Thursday, October 18, 2018

Ritter Sport - Milk Chocolate with Honey Salt Almonds bar - Oct. 18, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Ritter Sport
Milk Chocolate with Honey Salt Almonds bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.75 oz. (50 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 315 calories (per label - seems high) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $2.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Ava's Downtown Market and Deli, Mountain View, CA

Guten Morgen (Good Morning) and Willkommen (Welcome) to Day #5 of Chocolate and Honey Theme Week.

Today's Ritter Sport Milk Chocolate with Honey Salt Almonds bar was from Alfred Ritter GmbH and Co. KG (Waldenbuch, Germany).

Honig (honey) is an important part of German cuisine. Going beyond the vastly popular clover honey on grocery shelves in most of the U.S., a variety of honeys from flowers, trees and forests can be found in German markets. Today's milk chocolate bar incorporates honey covered, salted, roasted almonds.

This bar had a rich milk chocolate and nut aroma. The milk chocolate around the generously sized (largely whole) almonds emitted a strong sweetness (from the base chocolate and the slightly crunchy candied honey and salt coating), as it melted and was eaten.

However, the sweetness receded markedly about half way through, and I enjoyed the natural tasting flavor and texture of the almonds—an authentic flavor that lingered, along with a trace of chocolate, in the finish.




Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Gelato Fiasco - Deep Maine Woods - Chocolate Gelato Smoky Caramel Swirl Honeycomb Candy - Oct. 17, 2018

Chocolate of the Day:

Gelato Fiasco
Deep Maine Woods - Chocolate Gelato Smoky Caramel Swirl Honeycomb Candy
Good+
Weight: 1/2 cup (100 g.) / 1 Pint (400 g.) total container
Calories: 210 calories in 1/2 cup (100 g.) serving
Cost: $2.99 for 1 container
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

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

This morning's Deep Maine Woods Chocolate Gelato Smoky Caramel Honeycomb Candy from Gelato Fiasco (Brunswick, ME) was sweet, chocolatey and rich, but, oddly, wasn't as objectionably sweet as it might have been. Higher-quality ingredients (deeper chocolate, bits of dark chocolate, smoky caramel, other flavors) helped balance the sweetness.

Is there any honey in your honeycomb candy? If not, you can always add some, drizzled over the top...And, speaking of over the top...I'd say this gelato might be for breakfast. But, what the heck, that's the way we live sometimes.

This was enjoyed in the early morning deep woods of my backyard. I could almost smell the wood smoke coming from a stone fireplace. I say "almost," because, sadly, fireplaces are discouraged (for air quality reasons) in our urban neighborhood. But, one can imagine.

Have a honey of a day.



Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Primal Kitchen - Dark Chocolate Almond bar with Grass-Fed Collagen bar - Oct. 16, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Primal Kitchen 
Dark Chocolate Almond bar made with grass-fed collagen bar
Good ?
Weight: .85 oz. (24 g.) / 1.7 oz. (48 g.) in total bar
Calories: 115 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $3.79 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA 
Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Honey Theme Week.

Today's Dark Chocolate Almond bar made with grass-fed collagen bar from Primal Kitchen (Oxnard, CA) was made with roasted almonds and pumpkin seeds and was enrobed in dark chocolate.

This honey-sweetened, paleo, gluten free and dairy free bar also contained grass-fed collagen that helped to boost the protein content (15 grams), and to give the bar a slightly transparent, glossy shine. 




Seitenbacher - Energy Bar Honey Almond Snack Bar - Oct. 15, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Seitenbacher GmbH
Energy Bar - Gluten Free - HoneyAlmond Snack Coated with German Chocolate bar
Good +
Weight: .9 oz. (25 g.) / 1.8 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 115 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $ missing information for 1 bar
Purchased from: missing information

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

Today's Honey Almond Snack Coated with German Chocolate bar was from Seitenbacher GmhH (made in Buchen, Germany).
The relatively light filling (almost fluffy for ground nuts and honey) was natural tasting and satisfying. While similar to marzipan in appearance, this center lacked the stronger "almond extract" taste (that some love and some don't). The coating added a touch of rich chocolate flavor.

Ingredients: Almonds, Honey, Chocolate (Brown Cane Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Whole Milk Powder, Cocoa, GMO Free Sunflower Lecithin.





