Monday, September 16, 2019

Wild Friends Foods - Chocolate Protein Peanut Butter - Sept. 16, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

Wild Friends Foods
Chocolate Protein Peanut Butter
Good
Weight: 1.13 oz. (32 g.) in 1 serving (2 TB)
Calories: 170 calories in 1 serving (2 TB)
Cost: $2.99 for 1 jar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Nut Butter Theme Week.

Today's Chocolate Protein Peanut Butter was from Wild Friends Foods (Portland, OR).

This Chocolate Protein Nut Butter contained 12 grams of protein, provided primarily by peanuts and whey protein .*

Yes, I realize that peanuts aren't technically nuts, but rather legumes, but they have been included this week nonetheless.

This nutty spread had a fairly natural peanut aroma and taste. Chocolate was a background flavor. The melt and mouthfeel were even and uniform. The texture was a mix of slightly fluffy, creamy and smooth, with a fine graininess as well.

Wild Friends now offers a wide selection of nut butter spreads, and at least a half dozen with chocolate. Unfortunately, today's flavor may no longer be available. (It was not listed on the company's website this week. Although a similar chocolate peanut butter with collagen protein was featured.)

*Ingredients: Roasted peanuts, whey protein isolate, organic dark chocolate (cane sugar, cocoa liquor, cocoa butter), peanut oil, organic vanilla, sea salt


Sunday, September 15, 2019

BochaSweet - BochaBar Chocolate Peanut Butter - Sept. 15, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

BochaSweet LLC
BochaBar Chocolate Peanut Butter bar
Good ++
Weight: 2.12 oz. (60 g.) in total bar
Calories: 260 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $N/A - part of a larger order
Purchased from: BochaSweet (online order)

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Nut Butter Theme Week.

Today's Chocolate Peanut Butter bar was from BochaSweet LLC (Las Vegas, NV). The company has focused on producing a healthier bar with superior versions of sugars and fats.

This bar tasted like a pressed, chewy chocolate peanut butter protein bar, with no off flavors, and with a sweetness that was natural without being too sweet (thank you!). It was substantial and filling in a satisfying way.

The company's sugar alternative (BochaSweet), used to sweeten today's bar is made from kabocha and is being incorporated into two BochaBars. Today's bar) contains chocolate, and the other is a vanilla almond flavor, with no chocolate.

Kabocha is a dark green, pumpkin-like squash rich in Vitamins A, B and C, manganese and other nutrients. Kabocha has also been a food staple in Japan for many centuries, and is consumed in some regions of Japan where populations have longer than average lifespans.

Whether BochaSweet's (pentose) extract, in its processed form, still contains all of the kabocha nutrients mentioned above, I do not know. But the resulting sugar substitute (which looks like sugar) is supposed to have a minimal effect on insulin--one of the holy grails, for sugar alternatives, along with a naturally clean, sweet taste, which BochaSweet also seems to have.

A sweetener like this that doesn't result in glucose spikes and lacks any bitter aftertaste should peak interest in the chocolate and confection industry. One possible barrier to the adoption of this sweetener may be its relatively high cost, at least initially.*

And now, on to fats...Consumers have grown wary of vegetable oils in processed foods and bars.

This BochaBar contained MCT oil, that contains medium-chain triglycerides. It is often extracted from coconut oil or palm oil. MCTs are made of of shorter chains of fatty acids than some other fats in our diet, are naturally found in coconut and palm oils as well as goat's milk and (human) breast milk. They are thought to be a bit easier to digest than longer chains found in other food sources.

*Higher adoption rates and volume can sometimes bring down costs over time.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Trader Joe's - Almond Butter Cups - Sept. 14, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Trader Joe's
Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups
Good ++
Weight: 1.27 oz. (36 g.) / 8 oz. (227 g.) in total container
Calories: 190 calories in 1 serving (3 small cups)
Cost: $3.99 for 1 container
Purchased from: Trader Joe's, Mountain View, CA

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Nut Butter Theme Week.

