Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Jason Scott LLC - Christmas Cocoa Assortment; Belgian Chocolates- Jan. 14, 2020

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Jason Scott LLC
Christmas Cocoa Assortment (3 flavors)
Vanilla with Hazelnut
Good - Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 3 oz. (84 g.) in total package of 3 flavors
Calories: 100 calories in 1 packet
Cost: $2.99 for 1 package of 3 flavors
Purchased from: Ross Stores in Mountain View, CA

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

Today's Christmas Cocoa Assortment of three festively packaged miniature mixes was from Jason Scott LLC (Boca Raton, FL). Nothing warms one up quite like a good cup of hot chocolate. The vanilla (mix) added comfort and joy to a sweet hot cocoa sipping experience.

Belgian Chocolate Assortment 
I also sampled four filled chocolate truffles from a Belgian chocolate assortment holiday box.

While they mentioned hazelnut fillings, none of the chocolates I sampled had extremely strong hazelnut flavor.

See photo (at right) for a picture of the four flavors that seemed to have the most detectable hazelnut flavor.

Unlike many similar chocolate assortments, these did not contain gluten/wheat ingredients.





Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Ghirardelli Chocolate - Milk Chocolate Caramelized Hazelnuts - Jan. 13, 2020

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Ghirardelli Chocolate Company
Milk Chocolate Caramelized Hazelnuts
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) 4.8 oz. (136.2 g.) in total package
Calories: 150 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $7.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Michael's, Mountain View, CA

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

Today's Milk Chocolate Caramelized Hazelnuts from Ghirardelli Chocolate Company (San Leandro, CA) were an addictive blend of sweet rich milk chocolate, nuts, and a wee bit of salt.

The nuts had a slightly roasted flavor and a soft crunchy texture, contrasting with smooth chocolate coatings.

Experimental research...
Other chocolate research is frequently being conducted at Chocolate Banquet headquarters. For example, two experimental batches of pumpkin ice cream blended with pie spices, toasted hazelnuts and almonds, and chocolate fudge pieces, were created today. (The "fudge" pieces were created using melted, untempered dark chocolate and coconut oil.)

The verdict? More research is needed to perfect this ice cream. (I might try vanilla bean and honey ice cream next time.)

We'll stick to polishing off the Milk Chocolate Caramelized Hazelnuts today.

Trader Joe's - Belgian Truffle Ballotin Box - 2 pcs. - Jan. 12, 2020

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Trader Joe's
Belgian Truffle Ballotin Box
1.) Chocolate truffle (square) - Good +
2.) White chocolate covered with milk chocolate and feuilletine* filling - Good
Weight: .88 oz. (25 g.) / 3.53 oz. (100 g.) in total assortment box
Calories: 140 calories in 2 pieces/truffles
Cost: $ N/A - holiday gift from a friend (Thank you Joy!)
Purchased from: N/A - holiday gift (Trader Joe's)

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

I enjoyed the last two filled chocolate truffles (pictured at right) in an 8-piece holiday assortment box today.

Filled chocolate confections can be a tad sweet, but hazelnuts and other nuts can help balance out the sweetness. And it's fun to mix it up every once in awhile, especially during the darker winter months when sugar seems a bit more appealing.**

*Feuilletine denotes small bits of wafer mixed into the chocolate filling. And these bits usually contain wheat.

**Generally, I eat at least a piece of a high-percentage single origin bar each day. Living in a high-percentage, high-flavor world is enjoyable, even if one has to be more careful about ingesting too much theobromine (a stimulant in chocolate), and sugar, late in the day before sleeping. 


Trader Joe's - Belgian Truffle Ballotin Box - Hazelnut Leaf - Jan. 11, 2020

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Trader Joe's
Belgian Truffle Ballotin Box
1.) Chocolate Leaf (hazelnut filling) - Good +
2.) Dark chocolate covered "snail" with milk chocolate feuilletine filling - Good
3.) Filled chocolate truffle - caramel filling - Good
Weight: 1.32 oz. (37.5 g.) / 3.53 oz. (100 g.) in total assortment box
Calories: 210 calories in 3 pieces/truffles
Cost: $ N/A - holiday gift from a friend (Thank you Joy!)
Purchased from: N/A - holiday gift (Trader Joe's)

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

Today's three Belgian truffles came from an 8-piece assortment Ballotin Box that I received as a holiday gift from a friend.

