Saturday, December 31, 2022

Vosges - Champagne Truffles - Dec. 31, 2022

Chocolate(s) of the Day

Vosges
Champagne Truffles
Good ++
Weight: .72 oz. (20.4 g.) / 1.8 oz. (51 g.) in total container
Calories: 88 calories in 2 pieces
Cost: $20.00 for 1 container of 5 truffles
Purchased from: Vosges, online order

Happy New Year's Eve to you all; and welcome to Day #11 of Chocolate and Spirits Theme Week.

Today's Champagne Truffles were from Vosges IP, LLC (Chicago, IL).

The aroma notes for these attractively packaged, and gold leaf adorned, truffles included: sweet dark chocolate (dark ganache, dark chocolate mousse), with very faint traces of warm spice--and even fainter, fleeting sourdough bread and chocolate cookie notes.

A firmer, smooth dark chocolate shell with filled with a velvety, soft dark chocolate ganache (filling).

The taste was very chocolate-centered with rich, smooth and chocolatey (brownie) notes, and very faint warm spice and vanilla.

Ingredients: bittersweet chocolate (unsweetened chocolate), sugar, cocoa butter, ground vanilla beans), heavy cream, wheat glucose*, champagne, gold leaf

Allergen-related information: Contains: milk, wheat*. Processed on equipment that also processes milk, soy, wheat*, eggs, peanuts, sesame and tree nuts.

"*Gluten free. The wheat has been processed to allow this food to meet the FDA requirements for gluten-free foods."




Vosges - Collection + The Dalmore 14 Truffle with Pecan - Dec. 30, 2022

Chocolate(s) of the Day

Vosges
The Dalmore + Vosges Haut-Chocolat 9-piece box (3 flavors)
1.) Chiba Hateruma - Good ++
2.) Naga - Good +++
3.) The Dalmore 14 - Good +++
Weight: 1.22 oz. (34.66 g.) / 3.66 oz. (104 g.) in 9-piece box
Calories: 140 calories in 3 pieces
Purchased from: Vosges, online order

Welcome to Day #10 of Chocolate and Spirits Theme Week.

This Dalmore 14 Truffle with Pecan is the second of two whisky-related chocolate posts today from Vosges IP, LLC (Chicago, IL). 

(See previous post for a write-up on The Dalmore 14 Collection -- featuring three different whiskey-infused chocolate flavors.) Both collections sampled today were housed in an attractive black, 9-piece box, with three flavors each, and with tasting tips and information to enhance a tasting experience.

Note: Today's Chiba Hateruma and Naga chocolates, the other two flavors in this Vosges box did not contain Dalmore Scotch Whisky, but were appealing, exotic tasting partners in today's spirit-infused chocolate tasting flight.

Chiba Heruma
This very beautiful (matte forest green) chocolate was topped with finely chopped Japanese Chiba* peanuts. 

Aroma notes for this 62% cacao dark chocolate included: faint spice, and faint chocolate and tart green citrus herb (oxalis). Bursting forth from inside was a very soft, flowing, lightly salted, sweet caramel filling with very faint herbal notes.

Naga 
The Naga chocolate contained "housemade and toasted curry masala + coconut puree + 45% cacao deep milk chocolate."

Aroma and flavor notes included: sweet brown sugar, spices (very faint curry blend) and chocolate. 

The firmer, outer chocolate shell was topped with (curry) spices that harmonized very nicely with a much lighter (whipped cream/mousse) creamy chocolate center that had very light coconut notes. The layered flavors were very satisfying.

I'd tasted a similar Vosges Naga chocolate many years ago. At the time the southeast Asian-inspired spice blend with chocolate was considered very exotic. It may still be. It was deliciously novel and inspired, now as then. And today's Naga chocolate was possibly even better than I remember the first one being.

The Dalmore 14 
Last but not least in this trio of filled chocolates....The Dalmore 14 with Pecan. 

Aroma notes for this 62% dark chocolate topped with a "candied whisky soaked pecan" included: very faint honey-ed whisky, chocolate and faint lightly woodsy nut (pecan). 

The flavors: a sweet, rich and harmoniously layered blend of smooth dark chocolate ganache, whisky, caramel and softly crunchy, pecan. Very nice winter warmer and companion pairing with a sip of Scotch.

