Friday, July 26, 2019

Fine and Raw Chocolate - Alderwood Smoked Salt 70% Cacao (bar) - July 26, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

Fine and Raw Chocolate
Alderwood Smoked Salt 70% Cacao (bar)
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) in total bar
Calories: 137 calories (per label) in 1 bar
Cost: $25.00 for 5 bar set
Purchased from: Fine and Raw Chocolate, online order

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

Today's Alderwood Smoked Salt 70% Cacao (bar) was from Fine and Raw Chocolate (Brooklyn, NY).

This bar had an aroma with chocolate, green, fruit, and very light savory and butterscotch notes. The melt was even, with a slightly stoneground, astringent mouthfeel—likely from both the cacao and coconut sugar that the company uses to sweeten bars.

Flavor notes included chocolate, light fruit and very faint smoked salt and coconut, with a mild chocolate finish.

Most of the cowgirls and horseback riders we know ride in the hills in the outskirts of urban areas around San Francisco Bay (a bay with a rich history of salt-making).

Fortunately there are still enough open spaces to be a cowgirl. (If you look closely at the landscape photo (at right) you may not be able to spot the horseback rider in the distance, riding through golden grasses, and oak, bay and eucalyptus trees.

Why alder trees?

Most of the smoked salt chocolate bars we've tried have contained Alderwood Smoked Salt. What's so special about alder tree wood smoke?

Red alder trees in the Pacific NW were used medicinally by native peoples. The bark contains aspirin-like substances. However, the real reason why these trees are used to smoke salt has to do with the flavor of the smoke from this wood. It's subtle and even a bit sweet, according to some. (Contrast this with the stronger Hickory smoke used for bacon, or Cedar smoke, which can impart a strong woodsy flavor with a hint of pine or camphor, which may overpower many chocolates.)

Another factor in choosing a milder smoke may be that a smoky flavor in fine chocolate has been considered a defect, in part because cacao farmers in more tropical climates may have smoke dried their cacao beans under thatched or covered structures due to higher than desirable levels of  moisture/rain (which can signal other challenges with a batch of cacao).

Personally we're OK with trying unique and well-balanced umami flavors and have enjoyed bars with smoked nibs and smoked salt and other similar inclusions. Bring it!

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