Saturday, May 18, 2019

JonnyPops - Cold Press Coffee, Chocolate and Cream Pops - May 18, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

JonnyPops LLC
Coffee Chocolate and Cream pops
Good ++
Weight: 1.55 fl. oz. (45.8 g.) / 9.3 fl. oz. (275 g.) in total box of 6 junior pops
Calories: 90 calories in 1 junior pop
Cost: $3.39 (estimate) for 1 box of 6 junior pops
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate, Coffee and Vanilla Theme Week.

Today's Coffee Chocolate and Cream Pops were from JonnyPops LLC (St. Louis Park/Minneapolis, MN).

The company, founded by four Minnesota college students, offers a variety of fruit and cream, and chocolate and cream, flavors in their frozen treat line. The founders are committed to a simple ingredient list and avoiding artificial ingredients in their pops.

Made with cold press coffee made at their manufacturing facility (cold press coffee is the first ingredient listed) and real (heavy) cream, today's cream pops were in fact creamy smooth and rich with authentic mocha latte flavor in every bite. A hint of vanilla helped give these a light and sweet flavor without being too sugary.

JonnyPop's frozen treats are gluten-free, kosher certified and peanut-free. (Products are made in a peanut-free facility and, other than coconut in some flavors, these cream pops are nut-free as well.)

These cream bars were "junior"* pop size, which were great if you just want a smidge of tasty, creamy fun without spoiling your appetite for dinner.

After the pop is eaten, you'll find a good deed oriented message printed on each stick. Co-founder and CEO Eric Brust is quoted as saying: "We believe that every act of kindness—no matter how big or small—goes a long way." (We appreciate that sentiment.)

*It's not clear if this smaller, junior pop, size is still available in stores. All other (standard-sized) flavors we saw came packaged 3 to a box.







Donnelly Chocolates - Almond Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich, Dark Chocolate Coffee Caramel - May 17, 2019

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Donnelly Chocolates

Dark Chocolate Coffee Caramel (bar)
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.6 oz. (45 g.) in 1 large piece
Calories: unknown
Cost: $6.00 for 1 large caramel

Dark Chocolate with Vanilla Ice Cream Almonds (ice cream bar)
Good - Good +
Weight: unknown
Calories: unknown
Cost: $6.00 for 1 ice cream bar
Purchased from: Donnelly Chocolates, Santa Cruz, CA

Welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate, Coffee and Vanilla Theme Week. The hunt for these three flavors led to Santa Cruz, CA.

Today's mini-bar sized Dark Chocolate Coffee Caramel and Dark Chocolate Vanilla Ice Cream and Almonds ice cream bar were created by Donnelly Chocolates (Santa Cruz, CA).

Thank you to Nick for counter assistance at Donnelly's and help in finding and selecting these two deluxe-sized chocolate, coffee and vanilla offerings, also known as dinner.

The Dark Chocolate Caramel bar was filled with everything you'd expect to find. The coffee flavor harmonized well with the dark chocolate, and the soft, caramel filling. The coffee helped balance the sweetness.

Now, on to the next course in this chocolate dinner. The vanilla ice cream in this Dark Chocolate Vanilla Almonds ice cream bar was from Marianne's Ice Cream (another local Santa Cruz, CA, sweets favorite). This tasty bar was a satisfying, cut above your standard store-bought ice cream bar for sure.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Chapon Chocolatier - Dark Chocolate Venezuela bar - May 16, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chapon Chocolatier
(aka Chocolat Chapon)
Chocolat Noir D'Origine Venezuela (bar)
Good +++
Weight: 1.325 oz. (37.5 g.) / 2.65 oz. (75 g.) in total bar
Calories: 208 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $14.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

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

This morning's Chocolat Noir (Dark Chocolate) (D'Origine) Venezuela bar was from Chapon Chocolatier (Chelles, France with shops in Paris). Chapon is the creation of Patric Chapon.*

In addition to cocoa mass (from Venezuela), cocoa butter and cane sugar, this chocolate bar also contained a barely-there hint of Guerande sea salt.

This bar had a subtle chocolatey aroma and balanced forest floor/earth and light spice notes.
It had a smooth, almost creamy melt and texture and smooth dark chocolate flavor with a hint of nuttiness.

