Thursday, January 17, 2019

Marana Craft Chocolate - San Martin Peru 80% Dark Chocolate bar - Jan. 17, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Marana Craft Chocolate
San Martin Peru 80% Dark Chocolate bar
Good
Weight: 1.25 oz. (35 g.) / 2.5 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 225 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $6.70 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com (online order)

Welcome to Day #14 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's Marana Craft Chocolate San Martin Peru 80% Dark Chocolate bar was made "in country" by Cacao Valley E.I.R.L. (Lima, Peru).

San Martin, located in north central Peru is one of 10 major cacao-growing regions in the country. This chocolate was made using the "Amazonica" variety of cacao beans from Tarapoto.

The bar had a pleasant aroma with green and fruit notes. The first bite yielded a bloom of flavor with more fruit acidity—and a slightly astringent (drying, almost granular) mouthfeel. The flavor was complex, fruity with faint green, sour milk and coconut notes.





Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Marana Craft Chocolate - 70% Piura Peru bar - Jan. 16, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Marana Craft Chocolate
70% Piura Peru bar
Good
Weight: 1.25 oz. (35 g.) / 2.5 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 213.15 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $6.70 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com (online order)

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

Today's organic, Marana Craft Chocolate 70% Piura Peru bar was produced by Cacao Valley E.R.L. in Lima, Peru.

The company's Piura "collection is made from the finest variety of "blanco" cacao beans, grown in the fertile valleys of Alta Piura." These beans yielded a great fruity tasting 80% Piura Peru bar yesterday, and a similar, slightly sweeter 70% Piura Peru sibling today with balanced red fruit (cherry) and citrus (tangelo-to-tangerine) notes.

Tasting notes on the package read: "This chocolate boasts a huge personality, offering an...experience dominated by fruity citrus notes."

Ingredients: Organic cacao mass, organic sugar and organic cacao butter



Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Marana Craft Chocolate - 80% Piura Peru bar - Jan. 15, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Marana Craft Chocolate
80% Piura Peru bar
Good +
Weight: 1.25 oz. (35 g.) / 2.5 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 225.4 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $7.85 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com (online order)

Welcome to Day #12 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week(s).

Today's attractively packaged, 80% Piura Peru bar from Marana Craft Chocolate was made in Peru (produced by Cacao Valley E.I.R.L.).

Bars labeled as 80% cacao or over are generally more bold and deep dark in flavor. However, today's 80% Piura Peru bar was relatively cheerful for an 80%-er. This chocolate was fruit-sweet (red fruit, cherry), with a very faint (balanced) red fruit-acetic acid (vinegar) note.

*Piura is a city, region and province in northwestern Peru, approximately 5 degrees south of the Equator. Piura is also one of of the top 10 cacao growing regions in this South American country. 

Marana Craft Chocolate offers bars made with Cusco from at least three of these ten regions: Cusco, Piura and San Martin.




Monday, January 14, 2019

Spencer Chocolate - 70% Dark Chocolate bar - Jan. 14, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Spencer Chocolate
70% Dark Chocolate Peru Bean to Bar
Good
Weight: 1.05 oz. (29.5 g.) / 2.1 oz. (59 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $7.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com (online order)

Welcome to Day #10 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's 70% Dark Chocolate Peru Spencer Chocolate bar was manufactured by Annie's Goodies...Naturally, LLC (Portland, OR).

The company is a small, family-owned operation and was, at last check, producing at least four single origin bars (containing cacao from a unique country), including this bar made with Peruvian cacao. (They also feature their dog, Spencer, on the packaging.)

The well-tempered, three ingredient* bar had faint notes of dried fruit (cherry), and a slight astringency.

*Ingredients: cacao, sugar, cocoa butter

Chocolate Always - 85% Cacao Dark Chocolate Bar - Jan. 13, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chocolate Always
85% Cacao Dark Chocolate Bar Health Lover's Affair bar
Good
Weight: .875 oz. (25 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 150 calories in 1/4 bar
Cost: $0.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #10 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's 85% Cacao Dark Chocolate ("Health Lover's Affair"), Bean to Bar at The Source bar was made in Peru for Chocolate Always (Weston, FL) and had relatively even, dark chocolate flavor.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Chocolate Always - 70% Cacao with Raisins & Almonds Organic Dark Chocolate Bar - Jan. 12, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chocolate Always
70% Cacao with Raisins and Almonds Organic Dark Chocolate Bar
Good - Good +
Weight: .875 oz. (25 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 150 calories in 1/4 bar
Cost: $ missing information 
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's 70% Cacao with Raisins and Almonds Organic Dark Chocolate Bar was made in Peru for Chocolate Always (Weston, FL).