Sunday, October 14, 2018

Natural Decadence - Gluten Free Chocolate Creamless Pie - Oct. 14, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Natural Decadence
Raised Gluten Free - Gluten Free Chocolate Creamless Pie
Good
Weight: 1.5 oz. (43 g.) / 6 oz. (170 g.) in total pie
Calories: 150 calories in 1 serving/piece of pie
Cost: $4.99 for 1 pie
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Hello and welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate and Honey Theme Week.

Today's Raised Gluten Free - Chocolate Creamless Pie was from Natural Decadence (Eureka, CA).

The chocolate pie filling, made with organic coconut milk, organic guar gum and other organic ingredients, including chocolate (with sugar and cocoa butter) and chocolate extract (that latter giving the pie a slight alcohol flavor tinge), cocoa nibs and vanilla. The filling was smooth and fairly creamy (without the dairy cream), as promised.

And yes, it did contain honey. It was the sweetener in the gluten free graham cracker crust.

This demure pie was just the right size to share with a small group—or for one or two people to enjoy over the course of a few days. I like smaller portion desserts. They allow people to comfortably sample a few different chocolate items at a time, and do side-by-side, comparison tastings.



Saturday, October 13, 2018

Endangered Species - Pumpkin Spice Almonds bar; Second Nature - Dark Chocolate Medley - Oct. 13, 2018

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

Endangered Species
Natural Dark Chocolate with Pumpkin Spice with Almonds 72% bar
Good
Weight: .75 oz. (21.25 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: ??? calories in 1/4 bar
Cost: $3.19 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #13 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week. Today I celebrated this day with two chocolate items.

It's October, officially the month to celebrate pumpkins and pumpkin spice, and today's Natural Dark Chocolate with Pumpkin Spice and Almonds 72% bar from Endangered Species Chocolate (Indianapolis, IN) seemed like a great choice. The dark chocolate was dark but smooth and the touch of spice was light and balanced. Almond pieces gave the bar a bit of texture.

The locally famous, annual Pumpkin Festival was under way today in Half Moon Bay, CA. And traffic was backed up for miles as city folk made their way over to this community nestled by the Pacific Ocean to view fields of pumpkins, purchase pumpkin-related items and enjoy pumpkin-related fun.

Thank goodness we have some open spaces left for local wildlife in the mountains that separate the cities and coast. Endangered Species Chocolate donates 10% of their net profits to conservation-related partners/causes. Each bar or chocolate item the company makes features an animal (or area) that may be threatened or endangered. (Today's bar was graced with an image of an Arctic Fox.)

One of the best things a chocolate consumer who care about such things can do is to be curious about supply chains and best practices when it comes to food and chocolate.

Second Nature Snacks Company
Dark Chocolate Medley
Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 12 oz. (340 g.) in total package
Calories: 160 calories in 1 oz. serving
Cost: $4.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #13 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week.

Today's Dark Chocolate Medley was from Second Nature (Madison Heights, MI). (It was one of several chocolate and nut and fruit and nut medley mixes the company offers.)

This blend contained small dark chocolate squares mixed with almonds, pecans and cashews.

It was an appealing, natural mix: not too sweet, and not too salty.
(It was also marketed as Gluten Free and Low in Sodium.)

Surprise. An hour after I wrote this, I discovered that I'd already had this mix several months ago, so I sampled a second chocolate today (above).

After 4,500 chocolates, it's sometimes difficult to remember which chocolates I have tried. (Thank goodness for giant Google spreadsheets, where I keep track of each and every one.)




Friday, October 12, 2018

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate - Candied Almond with Cinnamon 73% bar - Oct. 12, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate
Candied Almond with Cinnamon 73% Northerner Blend bar
Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2 oz. (56.6 g.) in total bar
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $7.20 for 1/2 bar
Purchased from: Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate (online order)

Welcome to Day #12 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week.

Today's Candied Almond with Cinnamon 73% Northerner Blend bar was crafted by Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate (Eureka, CA).

Packaging is the first level of a chocolate tasting experience. And in the case of Dick Taylor, seeing this bar was like coming back to an old friend. The duo behind Dick Taylor (Adam Dick and Dustin Taylor) has focused with great attention to detail on all aspects chocolatemaking, from outer packaging to the bar inside.