Today's Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups from Trader Joe's (Monrovia, CA) were thick, creamy, sweet and satisfying.

Individually wrapped in gold foil, these filled chocolate cups were thick, creamy, sweet and satisfying. Great for hikes, personal (or work) field trips, bag lunches, etc. as long as they aren't left in direct sun.

Even then, these cups proved to be more resilience than, say, a thin, single origin dark chocolate bar, which converts to a lovely solar-induced chocolate fondue fairly quickly on a hot day. And, since we're experiencing a last blast of hot weather (edging toward triple digits) and trying to spend time outdoors, chocolate meltdowns can be avoided only with careful planning.

Chocolove - Hazelnut Butter Cup Dark Chocolate - Sept. 13, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

Chocolove
Hazelnut Butter Cup
Good ++
Weight: .6 oz. (17 g.) in 1 package/cup
Calories: 100 calories in 1 cup
Cost: $1.99 (estimate) for 1 cup
Purchased from: New Leaf Markets, Half Moon Bay, CA

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Nut Butter Theme Week.

Sometimes you just want one nut butter cup in its own individually packaged serving size, to prevent you from overeating a second one.

Today's Hazelnut Butter Cup was from Chocolove (Boulder, CO). The dark chocolate cup was very creamy in texture and the filling was a slightly more textured (but also quite smooth), praline-like hazelnut butter filling.

Chocolove also makes dark and milk almond butter and peanut butter cups.


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Nana Joes - Granola, Chef's Blend Series - Strawberry, Coconut and Chocolate Chip - Sept. 12, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

Nana Joes
Chef's Blend Series Granola - Strawberry, Coconut, Chocolate Chip
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 8 oz. (227 g.) in total package
Calories: 170 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $12.00 (estimate) for 1 package
Purchased from: Nana Joe's table, CUESA's Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Nut Butter Theme Week.

Sometimes nut butters can take the place of other/more processed oils and fats, and we're all for that if it's done right. One example: Today's Chef's Blend Series Granola - Strawberry, Coconut and Chocolate Chip, from Nana Joes (San Francisco, CA), created using Hu Kitchen (New York, NY) chocolate chips*

This vegan and gluten free granola was flavorful, sweet and crunchy, and had a nutty texture and taste (almonds and almond butter + seeds).* The nuts and seeds were accented with micro flavor bursts of authentic, concentrated strawberry, raspberry and chocolate.

This was a great blend of high-quality ingredients, resulting in a great granola. And, unlike some granolas, it still felt relatively "light." Instead of added/processed vegetable oils, the fat content was provided by nuts, seeds, and almond butter.

This granola was sweetened with both organic maple syrup and organic coconut sugar, but contained no refined white or brown sugar.

*Ingredients: "Organic sliced almonds, organic shredded coconut, organic maple syrup, organic pecans, organic pumpkin seeds, organic almond butter, Hu Chocolate Gems (organic cacao, unrefined organic coconut sugar, organic fair-trade cocoa butter), seeds, hemp seed, hulled, dried strawberries, raspberry fruit powder, organic chia seeds, sea salt"


Nana Joes - Paleo Sunrise Series Granola, Hu Kitchen Blend - Sept. 11, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

Nana Joes
Paleo Sunrise Series Granola - Hu Chocolate Blend
Good ++
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 8 oz. (227 g.) in total package
Calories: 160 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $10.00 (estimate) for 1 package
Purchased from: Nana Joes table, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, San Francisco, CA


Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Nut Butter Theme Week.

And, today, marks Chocolate Banquet's 13th anniversary. We're firing off some confetti in the background here, celebrating more than 4,740 chocolates sampled to date.

Today's Paleo Sunrise Granola with Hu Kitchen dark chocolate was made by Nana Joes (San Francisco, CA). Their Hu Kitchen blend included almond butter, pecans, coconut and dark chocolate from Hu Kitchen (New York, NY). For a full list of ingredients, see below.*

The granola had a satisfying texture and crunch and was full of nutty and chocolate flavor. The almonds and almond butter helped tie everything all together.

