Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Health Warrior - Pumpkin Seeds with Honey and Cocoa Dark Chocolate Bar - Nov. 20, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Health Warrior
Pumpkin Seeds with Honey and Cocoa Dark Chocolate Bar
Good
Weight: 1.23 oz. (35 g.) for 1 bar
Calories: 170 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $2.19 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's Pumpkin Seeds with Honey and Cocoa Dark Chocolate Bar was from Health Warrior (Richmond, VA).

Made with a relatively short list of ingredients,* this bar had a chewy, satisfying, soft seedy texture and a balanced sweetness (wildflower honey) and chocolate flavor.

Pumpkin seeds are a relatively neutral flavor and offer protein, magnesium, zinc, "healthy" monounsaturated fat, and other nutrients. It was also relatively low in sodium (60 mg.) and total carbs (11 grams including 2 grams of fiber), and contained 8 grams of protein.

This Organic, Certified Gluten Free and Non-GMO Project Verified bar also had a faint, fermented tropical goji berry fruit flavor note that I couldn't figure out. (There were no fruit ingredients. The cocoa extract perhaps?)

*Ingredients: Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Wildflower Honey, Organic Dutch Process Cocoa Powder, Organic Milled Quinoa, Cocoa Extract, Organic Vanilla Extract, Organic Coconut Oil, Sea Salt.



Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Casa de Chocolates - Organic Cacao Beans, Belize - Nov. 19, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

Casa de Chocolates
Organic Cacao Beans - Belize
Good +++
Weight: .12 oz. (3.5 g.) / 12 oz. (339 g.) (estimate) in total package
Calories: 11 calories (estimate) in 3 beans
Cost: $10.00 (estimate) for 1 package/box
Purchased from: Casa de Chocolates, Berkeley, CA

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

Today's Organic Cacao Beans from Belize were purchased some time ago, at Casa de Chocolates (Berkeley, CA).

A carefully sealed pouch of cacao seeds (beans) has been waiting inside its box, that has been stored inside the Chocolate Vault;* and it was eagerly unwrapped, at last, for today's sampling.

Chocolate is made from the seeds (beans) of the Theobroma cacao fruit that grows on trees in Equatorial regions. Eating cacao seeds (beans) offers an essential pre-chocolate cacao tasting experience.

Each batch of seeds (beans) has a slightly different flavor profile that will influence the flavor of the chocolate made from these beans.

In today's case, these Organic Cacao Seeds from Belize were smooth, mellow and balanced, with a faint hint of fermentation (that diminished after opening), light fruit, a fleeting floral note, earth, wood and nut aroma and and flavor notes. These seeds were quite good, and could be included in many dishes, beverages and desserts if so desired.

To eat a whole cacao seed, open (or break) and remove the thin, papery brown outer husk and eat the cacao seeds (or seed pieces (nibs) after husk removal)—without any sweetener. This is a fine way to enjoy the essence of pure cacao for many dark chocolate lovers.

*This reference is to the Chocolate Banquet Chocolate Vault, a cool, dark place out of the sun, kept at a constant temperature. In this case, a wine refrigerator turned up to 65 degrees F. (18.3 degrees C.) was used.


Monday, November 18, 2019

Chocolate Naive - Jaguar Tree Cacao in Heirloom Chocolate and Cacao (bar) - Nov. 18, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

Chocolate Naive
Jaguar Tree Cacao - in Heirloom Chocolate and Pimenton
Good ++
Weight: 1.15 oz. (32.5 g.) / 2.3 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 240 calories (per label) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $18.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: missing information

Welcome to Day #12 of Chocolate and Nibs Theme Week, and Day #1 of Chocolate and Seeds Theme Week.

Cacao beans are actually seeds (semillas), which makes the transition from a Chocolate and Cacao Nibs (pieces of cacao seeds) Theme Week to a Chocolate and Seeds Theme Week easy.

We begin this week with today's Jaguar Tree Cacao in Heirloom Chocolate and Pimenton (paprika) bar from Chocolate Naive (Lithuania).