What a great bar to warm up an early fall morning.

This bar had an intriguing aroma, with a hint of malty nuttiness and faint fresh bread (freshly baked and toasted rye bread). This bar might pair quite nicely with a beer. (In fact, there is a note on the Dick Taylor website that suggested a Dick Kukmin IPA was enjoyed with this bar.)

Upon biting into the bar, one was greeted with sweetness and chocolate with flavor depth (with balanced stone fruit acidity and true cacao notes). A well-made bar will have few ingredients, but will have the multi-layered voice of a choir.

This four-ingredient bar (organic cacao, organic cane sugar, organic almonds and organic cinnamon) was relatively thin, making flavors very accessible. The flavorful dark chocolate (73% cacao) was interspersed with bits of finely chopped California almonds, "candied" with sugar and cinnamon.

The base chocolate, Dick Taylor's own Northerner Blend, was made from a combination of Madagascan and Brazilian cacao.



Thursday, October 11, 2018

tinyB Chocolate - Dark Chocolate Almond, Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate brigadeiros - Oct. 11, 2018

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

tinyB Chocolate
Four-piece box of Brigadeiros
1.) Dark Chocolate Almond - Good ++
2.) Coconut and Cream - Good
3.) Dark Chocolate and Sprinkles - Good ++
4.) Milk Chocolate and Milk Sprinkles - Good
Weight: 2.6 oz. (73.5 g.) in total box of 4 pieces
Calories: 240 calories (per tinyB) in 4 pieces 
Cost: $ N/A - gift/sample from tinyB Chocolate
Purchased from: Sample box was supplied by tinyB Chocolate 

Welcome to Day #11 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week. 

Today's box of brigadeiros from tinyB Chocolate (San Francisco, CA) were made in San Francisco, by Renata Stoica who was born in Brazil.

What is a brigadeiro? Think of this popular confection as a Brazilian cousin to the American chocolate truffle. Brigadeiros have a smooth, creamy texture, and no hard shell. (They are related to other Latin American confections that are carefully stirred and cooked in a pot on a stove.)

My favorites in this 4-piece box were the Dark Chocolate Almond (upper right in photo) and Dark Chocolate and Sprinkles (lower right in photo). The company also offers a variety of other tempting flavors, including Raspberry and White Chocolate, Cinnamon and Dark Chocolate, and Half Dark and Half Passion Fruit.

Eaten fresh they are creamy, sweet and wonderful. Store in the refrigerator to prolong life.

Ingredients for the base chocolate were: organic sugar, organic milk, organic butter, organic chocolate + flavor inclusions (most of which are organic).

barkthins - Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt - Oct. 10, 2018

Chocolate of the Day:

(Made for Ripple Brand Collective, LLC)
barkthins snacking chocolate
Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt
Good - Good+
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 4.7 oz. (133 g.) in total package
Calories: 220 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $4.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #10 of Chocolate and Almond Week.

Today's Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt barkThins were manufactured for Ripple Brand Collective, LLC (New York, NY).

These snack-size dark chocolate pieces were embedded with pieces of dry roasted almonds and seasoned with sea salt, as advertised. They were just the right size to share with family and friends or to take to a staff meeting at work.



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Hageland - 54% Cocoa Dark Chocolate with Almonds bar - Oct. 9, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Hageland
54% Cocoa Dark Chocolate with Almonds (bar)
Good+
Weight: 1.02 oz. (29 g.) / 10.5 oz. (300 g.) in total package
Calories: 150 calories in 2 pieces 
Cost: $3.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #9 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week.

Today's rather gigantic Hageland 54% Cocoa Dark Chocolate with Almonds bar was made in Belgium and was distributed in the U.S. by Sco Laden, LLC (Hayward, CA).

This bar was made with a short list of ingredients (no added "stuff"). It was not clear where the chocolate came from, but at this (low) consumer price, I'm guessing Africa. The chocolate was smooth and had a darker chocolate taste (a bit less sugar too, thank you) than other bars with cacao percentages in the 50s. And it had a relatively smooth, even finish with a very slight fruit acidity.

This large (and thick) bar might be good for baking, desserts and fondue, or as chocolate chunks for s'mores at a campfire. The thickness prevented overly fast consumption. It is not a bad thing to savor your chocolate more slowly; but you really have to get your molars around each bite to take off a piece. So, this may not be to everyone's liking.




