Sunday, April 22, 2018

Map Chocolate Co. - The Secret Garden - dried plum, cardamom Belize 70% bar - April 22, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Map Chocolate Co. 
"The Secret Garden - respite from the storm" dried plum cardamom Belize 70% bar
Good+++
Weight: 1.25 oz. (35 g.) / 2.5 oz (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 187 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $12.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

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

Today's "The Secret Garden" dark bar from Map Chocolate Co. (Eugene, OR) had a long, poetic name: "The Secret Garden respite from the storm Belize 70% with dried plum and cardamom."


This attractively packaged and designed bar came with a tiny leaflet laced with colorful, commentary—a weaving of information about the chocolate bar (makers notes) with memories and associations.

Pieces of local (Oregon) dried plum, and freshly-peeled cardamom seeds, adorned the back of this bar.

This attractive, well-tempered bar broke with a hard snap, and had an aroma with dark chocolate, spice, toast and dried fruit notes. The Belize 70% chocolate was smooth, and the bar had a light plum and cardamom spice finish.

*Note: The bar was listed as sold out on the company's website.








Saturday, April 21, 2018

Map Chocolate Co. - "Favorite Flannel Shirt" Pumpkin Babka Caraway Seeds bar - April 21, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Map Chocolate Co.
Favorite Flannel Shirt pumpkin babka with caraway seeds bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.25 oz. (35 g.) / 2.5 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 187 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $12.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

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

Today's "Favorite Flannel Shirt" pumpkin babka with caraway seeds bar was from Map Chocolate Co. (Eugene, OR).

The bar's packaging unfolded a bit like a Russian nested doll. Underneath the brown paper outer wrapping was a beautifully illustrated, botanically-themed wrapper. And at the center, was a square chocolate bar, imprinted with an intricate, mandala-like pattern. The flip side was dusted with a tiny riot of pumpkin and caraway seeds, spices, sugar and oat particles.

This bar had a pleasant, faint intriguing aroma that was tough to pin down (dried plum, dessert, light spice with a comfortable top and bass notes). The aroma did have a comforting/comfortable quality, thus the possible connection with "Favorite Flannel Shirt" and "babka" in the name.

A babka typically might contain yeast dough/gluten, but it seemed that organic oats* were used instead to simulate the grain component here.

The base chocolate had relatively bold, dark flavor with a touch of citrus acidity, and bar had a lingering, even finish.

*Ingredients: "cacao beans, organic cane sugar, cocoa butter, organic pumpkin, organic oats, organic spices, caraway, maple syrup, olive oil, organic brown sugar"

Allergy information: Soy free; may contain nuts and/or dairy due to shared equipment.








Friday, April 20, 2018

Theo Chocolate - Lemon Hemp Chocolate Clusters - April 20, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Theo Chocolate
Lemon Hemp Chocolate Clusters
Good
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 2.8 oz. (80 g.) in total package
Calories: 220 calories in 1/2 package
Cost: $2.49 (estimate) for 1 package
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's Lemon Hemp Chocolate Clusters were from Theo Chocolate (Seattle, WA). The company has a history of being "passionate about chocolate and making the world a better place." Founded in 2006, the company was one of the first to offer organic, fair trade cocoa products. (Today's USDA Organic, Non GMO Project Verified chocolate was "fair for life.")

Today's Organic Lemon Hemp Chocolate Clusters* contained a mix of dark chocolate, crunchy plant-based seeds and flakes and a hint of natural, lemon fragrance and flavor. One serving (1/2 package) of these crunchy clusters contained "50 mg cocoa flavanols per serving,"**

While not certified gluten free (these clusters were made on shared equipment with products containing soy, milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts and other tree nuts), they did not contain soy, dairy or gluten-containing ingredients.

*Ingredients: Cocoa Beans*, Cane Sugar*, Coconut*, Crisped Sorghum Flakes*, Cocoa Butter*, Crisped Sorghum Flakes*, Cocoa Butter*, Crisped Quinoa*, Low Fat Cocoa Powder* (with Ascorbic Acid with color retention), Hemp Seeds*, Lemon Oil*, Ground Vanilla Bean*  (* = organic ingredient)

**Flavanols are plant nutrients found naturally in cocoa beans that are thought to contribute to heart health by "supporting healthy blood flow." 

