded by Clif Bar and Company co-owner, Kit Crawford, the company launched the Luna product line and initiatives (LunaFest film festival, Luna Chix Pro Team) in 1999. The Luna bar was one of the first nutrition bars marketed to women, and multiple flavors have been created over time.



General Mills - Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut bars - Dark Chocolate Peanut and Almond

Chocolate of the Day: 

Distributed by General Mills Sales, Inc.
Nature Valley (Sweet and Salty Nut granola bars)
Dark Chocolate, Peanut and Almond bar
Good +
Weight: 1.24 oz. (35 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 160 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $N/A - from an event (part of a larger variety box)
Purchased from: N/A - from an event

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate Snacks Theme Week.

Today's Nature Valley Dark Chocolate, Peanut and Almond bar from General Mills Sales, Inc. (Minneapolis, MN) was surprisingly satisfying, with just the right sweet dark chocolate and nut blend.

It felt lighter and less sweet than a standard chocolate candy bar.

Note: for those who are allergy-prone, this bar (made with partially genetically engineered ingredients) also contained wheat (and barley malt extract) as well as soy, milk and peanut and nut ingredients. At the time of this post, the company also offered at least two bars in their line-up that were gluten-free.


Zemas Madhouse Foods - Mini Ancient Grain Double Chocolate Cookies - Dec. 8, 2017

Chocolate of the Day:

Zemas Madhouse Foods
Mini Ancient Whole Grain Double Chocolate Cookies
Good - Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 5 oz. (141.75 g.) in total package
Calories: 130 calories in 5 cookies (1 serving)
Cost: $3.99 for 1 package/box
Purchased from: Whole Foods Market, Berkeley, CA

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate Snacks Theme Week.

Today's Mini Double Chocolate Cookies were from Zemas Madhouse Foods (Highland Park, IL). They contained both chocolate and cocoa powder, and were based on a gluten-free flour blend* with a "superseed trio of hemp, chia and flax."

The small cookies were fairly crunchy and satisfying, and bore the following certifications: Certified Gluten Free, Certified Vegan and Non GMO Project Certified. They were also free of the top 8 allergens, and were rice free.

Ingredients:
Dried cane syrup (sugar); chocolate; Zema's flour blend (g-free oat flour, teff flour, organic millet flour, organic quinoa flour); palm oil; water; natural cocoa powder; tapioca starch; hemp seeds; flaxseed meal; chia seeds; pure vanilla extract; chocolate extract






Thursday, December 7, 2017

Kind LLC - Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Popped Snack Bites - Dec. 7, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Kind LLC
Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt - Popped Snack Bites
Good
Weight: 1 cup (60 g.) / 6.5 oz. (184 g.) in total package
Calories: 220 calories in 2 servings
Cost: $2.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate Snacks Theme Week.

Today's Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt Popped Snack Bites were from Kind LLC (New York, NY).  This was a lighter, more thoughtful snack than most.

Whole grain snacks often have a heavier feel to them. However, the crunchy, whole grain snack morsels (bites) in this mix contained popped corn and sorghum; and other ingredients were applied with an equally deft touch resulting in an airier taste and feel.

The hybrid bites were considerably lighter than other oat-based granola snack mixes, and other coated popcorn snacks—often swimming in sugar and salt.

This whole grain (oats, brown rice, sorghum, amaranth, millet, quinoa and buckwheat + popcorn) blend did contain tapioca syrup and smidges of molasses and brown rice syrup, but didn't taste that sweet. (Thank you.) Similarly, the sodium (sea salt) level was a kindly 55 mg. per serving.

What about the chocolate? Semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla extract) was the fifth ingredient listed, but contributed some rich, flavor depth that helped tie together all those grains.



Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Crazy Monkey Baking - Dark Chocolate Chip Granola Cookie Crunch - Dec. 6, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Crazy Monkey Baking, LLC
Dark Chocolate Chip - Granola Cookie Crunch
Good
Weight: 2/3 cup (60 g.) / 7.5 oz. (213 g.) in total package
Calories: 300 calories in 2 servings
Cost: $5.99 (estimate) for 1 package
Purchased from: The Market, Indianapolis, IN

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate Snacks Theme Week.

I'm not opposed to mixing animal characters and clever names with chocolate. So, today's Dark Chocolate Chip Granola Cookie Crunch from Crazy Monkey Baking, LLC (Ashland, OH) seemed like a natural item to feature this week.

The only downside: I keep smiling as I imagine a group of manic monkeys flying around a kitchen baking things.