Collective ingredients (for all three chocolate flavors in this box): Milk chocolate (sugar, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, ground vanilla beans), heavy cream, brown rice syrup, bittersweet chocolate (unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, ground vanilla beans), Okinawa black sugar, Hateruma brown sugar, cane sugar, coconut puree (coconut milk, invert sugar syrup), grass-fed butter, Dalmore 14 Year Scotch, cocoa butter, white chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, nonfat dry milk, soy lecithin, Chiba peanuts, turmeric, Madagascar vanilla beans, blue color (spirulina extract, fruit juice), water, invert sugar syrup, pecans sea salt, nutmeg, ground ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel seed, clove, fenugreek seed, sunflower lecithin, white pepper, black pepper. 

Allergen-related information: "Contains peanuts, coconut, pecans, milk, soy."..."Processed on equipment that also processes milk, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, sesame and tree nuts."

*Chiba prefecture in Japan is the largest producer of peanuts in the country, and is known for flavored peanuts (sugared, salted, spiced, matcha/green tea, other).

Vosges - Dalmore 14 Collection: The Dalmore 18 and The Dalmore 12 (Scotch Whiskey truffles) - Dec. 30, 2022

Chocolate(s) of the Day

Vosges IP, LLC
The Dalmore 14 Collection
1.) The Dallmore 18 - Scotch whisky + vanilla bean coffee +... - Very Good
2.) The Dallmore 12 - Scotch whisky + proprietary 62% cacao dark... Good +++ - Very Good
Weight: 1.626 oz. (46.2 g.) for 4 truffles / 3.66 oz. (104 g.) for 9-piece box
Calories: 227 calories (approx.) in 4 truffles
Cost: $42.00 for box of 9 truffles
Purchased from: Vosges, online order

Welcome to Day #10 of Chocolate and Spirits Week. 

Today's 9-piece (3 flavors* or "parfums") box of high-end truffles--"The Dalmore 14 Collection" (The Dalmore Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey) x Vosges Haut-Chocolat"--from Vosges IP, LLC was impressive. Luxurious in its packaging, it also delivered a wonderful, high-end tasting experience.

Below is a short review of two of the three flavors in this box. (The third contained wheat, so I did not sample.)

The Dalmore 18
My favorite in this Collection. Infused with The Dalmore 18 Scotch whisky, this white chocolate covered truffle was adorned with pieces of real gold leaf. It was filled with a layered ganache that was full of delightful surprises.

Aroma notes included: come hither subtle vanilla and faint scotch, buttery vanilla wafer with a ghost of coffee latte on the side.

The flavors inside were very special: a blend of indulgent, lovely dark chocolate ganache, nuanced aged whiskey, caramel, brown sugar, coffee, vanilla and diffuse fruit (citrus) and woodsy nut ("pecan"). (Note: there were no pecans in this collection box.)

The contrast between the pure ivory white chocolate on the outside and the incredible, deep rich flavors on the inside was a wonderful reveal when taking a bite of this chocolate.

This was made with The Dalmore 18 Year Scotch, aged in Bourbon barrels and Sherry casks-- "gaining (from the Bourbon barrels) signature notes of toasted vanilla and tropical fruit"...and "rich chocolate and sherried fruits" (notes) from Matusalem Oloroso Sherry casks. 

Vosges Tasting Notes:
The Nose: Vanilla, dark chocolate, orange and cinnamon
The Palette: Dark chocolate, candied citrus fruits
The Finish: Citrus fruits and rich molasses

The Dalmore 12

Aroma notes: sweet dark chocolate, faint citrus (sweet orange), whiskey (sophisticated caramel and faint smoked honey-vanilla notes), and very faint warm spice.

Taste: layers of rich flavors: chocolate (chocolate brownie, dark chocolate mousse with orange liqueur, Scotch-infused caramel and citrus peel--accompanied by different facets of orange and warm spice.

These two truffles were a fantastic pre-New Year's treat. Think of the best high-end chocolate desserts you've had, transformed into truffle form.

Note: Ingredients listed below include complete/combined list for all three chocolates in this collection box.