The first truffle sampled was shaped like a leaf, that enveloped a tasty hazelnut chocolate ganache/filling. The second "snail" shaped truffle had a milk chocolate filling with what I'm guessing were tiny bits of wafer (feuilletine style).* The third chocolate (pictured at bottom left of photo) was filled with soft, flowing caramel.

*Those who are very sensitive to wheat might want to sample a small bite of each truffle first before taking a larger bite.

Trader Joe's Belgian Truffle Ballotin Box - Hazelnut Heart - Jan. 10, 2020

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Belgian Truffle Ballotin Box
1.) Milk chocolate heart (hazelnut filling)
2.) Dark chocolate filled cocoa pod
3.) White chocolate covered flower
Weight: 1.32 oz. (37.5 g.) / 3.53 oz. (100 g.) in total assortment box
Calories: 210 calories in 3 pieces/truffles
Cost: $ N/A - holiday gift from a friend (Thank you Joy!)
Purchased from: N/A - holiday gift (Trader Joe's)

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

There is something decadent and wonderful about chocolate hazelnut filled chocolates. Thank you to Joy for this lovely assortment box of chocolate truffles with hazelnut.

Of the 8 different truffles in this box, some of the fillings had more pronounced hazelnut flavor than others. (The number one ingredient listed on the back was "hazelnut filling."

The chocolate heart in this 8-piece assortment was filled with chocolate hazelnut ganache that was somewhere between an Italian gianduja/gianduia and a Nutella filling. (I have positive memories of both.)

The cocoa pod shaped and textured truffle added an authentic touch. I wonder how many people might recognize this as the "mother" fruit that contains the seeds used to make chocolate?

Note: Some of these chocolates contained tiny bits of wafer or wheat.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Roshen - Dark Chocolate chopped hazelnuts 56% cocoa (bar) - Jan. 9, 2020

Chocolate of the Day:

Roshen
Dark Chocolate chopped hazelnuts 56% cocoa (bar)
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 3.18 oz. (90 g.) in total bar
Calories: 180 calories in 1/3 bar
Cost: $1.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Crossroads Specialty Foods, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's Dark Chocolate chopped hazelnuts 56% cocoa (bar) was made by Roshen (Ukraine), and imported by Roshen USA LLC (Cranbury, NJ).

This dark bar had a sweet chocolate aroma with a slight pleasant smoky, roasted nut note. Hazelnut pieces added a soft, crunchy nutty texture and flavor.








Taza Chocolate - Dark Chocolate Covered Hazelnuts - Jan. 8, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

Taza Chocolate
Dark Chocolate Covered Hazelnuts
Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 4.2 oz. (119 g.) in total package
Calories: 170 calories in 1 oz. serving
Cost: $7.95 for 1 package
Purchased from: SweetE Organic, Mill Valley, CA


Welcome to Day #8 of Hit the Trail with Chocolate Week, and Day #1 of Chocolate and Hazelnuts Theme Week.

Today's Dark Chocolate Covered Hazelnuts were from Taza Chocolate (Somerville, MA).


The 55% cacao chocolate was stone ground, Organic, Direct Trade, Non GMO Project Verified, Certified Gluten Free, Kosher Pareve, dairy free, soy free, and vegan.

The roasted, organic hazelnuts was crunchy and flavorful and complemented the slightly rustic, flavorful dark chocolate. This was a great winter walk snack and not too sweet (thank you!).

Today's walk outside was extra beautiful. Rainbows by the Pacific Ocean and a walk on the beach to look at elephant seals and surfers. And chocolate.

Ingredients: Organic dark chocolate (organic cacao beans, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, organic vanilla beans), organic roasted hazelnuts.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Nestle - Winter Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels - Jan. 7, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

Nestle
Toll House - Winter Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels
Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 10 oz. (283 g.) in total pkg.
Calories: 161.7 calories in 1 oz. of morsels
Cost: $1.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #6 of Hit the Trail with Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's Nestle Toll House Winter Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels were distributed by Nestle Baking, a division of Nestle USA, Inc. (Solon, OH).