This dark chocolate bar contained bits of roasted almonds and organic raisins that added pleasing crunchy texture and dried fruit notes to a smooth dark base.

Bloom gloom
Apologies for the photo of the bar. I hesitate showing any bar that has some slight white discoloration or "bloom" on it. People work hard to make bean-to-bar (or any) chocolate and to deliver chocolate to consumers, but temperature fluctuations in transit can wreak havoc on appearances.

This discoloration did not really affect the flavor. And if you buy chocolate, it is inevitable that you'll open bars that have experienced a momentary encounter that caused separation of ingredients (or change in cacao butter crystal structure) after sitting in the bright sunlight on a loading dock or in a truck or storage area. This can happen anywhere in the 1,000+ mile journey a bar might have traveled to get to a store near me. (Expiration date was in May 2019, so age was not a factor.)

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Venchi - 85% Organic Lamas - Sisa bar - Jan. 11, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Venchi S.p.A
85% Organic Lamas - Sisa bar
Good 
Weight: 1.23 oz. (35 g.) / 2.46 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 226.1 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $8.95 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com (online order)

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

Today's 85% Organic Lamas - Sisa bar was from Venchi S.p.A (Castelletto Stura, Cuneo (CN), Italy) was made with cacao grown in the Lamas District, Lamas Province, in the San Martin Region, in northern Peru.

This Venchi bar came with two easy-to-decipher visual scores printed on the packaging. It showed us that this bar was rated a 2 on a scale of 5 for Intensity, and 3 out of 4 on a scale for Aromaticity.*

This rating system might be helpful to buyers, but without knowing what other chocolate bars they are comparing this to, it loses some of its utility. For example, this bar was way more intense than a blander commercially popular bar and still was fairly bold and acidic. (I wondered what a 5 would be like on this scale.)

The organic and gluten free deep, dark, slightly acidic bar had a slightly reddish color. It had an even, deep roast "feeling," a smooth cocoa butter** melt and texture and an even, dark flavor.

There was, surprisingly, a fleeting floral note. (The maker's tasting notes read as follows: "Note(s) of white flower, dried fruit and honey.") The floral note was surprising because, generally, smooth dark flavor and texture in an ultra-dark bar like this comes from longer conching/grinding times and the addition of lots of cocoa butter, meaning that more volatile floral notes are usually lost or masked in the process.

*Aromaticity is a term that refers to the properties of an organic compound that gives off an aroma. More specifically, this term is used in organic chemistry to describe certain molecules that have a "ring of resonance bonds" that exhibit more stability than found in other configurations.

**Ingredients: organic cocoa mass (from Peru), organic cocoa butter, organic cane sugar

Shattell - 70% Dark Cacao Saposoa bar - Jan. 10, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 
Shattell Chocolate Organico
70% Dark Cacao Saposoa Single Origin Peruvian Chocolate bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.23 oz. (35 g.) / 2.46 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 250 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $5.95 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com, online order

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

Today's organic, 70% Dark Cacao Saposoa Single Origin bar was crafted from Criollo Cacao grown in Saposoa, Peru—an area of Northern Peru in the San Martin Region.

This bar (like other Shattell Peru bars featured this week) had a fairly complex aroma and flavor profile, with dark chocolate, subtle fruit (sweet red berry, citrus), light spice, nutty, and acetic acid (vinegar) notes. The chocolate had a relatively complex finish with some herb to it. The melt and texture was smooth and fairly rich and cacao butter-y.





Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Shattell - Bitter 70% Cacao San Rafael, Peru bar - Jan. 9, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Shattell Chocolate Organico
Bitter 70% cacao - Cacao San Rafael bar
Good
Weight: 1.2 oz. (35 g.) / 2.4 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 206 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $5.95 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com (online order)

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

Today's Bitter 70% cacao - Cacao San Rafael bar was from Shattell Chocolate Organico (Lima, Peru).

This made in-country (grown and made in Peru) organic bar had a sweet dark aroma with hints of faint spice, herb and earth—and an
acetic acid (light fruit vinegar) flavor note that also has been present with other Shattell single region Peru bars featured this week.

*San Rafael, from what I could tell from some brief research, is located near two other cacao growing regions (Cusco and Arequipa) in southeastern Peru. 







Shattell - Bitter 70% - Cacao Tingo Maria Peru bar - Jan. 8, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

Shattell Chocolate Organico
Bitter 70% cacao - Cacao Tingo Maria bar
Good - Good+
Weight: 1.2 oz. (35 g.) / 2.4 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 206 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $5.95 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com (online order)

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

Today's Bitter 70% cacao - Cacao Tingo Maria bar was from Shattell Chocolate Organico (Lima, Peru).