Ingredients: "Chocolate (unsweetened chocolate, cane sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla bean seeds), bittersweet chocolate (unsweetened chocolate, cane sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla bean seeds), white chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, skimmed milk powder, soy lecithin - an emulsifier), caramel (cream, non-gmo corn syrup, cane sugar, non-gmo soy lecithin, sodium bicarbonate), extra virgin olive oil, speculoos cookies (what flour, sugar, vegetable oils (palm, rapeseed), candy syrup, raising agents (sodium hydrogen carbonate, ammonium hydrogen carbonate), salt, cinnamon), cane sugar, organic burnt sugar syrup (organic sugar, water), Dalmore 15-year old scotch, cold brew coffee concentrate (water, coffee), raw honey, syrups, molasses, burnt sugar syrup (sugar, water), bittersweet chocolate (chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin--an emulsifier, natural flavor), Dalmore 12-year old scotch, Dalmore 18-year scotch, gold leaf, candied orange peel (orange peel strips, glucose, fructose syrup, sugar, dextrose, citric acid, sulphites), sugar, brown rice syrup, blood orange puree (blood oranges, sugar), cinnamon, hibiscus powder, non-GMO bitter orange liqueur, sea salt, orange zest, cocoa powder [processed with alkali], ground ginger, natural vanilla flavor, organic soy lecithin--an emulsifier."

Allergen-related information: "Contains: milk, soy, wheat"

*Note I did not sample the third Dalmore scotch-infused chocolate with ginger crumb(s) in this collection, as it contained cookies/wheat.

Ritual Chocolate - The Apres Chocolate w/ Sparkling White Wine infused chocolate, raspberries (bar) - Dec. 29, 2022

Chocolate(s) of the Day

Ritual Chocolate
The Apres Chocolate - Sparkling White Wine Infused Chocolate with Dried Raspberries 70% Cacao (bar)
Good + - Good ++
Weight: .706 oz. (20 g.) / 2.12 oz. (60 g.) in total bar
Calories: 100 calories in 1/3 bar
Cost: $12.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order 

Welcome to Day #9 of Chocolate and Spirits Theme Week. 

This sparkling white wine infused chocolate was the second of two 70% dark chocolate bars featured today--each with its own "spirited" magic. (See previous post to read about Auro Chocolate's Don Papa Rum Infused 70% bar from the Philippines.)

Today's "The Apres Chocolate" - Sparkling White Wine Infused Chocolate with Dried Raspberries 70% Cacao (bar) was from Ritual Chocolate (Heber City, UT).

Aroma notes for this dark chocolate bar included: tart, sweet red raspberry and dark chocolate, very faint white wine, faint angel food cake, warm spice (barely detectable/inferred star anise), and a trace of butter cookies with confectioners sugar and raspberry jam centers.

Flavor notes for this relatively creamy, festive chocolate included dark chocolate (chocolate ganache, faint brownie), flickers of fresh red raspberry, and very faint white wine.

Maker's tasting notes: Champagne and Raspberries

Ingredients: Cacao, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, freeze-dried raspberries, sparkling white wine.

Allergen-related information: May contain traces of peanuts, tree nuts, and wheat


Thursday, December 29, 2022

Auro Chocolate - Don Papa Rum 70% Dark Chocolate (bar) - Dec. 29, 2022

Chocolate(s) of the Day

Auro Chocolate
Don Papa Rum 70% Dark Chocolate (bar)
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 2.12 oz. (60 g.) in total bar
Calories: 163.5 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $12.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order

Welcome to Day #9 of Chocolate and Spirits Theme Week--a series featuring both holiday spirits and distilled/fermented spirit-infused chocolates. This was the first of two chocolates enjoyed today. (See next post for The Apres Chocolate Sparkling White Wine-infused 70% bar with raspberries from Ritual Chocolate.)

And, you may have noticed it's Day #9 of this week...Fueled by the spirit of abundance (and a little theobromine*), theme weeks on Chocolate Banquet often extend beyond the conventional 7-day week. 

Don Papa Rum 70% Dark Chocolate

Today's Don Papa Rum-infused 70% Dark Chocolate (bar) was created ("from tree to bar") by Auro Chocolate (Calamba City, Laguna, Philippines) in collaboration with Bleeding Heart Rum Company. 