Chocolates featured on this site are made from cacao beans/seeds or cacao nibs, from the Theobroma cacao tree. However, there are other plant relatives in the Theobroma genus* that can be used to make chocolate.

The increasingly rare, wild Jaguar tree cacao (Theobroma bicolor) is known by many names (e.g., Pataxte, Mocambo, White Chocolate tree). Jaguar cacao fruit is rounder, more melon-like than a Theobroma cacao fruit pod; and the seeds are white.

The base chocolate for today's palette-shaped bar was sweet and slightly savory (smoked paprika, sea salt), and was topped with five large, white beans.

The bar had a rich flavor and smooth, almost creamy sweet texture. (At 240 calories for 1/2 bar, there must have been a fair amount of cacao butter content as well.)

The whole Jaguar Tree cacao beans were delightful. These ivory colored beans had a lovely smooth, soft crunch; and the beans/seeds broke into little white nib pieces. Jaguar beans lack some of the plant alkaloids (such as the small amount of caffeine present in conventional chocolate), resulting in less bitterness than is sometimes found in its conventional dark chocolate.

Note: This flavors in this bar were very interesting, well balanced and developed, but may not be for everyone. Tasting notes included: raw almond, firm avocado, fermented milk, toast, followed by a faint spiciness (paprika) and savory (sea salt). A folded paper insert included with this bar is full of interesting information (and tasting commentary).

*Members of the Theobroma genus include Theobroma cacao, Theobroma cupuacu, Theobroma bicolor, and more than a dozen other members that are all part of the Malvaceae (mallow) family. This same family also includes cotton, okra, hibiscus and rose mallow.


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Cocoa Parlor - Crushed Velvet 41 - Cacao Nibs (bar) - Nov. 17, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Cocoa Parlor
Crushed Velvet 41 - Cacao Nibs (bar)
Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 2.82 oz. (80 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories in 1 oz. (28 g.) of bar
Cost: $4.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's Crushed Velvet 41 (bar) was produced by Cocoa Parlor (Laguna Niguel, CA), a company focused on providing premium organic chocolate.

This bar had a subtle dark milk* chocolate aroma and sweet, smooth milk* chocolate flavor; and it was studded with small bits of crunchy cocoa bean (nibs).

The company ethically sources cacao from the Dominican Republic.

This chocolate bar was certified organic; vegan; gluten free; and soy free.

*There was no milk in this plant-based (rice) "milk" chocolate bar. Ingredients: Organic, unrefined raw cane sugar, Premium organic cacao butter, Organic rice powder, Organic cacao mass, Organic cacao nibs. 

Eclipse Chocolate - Flourless Brownie, Sea Salt Nib bar; Erthe - Raw Cacao Energy Truffle

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Eclipse Chocolate
Flourless Brownie topped with Cacao Nibs
Good +++ - Very Good
Weight: unknown
Calories: unknown
Cost: $4.00 for 1 brownie
Purchased from: Eclipse Chocolate, San Diego, CA


Eclipse Chocolate
Sea Salt Nib (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 160 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $4.25 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Warwick's, La Jolla, CA

Erthe Foods
Energy Truffle - Raw Cacao
Good +++
Weight: unknown
Calories: unknown 
Cost: $3.00 (estimate) for 1 piece
Purchased from: Erthe Foods, Little Italy Mercado Farmers' Market, San Diego, CA

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

Hello San Diego, California! A recent visit to this fair city yielded several chocolate items with cacao nibs, including the trio of chocolates featured in today's post.

Eclipse Chocolate
Eclipse Chocolate, located in the South Park neighborhood of San Diego, is a cafe/bar/bistro, event and tasting space and chocolate factory—all in one.

Inside, a display case revealed an attractive flourless brownie topped with a generous dollop of cacao nibs. This baked brownie was delicious and packed with chocolate flavor and topped with delicious, nutty nibs.