The chocolatier's notes read: "Tres belle couleur acajou, parfum de sous-bois, fueilles morte a l'automne, texture fondante, gout de fruits des bois, fruits rouges."

Translated from French into English (apologies for any errors) this means: Very beautiful mahogony color, aroma of forest floor (leaves, mushroom), autumn leaves, fondante texture, taste of wild forest fruits (berries), red fruits."

Both Chapon Venezuela bars this week (yesterday's robust Rio Caribe Venezuela 100 percent bar, and today's Venezuela (no percent given) bar) were attractive. They both had a glossy sheen and were well tempered (broke with a snap).

And when using the term attractive, it's impossible not to speak about Chapon's wonderful packaging design imagery. Both bars incorporated (different) vintage fantasy landscape elements evoking exotic places. Yesterday it was pink flamingos in the tropics against a pink sunset. Today, it was a tall, majestic bamboo temple in a lush, vertical jungle...all printed on a robustly sealed silver, but easy to open, pouch.

*Translated from French into English (again, apologies for any translation errors) was this message from Patrice Chapon printed on the back of today's bar: 

"I love above all things to work with chocolate, and beware of the word passion. Chocolate occupies a prime place in the gourmet landscape. The chocolate bar embodies a dream of a desire, within each square piece. With this bar, I'm looking to nourish childhood memories more than just the appetite."




Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Chapon Chocolatier - Rio Caribe Venezuela 100% bar - May 15, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chapon Chocolatier
Pure Origin Rio Caribe, Venezuela 100% cocoa bar
Good +++ - Very Good
Weight: 1.325 oz. (37.5 g.) / 2.65 oz. (75 g.) in total bar
Calories: 208 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $15.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

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

Today's Pure Origin Rio Caribe Venezuela 100% bar was from Chapon Chocolatier (Chelles and Paris, France).


This bar had a bold, intriguing aroma with dried, fermented fruit, roasted coffee, light earthy forest and light nutty notes. The melt and texture were creamy.

And, surprisingly, the acid (and acidic fruit) levels was lower than expected and the flavor was balanced and satisfying, incorporating many of the same notes as were in the aroma (roasted coffee, light kindling wood. It was a very smooth,  deep, still and slightly bitter chocolate. With no added sweet (thank you for making this!).

The chocolatier's tasting notes read as follows: "Aromatic power, low acidity, bitterness and astringency medium. From Venezuela, this bar of chocolate reveals notes of dried fruits and wood."

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Rozsavolgyi Csokolade - Porcelana cacao criollo Venezuela bar - May 14, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

Rozsavolgyi Csokolade
Porcelana cacao criollo Venezuela 71% bar
Good +++
Weight: 1.235 oz. (35 g.) / 2.47 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 186 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $20.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

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

Today's Porcelana criollo cacao Venezuela 71% bar was from Rozsavolgyi Csokolade (Budapest, Hungary).

This three-ingredient* bar had a pleasing, balanced, complex yet rather delicate, dark aroma with a very faint brown butter note. The flavor had chocolate, light fruit (peach, champagne grape, light berry) and earthy, forest floor notes.

Earthiness is a tough flavor element to manage, and the presence of this note often goes back to fermentation (which the maker may not have been present for). Too much earth is too much, but this was handled quite nicely.

*Ingredients: cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter

Monday, May 13, 2019

Fresco - Limited Release Carupano Pintao Venezuela 72 percent bar - May 13, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

Fresco Artisan Chocolate
Limited Release Carupano Pintao Venezuela 72% bar
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: .9 oz. (25 g.) / 1.8 oz. (50 g.) (estimate) in total bar
Calories: 140 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $16.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

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

At the beginning of this theme week, we talked about the potentially short lives of craft chocolate bars based on annual harvests (similar to wine) at smaller plantations and possible fluctuating circumstances in source countries themselves. Bars made from a small batch or harvest that are here today may be unavailable tomorrow. Makers successfully obtain a small batch of great cacao beans, but after that quantity is used up, that may be it.

Today's Limited Release Carupano Pintao Venezuela 72 percent bar was from Fresco Artisan Chocolate (Lynden, WA). The cacao for this bar was lightly roasted and had a "subtle conch."

