Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Flying Bird Botanicals - Cocao Especial and OmNom Chocolate Lakkris + Sea Salt (bar) - Sept. 21, 2021

Chocolate(s) of the Day

Flying Bird Botanicals
Cacao Especial Drinking Chocolate
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.5 Tablespoons (12 g.) / 3.5 oz. (99.05 g.) in total container
Calories: 45 calories in 1 serving (1.5 Tablespoons)
Cost: $9.95 for 1 container
Purchased from: Land's End gift shop, San Francisco, CA

OmNom Chocolate
Lakkris + Sea Salt (bar)
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.05 oz. (30 g.) / 2.1 oz. (60 g.) in total bar
Calories: 180 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.95 for 1 bar
Purchased from: ZombieRunner, Palo Alto, CA 

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate Breakfast Theme Week.

Fall begins this week; and I'd hoped to find a (pre-made) licorice hot chocolate--difficult to find for a gluten-free me as most licorice offerings contain wheat flour. Happily, I did find a pair of cacao-based items that added up to something similar.

Flying Bird Botanicals - Cacao Especial

The first item in today's chocolate duo was a cup of Cacao Especial Drinking Chocolate from Flying Bird Botanicals LLC (Bellingham, WA). The company offers a variety of teas and cacao drinking chocolates.

Raw cacao powder can be quite strong. The first raw drinking chocolate mixes I remember tasting were sometimes acidic, bitter and gritty. (Big brand hot chocolate powdered mixes are generally made with finely ground, alkalized cocoa--using a process that reduces acidity and sharper cacao flavor notes.) 

However, today's raw and organic (three-ingredient) powdered cacao mix had rich, smooth cacao (light brownie) flavor--perhaps due to the choice of (presumably milder) "heirloom" cacao and a hint of vanilla bean. The powder also blended nicely with warm liquids with some minimal stirring, including the coconut milk and water I used to make this drinking chocolate. (There was no grittiness; and this was accomplished without any added emulsifiers or vegetable gums. Thank you!)

I look forward to enjoying this mix on cold weather mornings to come. It would be great for drinking and dipping. I plan to dip my (gluten-free) breakfast bread or toast into this drinking chocolate. (For those who can handle gluten, try a buttery, flaky croissant.)

Also appreciated was the mindful packaging that Flying Bird uses for their teas and cacao blends (e.g. use of recycled papers and sealed, recycled steel tins made in the U.S.).

Ingredients: "Organic raw cacao powder, organic raw cane crystals, organic ground vanilla bean."

Allergen-related information: (None listed that I could find.)

OmNom Lakkris + Sea Salt (bar)

Today's second chocolate was a Lakkris (Licorice) + Sea Salt (bar) made by OmNom Chocolate (Reykjavik, Iceland). 

Licorice root is naturally sweet (due to glycyrrhizic acid), and gluten free. However, most licorice candies contain wheat flour; and wheat gluten enables licorice's characteristic chewy, stretchy texture. Licorice root flavor can also be imparted to foods and chocolate in other ways, including using alternative starches or licorice liqueurs, teas and other infusions.

Because I can't tolerate gluten, I really appreciate, high-quality, new and novel chocolates/foods that I can eat. And to find this creatively crafted licorice and salt bar, with no wheat ingredients, was a real treat.

What do I mean by creative? Similar to coffee "chocolate" bars made with very finely ground coffee beans and cocoa butter (the 40-50% of fat from the cacao bean), this licorice bar was crafted using cocoa butter, but not the "darker" part of the cocoa bean that I've often referred to in the past as cocoa solids.

The deep, golden brown color of this bar gave it a milk chocolate appearance. But the "chocolate" color came from caramelized sugar and licorice. 

The bar had a caramel licorice aroma. Bold flavor notes included something for almost every quadrant of the palette: a rich, browned sugar milk caramel sweetness was balanced by a sustained bitter herb note (authentic licorice) note, and a sparkle or two of Icelandic sea salt (that OmNom makers obtained) from a local saltworks facility.

If you love licorice/liquorice, do give this bar a try.

Ingredients: Organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, Icelandic whole milk powder, liquorice powder, Icelandic sea salt from Saltverk salmiak, emulsifier (sunflower lecithin). Contains a minimum of 38% cocoa solids.

Allergen-related information: (Contains milk.) "Designed and made in Iceland, in a facility that handles nuts, dairy and gluten."

*Wheat flour is used to bind ingredients together in the making of licorice, presumably (initially) ground bits of licorice root or a licorice extract and sugars (glucose, syrups) to yield a slightly gummy, stretchy texture associated with commercial licorice sticks, disks, nuggets and other shapes/forms.

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