Ingredients: Organic almonds, organic shredded coconut, organic maple syrup, organic pecans, organic pumpkin seeds, organic almond butter, Hu Chocolate Gems (organic cacao, unrefined organic coconut sugar, organic fair trade cocoa butter), organic hemp seeds, organic cocoa powder, organic chia seeds, Jacobsen sea salt, organic maca powder 






Marshall's Munchies - Rocky Road Chunks - Sept. 10, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Marshall's Munchies
Rocky Road Chunks
Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) /6 oz. (171 g.) in total container of 6 pieces
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1 serving
Cost: $5.99 for 1 container
Purchased from: The Willows Market, Menlo Park, CA

Welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate and Nut Butter Theme Week.

Today's container of Marshall's Munchies Rocky Road Chunks were obtained from a local small market. The Willows Market (Menlo Park, CA) carries an impressive array of foods, spirits, deli items and a few chocolate items of their own.

The basic pairing of nuts and nut butters with chocolate is tried and true. Rocky road confections embrace this marriage while adding marshmallows. And today's chocolatey and nutty treats were also sweetened with butterscotch and toffee.*

We reached for a few extra nuts and some nut butter to balance the sweetness.

*Ingredients: Dark chocolate, peanuts, marshmallows, butterscotch morsels, toffee, nuts


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Chamisa Chocolate - Flower Petal and Sea Salt 65% Belize bar - Sept. 9, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chamisa Chocolate
Flower Petal and Sea Salt 65% Belize bar
Good ++
Weight: 1 oz. (30 g.) / 2 oz. (60 g.) (per label) for total bar
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chamisa Chocolate, online order

Welcome to Day #10, the last day, of Chamisa Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's Flower Petal and Sea Salt 65% Belize dark bar was made by Chamisa Chocolate (Santa Fe, NM).

This sweet dark chocolate bar had fairly light, upbeat, fruit and floral notes. The texture was smooth with a thick and creamy melt and mouthfeel. The sea salt helped balance out the sweetness. The cacao was from Belize.

While it was difficult to pick out any individual flower flavor, the colored petals (flecks of blue cornflower, golden marigolds, rose and orange blossom) on the back of the bar were an attractive visual element.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Chamisa Chocolate - Maruya Miso 71% Honduras bar - Sept. 8, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chamisa Chocolate
Maruya Miso 71% Honduras dark bar
Good +++
Weight: 1 oz. (30 g.) / 2 oz. (60 g.) (per label) for total bar
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chamisa Chocolate, online order

Welcome to Day #9 of Chamisa Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's Maruya Miso 71% Honduras dark bar was from Chamisa Chocolate (Santa Fe, NM).

This umami* bar had subtle and balanced aroma notes of chocolate, fermented sweet grapes, and multi-layered and savory soy**. In fact this bar (made with Honduras cacao) contained a small amount of Maruya Miso.

The bar had a smooth texture and melt, and a flavor not unlike a nice dark milk** chocolate with salt, only salt/sodium with a more depth and mellow flavor.

If you're a fan of chocolate with savory flavors, please do try this bar.

*Umami is a Japanese term coined to describe another dimension of flavor, akin to what some call savory. We often talk about our taste buds being able to detect sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavors. Umami would be closest to salt, but it goes beyond that. (Think mushrooms, cheeses, meats, bacon, soy, etc. ) Umami is often correlated with the presence of glutamates, including (but certainly not limited to) monosodium glutamate.

**There was no milk in this bar. The ingredients list read: "Organic cacao beans, organic sugar, organic cacao butter, Maruya Miso (contains soy)." Maruya Miso is based an an early fermented food that originated in China and Japan, thought to date back to the sixth century A.D.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Chamisa Chocolate - Zanzibar 61% dark blend bar - Sept. 7, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chamisa Chocolate
Zanzibar 61% dark bar with coconut and ginger
Good +++
Weight: 1 oz. (30 g.) / 2 oz. (60 g.) (per label) for total bar
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chamisa Chocolate, online order

Welcome to Day #8 of Chamisa Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's Zanzibar 61% dark blend bar with coconut and ginger was made by Chamisa Chocolate (Santa Fe, NM).