The chocolate had a pleasant chocolate aroma with dried fruit, browned butter, very light spice and very faint green notes. The flavor was chocolatey with dried fruit and some earthiness.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Idilio Origins - Trinchera 74% Las Trincheras, Venezuela bar - May 12, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Idilio Origins GmbH
Trinchera 74% (cacao) Las Trincheras, Venezuela bar
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 2.8 oz. (80 g.) in total bar
Calories: 235 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $16.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

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

Today's "Trinchera 74% (cacao), 48 hour traditional conche, Las Trincheras, Venezuela" bar was from Idilio Origins GmbH Premium Swiss Chocolate (Basel, Switzerland).

This bar had a pleasant chocolately aroma and flavor with faint balanced earth, green, nutty and fruit notes. 

Maker's tasting notes read: ripe banana; mild, earthy notes; and tropical wood; a wisp of vanilla.

Yes, vanilla. So true. I missed that. The ingredients list: cocoa, cane sugar and cocoa butter. No vanilla listed. But the flavor note was there.







L'Amourette Chocolatier - Wild Cacao Single Origin Venezuela 75% bar - May 11, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

L'Amourette Chocolatier
Wild Cacao Single Origin Venezuela 75% bar
Good ++
Weight: 1.1 oz. (31 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories in 1 oz. of bar
Cost: $7.99 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: missing information

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

Today's Wild Cacao Single Origin Venezuela 75% bar was from L'Amourette Chocolatier (San Francisco, CA).

L'Amourette's description of the wild cacao used for this bar read as follows:

"The special cacao beans from which this bar is made sets is apart from our other bars. The Amazonas cacao originates from the same area of South Venezuela as the original Criollo cacao, in the rainforest close to the source of the Orinoco River. Here, during the rainy season, the indigenous Piaroa people harvest the cacao deep in the jungle. It takes two days to transport it by canoe to the nearest road. A subtle note of burnt caramel defines the wild Amazonas cacao beans; it gives our 75% dark chocolate depth and an intricate flavor."

This bar* did indeed have a dark chocolate aroma with a hint of burnt caramel. The chocolate also had a balanced flavor blend of chocolate and light sweet and tart fruit notes.

* There was only three ingredients in this soy-free, gluten-free and vegan bar: Venezuelan cacao beans (Amazonas), Venezuelan cacao butter and organic cane sugar.

Friday, May 10, 2019

L'Amourette Chocolatier - Trinitario Single Origin Venezuela Trincheras 70% bar - May 10, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

L'Amourette Chocolatier
Trinitario Single Origin Venezuela Trincheras 70% bar
Good
Weight: 1.1 (31 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories in 1 serving of bar
Cost: $7.99 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: missing information

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

Today's Trinitario Single Origin Venezuela Trincheras* 70% cacao bar** was from bean-to-bar maker,  L'Amourette Chocolatier (San Francisco, CA).

This soy and gluten free, and vegan, bar had a dark chocolate aroma with dried fruit, and very faint bitter, citrus notes. And it had a relatively uniform bold dark chocolate flavor with dried fruit notes with hints of grapefruit and a slight earthiness.

*Trincheras, Venezuela, is located in a small mountain valley, and has a history of coffee and cacao production. The description printed on the packaging of today's bar explains that the name "Trincheras" came from clay trenches that were used for cacao fermentation.

**Ingredients: Trinitario cacao beans (Trincheras), Venezuelan cacao butter, Organic cane sugar

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Bisou Chocolate - "Nibs" Chuao 87% Dark Chocolate bar - May 9, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Bisou Chocolate
"Nibs" Chuao 87% Dark Chocolate bar
Good - Good +
Weight: .5 oz. (14 g.) / 1 oz. (28 g.) total bar
Calories: 75 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $7.00 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bisou Chocolate, online order

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

Today's "Nibs" Chuao 87% Dark Chocolate bar was made, from bean-to-bar, by Bisou Chocolate (Berkeley/Oakland, CA).

The company makes attractively-packaged, single origin bars (and truffles) and primarily sells their chocolates at local Bay Area Farmers Markets.

This chocolate was made with cacao grown in the Chuao region of Venezuela, known for its fine flavor beans*. This bar had a relatively friendly and complex flavor profile for ultra-dark 87% cacao chocolate. It did have some rustic elements as well—tiny revelations of cacao fermentation notes (think wine grapes turning into wine) in the smooth dark base and the embedded nibs—which gave the bar a soft crunchy texture.

