Sunday, November 18, 2018

Zing - Dark Chocolate Mint Vitality bar - Nov. 18, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Zing Bars
Dark Chocolate Mint Vitality bar
Good + - Good++
Weight: 1.76 oz. (50 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 210 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $2.99 for 1 bar 
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA 

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

Today's Dark Chocolate Mint Vitality bar from Zing Bars (Seattle, WA) helped to power a walk around the Palo Alto, CA Baylands Nature Preserve—a city-owned strip of park with trails that offers a welcome dose of nature.

This slightly chewy, vegan, gluten free, and soy free "vitality" bar was relatively high in protein (10 g.) and it tasted relatively low in sugar. (Most Zing bars contain only 8-9 g. of sugars (thank you!)).

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Humboldt Creamery - Organic Mint Chip Ice Cream - Nov. 17, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Humboldt Creamery*
Organic Mint Chip Ice Cream
Good +++
Weight: 1/2 cup (82 g.) / 1 Pint (473 mL) in total container
Calories: 220 calories in 1/2 cup serving
Cost: $ missing information
Purchased from: missing information

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

Today's Organic Mint Chip Ice Cream was from Humboldt Creamery* (Modesto, CA).

The base, mint ice cream tasted fresh and creamy and the mint flavoring was refreshing without being too strong (thank you).

The dark chocolate "fudge" pieces/chips were not overly hard or waxy (as they can sometimes taste in other frozen desserts). They had the mouthfeel and flavor of authentic dark chocolate.

*Humboldt Creamery was formed in the 1920s as a 152-farm dairy marketing co-op in northern California. It is now owned by Foster Farms Dairy (Modesto, CA).

Friday, November 16, 2018

Coolhaus - Dirty Mint Chip ice cream - Nov. 16, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Coolhaus
Dirty Mint Chip ice cream
Good - Good +
Weight: 1/2 cup (90 g.) / 1 Pint (473 mL) total container
Calories: 195 calories in 1/2 cup serving
Cost: $4.99 (sale) for 1 container
Purchased from: Safeway, Palo Alto, CA

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

This morning's gluten-free, Dirty Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream was constructed by the team at Coolhaus (Culver City, CA) using California milk, fresh mint leaves, cane and brown sugar, dark chocolate chips and other ice cream ingredients and vegetable gums.

The mint leaves gave this creamy, premium ice cream a very natural, slightly herbal mint flavor, that was not too overpowering (thank you!). And the miniature chocolate chips imparted tiny bursts of dark chocolate flavor.

Coolhaus itself was created by two women, Natasha and Freya, who founded the company in 2008.













Thursday, November 15, 2018

Blue Bunny - Mint Chocolate Chunk Load'd Sundae - Nov. 15, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Blue Bunny
Load'd Sundaes - Mint Chocolate Chunk
Good
Weight: 4.25 fl. oz. (125.5 mL) / 8.5 fl. oz. (251 mL) in total sundae
Calories: 265 calories in 1/2 sundae
Cost: $3.00 for 1 sundae
Purchased from: Safeway, Palo Alto, CA

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

Sometimes chocolates most easily available for theme weeks are weighted in an odd direction. Just as last week's Ecuador cacao-themed week somehow ended up featuring mostly very high percentage cacao bars, this week's mint-themed week is conspicuously weighted in the direction of frozen chocolate and mint dessert items.

Truth be told, with a few exceptions, I'm hunting for quality vs. quantity in a chocolate. And, frozen treats and ice creams tend to be mass produced and loaded with sugar. However, they're also sometimes attached to childhood memories—the hidden icebergs of exceptions mentioned above, and which seem to justify occasional tumbles off the virtuous bean-to-bar bandwagon. (And I do have lots of good childhood memories associated with ice cream.)

Today's single-serving, Mint Chocolate Chunk sundae was part of a "Load'd Sundaes" line from Blue Bunny (manufactured by Wells Enterprises, Inc. (Le Mars, IA)).