How might these morsels best be transformed into a portable outdoor snack? What other ingredients would they be compatible with? This was this morning's self-inflicted challenge.

The morsels had a pronounced mint and sweet dark chocolate aroma and flavor, but, surprisingly made for a good snack mix that also contained:
  • Chocolate Chex (rice) cereal 
  • green pistachios and pumpkin seeds
  • homemade bits of almond sesame crackers w/ sea salt 
The mint gave this treat an extra refreshing kick during a winter waterside hike today.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Hu Kitchen - Hu Chocolate-Covered Hunks Almonds + Sea Salt - Jan. 6, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

Hu Kitchen
Hu Chocolate-Covered Hunks Almonds + Sea Salt
Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) /4 oz. (113 g.) in total package
Calories: 170 calories in 1 oz. serving
Cost: $6.95 for 1 package
Purchased from: SweetE Organic, Mill Valley, CA

Welcome to Day #5 of Hit the Trail with Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's Hu Kitchen Almonds + Sea Salt Chocolate-Covered Hunks, distributed by Hu Products LLC (NY, NY), made for a high-end trail snack.

Hu Kitchen offers chocolate bars, hunks, gems and gluten-free crackers -- snacks made with simple, healthy ingredients for hu(mans).

The "hunks" (pieces) consisted of whole almonds coated with rustic-looking chocolate (made with house-ground cacao) that lacked the glossy exterior that many chocolate covered items have. By avoiding confectioners glaze, the ingredients list* was made shorter and perhaps more benign. (Hu founders (and siblings), Jordan Brown and Jessica Karp, wanted to leave out glaze that was largely "chemically-treated insect goo" and other iffy additives and substances.)

The chocolate coating (no percent listed) tasted authentic and smooth. Sweetened with coconut sugar, these weren't too sweet (thank you!). And a well-balanced touch of sea salt added a perfect hint of savory.

Ingredients: Almonds, organic cacao, unrefined organic coconut sugar, organic fair-trade cocoa butter, sea salt.


O Organics - Organic Bittersweet Chocolate Chunks - Jan. 5, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

O Organics
Organic Bittersweet Chocolate Chunks
Good - Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 10 oz. (283 g.) in total package
Calories: 150.9 calories in 1 oz. (28 g.) serving
Cost: $3.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Safeway, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #4 of Hit the Trail with Chocolate Theme Week.

I made my own organic trail mix today, combining an ounce of Organic Bittersweet Chocolate Chunks from O Organics (distributed by Lucerne Foods Inc., Pleasanton, CA)* with a handful of O Organics Organic Cranberry Nut Trail Mix.

The dark chocolate helped perk up the trail mix, which provided some quick, concentrated energy for a day outside at the Palo Alto Baylands. The combination of smooth dark chocolate, bright dried fruit and crunchy nuts
was appealing, if for no other reason, because of the bright variety of tastes and textures.


Saturday, January 4, 2020

Seattle Chocolate - Hiker's Trail Mix Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar - Jan. 4, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

Seattle Chocolate Company
Hiker's Trail Mix Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.25 oz. (35 g.) 2.5 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 180 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $4.50 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: missing information

Welcome to Day #3 of Hit the Trail with Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's Hiker's Trail Mix Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar—with peanuts, California raisins and roasted sunflower seeds in dark chocolate* (no cacao percent listed)—was from Seattle Chocolate Company (Seattle, WA).

The gluten free and vegan bar had a roasted peanut and chocolate aroma and the chocolate had a smooth, creamy dark chocolate truffle melt and mouthfeel. The raisins were moist and chewy, and the nuts and sunflower seeds provided some soft crunchy texture.

This trail mix bar was an enjoyable treat after a beautiful January hike with two lovely chocolate friends by the San Francisco bay.