Whether flavanols from dark chocolate can help counteract our habits of sitting behind a desk or on a couch for many hours a day, will depend on the individual circumstances. However, research does seem to support claims on this package that healthy circulation contributes to exercise performance, cognitive health, skin and cardiovascular health.




Thursday, April 19, 2018

Raphio Chocolate - Clementine Olive Oil bar - April 18, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Raphio Chocolate
72% Clementine with Olive Oil bar
Good +
Weight: 1.1 oz. (31.5 g.) / 2.2 oz. (63 g.) in total bar
Calories: 165 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $11.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

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

This pleasant 72% dark chocolate Clementine with Olive Oil bar from Raphio Chocolate (Fresno, CA) had authentic, rich but smooth dark chocolate flavor.

It was infused with a light natural citrus flavor* and had a subtle, creamy/soft initial texture (olive oil) and melt. The chocolate had a very slight grainy finish, but it was not enough to affect the tasting experience.

*Raphio Chocolate's Elisia Otavi, skillfully incorporated Enzo Olive Oil Company's Clementine Olive Oil into this bar.





Violet Sky - 77% Guatemala Fennel Pollen bar - April 19, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Violet Sky American Craft Chocolate
Guatemala 77% with Fennel Pollen bar
Good +
Weight: 1.23 oz. (35 g.) / 2.47 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 185 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $11.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA


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

Today we're having fun with the herb fennel. Fennel grows wild in California. Every part of the fennel plant is edible, including the tiny flowers and yellow pollen.

High-end chocolatiers and chefs occasionally infuse or dust food and dessert items with fennel pollen. The naturally sweet, fennel particles have a licorice flavor.

While potent, the fennel in today's (Lachua) Guatemala 77% with Fennel Pollen bar—from Violet Sky American Craft Chocolate (South Bend, IN)—didn't overpower the base 77% dark chocolate. This chocolate had its own bold flavor with citrus notes.




Wednesday, April 18, 2018

La Naya Chocolate - Orange and Juniper bar - April 17, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

La Naya Chocolate
Orange and Juniper milk chocolate bar
Good+ - Good ++
Weight: 1.41 oz. (40 g.) / 2.82 oz. (80 g.) in total bar
Calories: 229 calories (per label) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $7.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Day #9 of Chocolate and Orange Theme Week; Day #1 of Chocolate and Botanicals Theme Week.

Today's Orange and Juniper 54% milk chocolate bar from La Naya Chocolate (Lithuania).

The gluten free, organic dark milk chocolate bar was smartly dressed in botantically-themed and illustrated packaging. The chocolate was flat on the back side (as bars usually are) and a molded 3D sculpture on the front side.

The maker described his bar as "bean to emotion," likening the emotion evoked to a spring day at The Vatican...with the promise of victory, or words to that effect. That phrase did evoke a cuirous state of mind.




Monday, April 16, 2018

Bounce USA - Orange Cacao Protein Energy Ball - April 16, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Bounce USA
Orange Cacao Protein Energy Ball
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.48 oz. (42 g.) in 1 ball/package
Calories: 170 calories in 1 ball/package
Cost: $1.09 for 1 ball/package
Purchased from: Missing information

Welcome to Day #8 of Chocolate and Orange Theme Week.

Today's Orange Cacao Protein Energy Ball was manufactured in the US for Bounce USA (Bend, OR).

This substantial, chewy protein* ball had natural, balanced chocolate and orange flavor and a healthy dose of crunchy cacao nibs. The natural flavors were more present, vs. the traditional, tell-tale grainy, protein bar taste. Hurray. Also cause for celebration: this protein energy item was not overly sweet. Thank you!

*This Non-GMO Orange Cacao Protein Energy Ball contained 9 grams of protein. It was made without artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. It was gluten free, but did contain milk (whey protein).

Note: This Orange Cacao flavor did not appear on the company's website on the date of this posting. So, it's not clear if it's a new, or possibly a discontinued, flavor. There was a Cacao Mint flavor though.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Chocolate Tree - Orange and Amaretti 70% bar - April 15, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chocolate Tree
Orange and Amaretti 70% Dark Chocolate bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 2.8 oz. (80 g.) in total bar
Calories: 192 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $11.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

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

Today's Orange and Amaretti 70% Dark Chocolate bar was made by Chocolate Tree (Haddington, Scotland).