The company makes a few different flavor versions of their Granola Cookie Crunch, but the Dark Chocolate Chip was the original and is, according to the company's website, still the most popular flavor.

These oat and cornmeal based cookie-granola snacks were made with 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips, and evoked the aroma and flavor of home-baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

This tasty snack was uniformly crunchy and good. Some pieces were intact cookie-shaped rounds; and the rest were smaller, more granola-like chunks.

The PocketMonkey measuring device used for scale (see photo to the right) is about 3 1/8-inches (8 cm) long.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Rex's Outrageous, LLC - Road Crew Crunch Peanut Butter Pass Dark Chocolate Detour - Dec. 5, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Distributed by Rex's Outrageous, LLC
(A Portfolio Company of Halen Brands Inc.)
Road Crew Crunch - Peanut Butter Pass + Dark Chocolate Detour
Good
Weight: 2 oz. (56.6 g.) / 16 oz. (454 g.) in total package
Calories: 280 calories in 2 servings
Cost: $4.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Hello and welcome to the first day of Chocolate Snacks Theme Week—an investigation of snack bars, confections, mixes, cookies, etc. that contain chocolate.

Today's Road Crew Crunch snack mix was a merge(r) of two different snack flavors: Peanut Butter Pass and Dark Chocolate Detour. Together, you had your choice of dark chocolate and/or milk chocolate covered, crunchy hunks containing peanuts, rice puffs and (gluten free) pretzels.

The snack market in the U.S. covers a wide variety of packaged items, including healthy and "indulgent" snacks. Annual total snack sales run in the billions of U.S. dollars.

While not all chocolates are considered "snacks," the total chocolate market in the U.S. is estimated to reach $24 billion or so in sales in 2017. (Sales of salty snacks reached an estimated $27.7 billion in the U.S. this year (April 2017).*)

If each different chocolate item in the world had a different bar code, and the total number of bar codes were printed on a truck (one per semi-truck), the resulting line of connected transport vehicles would stretch 142 miles from the Earth (allowing the trucks to reach into space and back to Earth again with a few miles to spare).** Granted, road construction in space is difficult; but you get the gist.

It's starting to rain and snow here in the Golden State, which means more road repairs ahead. We love our cars in California and have thousands of miles of road (394,608*** lane miles in 2013) to maintain. Today's Road Crew Crunch mix distributed by Rex's Outrageous, LLC (A Portfolio Company of Halen Brands Inc., Fairfield, NJ) might be a good, hearty snack for anyone outdoors doing road construction or other work.

*Source: www.statista.com
***Source: cubit planning blog (http://blog.cubitplanning.com/2010/02/road-miles-by-state/)
**Calculation for chocolate trucks to reach from the Earth to space and back:
75 ft. semi-truck + trailer x 10,000 (bar codes) = 750,000 feet, or 142 miles (228 km).
(It's roughly 238,900 miles from the Earth to the Moon, but "only" 62 miles from the Earth to the beginning of "space.").

The short film "142 Miles from Monday" might be a better, more metaphorical analogy for Chocolate Banquet and Walking-the-Bay research projects.
***Source: cubit planning blog (http://blog.cubitplanning.com/2010/02/road-miles-by-state/)

Chuao Chocolatier - Bright and Sunny Honey dark chocolate bar - Dec. 4, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chuao Chocolatier
Bright and Sunny Honey dark chocolate bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 2.8 oz. (80 g.) in total bar
Calories: 220 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $2.49 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, CA

Welcome to Day #8 of Chocolate and California Dreaming Theme Week.

This Bright and Sunny Honey dark chocolate, California Collective* bar was from Chuao Chocolatier (Carlsbad, CA). Good name for this bar. It really was, as far as dark chocolate goes, bright and sunny, thanks to the incorporation of tiny bits of honey toffee and roasted almonds.

Happy winter sunshine and blue skies, to all those who have access to them today. And if you're trapped inside, this bar will bring a bit of Southern California sunshine indoors.

*Chuao Chocolatier's Master Chocolatier and Chef, Michael Antonorsi, is living the California dream; and his recent California Collective collection of bars inspired by California living and flavors includes three bars featured in this week's theme week, and a few others.


Chuao Chocolatier - Sun Kissed Coconut milk chocolate bar - Dec. 3, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chuao Chocolatier
Sun Kissed Coconut milk chocolate bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 2.8 oz. (80 g.) in total bar
Calories: 220 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $2.49 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, CA

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and California Dreaming Theme Week.