This small batch (limited edition) dark chocolate with spirits was well-crafted (well-tempered (broke with a nice hard snap) and nicely balanced). It offered sophisticated subtle flavor--from just four high-quality ingredients including cacao beans from Saloy Estate, Davao (Philippines), and a (Filipino) premium aged, single-island rum. 

Aroma and flavor notes included a simple, elegant combination of sweet, dark chocolate with traces of a warm, golden** aura (the rum). Very faint background aroma notes also included: tart green lemon herb (oxalis), implied warm spice.

The rum added subtle warmth and flavor depth. It had a very pleasant lingering middle and finish. This professionally-executed chocolate (with no off-notes) was sweet and smooth, but certainly not boring. 

Ingredients: Cacao mass, cane sugar, cacao butter, rum

Allergen-related information: "This product is manufactured in a facility that processes other products which may contain milk, soy, tree nuts, and peanuts."

*Theobromine is a naturally-occurring, plant-produced alkaloid that acts like a stimulant in humans and other animals. 

Like caffeine (also a plant alkaloid and stimulant)--that is also present in smaller amounts in cacao/chocolate--theobromine is processed and tolerated differently, depending on the individual. 

Personally I am more sensitive to caffeine than most, but am not affected as much by theobromine. (Others may experience the opposite effect.) 

So I can eat all the chocolate I want (wheeee!). Not true. There is still sugar in chocolates to consider. After eating more than 2-3 ounces of dark chocolate at one sitting...it's just not as much fun. I start to experience diminishing returns after about 2 oz. of 70% dark chocolate. 

Caution: if you dabble in truly great chocolate(s), especially more than 1 kind/bar a day (like today)...the recommended theobromine levels may be exceeded. And you run the risk of becoming a chocolate-fueled chatterbox. (Proven fact: Good chocolate + higher amount of chocolate = longer posts and digressions/footnotes here on Chocolate Banquet.)

** Auro Chocolate's name in the Philippines: doing business as (dba) Filipinas Oro de Cacao, Inc....Loosely translated, golden cacao of the Philippines.




SOMA Chocolatemaker - Starry Night - Dark (bar) - Dec. 28, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

SOMA Chocolatemaker
Starry Night - Dark (bar)
Good ++ 
Weight: 1.165 oz. (33 g.) /2.33 oz. (66 g.) in total bar
Calories: 190 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $12.75 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order

Welcome to Day #8 of Chocolate and Spirits Theme Week.

Today's Starry Night chocolate bar was from SOMA Chocolatemaker (Toronto, Canada). 

The company is located in the Distillery Historic District in Toronto--in a complex of brick (old distillery) buildings now used for retail shops (and this chocolate factory and tasting area). 

In honor of SOMA's factory history (and this week's spirits theme), I enjoyed this bar with a very small sip of whiskey. The chocolate was quite good by itself; and it might also pair well with a whiskey, for those adults so inclined. 

Pretty little salt crystals (visible through a clear window in the packaging) doubled as stars--tiny twinklers strewn across a night sky.

The image of a rabbit--gazing skyward, to view the Aurora Borealis dancing overhead in the night sky--completed this "Starry Night" vision. 

Aroma notes included: flavorful dark chocolate (dark ganache), faint/diffuse fruit (berry); sweet, very faintly fermented cacao; faint cream/butter; and barely there warm spice.

The chocolate texture was smooth, accented with a few tiny crunchy sparkles of sea salt (from the Newfoundland Salt Company, in Bonavista, Newfoundland, Canada).

The flavor notes were similar to the aroma notes mentioned above: sweet, relatively creamy dark chocolate (dark ganache, diffuse berry); This chocolate was made using a blend of cacao origins; and it was friendly and well balanced (sweet and salt), with no "off" notes. 

Ingredients: Cocoa nibs, organic cane sugar, cocoa butter, salt

Allergen-related information: "May contain trace amounts of peanuts, tree nuts, soy and dairy."