Owners Alastair and Friederike Gower and their team at Chocolate Tree, use premium heritage single origin cacao that is "precisely roasted, obsessively winnowed, slowly conched and patiently matured to create exceptional chocolate."

This, and more, is what it takes to be successful, bean-to-bar chocolate makers. The groundwork begins (and continues over time), back at the country of cacao origin where relationships with farmers/plantation owners are developed, to help ensure one has the best cacao possible.

The Gowers are have been doing this work. And speaking of duos, there were two, individually-wrapped Orange and Amaretti 70% chocolate  bars inside a colorful outer package, making it easier to enjoy single portions, and/or to share this chocolate with friends.

The 70% dark chocolate had a relatively subtle dark chocolate aroma with citrus, light cookie and green* notes. The chocolate flavor was pure, relatively robust but smooth with citrus notes. (The chocolate was made from Trinitario cacao from Akesson's Ambanja estate in northern Madagascar.) Small, slightly crystallized amaretti bits added crunchy texture.

This bar was made with organic ingredients and contained no gluten-containing items. Ingredients: cacao beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, amaretti biscuit (9%): almonds, sugar, eggs, bitter almond, orange oil

*The faint green notes were similar to a blend of green tea and green plants/green wood (think meadow/forest), green grass.




Saturday, April 14, 2018

Millcreek Cacao Roasters - Orange 70% Dark Chocolate - April 14, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Millcreek Cacao Roasters
Orange 70 percent Dark Chocolate 
Good + 
Weight: .875 oz. (25 g.) / 1.75 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 140 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $11.00 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA
Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Orange Theme Week.

Today's Orange 70% Dark Chocolate bar was made by Millcreek Cacao Roasters (Salt Lake City, UT).

This thin, well-tempered bar had an aroma and flavor with robust, but smooth dark chocolate and very light citrus (tangerine) notes. The makers at Millcreek used Arriba Nacional cacao from the Hacienda Limon Farm in Ecuador for this bar.

Unlike other orange chocolates this week, the citrus flavor was infused into this bar using a "proprietary method," presumably during the curing process. That is, the three-ingredient list for this bar read: "cacao, pure cane sugar and cacao butter"—but no orange. How is that possible?

More chocolate makers are experimenting with different ways to infuse natural flavors into their chocolates in recent years; for example, they may barrel-aged their cacao nibs, or expose chocolate to flavors during fermentation or aging.*

Just as foods can be stored in a smokehouse and pick up a BBQ flavor, they may also pick up more subtle flavor nuances if stored with certain substances or exposed to vapors or volatiles in a confined area for a period of time.

*Once a batch of chocolate is made, blocks of chocolate may sit on a shelf (covered, in a cool storage area away from direct sunshine) for a period of curing, before bars are tempered and packaged into final bars for sale.



Friday, April 13, 2018

Zokoko - Goddess Dark Chocolate with Orange bar - April 13, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Zokoko Chocolate
Goddess Dark Chocolate with Orange bar
Good ??
Weight: 1.145 oz. (32.5 g.) / 2.29 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 170 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $11.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Orange Week.

Goddess Dark Chocolate with Orange bar was crafted by the bean-to-bar makers at Zokoko Chocolate (Emu Heights, Australia).

The 65% cocoa bar had a smooth texture, an aroma with warm (vanilla), rich drinking chocolate/cocoa and roasted nuts notes. The flavor was a blend of deep cocoa and citrus suffused with orange and vanilla top notes.

Ingredients: Cocoa Beans, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin), Vanilla Beans, Orange Oil

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Parliament Chocolate - Redlands Citrus bar; Michael Mischer Orange chocolates - April 12, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Parliament Chocolate
Redlands Citrus 70% bar
Good +
Weight: .85 oz. (24 g.) / 1.7 oz. (48 g.) in total bar
Calories: 127.5 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $8.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Orange Theme Week. We risked citrus overload today with a double dose: one citron and two orange chocolates. It was worth it.