Also sampled on this trip: a small-sized Eclipse Chocolate Cocoa Nib Sea Salt bar. The chocolate, embedded with candied nibs, was smooth, well-balanced and well-executed and had a faint floral note from lavender-infused sea salt.

Erthe Organic Cafe - Raw Cacao Energy Truffle
Last but not least, was a quick run through the (Saturday) Little Italy Mercado Farmers' Market, where we found a Raw Cacao Energy Truffle from Erthe Foods (San Diego)—a local cafe specializing in organic and plant-based offerings, including beverages, bars and energy truffles.

The company's Raw Cacao Energy Truffle was generously-sized and covered in relatively mellow, nutty, raw cacao nibs. The truffle had a satisfying soft (almost brownie-like) texture and authentic chocolate flavor without being too sweet (thank you!).



Saturday, November 16, 2019

Fu Wan Chocolate - Taiwan No. 5 - 62% Nibs Chocolate (bar) - Nov. 15, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

Fu Wan Chocolate
Taiwan No. 5 - 62% Nibs Chocolate (bar)
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: .795 oz. (22.5 g.) / 1.59 oz. (45 g.) in total bar
Calories: 133.6 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $12.00 - $14.00 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

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

Today's Taiwan No. 5 - 62% Nibs Chocolate (bar) was made by Fu Wan Chocolate (Pingtung, Taiwan).

Fu Wan makes tree-to-bar chocolate, working with farmers in Pingtung in southern Taiwan, where the climate is likely the most suitable for growing cacao.

This bar had a rapid melt and almost fluffy, whipped creamy texture. The balanced, even chocolate flavor had relatively light, bright sweet fruit notes (ripe tangelo, mild plum) with no off notes. Nibs added a bit of soft crunchy texture.



Friday, November 15, 2019

Obolo Chocolate - 70% Cacao with Nibs (bar) - Nov. 14, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Obolo Chocolate
70% Cacao con (with) Nibs (bar)
Good +
Weight: .88 oz. (25 g.) / 1.76 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 132 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $12.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

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

Today's 70% Cacao con (with) Nibs (bar) was made in Chile by Obolo* Chocolate (Santiago, Chile). Obolo is one of the first (if not the first) small-batch, bean-to-bar, locally-based, chocolate makers  based in Chile, certainly in recent times.**

Chile is known more for fine wine grapes than cacao. However, cacao-growing neighbors like Peru and Bolivia to the north (where cacao grows best, within 20 degrees of the Equator), are relatively closeby, and Obolo has already made chocolate with other cacao (origins) and flavor inclusions. It's delightful to have a Chilean-based maker join the growing list of artisan chocolate makers.

This dark bar had chocolate flavor with fruit (dried banana, grape, fresh red plum) and faint green notes. The texture was smooth and uniform and cacao nibs added a bit of soft crunchy cacao texture.

*Obolo means a small gift or contribution.
** Most large chocolate companies selling products in Chile are from Europe or elsewhere.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Charles Chocolates - Cocoa Nib Brittle Bar - Ruby Cacao - Nov. 13, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Charles Chocolates
Cocoa Nib Brittle Bar - Ruby Cacao
Good
Weight: .875 oz. (25 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Cost: $8.50 for 1 bar (white dot w/ line through it)
Calories: 137.5 calories in 1/4 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA


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

Today's picturesque pink Cocoa Nib Brittle Bar—made with Ruby Cacao—was from Charles Chocolates (San Francisco, CA).

This creamy and sweet ruby chocolate* had a slightly fermented red berry (red raspberry and cherry plum jam) flavor, and had golden veins of faintly smoky-savory** toffee brittle running through it.

*Ruby chocolate (made with special ruby cacao beans) was introduced in 2017 by Barry Callebaut, a Belgian-Swiss chocolate company.

**At least compared to the ruby chocolate, these pieces of sweet toffee brittle seemed less sweet and relatively more savory.

Ingredients: ruby cacao bean (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, unsweetened chocolate, citric acid, soy lecithin), cane sugar, cacao nibs. 