*Earlier this month, I flew by/over Canada to Iceland: to see the Northern Lights, aka Aurora Borealis. The illustration on this bar of a colorful aurora fluxing across the night sky brought back fond memories of this trip. The illustration of the hare (rabbit) looking skyward captured the spirit of that trip, including the wonder I felt looking at the stars and the dancing lights above the mountains.

And, yes, there were great chocolates in Iceland too.

Ghirardelli - Hot Cocoa "Double Chocolate" + eggnog - Dec. 27, 2022

Chocolate(s) of the Day

Ghirardelli
Hot Cocoa Mix "Double Chocolate" (dry mix, mug set for 2 people)
Good ++
Weight: .85 oz. (24 g.) in one single-serving packet (dry mix only)
Calories: 90 calories in 1 serving (plus added milk)
Cost: $13.99 for 1 set (included 2 packets + 2 holiday mugs)
Purchased from: Safeway, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Spirits Theme Week. 

It may be after Christmas, but holiday spirits are still going strong this week. After viewing holiday lights, a winter warmer sounded good. Today's red and white holiday mugs full of Hot Cocoa were made using a dry mix (plus 2 mug set) from Ghirardelli Chocolate Company (San Leandro, CA).

My additions to the Ghirardelli mix included: whole milk, very small amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a small amount of Bourbon Vanilla flavored whipping cream.

I used 8 fl. oz. of hot whole milk (vs. the 6 fl. oz. of milk called for), per mug. The result: very satisfying, creamy cups of hot cocoa. (Thank you to Megan for tasting help.)

This hot chocolate was enjoyed with a square of dark chocolate peppermint bark (topped with white chocolate and crushed bits of candy canes), and a small glass of eggnog (with a small dash of brandy).

Ingredients (dry mix): Sugar, cocoa processed with alkali, unsweetened chocolate, soy lecithin, vanilla extract.

Allergen-related information: (Contained milk as prepared.) "May contain milk, egg, tree nuts, and wheat." 


Monday, December 26, 2022

Homemade Barely Spiked Hot Chocolate flavored w/ vanilla, Amaretto, whiskey-soaked nibs

Chocolate of the Day

Homemade Barely Spiked Hot Chocolate
(flavored with vanilla, Amaretto, whiskey-soaked nibs)
Good +
Weight: Approx. 8 fl. oz. (30 mL) glass
Calories: 175 calories (estimate) for 1 glass
Cost: N/A - various ingredients already on hand
Purchased from: N/A - various stories

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Holiday Spirits. After over-doing it a bit this past week (multiple chocolate entries per day), I am relaxing with a homemade, very lightly spiked hot chocolate.

Today's homemade hot chocolate was a blend of hot milk, dark chocolate (2 squares of dark chocolate + 1/2 teaspoon dark cocoa powder), and a very small amount of melted butter, flavored with vanilla, 1 Tablespoon of whiskey-soaked cacao nibs (strained out after heating), and 1/4 teaspoon of Amaretto (almond flavored liqueur). The alcohol in the whiskey was no longer detectable but the flavor remained in the cocoa nibs.*

No sugar or added sweeteners. And very little alcohol. So, I was able to taste all the other wonderful ingredients. 

I've felt very grateful for being able to spend time with friends and family this holiday week. This morning, however, I enjoyed a chocolate that was less buzzy, and more relaxing. This was closer to a hot milk than a sweetened hot chocolate. The wonderful thing about cacao is that it doesn't have to be candy to be enjoyed.

Happy Holidays all.

*Spirits-infused cacao nibs (pieces of cacao beans) are very easy to make and can be used in baking and to infuse flavor into desserts and beverages. (Adding cacao nibs to brownies or cookies is worth trying.)

To make your own, put about 1/4 of a cup of cacao nibs into a small glass jar with a metal screw lid. Pour whiskey, rum (or your spirit of choice) over the nibs, enough to barely cover them. Then put the lid on and put them in a cool, dark place (dark cabinet, refrigerator door). Over time the alcohol dissipates; but the flavor remains, and the nibs are left with a more hydrated, softer crunch.

If you like the results, I recommend experimenting with different cacao bean varieties and origins (e.g. cacao nibs from a specific country if available). Different cacao origins will have a slightly different aroma and flavor. Some may be fruitier; some may have a slightly nuttier flavor. And others will smell more like "true" chocolate (brownies).