Today's exotic-sounding Zanzibar chocolate bar had a cocoa and coconut aroma, and a creamy texture—thanks to added cocoa butter and coconut milk.

Coconut palm sugar (as well as flecks of ginger and pieces of coconut adorning the back of this bar) gave this chocolate a subtle, sweet, tropical island flavor. The cacao used to make this bar was an organic blend (multiple origins).

As with the other bars this week from this company, the bar had an appealing, restrained sweetness.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Chamisa Chocolate - a date with chocolate 71% Ghana bar with orange peel - Sept. 6, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chamisa Chocolate
a date with chocolate 71% Ghana bar with orange peel
Good +++ - Very Good
Weight: 1 oz. (30 g.) / 2 oz. (60 g.) (per label) for total bar
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chamisa Chocolate, online order

Welcome to Day #7 of Chamisa Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's a date with chocolate 71% Ghana bar with orange peel, dates and walnuts was created by Amanda Hatherly at Chamisa Chocolate (Santa Fe, NM).

This date-sweetened bar was made with cacao from the ABOCFA coop* —one of the few Organic/Fair Trade cooperatives in Ghana (a country that supplies us with much of our cacao).*
(Although chief chocolate maker, Hatherly, often uses Honduras cacao for her date bars.)

ABOCFA advertises their cacao as having..."classic rich, fudgey and chocolatey flavor." Now layer on a bit of fruit/citrus (orange peel), nuts (walnut bits) and dates for sweetness, and you have a very nice bar with a broad spectrum of well-balanced flavors.

And, perhaps best of all, this bar (with a hint of vanilla and no added sugar) was not overly sweet. And less sugar gives people the opportunity to really taste what a bar is really made of.

*While cacao originated in the Americas, most of the world's cacao used to make chocolate is currently grown in two West African countries: Ghana and Ivory Coast. To learn more about ABOCFA coop in Ghana, the source of cacao used to make today's bar, click here in : https://www.uncommoncacao.com/abocfa-ghana


Thursday, September 5, 2019

Chamisa Chocolate - a date with chocolate 71% Honduras bar - Sept. 5, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chamisa Chocolate
a date with chocolate 71% Honduras bar
Good +++
Weight: 1 oz. (30 g.) / 2 oz. (60 g.) (per label) for total bar
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chamisa Chocolate, online order

Welcome to Day #6 of Chamisa Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's "a date with chocolate" 71% Honduras bar was crafted by Chamisa Chocolate (Santa Fe, NM).

This bar was thick and creamy and had light earth (mushroom), cacao and nutty flavor notes.

The incorporation of the dates (as the sole sweetener) was perfect. The dates offered sweetness without being overly sweet (which is often the result when dates are added to a chocolate items).

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Chamisa Chocolate - tree of gold (mulberries) 71% Honduras bar - Sept. 4, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chamisa Chocolate
tree of gold (mulberries) 71% Honduras bar
Good +++ - Very Good
Weight: 1 oz. (30 g.) / 2 oz. (60 g.) (per label) for total bar
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chamisa Chocolate, online order

Welcome to Day #5 of Chamisa Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's tree of gold (mulberries) 71% Honduras bar was crafted by Chamisa Chocolate (Santa Fe, NM).

This bar had a chocolate, light fruit and sweet vegetable (tomato) aroma notes. The melt and mouthfeel was thick and creamy, with a fleeting very soft (not unpleasant) graininess (from dried fruit/berries is my guess).

The chocolate had smooth, dried, dark berry flavor notes mellowed by the dark smooth, almost nutty Honduras cacao. The absence of sugar in this lovely, 3-ingredient, mulberry*-sweetened bar was palpable, and delightful.

I would enjoy eating this unique (mulberry-sweetened + no added sugar) bar any day of the week. 

