Thursday, April 13, 2017

Cachet - 39% Milk Organic Chocolate DR bar - April 13, 2017

Chocolate of the Day:

39% Milk Organic Chocolate (Chocolat Bio) bar
(Belgian chocolate, Dominican Republic beans)
Good +
Weight: 1.75 oz. (50 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 293 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $3.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Stars USA, LLC (online order)

Welcome to Day #2 Chocolate and Dominican Republic Theme Week.

This Cachet 39 percent Milk Organic Chocolate bar was made in Belgium, with fairly traded, organic cocoa beans from the Dominican Republic.

This relatively creamy, organic (or bio) bar was a little more three-dimensional than most milk chocolate bars. Lots of sugar and milk can mute, or even extinguish, cacao flavors.*

It had an interesting aroma and flavor with some depth (faint roasted coffee, milk, earth, tart fruit) not normally found in chocolate bars with less than 40 percent cacao solids.

*Ingredients list for today's bar: (organic) sugar, (organic) cocoa butter, (organic) whole milk powder, (organic) cocoa liquor and natural vanilla flavoring...Today's five-ingredient* bar was 39 percent cacao solids, and 20 percent (minimum) milk solids, meaning a relatively large percent would be sugar.

Raaka Chocolate - Strawberry Basil Dominican Republic bar - April 12, 2017

Chocolate of the Day:

Raaka Chocolate
Limited Batch Strawberry Basil Dominican Republic bar
Weight: .6 oz. (16.9 g.) / 1.8 oz. (50.9 g.) in total bar
Calories: 86.4 calories in 1/3 bar
Cost: $9.95 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Raaka Chocolate (online order)

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

Today's Limited Batch Strawberry Basil Dominican Republic bar was crafted by Raaka Chocolate (Brooklyn, NY), a maker of "virgin" chocolate made of un-roasted cacao.

This unique, pleasantly aromatic dark bar was part of the company's "Best of First Nibs" Limited Batch collection of bars and was wrapped and molded with compelling Raaka graphic style.*

The organic, gluten-free and kosher single origin dark chocolate (made from Zorzal Cacao, Reserva Zorzal, Dominican Republic) tasted darker than 67 percent.

The bar had a slightly earthy-roasted coffee flavor with tart strawberry (sweet-sour berry) notes, and a very slight granular texture The basil was infused into the cocoa butter and was difficult to identify, but added a light herbal touch.

*I'm not sure who does the graphic design for Raaka graphic bars, but we're fans.

Indianapolis Chocolate Round-up - April 11, 2017

Indianapolis Trip - Chocolate Walk
April 11, 2017

I recently spent a week in Indianapolis, Indiana. As often happens, there were many more new chocolates to discover than days spent there. This post is a re-cap of Chocolate and Indiana Theme Week with some important extras.

Many chocolates and chocolate-related places were spotted or enjoyed from/on the Indy Cultural Trail, an 8-mile trail that runs through Indianapolis*. This bicycle and pedestrian trail connects five cultural districts, runs by the canal area, and joins with other trails, including the Monon trail extending to the north. I've included some chocolate trail highlights below.

Downtown Indianapolis
Located at the south side of the centrally located Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, The South Bend Chocolate Company Chocolate Cafe contained a variety of chocolates, confections and a selection of ice creams and coffee in the back.

And a few blocks from there, stop in at Hubbard and Cravens Coffee and Tea for a few of their cocoa-based beverages. The company's "Healthy Elephant" cold drink with cocoa and almond milk was a great-tasting, refreshing pick me up on a warm day after lots of walking.

Winter Farmers Market - Circle City Industrial Center
The Industrial Center is home of the not-to-be-missed Lick Ice Cream. While I did not taste their chocolate ice cream flavors, their Cedar and Whiskey ice cream was a trip highlight.

Massachusetts Avenue, aka Mass Ave
Along the diagonal avenue known simply as Mass Ave, there are several interesting food and drink stops.

I visited The Best Chocolate in Town (on upper Mass Ave, and featured this past week); Natural Born Juicers (offering several juice blend options with cacao); and The Flying Cupcake—where I enjoyed a tasty chocolate gluten-free cupcake with buttercream icing piled high on top, and enjoyed chatting with a helpful young woman behind the counter. (Happily, there are many gluten-free options in Indianapolis.)

Even the popular Bru Burger Bar on Mass Ave had a dedicated gluten free menu with a chocolate dessert.

Fountain Square

I walked down to the SE end of the Cultural Trail to Fountain Square hoping to speak with Suzanne Litteral, of Litterally Divine Chocolates. Fortunately, I found her. She was hard at work preparing for a Chocolate Fest happening the following day.

I enjoyed seeing her array of truffles and confections with interesting flavor combinations, and tasting her chocolate-covered Smokey Bacony Toffee, while there. Suzanne hopes to start making bean-to-bar chocolate(s) again in May (She's already made and sold some in the past).

Other than the much larger Indianapolis-based company, Endangered Species Chocolate, I did not find anyone else making chocolate from scratch in the city besides Suzanne. Although, doubtless, some Indy-based aspiring chocolate maker(s) may be experimenting in their kitchen, this very minute.

There was a lot to like in Fountain Square, including a chance to try duckpin bowling and a cider and mead tasting flight at New Day Craft Mead and Cider. I left the latter feeling like these well-executed beverages that were full of well-balanced flavors would make excellent inclusions in chocolates. (And, in fact, Suzanne Litteral has done this before.) Brava.

My apologies to all those who I did not reach while there. Two chocolate and/or candy shops were closed when I stopped by the cavernous City Market, filled with small jewels of every food type.

Indianapolis Airport
Before flying out, I found a few novelty Indiana-themed chocolates at the airport, including a DeBrand Milk Chocolate Race Car (think Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway). I skipped the small jars of "Cardinal Poop" (chocolate covered sunflower seeds with red shells).

I loved seeing the bright red Cardinal (Indiana State Bird) birds singing their hearts out in trees while in Indianapolis. We don't see those where I live.

*Chocolate Banquet readers will recognize a pattern here. We like exploring walks and trails that lead to chocolate as much as we like chocolate that will fuel good walks.

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