Monday, October 8, 2018

Eating Evolved - Primal Chocolate Almond Sea Salt 72% bar with Organic Coconut Sugar - Oct. 8, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Eating Evolved
Primal Chocolate - Almond Sea Salt 72% Cacao bar (Made with Organic Coconut Sugar)
Good+ - Good ++
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2.5 oz. (71 g.) in total bar
Calories: 140 calories in 1 oz. (28 g.) of bar
Cost: $4.49 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Sprout's Farmers Market, Mountain View, CA

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

Today's Primal Chocolate Almond Sea Salt dark chocolate (72% cacao) bar was made by Eating Evolved (Setauket, NY).

First, I feel I need to make a few personal disclosures:
I prefer chocolate bars with five (or fewer) ingredients.*
I like a bar that can convey balanced sweetness with less sugar.
I believe "salt," if added, should not eclipse other flavors.
I will buy almost any chocolate item with a monkey on it.

This 72% cacao, coconut sugar sweetened dark bar resonated with the preferences mentioned above. It had smooth, authentic chocolate flavor, without a sugar buzz. It was dairy free, soy free, paleo, vegan, and organic. And while there was no explicit claim of this bar being gluten free, there were no gluten-containing ingredients listed on the label.

And, having a monkey on both label and bar did not hurt either.

*Today's bar contained five ingredients: organic cacao, organic coconut sugar, organic cacao butter, organic almonds, and Himalayan sea salt.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Skinny Dipped Almonds - Dark Chocolate Espresso - Oct. 7, 2018

Chocolate of the Day:

Skinny Dipped Almonds
Dark Chocolate Espresso
Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 3.5 oz. (99 g.) in total package
Calories: 150 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $4.49 for 1 package
Purchased from: Target Stores, Mountain View, CA

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

Today's Espresso Dark Chocolate Skinny Dipped Almonds were distributed by Wild Things Snacks, Inc. (Seattle, WA).

This offering was part of a family of Skinny Dipped Almonds—a re-imagined line-up of chocolate-coated nuts. A graphic on the back of the package showing a cross-section of these almonds (compared with traditional chocolate covered almonds) helps illustrate what Skinny Dipped means (less sugar, more almond).

These lightly roasted almonds, seasoned with a very light touch of maple sugar and sea salt, were covered with a thin (skinny) layer of dark chocolate and a very subtle sprinkle of espresso. They had a pleasant, relatively mild, natural aroma, flavor and crunchy texture.






Saturday, October 6, 2018

Skinny Dipped Almonds - Dark Chocolate Cocoa - Oct. 6, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Skinny Dipped Almonds
Dark Chocolate Cocoa
Good
Weight: .46 oz. (13 g.) in total small package
Calories: 70 calories in 1 small package
Cost: $ lost information
Purchased from: lost information
Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Almond Theme Week.

Today's Dark Chocolate Cocoa Skinny Dipped Almonds were distributed by Wild Things Snacks, Inc. (Seattle, WA). 

Sometimes you really just want a small serving of something on the go. This small, single serving packet was the perfect size for just such an occasion.

These almonds had a mild, pleasant cocoa aroma and a genuine raw, crunchy almond texture and flavor. The chocolate coating had a simpler, less artificial quality than other similar offerings. It lacked the thick, sweet chocolate covering topped off with high gloss confectioners glaze—as well as artificial flavors, colors and/or preservatives. Some will like this more natural approach, others may miss the extra chocolate and sugar.

The Non GMO Project Verified, gluten free and PPO free almonds were covered with "ethically sourced chocolate," topped off with a dark cocoa powder finish, and seasoned with a touch of maple sugar and sea salt. Go forth and be merry dear wild things.


Friday, October 5, 2018

Living Raw - Almond Avalanche Truffles - Oct. 5, 2018

Chocolate of the Day:

Living Raw
Almond Avalanche Truffles
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.59 oz. (45 g.) in 1 package of 3 truffles
Calories: 180 calories in 1 package of 3 truffles
Cost: $5.79 for 1 package of 3 truffles
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

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

This morning's Almond Avalanche Truffles were from Living Raw (Franklin, TN).