Ingredients: Cocoa beans, organic whole cane sugar, cocoa butter

*Cacao seeds (semillas de cacao) actually; but we call them cacao beans here as that is the term mostly commonly used in North America.




Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Dandelion Chocolate - 70% Mantuano, Venezuela 2016 Harvest bar - May 8, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Dandelion Chocolate
70% Mantuano, Venezuela 2016 Harvest bar
Good +++ - Very Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 2 oz. (56 g.) in total bar
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $ N/A - gift 
Purchased from: N/A - gift

Buenas dias y bienvenido a (good day and welcome to) Chocolate and Venezuela Theme Week.

Venezuela has produced some of the best cacao in South America in the past. We hope that present economic troubles will resolve and that cacao varieties and farms will not be lost as things work themselves out there. Given the present circumstances, it is with great appreciation that we feature several single origin bars made with cacao grown in Venezuela this week.

Today's 70% Mantuano, Venezuela bar was made crafted by Dandelion Chocolate (San Francisco, CA), and was received as a gift. (Thank you Mike and Donna!)

The makers at Dandelion describe this Mantuano, Venezuela 2-ingredient* bar as being chocolatey with mild spice notes; and they provided the following origin story printed on their packaging:

"The beans are fermented and dried by the Flor de Mantuano co-op in northern Venezuela (that was founded in 2008). Minda (a Dandelion employee) loves the cocoa and coffee flavors we find in these beans year after year. In this bar, we taste notes of classic dark chocolate, roasted almonds, and espresso."

Our tasting found this bar to have a pleasing, dark chocolate aroma with light spice and a hint of green. The flavor had dried fruit notes, and pulses of rich and chocolatey taste (baked brownies). The chocolate was was uniformly delicious with a light, lingering finish.

Sadly, this bar made with 2016 Harvest cacao is no longer available on the Dandelion website—unless you buy it as part of a Dandelion Chocolate 2017 Collection box. But after this collection sells out, you may have missed the opportunity to try this chocolate.

*Ingredients: Cocoa beans and cane sugar





Tuesday, May 7, 2019

High Road Craft Ice Cream - Cherry Almond Chip Ice Cream - May 7, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

High Road Craft Ice Cream
Cherry Almond Chip ice cream
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1/2 cup (107 g.) / 1 Pint (473 mL) in total container
Calories: 250 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $1.99 for 1 container
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

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

Cherry Almond Chip ice cream was from High Road Craft Ice Cream (Marietta, GA). The product packaging indicates this ice cream was designed and made by chefs.*

The rich (16% butterfat) ice cream was good. It was more delicate and flavorful than many bulk commercial ice creams. It was flavored with dark, sweet cherry pieces; roasted, praline almond bits; small, soft dark chocolate chunks; and vanilla.

There was also a very faint coconut* flavor note, but there was no coconut listed in the ingredients.

It contained vegetable gums as stabilizers but otherwise no artificial or superfluous items that we could detect.

*CEO and Founder of High Road Craft Brands (and Ciao Bella Gelato Co.), Keith Schroeder, is also a chef.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Health Lab - Choc Cherry Collagen Ball - May 6, 2019

Chocolate of the Day; 

Health Lab
Choc Cherry Collagen Ball
Good +
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) in 1 ball
Calories: 170 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $0.69 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's Choc Cherry Collagen Ball was made in Australia for Health Lab (Melbourne, Australia).

This ball had a soft, relatively moist chew and was full of balanced, natural-tasting flavors.*

The first ingredient was dates. And too much date can sometimes create a saturated fruit, sweet acidity that can be too much. However, pumpkin seeds, collagen (marine) protein, and nuts (almonds and cashews) helped balance the acidity from dates, cherries and cacao in an unexpectedly satisfying way.

A chocolate with added protein and a little fat—and less (or no) sugar—often gives us this satisfied feeling. And this gluten-free ball contained 7.3 mg of protein and contained no added sugar (thank you!).

Ingredients: Dates, pumpkin seeds, hydrolyzed marine collagen (fish); sour cherries, organic coconut, almonds, cashew nuts, organic raw cacao, organic coconut oil, natural "choc" flavor, sea salt.