Today's Redlands Citrus 70% dark chocolate bar was crafted by Parliament Chocolate (Redlands, CA).

This ebony-colored bar was chock full of tiny, embedded pale yellow, citron particles. The chocolate offered an enjoyable full, nuanced citrus flavor ride.

Michael Mischer Chocolates
Orange chocolates
Very Good
Weight: .75 oz. (21.2 g.) (estimate) in 2 pieces
Calories: 113 calories (estimate) in 2 pieces
Cost: $4.00 for package of 2 pieces
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

Michael Mischer of Michael Mischer Chocolates (Oakland, CA) is a true craftsman offering fine, high-end bars and filled chocolates.

Today's heart-shaped Orange Caramels consisted of silky smooth, high-quality chocolate covering a creamy chocolate center infused with just the right amount of natural orange flavor. Definitely a keeper, and a cut above your average filled chocolate.





Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Tea Room - Orange Almond Vanilla dark bar - April 11, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

The Tea Room
Orange Almond Vanilla 60% Cacao Organic Dark Chocolate bar
Good - Good +
Weight: .9 oz. (25.5 g.) / 1.8 oz. (51 g.) in total bar
Calories: 146 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $2.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA 
Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Orange Theme Week.

Today's Orange Almond Vanilla 60% Cacao Organic Dark Chocolate bar from The Tea Room (San Leandro, CA).

The bar was part of the company's Chocolate Fusion line of chocolate containing tea.

The dark chocolate had a bittersweet dark aroma with a hint of citrus, and roasted almond (extract) notes, with a dose of vanilla sweetness.

The company's chocolate bars are USDA Organic, Non-GMO verified and gluten free and made with Fairtrade chocolate.

*Ingredients: "Organic Unsweetened Chocolate, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Cacao Fat, Organic Roasted Almonds, Organic Black Vanilla Tea, All Natural Orange Flavor"




Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Elements Truffles - Orange Pistachio Turmeric bar - April 10, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Elements Truffles
Orange Pistachio infused with Turmeric
Good+
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2 oz. (56 g.) in total package
Calories: 130 calories (per label) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $6.99 for 1 bar/package
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's Orange Pistachio infused with Turmeric bar was created by Elements Truffles (Kearny, NJ). The company produces a line of "Ayurveda Inspired Artisanal Chocolate."

This 70% cacao dark chocolate had a balanced, complex and intriguing orange (orange essential oil) spice aroma, and soft, smooth texture and creamy melt (like a truffle).

Organic, raw cacao butter (Peruvian Criollo) was the first ingredient listed and helped create the creamy texture. The cacao used to make this bar was: "Fair Trade organic cacao ethically sourced from Peru."

Refined sugar does have a powerful ability to attract (or repulse). And chocolates (like this one), made with raw honey instead of refined sugar, do have a different, more relaxed feel to them.

Honey scores lower on the glycemic index than refined sugar, and this chocolate scored a bit better on our (granted, somewhat subjective) perceived sugar buzz index.** If you're seeking to be more centered and balanced, this is a good thing.

This bar was made without dairy, soy/emulsifiers, preservatives, and/or gluten-containing ingredients; and made with a purpose: A percentage of the profits of these bars "go towards education of underprivileged children (www.careforchildren.org)"

*The word Ayurveda comes from Ayur (life) + veda (knowledge)
** After sampling 4,000+ chocolates, one can sense a difference within the first few minutes between a dark chocolate bar made with refined white sugar and sweeteners such as coconut palm sugar, honey or stevia.





Monday, April 9, 2018

Trader Joe's - Dark Chocolate Orange Sticks - April 9, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Trader Joe's 
Dark Chocolate Orange Sticks
Good
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 10 oz. (284 g.) in total package
Calories: 120 calories in 5 sticks (1 serving)
Cost: $3.99 (estimate) for 1 package
Purchased from: Trader Joe's, Menlo Park, CA

Welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate and Orange Theme Week.

Today's Dark Chocolate Orange Sticks were from Trader Joe's (Monrovia, CA). 

These small sticks were filled with a luminous, orange, soft jelly-like center, and covered in a thin layer of dark chocolate. The naturally tart, orange flavor and dark chocolate balanced the sweetness nicely.