Ingredients: "Organic cacao beans, organic dehydrated mulberries, organic cacao butter"

*Mulberries are wonderful. They're occasionally available at a local farmers market here in the Bay Area. And they sell out very quickly. Red mulberries are native to the Eastern U.S. And black and white mulberry trees came from Asia (China) to the U.S. as early as the 1600s. The latter were imported in part for sericulture or silk production. (Silk worms are fed almost exclusively white mulberry leaves.)


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Chamisa Chocolate - oat milk chai spice 61% bar - Sept. 3, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chamisa Chocolate
oat milk chai spice 61% cacao bar
Good +++ - Very Good
Weight: 1 oz. (30 g.) / 2 oz. (60 g.) (per label) for total bar
Calories: 152 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chamisa Chocolate, online order

Welcome to Day #4 of Chamisa Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's oat milk chai spice 61% cacao bar from Chamisa Chocolate (Santa Fe, NM) was made with cacao grown in Tumaco, Colombia.

I enjoyed the flavors in this bar very much. Fond childhood memories about making ginger molasses cookies with my mother and sipping chai tea surely created a positive bias when tasting today's chocolate with warming chai spices.

However, I was also intrigued with the maker's comments (see her note below) about the sweetness of this (and another) bar featured this week due to dairy milk alternatives that were included.* (Maker, Amanda Hatherly, shares our taste preference for less sugar sweetness in dark chocolate.)

Amanda wrote: "...even though the 61% (bars) seem a lot sweeter, they...have the same sugar content as the darker 71% bars...as that extra 10% is the coconut or oat "milk." They taste a lot sweeter...because of that."

*Yes, there was sugar in today's bar, but it was further down the list than one might expect. Ingredients: "Organic: cacao beans, GF oats, tiger nuts, cacao butter, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, black pepper, Himalayan pink salt."


Monday, September 2, 2019

Chamisa Chocolate - Bochasweet 71% bar - Sept. 2, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chamisa Chocolate
Bochasweet 71% bar
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.4 g.) (estimate) in total bar
Calories: N/A - no information
Cost: $N/A - sample bar (from Chamisa)
Sent from: Chamisa Chocolate, part of an online order

Welcome to Day #3 of Chamisa Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's Bochasweet 71% bar from Chamisa Chocolate (Santa Fe, NM). Founder, Amanda Hatherly, has never been a fan of sweet dark chocolate. She has explored various sugar alternatives, including dates, freeze-dried fruit, and Bochasweet.*

Thank you to Amanda at Chamisa Chocolate for sharing this special bar.

The chocolate was dark and creamy and not too sweet, and had a certain refreshing coolness about it. Like sitting in a cool forest. (Sugar tends to feel "hotter" on the palette.) Dried blueberries added concentrated, natural, moist, berry sweetness. And a sprinkling of chopped almonds added a soft accent crunch.

The bar's natural cocoa finish also had a lingering low level of sweetness I found hard to pinpoint (and likely from the Bochasweet). This sweetness was not unpleasant, unnatural, bitter or "off" in any way. Just a very mild sweet presence. There was a distinct calm feeling with this bar. No sugar rush.

*Bochasweet is a "zero calorie, zero glycemic" sugar substitute made of kabocha extract, that is available from Bochasweet LLC (Las Vegas, NV). Kabocha is a green, pumpkin-like winter squash from Japan.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Chamisa Chocolate - raspberry bear 71% Honduras bar - Sept. 1, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chamisa Chocolate
raspberry bear 71% Honduras bar
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1 oz. (30 g.) (per label) / 2 oz. (60 g.) in total bar
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chamisa Chocolate, Santa Fe, CA

Welcome to Day #1 of Chamisa Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's raspberry bear 71% Honduras bar was from Chamisa Chocolate (Santa Fe, NM).

This thick, relatively creamy, organic* and vegan dark chocolate bar had red raspberry bits on the back.

The chocolate had pleasing, mini-bursts of natural tart raspberry flavor that complemented the rich, almost nutty, chocolate. And, once again, this bar, was not too sweet (thank you Amanda!).

*Ingredients: Organic cacao beans, organic sugar, organic cacao butter, organic raspberry







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