Sunday, May 5, 2019

The Market's Tart Cherry and Hazelnut bark - May 5, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

The Market at Edgewood
The Market's Tart Cherry and Hazelnut bark
Good+
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.45 g.) / 13.28 oz. (375.82 g.) in total container
Calories: 225 calories (estimate) in 1.5 oz. serving
Cost: $14.10 for 1 container of pieces
Purchased from: The Market at Edgewood, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's The Market's Tart Cherry and Hazelnut Bark from The Market at Edgewood (Palo Alto, CA) was made with smooth, and not too sweet (thank you!), dark chocolate seasoned with pieces of dried, tart cherries and whole hazelnuts.

The darker chocolate (percent not listed) in these slabs of bark helped balance the concentrated tart sweetness of the cherries. And the hazelnuts paired very nicely with both the dark chocolate and the cherries.


NibMor - Dark Chocolate Bites with Tart Cherries - May 4, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

NibMor Inc.
Dark Chocolate Bites with Tart Cherries
Good
Weight: 1.8 oz. (51 g.) / 5.4 oz. (153 g.) in total package
Calories: 240 calories in 1 serving (6 pieces)
Cost: $ missing information
Purchased from: missing information

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

Today's Dark Chocolate Bites with real Tart Cherries were manufactured for NibMor Inc. (Kennebunk, ME). NibMor, short for Nibble More, had its start in a New York City kitchen. Eventually the company moved to Maine.

These NibMor small rectangular bites (think mini bars but without the extra packaging of individually-wrapped chocolates), were an easily consumable and shareable size.

They had a fairly strong cherry/cherry almond aroma* and bits of authentic tart, sweetened cherries complemented the sweet 52% cocoa dark chocolate.

Sugar was the first ingredient listed*. We would love to see a 70% cacao dark version to take down the sweetness a bit. But, we understand many people do like sugar.

*Ingredients: Sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, natural cherries, natural cherry flavor*, soy lecithin (an emulsifier), vanilla.





Friday, May 3, 2019

Marich Confectionery - Milk Chocolate Cherries - May 3, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Marich Confectionery Co.
Milk Chocolate Cherries
Good
Weight: 2 oz. (56.6 g.) / 2.3 oz. (64 g.) in total package
Calories: 265 calories in 2 oz. (56.6 g.) serving
Cost: $2.49 for 1 package
Purchased from: The Market at Edgewood, Palo Alto, CA

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

These generously-sized Milk Chocolate Cherries were from Marich* Confectionery Co. - Marich Pancrafted Chocolates, based in Hollister,  CA.

At the center of each large, muted red**, glossy confection was a chewy, sweet dried cherry. The surrounding chocolate***—made with fair trade certified cocoa—helped balance the sugar-sweetened fruit.

*Marich Confectionery (pronounced Mahr-ich) was established in 1983 by Marinus van Dam (creator of the Jelly Belly Jelly Bean).

**The company, now run by the second generation of family, has moved toward natural fruit and vegetable colorings over the years, as well as improving plant efficiency (energy conservation). (Thank you.)

***Marich uses chocolate from Guittard Chocolate Company, another large, family-owned and operated (since the 1850s) chocolate company based up the peninsula in Burlingame, CA. Guittard makes chocolate from scratch and supplies many high-end chocolatiers with the base chocolate they need for their bars and confections.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Open Nature - Dark Chocolate Cherry fruit and and nut bar - May 2, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Open Nature
Dark Chocolate Cherry - fruit and nut bar
Good
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 190 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $ missing information
Purchased from: Safeway, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's Open Nature Dark Chocolate Cherry fruit and nut bar was distributed by Lucerne Foods, Inc. (Pleasanton, CA).

The flavorful bar was chewy, sweet and fruity (dried cherry and cranberry bits) blended with chocolate and nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts).

The label called out that the bar contained: "Vitamins A, C and E."

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Sanders Candy - Milk Chocolate Cherry Almond Caramels - May 1, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Sanders Candy - Sanders fine chocolatiers
Milk Chocolate Cherry Almond Caramels
Good - Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 1.5 oz. (43 g.) in total package 3 pieces
Calories: 120 calories in 2 pieces
Cost: $1.99 for 1 package of 3 pieces
Purchased from: Draeger's Market, Menlo Park, CA

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

Today's Milk Chocolate Cherry Almond Caramels were made by Sanders Candy (Clinton Township, MI).

Yes, these milk chocolate confections were sweet, but the chewy, chocolate-covered caramels were full of cherry and almond bits which helped slow down the sugar rush. And they were substantial and satisfying after a long hike.



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