The Dark Chocolate Orange Sticks were also labeled gluten free.






Chloe's - Chocolate Soft Serve Fruit Pops - April 8, 2018

Chocolate of the Day:

Chloe's Soft Serve Fruit Co.
Chocolate Soft Serve Fruit Pops
Good
Weight: 2.5 fl. oz. (74 mL) / 10 fl. oz. (296 mL) in total box of 4 pops
Calories: 60 calories in 1 pop
Cost: $1.99 (estimate) for 1 box of 4 pops
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Milpitas, CA

Surprise. This is a second, bonus chocolate entry for today (April 8, 2018).

Occasionally, there are too many chocolate items to fit in one day; or a planned chocolate may not have turn out exactly as planned. Either way, sampling and featuring another chocolate is the solution.

This evening's Chloe's Soft Fruit Pops (New York, NY) were made with just a few ingredients: fruit (bananas), cocoa and organic cane sugar. The Chocolate pop had an authentic cocoa flavor, and was smoother than one would expect given the lack (hurray) of vegetable gums or dairy.

These Chloe's pops were a great way to enjoy chocolate on a warm day—at only 60 calories per pop.

And, joining the Chocolate flavor, were two more Chloe's flavors: Strawberry and Tangerine (with orange). The fruit flavors were light, authentically flavored and delicious.

These Soft Serve Fruit Pops also served as a bridge between Day #7 of Chocolate and Strawberry Theme Week and Day #1 of Chocolate and Orange Theme Week. And they provided a refreshing end-of-day snack after a hike in the hills.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Godiva - Milk Chocolate Strawberry bar - April 8, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Godiva Chocolatier, Inc.
Milk Chocolate Strawberry bar
Good
Weight: .375 oz. (10.75 g.) / 1.5 oz. (43 g.) in total bar
Calories: 52.5 calories in 1/4 bar
Cost $2.96 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Kohl's, Mountain View, CA

Welcome to last day (Day #7) of Chocolate and Strawberry Theme Week.

This very sweet* Milk Chocolate Strawberry Flavored with Other Natural Flavors bar was from Godiva Chocolatier, Inc.** (New York, NY). 
Scored into four squares (with each square stamped with a "G" for Godiva), the milk chocolate contained a creamy strawberry flavored filling. This bar may appeal to those who like chocolate candy and sweet fruit flavors.

A note about this week's outdoor photos of chocolates...Green spring grass lasts but a few months in the arid west, and it makes a good backdrop for early morning photographs of chocolate when the sun hasn't found its way inside yet.

*This bar contained sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup and invertase (an enzyme produced by yeast that helps break down sugar) commonly used in the candy industry with liquid fillings, to help prevent crystallization. An unintentional situation that seemed to prove this point: this Godiva bar we bought had obviously been exposed to heat and was covered with white patchy "bloom" spots as a result; however, it still had a flawless, unified flowing strawberry cream center. 

**Godiva was founded in Belgium in 1926; and the Godiva brand has been owned by a few different large companies in recent decades (including Campbell Soup and Turkish Yildiz Holding—owner of the Ulker Group).








Saturday, April 7, 2018

Larabar - Limited Edition Strawberry Chocolate Chip bar - April 7, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Small Planet Foods, Inc.
Limited Edition Larabar Strawberry Chocolate Chip bar
Good+
Weight: 1.6 oz. (45 g.) / 8 oz. (226 g.) in total box of 5 bars
Calories: 190 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $3.99 (estimate) for 1 box of 5 bars
Purchased from: Target Stores, Mountain View, CA

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

Today's Larabar Limited Edition Strawberry Chocolate Chip bar from Small Planet Foods, Inc. (Minneapolis, MN) was constructed with a relatively short list of ingredients: Dates, Almonds, Semisweet Chocolate Chips, Strawberries, Apples, Cocoa Powder and Sea Salt.

The original Larabar fruit and nut bar line was launched in May 2000 by founder Lara Merriken.

Natural tasting, not too sweet and very satisfying, this gluten-free, dairy-free, Non-GMO and vegan bar had balanced, rich dried fruit, cocoa and strawberry flavor.

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