Thursday, January 21, 2021

Vosges Chocolate - Banana Coconut 72% Cacao (bar) - Jan. 21, 2021

Chocolate of the Day

Vosges IP, LLC
Banana Coconut 72% Cacao (bar)
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.5 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 210 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $9.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Vosges, online order 

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Banana Theme Week, and Day #1 of Chocolate and ABCD* Theme Week.

Today's Banana Coconut 72% Cacao dark (bar) was from Vosges IP, LLC (Chicago, IL). 

I am so grateful to have witnessed (and enjoyed) the new wave of American chocolate makers and chocolatiers in the early 21st Century. 

In the late 1990s, several artisan chocolate makers (mostly men) were starting to develop bold, layered, complex bean-to-bar dark chocolates wrapped in brown wrappers in their kitchens and basements. And (with a few notable exceptions) there was a split between this more technical crowd--who loved the technical challenges of making chocolate from scratch--and existing chocolatiers and chefs who were making confections and bars from blocks of pre-made chocolate. 

During this same time, a young chocolate brand pioneer, Katrina Markoff at Vosges, following a prestigious apprenticeship in Spain, at El Bulli with Ferran Adria, was channeling a different spirit, engaging the senses, and creating and conveying her experiences and stories around chocolate in bold, creative ways. 

Markoff continues to incorporate exotic flavor inclusions from far-away places into an impressive array of attractively-packaged bars and confections--with occasional musical references, spices, flower petals and gold flakes along the way. She gained early fame from her Mo's bacon bars, but she pioneered (and continues to create) an amazing variety of flavors. (I remember trying a Vosges pandan** flavored confection years ago. It was a flavor revelation--virtual travel through chocolate.

In the last decade, the chocolate maker and chocolatier camps have converged a bit. Craft chocolate makers have become more sophisticated in their sourcing/supply chains, production techniques, packaging and marketing. Some chefs/chocolatiers even became chocolate makers.

Markoff and her team at Vosges have faced the challenges associated with cacao sourcing, as the company ramped up to become a high volume company. (Can one have high-quality cacao/chocolate with a range of ever-changing, cacao origin flavors that vary from harvest to harvest, when consistency is paramount with high volume sales?) 

Back to today's Banana Coconut Dark Chocolate Bar...

Today's Banana Coconut bar had a pleasant, balanced aroma and flavor that was a skillful meld of bold, dark chocolate (with a fleeting hint of earthiness) with authentic banana and light coconut, with light green banana, floral (vanilla) notes. Tiny bits of dried banana created a light crispiness and chewiness in the texture.

The maker's notes read: " bananas, (and their) peels, and Sri Lankan coconut permeate our dark chocolate with husky, tropical notes."

Ingredients: Bittersweet chocolate (Fair Trade unsweetened chocolate, Fair Trade sugar, Fair Trade cocoa butter, Fair Trade natural vanilla flavor), dried bananas (sic) pieces, bananas, natural flavor coconut extract.

*ABCD Theme Week highlights items that start with the letters ABC or D that also include some building blocks of chocolate. There are so many chocolates, and there is such a bounty of chocolate additions, that it seemed a pity to ignore this opportunity for absolute, crazy fun. Today's Banana Coconut bar was paired with a colorful, Arkansas Black Apple.

**The Pandan plant (Pandanus amaryllifolius) grows in SE Asia. The plant's long green leaves are mildly sweet and aromatic. Their unique flavor has been described as grassy with hints of rose, almond, vanilla and mild coconut. It's used to flavor a variety of foods, including desserts, beverages and rice. The leaves themselves are also used to wrap around small bundles of rice and savory foods.

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