"Load'd" with what you might ask? Definitely sugar (61 grams of sugars in 1 sundae). And, lots of toppings in soft mint ice cream, including swirls of fudge sauce, chocolate chunks, and tiny chocolatey fudge bunnies.* A few bites may satisfy the curious; and a few chocolate chunks, and chocolate-like bunnies, probably will not irreparably harm your health.

*Yes, we're still suckers for small chocolate animals, including certain chocsimiles (chocolate facsimiles of certain animals and items).


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Gelato Fiasco - Mint Chocolate Chunk - Nov. 14, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Gelato Fiasco
Mint Chocolate Chunk gelato
Good - Good +
Weight: 1/2 cup (113 g.) / 1 Pint (452 g.) in total container
Calories: 220 calories in 1/2 cup serving
Cost: $2.99 for 1 container
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's Mint Chocolate Chunk gelato was created by Gelato Fiasco (Brunswick, ME).

This morning's scoop of mint frozen goodness with tiny bursts of chocolate, evoked memories of slowly eating mint chocolate chip ice cream on a hot summer day under blue skies.

Good thing. This week in California our skies are being made thick and "overcast" by wildfire smoke. May all of you out there be blessed with clean air, sunshine and good friends to share chocolate and other good memories.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Alter Eco - Organic Dark Mint Truffles - Nov 13, 2018

Chocolate of the Day:

Alter Eco
Organic Dark Mint Truffles
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.27 oz. (36 g.) / 4.2 oz. (120 g.) in total package of 10 truffles
Calories: 240 calories in 3 pieces
Cost: $8.39 total package of 10 truffles
Purchased from: The Market, Palo Alto, CA

Good morning and welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Mint Theme Week.

Today's package of individually-wrapped, Swiss-made Dark Mint Truffles were distributed by Alter Eco in the U.S. (San Francisco, CA). These mint globes were composed of peppermint oil-flavored centers, covered with 58% Ecuadorian cacao.

Mint is a natural match with chocolate. However, a generous serving of mint, likely peppermint oil in most chocolates, can mask aroma and flavor nuances even in dark chocolate. So, if you're in the mood for chocolate, you might go for more dialed back mint.

That said, the dark chocolate in these truffles still tasted rich, smooth and satisfying. And the almost silken centers were crafted with milk, coconut oil, vanilla and were well balanced and not ultra sweet (thank you!).

Alter Eco mindfully constructs their chocolate offerings. For example, each Organic, Gluten Free mint and dark chocolate globe were enveloped in plant-based, Non GMO, compostable wrappers. And these truffles made with fair trade ingredients earned a carbon neutral product rating.

Ingredients: organic raw cane sugar, organic cacao butter, organic coconut oil ("sustainably farmed on India's Malabar coast"), organic cacao beans, organic whole milk, organic peppermint oil, organic vanilla beans 



Monday, November 12, 2018

Alter Eco - Deep Dark Crisp Mint Chocolate bar - Nov. 12, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Alter Eco
Deep Dark Crisp Mint Organic Chocolate bar 
Good+
Weight: 1.41 oz. (40 g.) / 2.82 oz. (80 g.) in total bar
Calories: 220 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $4.29 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA  

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Ecuador Theme Week, and Day #1 of Chocolate and Mint Theme Week. 

Nothing like a little refreshing mint in the morning, or any time of the day. Today's Deep Dark Crisp Mint Organic Chocolate bar was distributed by Alter Eco in San Francisco, CA.

This Swiss-made, 60% cocoa chocolate was brimming with concentrated sweet dark chocolate and peppermint flavor, from beginning to end—with a smidge of fruit acidity from the cacao, and a trace of vanilla from Madagascar, shining through.

Today's dark mint bar was Certified Organic and Gluten Free, vegan, paleo-friendly, no emulsifiers, no soy and was made with Fair Trade Certified ingredients.




