Thursday, June 25, 2020
Chocolate of the Day:
Square Organics, Inc.
Chocolate Coated Nuts and Sea Salt Organic Protein Bar
Weight: 1.6 oz. (44 g.) / 18.6 oz. (528 g.) in total box of 12 bars
Calories: 210 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $7.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA
Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate, Bees and Trees Theme Week.
Today's Chocolate Coated Nuts and Sea Salt Organic Protein Bar was distributed by Square Organics, Inc. (Oakland, CA).
This individually-wrapped bar had a light mildly nutty, coconut caramel cookie aroma. The chocolate coating had a smooth, relatively rapid melt and relatively velvety mouthfeel.
The sweet chocolate complemented a satisfying, sweet oat and nut cookie-like filling with a soft chew. Brown rice protein added some heft; and a hint of sea salt helped balance the sweetness. The bar had a relatively mild and clean finish.
Why feature this bar as part of a Chocolate, Bees and Trees Theme Week?
The number one ingredient* in this vegan protein bar was organic coconut nectar (the sweetener made from coconut blossom sap), gathered by farmers high up in the under-canopy of coconut trees.**
*Ingredients: Organic Coconut Nectar, Organic Whole Grain Brown Rice Protein, Organic Dark Chocolate (Organic Cocoa Liquor, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Almond Butter, Organic Oats, Organic Cashews, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Cocoa Liquor, Organic Almonds, Sunflower Lecithin, Sea Salt"
**Coconut Palm Tree Sugar
In Northeast North America, maple-leafed maple sugar candies are venerated confections. The impossibly sweet, amber brown-sugar colored candies, made from maple tree sap, had a velvety texture and melt. (Honeybees are also attracted to maple trees--to their tiny flowers and sap.) And maple sugar/syrup also provide a flavorful sweetener for certain chocolates.
In warmer climates, sugars are derived from different palm trees, including 1.) Sugar palms (Arenga pinnata, aka areng palm or black sugar palm); 2.) Coconut palm sugar/nectar trees (Cocos nucifera); and 3.) Date palm trees (Phoenix dactylifera)--where date sugar is extracted from the fruit (date) instead of the tree's sap or nectar.
Today's featured sweetener, coconut palm sugar is made by heating , stirring, and reducing nectar down to a thick sweet syrup. The steps are similar to the maple syrup/sugar making process; although in Southeast Asia large woks are sometimes used instead of large pots to condense the liquid sap.
When I was traveling through Vietnam (where cacao also grows) and Cambodia, I noticed someone using a bamboo "ladder" to climb a very tall coconut tree near an old stone temple. This coconut nectar farmer worked with very minimal equipment (safety or otherwise) to harvest the sweet liquid. Farmers bring up and attach bamboo or plastic "pails," then bring down these containers containing liquid nectar from the flower bearing part of the tree which may be made into syrup or sugar or coconut candy.
Like many unprocessed sugars, coconut sugar can add a slight warmth or faint caramel flavor to chocolate, which worked nicely with today's protein bar. (It also scores lower on the glycemic index than white cane or beet sugars.)