*Rainforest Alliance Certified, Kosher Dairy, Non GMO Project Verified


Friday, January 3, 2020

Clif Bar - Sierra Trail Mix (bar) - Jan. 3, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

Clif Bar and Company
Sierra Trail Mix (bar)
Good
Weight: 2.4 oz. (68 g.) in total bar
Calories: 250 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $ missing information
Purchased from: missing information

Welcome to Day #2 of Hit the Trail with Chocolate Theme Week.

I love being outdoors in the winter. A walk or hike in the fresh air makes food (including chocolate) taste better. So, even though it's January, as long as it isn't raining heavily. I'll be outside this week every day (with chocolate).

Today's Sierra Trail Mix (bar) was from Clif Bar and Company (Emeryville, CA).

The bar contained peanuts, chocolate and raisins; and this hiking snack had a sweet trail mix and granola aroma and flavor, compressed into a crunchy, chewy substantial bar.

*One rumor has it that trail mix was invented by two California surfers in 1968 when they mixed peanuts and raisins together for a snack. I can remember as a child carrying around plastic bags of homemade trail mix, "gorp," and/or granola with chocolate pieces and nuts in California in the 1960s, so this story sounds plausible. 

Many outdoor enthusiasts (my parents included) in the 1960s and early 1970s were creative DIYers. My father, an engineer, made his own wetsuits, ski clothing, trail mix, and just about everything else one could think of. And my mother packed awesome paper bag lunches for family adventures.




Thursday, January 2, 2020

Bake Works - Trail Nuggets Chocolate + Peanuts bar - Jan. 2, 2020

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Bake Works Inc.
Trail Nuggets Pro
Chocolate + Peanut + Fist Pump Energy and Protein Bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 2.1 oz. (60 g.) in 1 package
Calories: 210 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $0.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #1 of Hit the Trail with Chocolate Theme Week.

Trail Nuggets

I like to walk and hike, with a chocolate stop or two.

Today's Trail Nuggets Pro "Chocolate + Peanut + Fist Pump" Energy and Protein Bar from Bake Works Inc. (Vancouver, WA) supplied 10 grams of protein and fueled a walk on the Bay Trail (a 500-mile trail encircling San Francisco Bay).*

It had a satisfying cocoa/chocolate chew with a peanut butter filling that was not too sweet (thank you!).

The ingredients list for this bar was short: dates, peanut butter, pea protein, cocoa powder, peanut flour, water, and sea salt.

Holiday Cocoa

I also enjoyed a serving of holiday caramel flavored hot cocoa from Jason Scott, LLC. This cocoa, part of a 3-flavor Christmas Cocoa Assortment pack, yielded a single serving of warm, smooth sweet hot cocoa with tiny bits of caramel/toffee that was enjoyed outdoors, on the trail.

*The Bay Trail has been developed over 30 years. The trail will be 500 miles of finished trail running through 9 counties and 47 cities when it is complete. www.baytrail.org. It's walkable (or bikeable) now in it's mostly finished form. (I know this because I'm on my third walk around the Bay.)

SweetWorks - Creme d'Amaretto and Creme de Menthe chocolates - Jan. 1, 2020

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

SweetWorks Confections, LLC
(A Chocolat Frey Company)
Ovation Break-A-Parts by Frey
Creme de Menthe
Good +
Weight: .3 oz. (8.75 g.) /6.17 oz. (175 g.) in total package
Calories: 47.5 calories in 1 segment
Cost: $1.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

SweetWorks Confections LLC
Ovation Break-A-Parts by Frey
Creme d'Amaretto
Good +
Weight: .31 oz. (8.8 g.) /6.17 oz. (175 g.) in total package
Calories: 48 calories in 1 segment
Cost: $1.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Happy Chocolate New Year and New Decade to all! Welcome to the final day (Day #11) of Holiday Tea and Spirits Theme Week, and Day #1 of 2020.

Today's Ovation Break-A-Parts by Frey were manufactured by SweetWorks, LLC (A Chocolat Frey Company (Buffalo, NY).

I enjoyed these two variations on a holiday chocolate foil-wrapped "orange" tradition that I first encountered in the UK.*

After a few quick whacks on the edge of the kitchen counter....citrus-like chocolate segments were freed and ready to eat. And each segment was filled with a flavored filling: Creme de Menthe and Creme d'Amaretto respectively.

