Chocolate of the Day
Hogarth Chocolate Company Ltd.
Sarsaparilla and Orange 68% Cacao (bar)
Weight: 1.23 oz. (35 g.) / 2.46 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 185.6 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.00 (+ summer shipping) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order
Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Orange Theme Week.
Today's Sarsaparilla and Orange 68% Cacao (bar) was from Hogarth Chocolate Company Ltd. (Nelson, New Zealand).
Hogarth makers described sarsaparilla* as a "thirst quenching, slightly spicy tonic, (that's) not so common these days." They combined sarsaparilla with licorice and ginger to achieve this classic spicy flavor (similar to sassafras, horehound, birch beer and/or root beer) and blended it with cacao and orange.
Orange is a challenging flavor to impart in desserts and baked goods. Orange peel loses it's flavor and is often enhanced with orange juice and/or orange oil (and/or artificial flavors) as a result. It also often requires preservatives. (Sugar can also act as a preservative.)
The aroma for this sarsaparilla flavored chocolate with candied orange pieces included: subtle dark/bittersweet chocolate, root-y/herbal, and faint citrus/floral notes.
The bar had a lush, thick, creamy texture with a satisfying melt and mouthfeel.
After a few day of sweet milk chocolates, this less sweet bar was very satisfying. (I admit I have a fairly strong bias toward less sugar, if only because too much sugar obscures flavor nuances.) This orange flavored chocolate was not too sweet. (Thank you!)
The flavor was a mix of dark/bittersweet chocolate and a balanced, yet complex, blend of slightly earthy and naturally sweet root flavors: sarsaparilla, ginger, licorice, and maybe a little inferred arrowroot (cookie) and star anise. These flavors lingered lightly into the finish.
Tiny islands of sugared orange peel/zest shreds were pressed into the back of the bar. The orange peel provided a subtle, authentic citrus flavor (that complemented the roots/herbs) and contributed a barely there chewy textural element.
Maker's notes: "...aromatic and refreshing, with candied orange pieces for a sweet zesty bite."
Ingredients: Cocoa solids 68% (organic cocoa beans, organic, fair trade cocoa butter), organic sugar, sarsaparilla root, licorice root, ginger root, orange oil; candied orange (orange peel, glucose, sugar, citric acid, preservative E220).
Allergen-related information: "May contain traces of milk and nuts."
*Sarsaparilla (actually a group of similar plants in the Smilax genus) is a woody, tropical vine-like plant that can be found in South American rainforests, Jamaica, the Caribbean, Mexico, Honduras, and the West Indies...some of the same places where cacao is grown/originated.
The soft drink known as "sarsaparilla" that was popular many years ago was often made with sassafras, birch, and other roots and herbs. (The taste is said to be similar to sassafras, horehound and "wild sarsaparilla," birch beer and/or root beer.) Due in part to health concerns associated with people consuming too much sassafras and sarsaparilla (e.g., not being cooked in the correct way to make it fully safe), and perhaps cost savings associated with substitutes, the flavors of these herbs/roots are often synthesized in a lab or factory.
Note: The roots of "Wild sarsaparilla" (Aralia nudicaulis)--a North American plant closer to the ginseng family, and not part of the Smilax genus--is sometimes used as a sarsaparilla substitute to flavor root beer and has also been used as a medicinal plant.
Confusing? Yes it is.