Made in Peru, from cacao grown in the Tingo Maria (Huanuco Region of central Peru), this organic bar was one of a series of Shattell 70% dark single region Peruvian bars, many of which are featured this week. Most have contained only three ingredients* with complex flavor profiles.

This bar had a pleasant aroma with light brown sugar, molasses and spice notes, and a smooth texture and melt. The flavor of the bar unfolded in a relatively smooth way and included very brief, balanced nut and earth notes. The finish was relatively smooth with a very, very faint acetic acid** and/or astringent note.

*Ingredients in Tingo Maria bar: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter

**Vinegar/acetic acid is a natural bi-product of the cacao fermentation process that takes place early on in the chocolate-making process, right after harvest. In most cases, this flavor is no longer present in bars. And, in fact, even with these Shattell bars, this note tends to dissipate after opening the sealed packaging.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Shattell Chocolate Organico - Bitter 70% Cacao Tarapoto Maras Pink Salt bar - Jan. 7, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Shattell Chocolate Organico
Bitter 70% cacao - Cacao Tarapoto Maras Pink Salt bar
Good - Good+
Weight: 1.2 oz. (35 g.) / 2.4 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 206 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $5.95 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com (online order)

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

Today's Bitter 70% cacao - Cacao Tarapoto Maras Pink Salt bar was from Shattell Chocolate Organico, an "artisan chocolate factory in Lima, Peru."

This 70% cacao bar was made from Peruvian cacao grown in Tarapoto (San Martin Region), and it had brown sugar, green, dried fruit, deep smooth earth and a slight fruit vinegar/acetic acid aroma notes (that dissipated after the package was open for awhile).

A faint constellation of sea salt crystals were pressed into back of the dark bar; and the salt was nicely balanced and subtle.

*Maras pink salt is typically excavated near Cusco, in southern Peru.


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Shattell Chocolate Organico - Bitter 70% Cacao Tumbes bar - Jan. 6, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Shattell Chocolate Organico
Bitter 70% cacao - Cacao Tumbes bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.2 oz. (35 g.) / 2.4 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 206 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $5.95 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com (online order)

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

Today's Bitter 70% cacao - Cacao Tumbes bar was from Shattell Chocolate Organico* (Lima, Peru). And like other Shattell bars featured this week, the cacao used to make the bar was grown in a specific region within Peru.

It's notable, if not obvious, that the chocolate was made "in-country" (i.e. in the same country where the cacao was grown ), as this is rarely the case for the chocolate we buy in the U.S. and Europe.

Tumbes, located on the coast in the NW of the country, is one of 10 cacao growing regions in Peru—a country with diverse micro-climates and elevations ranging from coastal areas just meters above sea level to highland, mountainous regions. This week bars are being featured from several of these regions.

This 70% organic, dark chocolate had a complex aroma and flavor—with notes of dried fruit, spice, nuts, and a faint trace of fruit acid/vinegar.** This Tumbes bar had a relatively pleasing taste during middle and end, with a very slight astringent after-texture.

*This week's Shattell Chocolate Organico bars were produced and distributed by Qulinaria Peru S.A.C.

**The faint, fleeting fruit vinegar note seemed to dissipate later in the day, after the sealed, inner packaging had been open for awhile and/or when the bar was eaten with/after other food.


Saturday, January 5, 2019

Shattell Chocolate Organico - Bitter 70% Cacao Ayacucho bar - Jan. 5, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Shattell Chocolate Organico
Bitter 70% cacao - Cacao Ayacucho bar
Good
Weight: 1.2 oz. (35 g.) / 2.4 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 206 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $5.95 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com (online order)

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

Today's Shattell Chocolate Organico Bitter 70% cacao - Cacao Ayacucho* bar was crafted from Peruvian Criollo cacao and made in Peru. It was produced and distributed by Qulinaria, Peru S.A.C. (Lima, Peru).

This organic, 2016 International Chocolate Awards Gold Winner chocolate bar had a slightly earthy aroma, with hints of dried figs and a smooth but somewhat granular melt and texture.

The flavor was consistent with the aroma, and the finish lingered a bit after the last bite.

*Ayacucho is one of 10 Peruvian regions that grow cacao. 

The city of Ayacucho is a relatively high-altitude (over 8,600 ft.) city in south-central Peru that lies on the fertile slopes of the Andes mountains. It is also the capital city of Huamanga Province, in the Ayacucho Region. The city is known for its colonial architecture and 33 churches, each said to signify a year in Christ's life. Small folk-art, clay churches (said to help ward away evil spirits) also adorn some buildings.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Pascha Chocolate - 46% Cacao Orange bar - Jan. 4, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Pascha Organic Chocolate / Pascha Chocolate Co.
46% Cacao Orange bar
Good
Weight: .55 oz. (15 g.) / 1.1 oz. (30 g.) in total bar
Calories: 90 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $1.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: The Market (at Edgewood), Palo Alto, CA 
Welcome to the first day of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's 46% Cacao Orange bar from Pascha Organic Chocolate (Toronto, Ontario) was made with organic rice milk and Peruvian cacao.