Sunday, November 11, 2018

White Label Chocolate - Ecuador Costa Esmeraldas 100% bar - Nov. 11, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

White Label Chocolate
Ecuador Costa Esmeraldas 100% bar
Good
Weight: .57 oz. (16.25 g.) / 2.29 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 86 calories (estimate) in 1/4 bar
Cost: $16.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Mutari Chocolate House and Factory, Santa Cruz, CA

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

Today's White Label Chocolate Ecuador Costa Esmeraldas 100% Cacao bar was purchased at Mutari Chocolate House and Factory (Santa Cruz, CA).

This bar was more savory than sweet. It did have a fleeting fudge note, and relatively balanced bitterness all the way through that alternated with some sharper fruit acidity.

There were also very faint spice (cumin, caraway), buttermilk and salty notes in this chocolate. For those trying to get away from sweet flavors on the chocolate tasting wheel, this may be your bar.

This chocolate might be an interesting ingredient in (or shaved over) other (savory or sweet) items (mole sauce, brownies, salt caramel ice cream, pumpernickel bread and stout).

Fleeting Floral
I have many memories of 65% to 75% Ecuador bars with subtle floral and green notes. However, this week has been filled with ultra-high percentage bean-to-bar chocolate made from cacao grown in Ecuador. (Five of seven bars contained greater than 90% cocoa, including one 102% bar (with nibs)—a new high percentage record for an individual bar.) So, there was only a fleeting aroma or taste of floral or green notes this past week.

Floral notes are also some of the most delicate and volatile, and may disappear during a prolonged conching (grinding of beans into chocolate) process.

The differences in aroma and flavor notes of course are also the result of the farm (terroir), fermentation, roasting, and many decisions made when crafting chocolate from bean to bar.



Saturday, November 10, 2018

Raphio Chocolate - 92% Chocolate Ecuador bar - Nov. 10, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Raphio Chocolate 
92% Chocolate Ecuador bar
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.1 oz. (31.5 g.) / 2.2 oz. (63 g.) in total bar
Calories: 184 calories (per label) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $9.95 for 1 bar
Purchased from: ZombieRunner, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's 92% Ecuador bar from Raphio Chocolate (Fresno, CA) had a rich chocolate aroma and a faint, very light molasses and spice note. This well-tempered bar broke with a hard snap and had a smooth creamy melt.

The chocolate had a smooth, even ultra dark chocolate flavor with a slight nuttiness and a hint of muted red fruit and and mocha. 

How did today's 92% Ecuador bar stack up against yesterday's 102% Ecuador bar by the same maker? Both were quite smooth and well balanced for ultra dark bars with interesting flavor complexity and no off notes. These bars may have been crafted from the same shipment of cacao beans. (Both had the same maker's tasting notes printed on the packaging: "macadamia nuts, malt, berry.")

Yesterday's 102% two-ingredient (organic cacao beans, organic cacao butter) bar offered more bitter flavor and sharper red fruit/berry notes than is 92% sibling (which also contained a small quantity of organic cane sugar). And today's 92% bar lacked the tiny bursts of authentic cacao flavor from the light sprinkle of roasted cacao nibs that adorned the back side of yesterday's 102% bar. (In fact, the nibs are what allowed the maker to exceed the 100% mark.)

Raphio offers a range of Ecuador bars, each with a different percentage of cocoa solids. I'm always grateful to makers who offer guideposts for learning like this—the best way to appreciate and learn about which chocolate you might like best is via interesting side-by-side tasting experiences.






Friday, November 9, 2018

Raphio Chocolate - 102% Ecuador bar - Nov. 9, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Raphio Chocolate
102% Ecuador bar
Good+
Weight: 1.1 oz. (31.5 g.) / 2.2 oz. (63 g.) in total bar
Calories: 194 calories (per label) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $8.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA
Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Ecuador Theme Week.

How dark can chocolate get? 100% cacao? Apparently not.

Today's 102%* Ecuador bar was from Raphio Chocolate (Fresno, CA). Raphio's chief chocolate maker, Elisia Otavi, was inspired by her family to make healthy chocolate ("not candy"), from scratch using only "organic and natural ingredients." The company's name, Raphio, is a distillation of Raphael and Rio, the names of her two sons. 