Lake Champlain Chocolates - moka fleck (bar) - Nov. 12, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Lake Champlain Chocolates
moka fleck (bar)
Good - Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 162 calories in 1/3 bar
Cost: $4.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's moka fleck (bar) was from Lake Champlain Chocolates (Burlington, VT). The company, founded in 1983, has been turning out a variety of milk and dark chocolate bars and confections with a variety of flavor inclusions for many years.

The bar was described as "dark-milk chocolate with a jolt of Dominican coffee and cacao nibs" and contained 43% cocoa (solids).

This 43% cocoa milk chocolate bar was sweet, but the included the roasted cacao nibs helped tone down the sugar glow a bit, which dark chocolate fans will appreciate.

This chocolate had smooth, quite sweet mocha latte aroma and flavor, interspersed with "crunchy flecks of house-roasted cocoa nib."*

*I've included Lake Champlain Chocolates' product descriptions (in quotes) in today's write-up because I found them to be accurate, without a lot of marketing fluff. And what I would've written sounded a bit redundant. 

The only language I might change would be the word "jolt" (of Dominican coffee and nibs). I found these flavor elements to be smooth and in-balance. (Milk powder helps mellow the stronger flavors a bit.) But, if you're looking for wake up candy, this chocolate does contain sugar, caffeine (coffee + cacao) and theobromine (the stimulant in cacao).

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Prolific Bean - Organic Cacao (beans) - Nov. 11, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

The Prolific Bean
Cacao
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight:  .082 oz. (2.36 g.) / 2 oz. (56.6 g.) in total package
Calories: 12 calories (per package) in 2 beans*
Cost: $11.49 for 1 package
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's package of "Cacao" (beans) were from The Prolific Bean (Menlo Park, CA), a company that specializes in high-end coffee and cacao beans.

The descriptive terms listed for today's cacao beans included: "Organic, Whole Bean, Hand Peeled, Low Caffeine, Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant."  (They're also gluten free, vegan and soy free.) The country of origin for the cacao was not identified.

This "sustainably-farmed, all natural energy snack" was very good, with all the satisfying flavor elements one might find in a relatively delicate but complex chocolate with no "off" or extremely bitter flavors. (More of a citrus fruit note in the aroma than a bitter one.)

The texture and "chew" was just what you might hope to find in a roasted cacao bean. With each bite, the bean gently fractured into lovely nib pieces. Selling roasted cacao beans intact may help preserve flavor as well. (Less surface area(s) exposed to open to the air mean less drying out/staleness.)

These cacao beans were pricey, but also of very high quality. And one or two beans might be enough to satisfy your cacao or chocolate craving. Nibs (and whole beans) are high in flavor and very low in calories (with zero sugar or sweetener).

*These beans were labeled as containing approximately 6 calories per bean. (Each bean only weighs about .041 oz.) 

The numbers for 1 oz. of cacao nibs varies from 130 to 170 calories per oz. The percentage of fat in cacao beans depends in part on where the cacao was grown. (Cacao grown in colder climates has a bit more fat, which may help explain the variance.)

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TCHO - Organic, Fair Trade Roasted Cacao Nibs - Nov. 10, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

TCHO
Roasted Cacao Nibs
Good +
Weight: 1 TB (3 g.) / 7.84 oz. (222 g.) in total package
Calories: 20 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $6.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: TCHO.com (online order)

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

Today's Organic, Fair Trade Certified Roasted Cacao Nibs were from TCHO (Berkeley, CA).

Opening up a fresh package of roasted cacao nibs is an invitation to experience the essence and origin of true, deep, unsweetened chocolate flavor. Frequently nibs (unless raw) will have roasted, nutty or coffee notes. In this case, the nibs had nice roasted chocolate aroma and flavor with a faint, not unpleasant, green tea note.

TCHO tasting notes for these nibs read as follows: "Intense fudge-like flavor with notes of roasted almonds and malt."

