Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Chugach Chocolates - Dark Chocolate Alaskan Kelp & Cayenne (bar) - July 14, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chugach Chocolates and Confections
Rich Dark Chocolate with Alaskan Kelp and Cayenne (bar)
(Made with Barnacle Foods Bull Kelp)
Weight: 1.75 oz. (49.6 g.) in total bar
Calories: 263 calories (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: $N/A - gift (thank you Megan!)
Purchased from: N/A - gift

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

Today's Rich Dark Chocolate with Alaskan Kelp and Cayenne bar was from Chugach Chocolates and Confections (Girdwood, Alaska).

When I opened the packaging, I was greeted by the sweet childhood smells of chocolate: Swiss Miss* hot cocoa, Cocoa Puffs* and other chocolate breakfast cereals, i.e. the aroma of alkalized cocoa** -- cocoa that has been treated to make it less acid and/or bitter. 

There was no cacao/cocoa percentage listed on this bar. I'm guessing, by the sweetness level, it was made with less than 50% cacao dark chocolate. (In the U.S. dark chocolate needs to contain at least 15% chocolate liquor or cocoa mass from ground cocoa bean pieces or nibs. The mildest dark chocolate might only contain 15-34% cacao.)

The sweet chocolate had a smooth melt and creamy mouthfeel (butterfat) that was accented by crunchy bits of dried kelp (from Barnacle Foods in Juneau, AK) that had a very mild, salty flavor (that helped balance out the sweetness). And a friendly, soft tingle of cayenne pepper rounded things out. Overall, this was a fun bar to try; and, surprisingly, it stimulated many childhood memories.

Kelp (seaweed) is quite edible and nutritious. It's a good natural source of iodine and other minerals and vitamins. I first tried it during a Girl Scout outing on the beach (it was boiled in a large pot for us children to try) in the late 1960s after a long hike to the sea. 

Kelp is still found washed up on West Coast/Pacific Ocean beaches in the U.S.; but, sadly, kelp forests (home to fish and undersea wildlife) have declined by almost 90% since I first sampled it on a Northern California beach many years ago--primarily due to rising ocean temperatures. 

Thank you to Chugach for featuring kelp (and cayenne) in today's chocolate bar--that was made with a special blend of ingredients that originated in the Americas.


*General Mills introduced Cocoa Puffs breakfast cereal back in 1956, the year I was born. Americans elevated sweet, crunchy cereals to a commercial art form in the 1900s.

Around that same time, Charles Sanna invented Swiss Miss hot cocoa mix where consumers could just add hot water to a packet of cocoa (instead of fixing it on the stove with milk). Hot chocolate on the go was made much easier for families, soldiers, field workers, campers and explorers. I remember drinking Swiss Miss on backpacking trips. (Incidentally, engineer and inventor Charles Sanna passed away in 2019 at age 101. He continued to drink hot cocoa even after the formula changed when the brand was purchased by Beatrice Foods and then Conagra over the years.)

Like it or not, these chocolate-for-breakfast items had a big influence on me. After all, I've been sampling unique chocolates in the mornings for almost 14 years now. And while I've lost my taste for overly sweet, sugary items, my love for chocolate lingered.

**Ingredients: Dark chocolate (sugar, chocolate liquor processed with alkali, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, butterfat (milk), soy lecithin and vanilla); (Barnacle Foods) Kelp; Cayenne Pepper; Salt. 

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