Friday, May 19, 2017

Tony's Chocolonely - Dark Chocolate 51% Pecan Coconut bar - May 19, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Tony's Chocolonely
Dark Chocolate 51% Pecan Coconut bar
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.5 g.) / 6 oz. (170 g.) in total bar
Calories: 220 calories in 1/4 bar
Cost: $4.89 for 1 bar
Purchased from: New Leaf Community Markets, Half Moon Bay, CA

Welcome to Day #16 of Chocolate and Africa Theme Weeks. We've been sampling chocolates made from cacao grown in several African nations this month. Our last stop this week is in West Africa.

"West Africa" is made up of 18 countries, most of which were former European colonies that gained independence in 1960.

Many years ago, the French and other Europeans brought cacao from the New World, and other crops, to grow in West Africa. And today, two countries, Ivory Coast and Ghana, together supply about half of the world's cacao. However, over the years there have been concerns about the use of slave labor in this region.

Today's Dark Chocolate 51% Pecan Coconut bar was produced by Tony's Chocolonely (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), and made in Belgium. The company's mission is targeted at increasing awareness about and helping to prevent slavery and human trafficking in Ivory Coast and Ghana. And, oh yes, to produce good-tasting chocolate.

It may be my imagination, but I believe this large bar actually tasted better, "happier," than other chocolates made from West African cacao. The bar had a bright, true chocolate flavor (brownies with pecans), and was quite good. The coconut was subtle and added an upbeat, sweet note. 

TCHO - Origins Dark Chocolate 62% West Africa bar - May 18, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

TCHO Origins Dark Chocolate 62% Cacao bar
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 145 calories in 1/3 bar
Cost: $1.49 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #15 of Chocolate and Africa Theme Week.

Today's Dark Chocolate 62% Cacao West Africa bar was from TCHO (Berkeley, CA). It had a classic, sweet dark chocolate* aroma with light spice notes.

The bar tasted quite sweet and smooth (and relatively low in fruit notes and/or acidity), but offered a uniform, predictable chocolate tasting experience.

Most of the world's high-volume, commercially produced chocolate in the U.S. and Europe is made from cacao from West Africa. Most people's chocolate tasting experience and expectations have been formed around this chocolate.

For many years, most large-scale operations have chosen to maintain a predictable flavor profile in their chocolates from year to year, across different regions and sources. Beans are carefully blended and roast profiles and other operations help to control variations in batches and different harvests.

So a West Africa bar like today's bar from a relatively large maker* may not have the nuances of flavor that a small batch bar would have, that would vary from season to season. Nonetheless, it's interesting to learn more about West African chocolate, as transparency about origins increases, and more chocolates become available for side-by-side tasting.

*TCHO was a relatively early entrant into the new American chocolate maker movement (2005) and was instrumental in helping to educate the public about the different flavors that were possible to develop in chocolate. TCHO bars have focused on cacao (single and blended origins) that highlighted nutty, fruity, chocolatey and other "flavors" of cacao—sometimes mentioning the country of origin, and sometimes not.

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