These humble little cacao bean bits had uniform flavor and crunchy texture with no "off" notes. This tells me that the cacao beans were fermented, dried, sorted and roasted by a sequence of experienced hands.

While plain nibs will be too bitter for some sweet chocolate lovers, most will appreciate the opportunity to try cacao nibs at least once.

And, for those fortunate cooks and chocolate lovers who are creative, you will have a ball with these. They can be used in so many ways, in both sweet desserts (brownies, chocolate chip cookies, marinated in spirits of your choice and sprinkled over ice cream, etc.),  and beverages/smoothies, and also in savory dishes (spice rubs, marinades, with salads, smoked, etc.). Add nibs to coffee (during the brewing and filtering process), for a touch of roasted mocha flavor. Or infuse nibs into hot milk and strain them out before serving.

At 1 gram of Carbohydrate, 1.5 g. of (unsaturated) Fat, and 20 calories, a single (1 TB) serving of roasted cacao nibs offers a lot of satisfying flavor for very little "cost" for those watching what they eat. And, no sugar.

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Saturday, November 9, 2019

Joe Chocolate Co. - Roasted Cacao - Dark Chocolate Espresso Bark with Nibs - Nov. 9, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Joe Chocolate Co.
Roasted Cacao - Dark Chocolate Espresso Bark with Coffee and Roasted Cacao Nibs
Good +
Weight: .5 oz. (14 g.) / 1 oz. (28 g.) in total package
Calories: 85 calories in 1/2 package
Cost: $ N/A - gift from a friend
Purchased from: N/A - gift from a friend

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Cacao Nibs Theme Week.

Today's Joe Chocolate Co. (Seattle, WA) dark chocolate bark was a gift from a friend. Thank you Elise! She found this Roasted Cacao - Dark Chocolate Espresso Bark with Coffee and Roasted Cacao Nibs snack while traveling in Washington.

The long product name seemed appropriate to fully capture the big flavor from these small pieces of rich dark bark—flavorful "bits of buzz."

The team at Joe Chocolate turn out "functionally caffeinated" offerings at their combined chocolate factory and coffee bar. (Founders, Sam Tanner and Peter Keckemet,* opened the first Joe Chocolate Co. retail location at Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle on June 1st, 2019.)

As soon as this small package was opened, it yielded wafts of freshly roasted, bold coffee and cacao nibs—uplifting on a cool, misty morning. Each small shard of the bark broke with a snap and each bite offered a roasted espresso and cacao bean nib (heavy on the crunch) extravaganza. The roasted beans complemented the fairly smooth and steady dark chocolate bark base.

*Joe Chocolate Co. was founded in 2016. The founders started production with a trail snack initially aimed at (Pacific Crest Trail) thru-hikers and friends. They use fair labor chocolate and Latin American, co-op sourced coffee beans in their snacks.

Copyright 2019. Unauthorized use of the text and/or images from this site, www.ChocolateBanquet.com, is a copyright violation.



Friday, November 8, 2019

Leonidas Chocolate - Leonidas Dark 54% with Cocoa Nibs (bar) - Nov. 8, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Leonidas Chocolate
Leonidas Dark 54% with Nibs (bar)
Good +
Weight: 1.05 oz. (30 g.) / 3.53 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories in 1/3 bar
Cost: $1.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Cacao Nibs Theme Week.

Today's Leonidas Dark 54% with Nibs (bar) was from Leonidas Chocolate. The chocolate was made in Belgium and imported to the U.S. by Chocolate Stars (USA), LLC.

This uniform, very sweet dark (Belgian) chocolate had a rich chocolate cake flavor, punctuated with finely ground, crunchy cocoa nib pieces.

Some of these nibs had a pleasing, pure chocolately crunch, and a few tiny particles were quite hard (something that can happen with some nibs).

The chocolate and the cocoa nibs complemented each other. The nibs helped balance the sweetness (good for those who don't like overly sweet chocolate).