This package of three Organic, Raw, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Soy Free, Vegan and Paleo Friendly rounds were comprised of soft, almost velvety, chocolate truffle centers (organic cacao powder, cacao butter and coconut oil), and were coated in bits of toasted almond.

The truffles were sweetened with organic coconut nectar; and they were sweet without being overly so.





Thursday, October 4, 2018

Whole Foods Market - Dark Chocolate Bar with Almonds - Oct. 4, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Whole Foods Market
Organic Dark Chocolate Almonds 57% Cacao bar
Good
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.5 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 235 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $2.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Whole Foods Market, Los Altos, CA

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

Today's Organic Dark Chocolate Almonds 57% Cacao bar was purchased at a local Whole Foods Market (based in Austin, TX*).

A smooth, but somewhat flat**, Forastero-like**, organic dark chocolate base surrounded pieces of organic, dry roasted almonds and a touch of organic ground vanilla bean(s).

The bar was made with 90% Fair Trade Certified Ingredients and lacked emulsifiers and/or less desirable ingredients (thank you).

*Whole Foods Market is now part of Amazon.com.
** Forastero is a popular, robust variety of cacao with bold, dense dark flavor. The largest source of Forastero cacao beans is West Africa; but it is also grown in most other cacao-producing countries (Ecuador, Brazil and elsewhere). The dark flavor is a bit like gazing into a dense, dark, still jungle, full but flattened somehow—the jungle being so thick that no light (or in this case fruit or other flavor notes) are either present or able to shine through. 





Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Unreal Brands, Inc. - Dark Chocolate Almond Butter - Oct. 3, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Unreal Brands, Inc.
Dark Chocolate Almond Butter (Cup)
Good - Good +
Weight: .53 oz. (15 g.) in 1 cup
Calories: 80 calories in 1 cup
Cost: $0.99 for 1 cup
Purchased from: Sprouts Farmers Market, Mountain View, CA

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

Today's individually-wrapped, dark chocolate,* filled with an almond butter filling, was designed to be a healthier alternative to other chocolate candy offerings on the market. The single-serving packet provided a tasty, appealing petite treat.

*Ingredients included: dark chocolate, almond butter, organic powdered sugar, organic palm oil, organic blue agave inulin, organic coconut flour, salt, and sunflower lecithin.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Hayden Valley Foods - Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds - Oct. 2, 2018

Chocolate of the Day:

Hayden Valley Foods
Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds
Good
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 20 oz. (567 g.) in total package
Calories: 160 calories in 1 serving (approx. 8 pieces)
Cost: $5.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds were from Hayden Valley Foods (Columbus, OH). Whole almonds (with a lightly roasted flavor note) were surrounded by sweet, dark chocolate and, like most chocolate covered nuts, a shiny coat of confectioners glaze.

Cacao seeds (beans) come from a colorful, (American) football-shaped fruit that grows best twenty degrees above and below the Equator. Each cacao fruit holds enough seeds to make approximately one chocolate bar.

Almond seeds (nuts) come from stone fruits/drupes, that also grow on trees. However, almonds can be found in drier inland valleys in Mediterranean climates, such as California in the U.S. Each "fruit" produces just one almond, and each mature tree (depending on the type of almond) can produce hundreds of almonds—more than 40 pounds (640 oz.) in some cases—per year.

Regardless of confusion over nut and seed terminology, together, chocolate and almonds can be a tasty match. Almonds add a mild flavor and crunchy, nut texture, complementing smooth, creamy milk or dark chocolates.




Monday, October 1, 2018

Trader Joe's - ABC Bars - Almond Butter Cacao - Oct. 1, 2018

Chocolate of the Day: 

Trader Joe's
ABC Bars - Almond Butter Cocoa Bars
Good ++
Weight: 1.2 oz. (35 g.) / 7.4 oz. (210 g.) in total box/package of 6
Calories: 160 calories for 1 bar
Cost: $2.99 for 1 box/package of 6
Purchased from: Trader Joe's, San Francisco, CA

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

Today's box of six individually-wrapped ABC Bars - Almond Butter Cocoa Bars (flavored with other natural flavors) was from Trader Joe's (Monrovia, CA).

The bars were composed of a substantial, sweet and chewy chocolate "dough" and a soft almond butter filling. The outside had a subtle fig texture and sweetness and an almond extract flavor accent.





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