*Terry's Chocolate Oranges originally made their appearance in the early 1930s, the creation of family firm Joseph Terry's and Sons/Terry's Chocolate Works in York, England. (Mondelez International bought Terry's in 2012.)

Chocolate Frey, founded in 1887 by brothers Robert and Max Frey, is a Swiss business enterprise of the M-industry and has been a part of the Migros Group since 1950.



Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Goodio Craft Chocolate - Winter Glow - Dec. 31, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Goodio Craft Chocolate
Winter Glow 49% Chocolate Topped with Mulled Wine Crystals (bar)
Good
Weight: .85 oz. (24 g.) / 1.7 oz. (48 g.) in 1/2 bar
Calories: 117 calories (per label) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $ missing information
Purchased from: missing information

Welcome to Day #10 of Holiday Tea and Spirits Theme Week.

Today's Winter Glow Chocolate Topped with Mulled Wine Crystals 49% Cacao (bar) was manufactured by Helsinki Heaven Ltd for Goodio Craft Chocolate, from bean-to-bar, in Helsinki, Finland.

The Finns know more about winter than most of us around the globe do. And gathering in the dark months to enjoy some hot, sweet, mulled wine is a Scandinavian tradition. Goodio shares that tradition with us with this vegan, sweet chocolate bar that was lightly spiced* and had opaque magenta-colored mulled wine crystals on one side—giving it a faint but pleasant sweet red fruit (red grape, berry) flavor.

*Ingredients: Organic cacao beans, organic coconut palm sugar, organic cacao butter, organic coconut flakes, birch sugar, organic cinnamon, organic cardamom, bitter orange peel, organic cranberry powder, organic ginger, organic carnation.






Integrity Cacao - Match Green Tea Truffe, Chai Turmeric Truffle - Dec. 30, 2019

Chocolates of the Day: 

Integrity Cacao
1.) Matcha Green Tea truffle - Good +
2.) Chai Turmeric truffle - Good +
Weight: .89 oz. (25.2 g.) (estimate) in 2 truffles
Calories: 132 calories (estimate) in 2 truffles
Cost: $N/A - gift box (Thank you Katy!)
Purchased from: N/A - Gift

Welcome to Day #9 of Holiday Tea and Spirits Theme Week. Today's tea truffles were a delight to eye and palette.

Thank you to Katy for this delicious holiday gift. And thank you to Merissa at Integrity Cacao in Southern California for making beautiful, healthy and delicious chocolates.

All the Integrity Cacao truffles sampled today were relatively smooth and moist with uniform rich chocolate flavor, and were not too sweet (thank you!).

The Matcha tea truffles had a balanced green tea flavor note and topping them with a dose of powdered bright green matcha gave them a lovely spring green in color feast for the eyes in this gray winter month.

The Chai tea spice truffles were dusted with a bright yellow dose of turmeric, which added beautiful golden color, and a slight turmeric (an agreeably strong spicy root with a faint but balanced bitter) note.

Note: the Rose truffles in the middle (with the attractive fuschia pink color and rose buds on top) were sampled but not "counted" in today's entry.




Health Lab - Cacao Matcha Probiotic Ball - Dec. 29, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Health Lab
Cacao Matcha Probiotic Ball
Good
Weight: 1.41 oz. (40 g.) in 1 ball
Calories: 181 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $0.69 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #8 of Holiday Tea and Spirits Theme Week.

Today's Cacao Matcha Probiotic Ball was made in Australia for Health Lab (Melbourne, Australia).

This satisfying (gluten free, vegan, low sodium and low carb)* snack ball had light matcha green tea flavor, substantial chewy texture and cacao flavor. And, it was not too sweet (thank you!).

It deserved a spot on the dessert table rather just stuffed in the hiking backpack.

Ingredients: dates, cashews, organic coconut, cacao nibs, "1 billion vegan probiotics," organic matcha green tea. 

Sodium in 1 ball was 4 mg; and total carbs were 7.6 grams (3.3 grams of which were fiber).




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