*Ingredients: Chocolate liquor, sugar, roasted cocoa beans, cocoa butter, soy lecithin (emulsifier)

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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Divine Chocolate - Dark Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs 85% Sao Tome (bar) - Nov. 7, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Divine Chocolate
Rich Dark Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs 85% Cocoa Sao Tome (bar)
Good +
Weight: 1.05 oz. (30 g.) / 2.8 oz. (80 g.) in total bar
Calories: 180 calories in 1 serving (30 g.) of bar
Cost: $ missing information
Purchased from: missing information 

Welcome to Day #13 of Chocolate and Africa Theme Week, and Day #1 of Chocolate and Cocoa Nibs Theme Week.

Today's Divine Organic Rich Dark Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs 85% Cocoa Sao Tome (bar) was made in Germany and distributed by Divine Chocolate Inc.in Washington, D.C. (Divine partners with farmers in Africa; and in fact cocoa farmers own 44% of the company. More information is available on the inside of the wrapper.)

This robust, ultra-dark chocolate was studded with earthy cocoa nibs. Nibs added crunchy texture and concentrated cocoa flavor was made using cacao from Sao Tome, part of the African island nation of Sao Tome et Principe.

What are Cocoa Nibs?
Cocoa nibs are pieces of cocoa beans. Generally these beans have been fermented and roasted first (unless they're sold as raw or unroasted), before being crushed into aromatic pieces, or nibs. These small pieces have a true, authentic, unsweetened chocolate flavor, and sometimes have nutty, fruit and/or fermented flavor notes. (Today's bar with nibs had earth and fruit notes.)

Traditionally these nibs have represented one of the first steps in chocolate making. They are ground into a paste to make chocolate, unless, like this week, we are lucky enough to get our hands on them before then.

What are they good for? Cocoa (or cacao) nibs are wonderful flavor inclusions in chocolates, adding flavor and a bit of soft, crunchy texture. Nibs are also very versatile and can also be incorporated into brownies, shakes, and many other sweet or savory edibles (roast spice rubs, filtered coffee drinks, liquor-marinated toppings for ice cream, salads, etc.) As a lesser processed form of cacao, nibs also retain relatively high anti-oxidant and nutrition levels.

*Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, 6% cocoa nibs. (May contain traces of milk, wheat, almonds, hazelnuts and coconut.)

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Hands Off My Chocolate - Milk Meets Dark - Nov. 6, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Hands Off My Chocolate
Milk Meets Dark
Good +
Weight: 1.75 oz. (50 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 277 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $6.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Missing information 

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

Today's Milk Meets Dark chocolate was from Hands Off My Chocolate (Laren, North Holland, The Netherlands). Founders Kitty and Thomas set out in 2013 to make the best fairly traded Belgian chocolate possible.

The humorous "Hands Off My Chocolate" name for their company (recalling situations that many chocolate lovers have experienced) surfaced for the founders early on during initial trials and tastings.

Where do you hide your chocolate so that others can't find it? their website queries on one page. (Their website contains graphics that include a list of places people might choose to hide their chocolate.)

And, last but not least, each round piece that comprises the company's aggregate "bars" is printed with the word "Mine." Clever!

A blend of milk and dark chocolate resulted in a chocolate with a minimum of 39% cocoa solids, consisting of several round, bite-sized pieces fused together to make an aggregate "bar."

These thick, round pieces were fairly easy to break apart and eat. And the unique shapes created a fun tasting experience. The chocolate had a dark milk chocolate smooth texture and uniform sweet dark milk chocolate flavor with a hint of malt and vanilla.*

Belgian Chocolate - History
For many years Belgian chocolate was almost synonymous with African cacao. After all, West and Central African cacao-growing countries have been, geographically, the closest source of cacao for most European chocolate makers.

A European colonial history led to the growth of tea, coffee, cacao and other crops in many African nations in the 1800s and 1900s. For example, the former Gold Coast (now Ghana) used to be a British colony until 1959. Ivory Coast was a French colony until 1960. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) used to be the Belgian Congo (1908 - 1960), as recently as 59 years ago.