The 102% number may sound intense; however, this ultra dark bar was relatively smooth in aroma, texture and flavor, with malt, dark chocolate, nut and berry fruit aroma and flavor notes. It was a friendlier, more approachable 100% cacao chocolate than most other 100%ers.

"Macadamia nuts, malt, berry" were the flavor notes that the maker listed on the bar's packaging. This is one of those instances where what I was tasting matched up 100% with the maker's tasting notes.

*Is it possible to have a 102% cacao chocolate? Perhaps the sprinkle of cacao nibs on the back of this bar comprised that additional 2%.





Thursday, November 8, 2018

Alter Eco - Deepest Dark Super Blackout 90% Cocoa bar - Nov. 8, 2018

Chocolate of the Day:

Alter Eco
Deepest Dark Super Blackout 90% Cocoa bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.325 oz. (37.5 g.) / 2.65 oz. (75 g.) in total bar
Calories: 250 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $4.29 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

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

This ultra dark bar from Alter Eco (Europe and San Francisco, CA) had the kind of bold aroma that often promises deep chocolate and a relatively high degree of fruit acidity. That said, there was a very fleeting floral note that managed to peek through.

The texture was smooth, and the first bite was surprisingly sweet*, with true chocolate, nutty and acidic fruit flavor notes. However, this quickly simmered down to a more intense but balanced, bitter, acidic fruit sustained note toward, and into, the finish.

Alter Eco, a certified B Corporation, has specialized in a line of chocolate bars made with fair trade cacao (as well as coffee and quinoa) from the Americas (Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and other locations), and has also been involved with reforestation projects (PUR in Peru).

Today's Super Blackout bar is the even more intense and daring sibling of the company's 85% Blackout bar. This certified organic and gluten free (and Non GMO Verified) bar was made in Switzerland with cacao from Fortaleza Coop in Ecuador—and was distributed in the U.S. by Alter Eco in San Francisco, CA.

*This chocolate was surprisingly sweet for a 90% bar with only 3 grams of sugar for 1 (1/2 bar) serving.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Cacao Sampaka - Chocolate Negro/Dark Chocolate 100% Cacao Ecuador bar - Nov. 7, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Cacao Sampaka S.L.
Chocolate Negro 100% Cacao Ecuador bar
Good
Weight: 1.32 oz. (37.5 g.) / 2.64 oz. (75 g.) in total bar
Calories: 212.3 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $8.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

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

Today's ebony-colored Chocolate Negro/Dark Chocolate 100% Cacao Ecuador bar was created by Cacao Sampaka (Barcelona, Spain).

The beautifully-designed* bar (with two interlocking, raised swirls on the bar itself) had an even dark aroma with fleeting, light nutty, floral fruit and spiced hazelnut hot chocolate notes—all the while conveying what lay ahead would be a fairly robust, dark, slightly bitter flavor.

The two-ingredient (cocoa mass, cocoa butter), ultra-dark, bar had an even, unadulterated, balanced bitter flavor with a hint of fruit acidity. The acidity lingered a bit in the finish, which was relatively clean with no off notes.

*The outer packaging was decorated with a collage of colorful ceramic tile pieces, evoking a wall or floor one might see when strolling through Barcelona in Spain.




Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Chocolita - Dark and Sweet 80% bar - Nov. 6, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chocolita
Dark and Sweet 80% bar
Good
Weight: .625 oz. (17.5 g.) / 1.25 oz. (35 g.) in total bar
Calories: 80 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $4.59 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Bienvenidos a (welcome to) Day #1 of Chocolate and Ecuador Theme Week.

Today's Dark and Sweet 80% raw dark chocolate bar was handcrafted by Sarah Ann Lesslie and the team at Chocolita (Sedona, AZ).

The maker indicates that the stoneground cacao used to make this bar (Arriba Nacional Ecuadorian Fina de Aroma Cacao) is associated with floral and fruity flavor notes, with hints of nutty and malty flavor. The high percentage of cacao (80%) used in this bar allowed some of the above flavors to come through; however, the overall flavor was fairly mild (as is often the case with unroasted/raw cacao).