Today's Sun Kissed Coconut milk chocolate bar from Chuao Chocolatier (Carlsbad, CA) was one of a series of California Collective bars from the company.

The company's headquarters (Carlsbad) in Southern California (north of San Diego) is located in a lovely coastal area, near beaches, palm trees and southern California pastimes like surfing, paddle-boarding and swimming. Sounds like a California city that lives up to the dream.

This Sun Kissed Coconut bar was made with tiny pieces of roasted almonds and flecks of toasted coconut. Its sweet, smooth milk chocolate coconut flavor and texture put it closer on the chocolate spectrum to a high-end confection than bar, but it was still enjoyable.




Saturday, December 2, 2017

Chuao Chocolatier - Sea Salt Surf dark bar - Dec. 2, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chuao Chocolatier
Sea Salt Surf dark chocolate sea salt bar
Good - Good +
Weight: .93 oz. (26.6 g.) / 2.8 oz. (80 g.) in total bar
Calories: 147 calories in 1/3 bar
Cost: $2.49 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, CA

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and California Dreaming Theme Week.

The Sea Salt Surf dark chocolate sea salt bar from Chuao Chocolatier (Carlsbad, CA) was made with Fair Trade Certified cacao and gluten free* ingredients. It was also Kosher Certified.

"Chew, wow, chuao**, giggle, sweet and desire." Those were the six words etched into six squares (1/3 bar). There was one word per square, so you could pick a few and create your own expressions.

The chocolate had a relatively complex, but balanced flavor profile, with subtle green, salty leather, sweet dark chocolate and nutty aroma and flavor notes.

The bar broke into pieces with a good snap, mostly along the scored lines; and the chocolate had a creamy even melt and a relatively mellow finish with a light trace of salt.

Chuao Master Chocolatier and Chef Michael Antonorsi is living the California dream. Originally from Venezuela, he fell in love with California in college and, after culinary school in Paris, returned to the state and made it his home. "From paddle boarding with my daughters to enjoying the sunset and a glass of wine with my wife, the spirit of the golden state is all around me," he notes.

*There were no gluten free ingredients in this bar; however, the chocolate was manufactured in a facility "that uses milk, soy, tree nuts and wheat on shared equipment."

**The town of Chuao is located near the northern coast of Venezuela. Chocolate lovers will recognize it as an area that is famous for its fine flavored cacao. If you meld the two English words "chew + wow" together, the result is close to the Spanish pronunciation of the word "chuao."


Friday, December 1, 2017

Chocolino - Double Dark Chocolate 55% bar - Dec. 1, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

"Artfully Crafted for Chocolino"
Double Dark Chocolate 55% Cacao bar
Good - Good+
Weight: 2.14 oz. (60 g.) in total bar
Calories: 330 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $2.15 for 1 bar
Purchased from: CVS Pharmacy, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and California Dreaming Theme Week.

Today we head south to the Central Valley (Fresno, CA) where today's Chocolino* La Dolce Vita Double Dark Chocolate 55% Cacao bar had its origins.

While not mentioned on the packaging (and despite the somewhat confusing "Artfully Crafted for Chocolino" tagline), I believe G. Debbas Chocolatier, a private label manufacturer with a shop in Fresno, produced this bar.

California's Central Valley is a tremendous source of agricultural food exports for the Golden State. Beautiful fruit posters drew immigrants with dreams of the good life in the past. Food is grown on a massive scale in the Valley. Not cacao perhaps. But, it is a region where food and beverages are appreciated.

The "Double Chocolate" designation refers to a blend of two dark chocolates, one perhaps a bit more flavorful. There was a trace of green (the relatively light, forest-like blend of green tea, green stalks and green floral) notes—and lots of popular, sweet dark chocolate flavor.

The overall aroma and flavor was consistent and a small step above most bulk, commercial chocolates. The chocolate broke with a snap, and had an even melt. The incorporation of whole milk powder made it slightly smoother.

The bar contained a standard disclaimer** that often appears on packaging for chocolates produced in a larger/shared facility with multiple-ingredient product lines.

*Chocolino showed up as a registered wordmark of SSI G. Debbas Chocolatier, LLC (Fresno, CA) (or at least the application showed up to be one in a google search -- filing date was March 2016)
Business was listed as chocolates, confections, chocolate bars, etc.

A Chocolino Facebook page for them showed a phone number with an 818 area code. 

**May contain peanuts, tree nuts, wheat.




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