Times have changed. Today's European chocolate makers, such as Hands Off My Chocolate and many others (including some featured this week) are committed to better, more equitable relationships with farmers. Today's chocolate was made using "Fair Belgian chocolate," alluding to fair trade practices** that generally result in higher prices being paid to farmers for their crops in developing nations.

*Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, emulsifier (soy lecithin), natural vanilla flavoring.

**Built in to most fair trade organizations are also goals such as better working conditions and sustainable agricultural practices.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

White Label Chocolate - Tanzania Kilombero 68% (bar) - Nov. 5, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

White Label Chocolate
Tanzania Kilombero 68% (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.14 oz. (32.5 g.) / 2.29 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 171 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Mutari Chocolate, Santa Cruz, CA

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

Today's Tanzania Kilombero 68% (bar) was from White Label Chocolate, purchased at Mutari Chocolate (Santa Cruz, CA). Mutari offers single origin drinking chocolate and bars.

The chocolate in this White Label bar was made using Trinitario variety cacao beans (Amelonado x Nacional). This cacao was grown in a relatively wet, tropical region of Tanzania about 200 meters (approximately 656 feet) above sea level.

This dark bar was well executed and interesting. It had a chocolate aroma with fruit notes, a smooth melt, and initial creamy flavor that blossomed into full, bright tropical citrus + red sweet fruit with faint, fleeting five spice/herb/balanced earth notes.

The chocolate had a subtle, complex finish that began softly, then came subtle balanced bittersweet, and almost nutty notes. Following a few seconds of calm, there was a very tiny throat tickle of delayed sweet-sour astringency.

Maker's tasting notes: cream, nuts citrus rind

Notes about shelf life: This bar was recently expired, but seemed to have maintained good flavor and texture. I will try to re-taste a "freshly made" version of this bar in the near future. While most bars are better (less brittle, more flavorful, more attractive) before their expiration date, a few bars actually seem to benefit from some shelf time—mellowing a bit with age. 

Chocolate Storage Tips

For best results, store chocolate bars in a cool, dry place, at a consistent temperature (60-70 degrees F., or 16-21 degrees Celsius is ideal), to prevent the chocolate from going out of temper and from "bloom," which shows up as a white film or blotching on chocolates. A wine refrigerator (turned up to its higher temperature range) might also be a suitable place to store bars, as long as humidity is not too high.

Chocolate truffles and filled confections (some containing cream) have a much shorter shelf life than solid chocolate bars (often less than a week for optimal freshness), so it may be OK to refrigerate these for a short period if they are covered/well-wrapped to prevent against any condensation or absorption of other fridge flavors.

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Monday, November 4, 2019

Tony's Chocolonely - Milk Chocolate bar - Nov. 4, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Tony's Chocolonely
Milk Chocolate (bar)
Good +
Weight: .88 oz. (25 g.) / 1.76 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 135 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $ Missing information
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

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

Cacao is often grown by subsistence farmers in distant lands, making oversight in labor practices challenging.

Unfortunate consequences of this geographic schism can be poor labor conditions, low pay, and forms of slavery—conditions some chocolate makers are trying to address.

Today's Milk Chocolate (bar) was from Tony's Chocolonely (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). This company has pledged to work to help eliminate slavery (in the cacao supply chain going back to farms in Africa) by making 100% slave free chocolate.

This thick 32% cacao milk chocolate bar was a creamy, high-end milk chocolate experience.

Copyright 2019. Unauthorized use of the text and/or images from this site, www.ChocolateBanquet.com, is a copyright violation.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Domori - Trinitario 70% Tanzania Dark Chocolate bar - Nov. 3, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Domori srl
Trinitario 70% Tanzania Dark Chocolate bar
Good +
Weight: .44 oz. (12.5 g.) / .88 oz. (25 g.) in total bar
Calories: 137 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $4.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere (online order)

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

Today's Trinitario 70% Tanzania Dark Chocolate bar was from Domori srl (None, Italy), made with cacao grown in the Morogoro region of Tanzania in Africa.