This Organic, paleo, gluten free and vegan bar was made with fair trade ingredients. The bar was sweetened with coconut sugar and seasoned with a touch of vanilla and sea salt.

And now a second Chocolita bar; however, this one is an alternative take on white chocolate.


Chocolita
Pine Pollen and Lemon (raw white chocolate) bar
Good - Good +
Weight: .625 oz. (17.5 g.) / 1.25 oz. (35 g.) in total bar
Calories: 70 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $4.59 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

This lemon infused "white chocolate" bar was also from Chocolita (Sedona, AZ). This brown sugar-colored bar had a very subtle and harmonious pine accent—and the flavor combination was a refreshing change of pace.

The bar had a slow, relatively smooth melt and, unlike most white chocolate sold, it did not immediately result in a sugar buzz (thank you). It was sweetened with coconut sugar; and it was (and felt) lower on the glycemic index than conventional white chocolate bars made with refined white sugar.

Ingredients: cacao butter, coconut sugar, lucuma, vanilla, lemon essential oil, sea salt, pine pollen


Monday, November 5, 2018

Michel Cluizel - Plantation Riachuelo (Brazil) 51% Milk Chocolate bar - Nov. 5, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Michel Cluizel
Plantation Riachuelo (Bresil) Chocolat Lait 51% bar
Good +++ - Very Good
Weight: 1.23 oz. (35 g.) / 2.46 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 214 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $8.25 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere, online order

Welcome to Day #8 of Single Origin Milk Chocolate Theme Week.

This 51% Milk Chocolate bar from Michel Cluizel (made in Mesnils Sur Iton, France) was a scrumptious, French, dark milk bar, made with cacao grown on Riachuelo Plantation in Brazil. 

Was it creamy and smooth? Oui. Flavorful? Oui. The maker's tasting notes read as follows: 

"A creamy, tender texture, with sweet notes of milk, cream and caramel, mingling with notes of red fruits and cocoa, with a spicy and fresh lingering flavor." 

All true. A hint of Bourbon vanilla bean and spice (a very subtle hint of something like warm ginger) created an uplifting feel and finish to this tasty bar. There seemed to be a faint hint of salt (the entire bar contained 80 g. of sodium*); although no salt was listed in the ingredients.*

Ingredients: "whole milk powder, cocoa from plantation 'Riachuelo' (Brazil), cocoa butter, sugar, Bourbon vanilla pod."

*Most, higher cacao percentage, dark chocolate bars (without added salt) are low in sodium (0-5 mg. in a 1 oz. bar). Milk chocolate bars are higher (25-40 mg. in a 1 oz. bar). Milk naturally contains sodium, and the sodium content is concentrated when milk is dried into a powder to add to chocolate. We like our snacks sweet and salty, which may help explain cravings for milk chocolate.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Dick Taylor - 58% Madagascar Milk Sambirano bar - Nov. 4, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Dick Taylor
58% Milk Madagascar Sambirano bar
Good+++-Very Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2 oz. (57 g.) in total bar
Calories: 150 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $7.20 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Dick Taylor (online order)

Welcome to Day #7 of Single Origin Milk Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's 58% Milk Madagascar Sambirano bar was made by Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate (Eureka, CA), a bean-to-bar maker who produces bars in small batches in Northern California.

One of the first things we noticed after opening up the packaging and foil inner wrapping: the bar had a reddish appearance (a color associated many single origin* Madagascar bars); and pleasing aroma; smooth melt and texture.

As hoped for, the relatively high cocoa content (58%) allowed for a more enjoyable flavor ride. A smooth melt and texture was followed by bright, balanced, almost tangy dried fruit, and lightly caramelized milk* flavor notes.

The maker's Tasting Notes read as follows: "Prunes, Almond Butter, Caramel."

Dick Taylor package design and artwork is always noteworthy. The illustration on this bar told the origin story of the cacao (treasure map style, with depictions of Madagascar), and of the milk. The packaging was graced with a single cow, and a beautiful scene depicting the Northern California Coast with grazing milk cows who could have produced the milk for today's dark milk chocolate.