Co-founder, Simon Lester, had two daughters with food allergies, which helped inspired Lester and his wife to create Pascha Chocolate Co. bars.

Like other Pascha bars, this organic, vegan, plant-based bar was free of most common allergens (nuts, peanuts, wheat, gluten, milk, dairy, soy, eggs, sesame). The Orange bar tasted like a sweet milk chocolate bar with a hint of natural orange (oil).*

*Ingredients: organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, organic rice milk powder (rice syrup, rice starch, rice flour), organic chocolate liquor, sunflower lecithin, orange oil



Thursday, January 3, 2019

Chuao Chocolatier - ooh aah almond - Crunchy whole almonds bar - Jan. 3, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chuao Chocolatier
ooh aah almond - Crunchy whole almonds bar 
Good
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 2.8 oz. (80 g.) in total bar
Calories: 220 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $5.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA 
Welcome to the last day (Day #9) of Crunchy Chocolate Theme Week.

This morning's ooh aah almond - Crunchy whole almonds...bar was from Chuao Chocolatier (Carlsbad, CA).

Everything about this bar was crunchy. Each bite broke off with a crunchy snap and the whole almonds kettle cooked in sugar and sea salt were crunchy. The packaging was fun. If you have a sweets craving with some flavor, this might be your bar.

The 60% dark chocolate bar was on the sweeter side. If you prefer a bolder chocolate and/or more unadulterated nut experience, you might favor a darker bar with less sugar. 




Wednesday, January 2, 2019

free2b - Chocolate Crunch - Chocolate and Crisply Rice bar - Jan. 2, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

free2b Foods
Chocolate Crunch - Chocolate and Crispy Rice bar
Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2 oz. (57 g.) in total bar
Calories: 145 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $3.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #8 of Crunchy Chocolate Theme Week. This deluxe "week" started in Dec. 2018 and has continued into 2019.*

This Chocolate Crunch - Chocolate and Crispy Rice bar from free2b Foods (Boulder, CO) was free of several common allergens, including nuts, dairy, gluten and soy, and was made in a dedicated facility, and was Non-GMO Project Verified.

The thick, segmented chocolate bar broke with a hard snap and had a fairly authentic sweet milk chocolate flavor. It was full of crisp rice which added a crunchy texture.

* Chocolate Banquet bends the laws of time, space and common space once again. Chocolate themed weeks frequently exceed a conventional 7-day week period.






Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Cosmik Ice Cream - Mexican Chocolate Chip - Jan. 1, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Cosmik LLC
Cosmik Ice Cream - Mexican Chocolate Chip
Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) in 1 bar/serving
Calories: 155 calories in 1 bar/serving 
Cost: $4.95 for 1 package
Purchased from: REI, Mountain View, CA 

Happy New Year, and welcome to the first day of 2019—and Day #7 of Crunchy Chocolate Theme Week.

Which organic, chocolate confections are most ready to eat and ready for adventure? Given that chocolate is a great food for explorers of all types, that may be a tough question to answer. Less messy are more portable are often criteria when choosing chocolate on the go.

Today's Mexican Chocolate Chip freeze-dried ice cream from Cosmik LLC (Margaretville, NY) certainly qualifies for consideration. This bar of premium, organic, freeze-dried ice cream had superior flavor and texture than previous freeze-dried ice creams we remember from ancient backpacking and camping trips. 

The freeze-dried ice cream* was, like its progenitors, sealed in an air-tight pouch to preserve freshness (and would be prone to breakage if heavier items were dropped upon it). However, the fresh cream and light chocolate and cinnamon notes signaled something better, especially in the embedded, flavor-rich small chocolate spiced chunks/chips.

This dessert was paired with "Crunchies" freeze-dried mixed fruit pieces (bananas, strawberries and blueberries) that also had a light airy crunch and natural flavors. It was a fairly cold, winter day; however, this festively cool dessert, strangely, helped keep us warm.

*Freeze-dried ice creams debuted in the later half of the 1900s, and were marketed to backpackers and hikers, and to those wanting to store food for long periods without refrigeration. In some cases, the resulting lightweight shards tasted more like foamed, dried sugar than ice cream. However, freeze-dried foods including ice creams, developed when men were first launched into space, were a novelty when they first appeared. And they reduce the weight of a backpack by several precious pounds during a long trek.

May all your 2019 adventures be sweet ones.

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