This thin 4-square bar had a wild aromatic profile: earthen jars, marinated dried fruit/raisins, grapes/sweet and sour fruit fermenting in oak casks, a cute but slightly gamey lion cub,* and a slight bitter(s) note.

The melt and texture were very civilized: smooth, creamy and uniform. They were the tamest part of this bar.

The flavor was complex and interesting with some of the some earth and fermented fruit notes described in the aroma. (However, there was no touch of lion or bitterness.) And the finish was lingering, but fairly clean.

As wild as this bar sounds, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Bean to bar chocolates are becoming more uniform in flavor in recent years, thanks to fermentation training and expertise; decisions about what is "good" cacao; and farmers getting more support and a fair price for their cacao which may, in turn, enable efforts to produce better quality cacao.

This evolution has, arguably, produced better chocolate, or at least fewer bars with off flavors, which is good. But, there are also more bars with tamed down and uniform flavor profiles that are almost dull. I miss the Wild West sometimes.

*Yes, lions are a cheap way to get your attention, aren't they? Fortunately, Tanzania (while having to take strong measures to protect elephants (like the one pictured on the packaging for this bar)) has one of the healthier populations of wild lions remaining in Africa. Lion cubs are adorable and a privilege to hold when they're young (in a zoo or approved facility, not out in the wild). Like many wild animals, they can have a faint gamey or pungent aroma, especially if they've been in an enclosed area around adults. 

Note: This chocolate was recently expired (2019) when I wrote this review (2019). Generally, bars, if stored properly, have a reasonably long shelf life. However, I believe it is unfair the maker if I write a review of an expired bar without disclosing this information.

Copyright 2019. Unauthorized use of the text and/or images from this site, www.ChocolateBanquet.com, is a copyright violation.


Saturday, November 2, 2019

Moka Origins - Gola Rainforest, Sierra Leone 85% (bar) - Nov. 2, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

Moka Origins
Dark - Gola Rainforest, Sierra Leone 85% (bar)
Good
Weight: 1.2 oz. (33.9 g.) / 2.4 oz. (67.9 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories (per label) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $11.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

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

Today's Dark Gola Rainforest, Sierra Leone 85% (bar) was made by Moka Origins (Honesdale, PA).

This bold, ultra-dark chocolate had a smooth, even texture and melt—and flickers of earth, smoke and deep, opaque chocolate flavor. Think roasted nuts over fire that includes fennel* and licorice kindling.

*I happen to like fennel, so this is not necessarily a criticism. Even the dried wood/sticks from the fennel plant (the whole plant is edible) retain a polite fennel/black licorice aroma, with a touch of light vanilla and maple.

Chocolate Bonnat - Cote d'Ivorie Chocolat Noir 75% Cocoa (bar) - Nov. 1, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chocolat Bonnat
Cote d'Ivorie - Chocolat Noir 75% Cocoa (bar)
Good +++
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 242.42 calories in 40 g. of bar
Cost: $8.95 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com (online order)*

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

Today's Cote d'Ivorie 75% Cocoa Dark Chocolate, gluten free bar, was from Chocolat Bonnat (Voiron, France).

Most of world's cacao used to make chocolate comes from Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivorie) and Ghana. And yet today's bar was/is one of the few (branded) single origin Ivory Coast chocolate bars to be found.

The smooth chocolate had true deep dark, uniform chocolate flavor with a hint of dairy/cream (there was no added dairy product in this bar) and very faint, fleeting green/coconut note. It had a creamy melt and texture** and was not too sweet (thank you).

*Note: This bar is currently sold out on Chocosphere.com

**Ingredients: cocoa beans, cocoa butter and sugar. Chocolat Bonnat bars are known for their creamy texture, achieved through technique and with added cocoa butter.

Copyright 2019. Unauthorized use of the text and/or images from this site, www.ChocolateBanquet.com, is a copyright violation.





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