*The cacao for this single origin milk bar came from a Single Estate, Akesson Plantation, located in the Sambirano Valley in Madagascar. The milk came from Humboldt Creamery in Northern California.







Saturday, November 3, 2018

Chocolate Always - 36% Cacao Organic Milk Chocolate Bar - Nov. 3, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chocolate Always
36% Cacao Organic Milk Chocolate Bar
Good - Good +
Weight: .875 oz. (25 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 140 calories in 1/4 bar
Cost: $2.99 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #6 of Single Origin Milk Chocolate Theme Week. Most of this week's bar have been dark milk chocolate. Today we'll try something on the lighter side.

Today's 36% Cacao Organic Milk Chocolate Bar was a product of Peru, made for Chocolate Always (Weston, FL).

How low can you go (percentage wise) and still have a bar with fine chocolate flavor?

This well tempered bar was, as expected, very sweet, with caramel/toffee notes in the aroma and taste. While a bit too candy-sweet for my taste, it was still a cut above many other 36% chocolate items.

Also, any chocolate made in the country of origin (Peru in this case), is still worth noting, as it's not the norm; and it's a plus in that, one hopes, more income stays in producing countries (also not the norm).

Friday, November 2, 2018

Sirene Chocolate - 65% Madagascar Soma Plantation Bar - Dark Milk - Nov. 2, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Sirene Chocolate
65% Madagascar Soma Platation Bar - Dark Milk
Good ++
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 2.12 oz. (60 g.) in total pkg. of 2 different bars
Calories: 159 calories (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: $10.00 for 1 package of two different dark milk bars
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #5 of Single Origin Dark Milk Chocolate Theme Week.

This morning's chocolate,  a 65% Madagascar Somia Plantation Bar - Dark Milk, was the sibling of yesterday's chocolate from Sirene Chocolate (Victoria, B.C., Canada). Sirene offers some great side-by-side tasting opportunities, with two, individually-wrapped, single origin bars in one package.

The Maker's notes about the cacao beans from Madagascar:

"In the Sambirano Valley of Northern, Madagascar, the Akesson family harvest a bean enriched with volcanic minerals and nutrients. With its strong, fruity flavours, including hints of citrus and berry, the cacao is clearly a product of climate, soil and the dedication of a family that has been farming cacao for generations."

Classic Akesson-farm Madagascar flavor notes, red raspberries and pleasing citrus, were indeed part of this tasting experience. And they were muted only slightly by the addition of creamy milk flavor and texture.

Apologies to Sirene. This bar received a bright intense beam of early morning sunshine right before it was photographed, so it started to melt and the bar, wrapped in gold foil, looks a bit wrinkled. It was certainly crisp, flat and professionally wrapped moments before this.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Sirene Chocolate - 65% Lachua, Guatemala Dark Milk bar - Nov. 1, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Sirene Chocolate
65% Lachua, Guatemala Bar - Dark Milk
Good++
Weight: .53 oz. (15 g.) / 2.12 oz. (60 g.) in total pkg. of 2 different bars
Calories: 79.5 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.00 for 1 package of two different dark milk bars
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #4 of Single Origin Dark Milk Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's 65% Lachua, Guatemala Dark Milk Bar from Sirene Chocolate (Victoria, B.C., Canada) was one of two single origin dark milk bars in one package.

This Sirene bar was exactly what you'd hope for from a single origin dark milk bar, it was smooth and flavorful, with an added slight creaminess and a hint of caramel from milk.

The maker's tasting notes about the origin of the cacao beans were as follows:

"In the lush, mountainous department of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, generations of knowledge and a heritage tracing back to cacao's origin in the Mayan civilization, to into the cultivation of these cacao trees. For these farmers, access to a burgeoning, international market allows them to benefit from a real economic opportunity while producing a beautiful cacao bean."










Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Taste Artisan Chocolate - 58% Madagascar Milk Chocolate bar - Oct. 31, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Taste Artisan Chocolate
58% Madagascar Milk Chocolate bar
Good ++
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.5 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 225 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $7.96 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere, online order

Happy Halloween! And welcome to Day #3 of Single Origin Milk Chocolate Theme Week.

Nope, no chocolate pumpkins or scary cocoa ghosts this year. We're going for tasty, comfort chocolates.

The chocolates featured this week are dark milk chocolate bars that contain a higher percentage cacao (solids) than most milk chocolate bars on the market, above 40% cacao. The more cacao, the more true chocolate flavor. (By contrast, some milk chocolates may contain only 10%-12% cacao—the approximate threshold that a chocolate manufacturer must meet to call their product milk chocolate.)

Today's 58% Madagascar Milk Chocolate bar was from Taste Artisan Chocolate (Provo, Utah). Taste is a "food experience lounge," located in downtown Provo, and is next door to a manufacturing facility (Coleman and Davis, an operation managed by Char and Morgan Coleman and local chocolate expert Phil Davis) where Taste chocolate is made, from bean-to-bar.

This gluten free, four ingredient* dark milk bar was made with cacao grown in the rich, volcanic soils of Sambirano Valley region of Madagascar. An additional detail provided on the packaging: the cacao used from this region had "both Venezuelan and Mexican heritage (and) the natives call (it) "green gold." (Note: All cacao originally came from the Americas.)

The bar broke with a well-tempered snap, and had slightly malty, caramel, true chocolate notes. The texture was smooth and the melt and mouthfeel slow and luxurious.

The red fruit and berry notes often associated with Madagascar were more evident after the third small, careful bite; and, as expected, were muted a bit by the milk. The characteristic red color associated with cacao from this African island nation, however, was not. It could be seen immediately upon opening the silver foil wrapper. The bar had a pleasing finish with no off notes.

*Ingredients: Organic cacao, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, milk powder.





Tuesday, October 30, 2018

K'ul Chocolate - Soyle Leve Dark Milk Chocolate bar - Oct. 30, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

K'ul Chocolate
Soyle Leve Dark Milk Chocolate bar
Good + 
Weight: 1.45 oz. (32.5 g.) / 2.9 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 217.5 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar 
Cost: $11.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Draeger's, Los Altos, CA

Welcome to Day #2 of Single Origin Milk Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's beautifully packaged Soyle Leve* Dark Milk Chocolate bar was from K'ul Chocolate (Minneapolis, MN).

This "100% Haitian bean" dark milk chocolate was flavored with star anise and cinnamon—in the style of spiced breakfast hot chocolate prepared in Petit Bourges, Haiti. 

Star anise was the dominant flavor, masking some of the more subtle cacao notes. A hint of cinnamon added some warmth; and milk added some creamy texture.

Ingredients: Direct Trade Cacao Beans, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Whole Milk Powder, Organic Cacao Butter, Spices

*Soyle Leve is the Creole name for sunrise.






Monday, October 29, 2018

Belvie - Milk Chocolate Single Terroir (Vietnam) 55% Cacao bar - Oct. 29, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Belvie Chocolate Maker
Milk Chocolate Single Terroir 55% Cacao bar
(Chocolat Noir Au Lait)
Good +++ - Very Good
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 2.8 oz. (80 g.) in total bar
Calories: 226 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $8.25 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere, online order

Welcome to Day #9 of Chocolate and Vietnam Theme Week, and Day #1 of Single Origin Milk Chocolate Week.

Today's Milk Chocolate Single Terroir* 55% Cacao bar was from Belvie Chocolate Maker (Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam).

Start with high-quality dark chocolate and add a hint of milk, and odds are you'll end up with a high-quality dark milk chocolate bar that mutes strong or even slightly off flavors, and still allows desirable flavor notes to shine through. This bar achieved this goal.

This lovely, complex chocolate had balanced, high-end caramel, muted red fruit and true chocolate flavor notes, and a very faint, pleasant whiff of aromatic tobacco smoke and buttered toffee toast in the initial aroma. The bar had a milky smoothness and a lingering, clean finish.

*This bar was made with Trinitario cacao beans grown in Dong Nai province, "a hilly inland area underlaid by volcanic rock" in Vietnam.













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