Godiva - Limited Edition Assorted Chocolates; Butlers - Irish Whiskey Milk & Dark Chocolate Truffles - Dec. 25, 2022

Chocolate(s) of the Day

Godiva 
Limited Edition Assorted Chocolate Collection
1.) Salted Caramel Lion of Belgium - Good +
2.) Midnight Swirl - Good ++
3.) Dark Chocolate Ganache Bliss - Good +
Weight: 1.325 oz. (37.5 g.) / 3.52 oz. (100 g.) in total box of 8 piece box
Calories: 180 calories in 3 piece(s)
Cost: N/A - holiday gift (Thank you Milo and family!)
Purchased from: N/A - holiday gift

Butlers Chocolates
Irish Whiskey Milk and Dark Chocolate Truffles
Good + 
Weight: .88 oz. (25 g.) / 4.41 oz. (125 g.) in total box of 10 pieces
Calories: 115 calories in 2 truffles
Cost: $5.99 for 1 box of 10 pieces
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

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

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate. May your days be merry and bright--and filled with good chocolate.

Today's Christmas Day chocolate line-up included: 1.) three filled chocolates from Godiva (U.S. headquarters: New York City, NY) and 2.) Irish Whiskey Milk and Dark Chocolate Truffles (one of each flavor) from Butlers Chocolates UC (Dublin, Ireland). 

These two companies have been producing chocolate confections for more than 96 years and 90 years, respectively.

Godiva

Godiva was founded in Belgium in 1926. The following three chocolates were enjoyed from a holiday assortment box.

The regal-looking, shield/crest shaped "Salted Caramel Lion of Belgium" was covered in sweet, smooth dark chocolate with a soft, flowing lightly-salted caramel filling inside.

The "Dark Ganache Bliss" had a dark chocolate shell filled with a fudgey, sweet 72% cacao dark chocolate filling (ganache).

The "Midnight Swirl" ultra-dark chocolate had an 85% cacao dark ganache center, and had aroma and flavor notes that included: fudge brownie, very faint fruit, warm spice and earth.

The Midnight Swirl was my favorite of the three pieces, largely because more of the cacao flavors were detectable. (Less sugar generally results in more complex underlying flavors shining through, as does less-alkalized cacao.) It was great to see this higher-percent cacao filled chocolate in the dark chocolate Godiva line-up.

Ingredients: Ingredients list for assortment box not separated by flavor. 

Allergen-related information: (May contain traces of milk and nuts.)

Butlers Irish Whiskey Milk and Dark Chocolate Truffles

Butlers Chocolates (founded by Marion Butler in 1932 and originally called Chez Nous Chocolates) has been making chocolates in Ireland since then, and is still family owned.

Aroma notes for today's spirited milk chocolate and dark chocolate truffles included: sweet whiskey and sweet milk and/or dark chocolate.

The texture for the relatively thick (outer) dark and/or milk chocolate shells surrounding the softer chocolate centers was smooth and creamy. And the sweet, mellow, Irish whiskey aroma and taste perfumed both milk and dark truffles and lightly lingered into the finish.

The Irish whiskey added some flavor depth and interest to these sweet, substantial chocolate truffles.

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, invert sugar syrup, Irish whiskey (5%), sweetened condensed milk (milk, sugar), emulsifier (soya lecithin), natural flavoring. (Dark chocolate contains: 58% cocoa solids minimum. Milk chocolate contains: 32% cocoa solids minimum, 20% milk solids minimum).

Allergen-related information: Contains milk and soya. May contain traces of tree nuts. Alcohol by volume: 2.15%



Sunday, December 25, 2022

Trader Joe's - Mint Hot Cocoa Ornament + Maxine's Heavenly Chocolate Peppermint Cookies - Dec. 24, 2022

Chocolate(s) of the Day

Trader Joe's
Mint Flavored Hot Cocoa Ornaments
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 2.12 oz. (60 g.) (estim.) for total ornament
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) for 1/2 ornament + milk
Cost: $N/A - holiday gift (Thank you Trudi!)
Purchased from: N/A - holiday gift (Trader Joe's)

Maxine's Heavenly
Super Soft Chocolate Peppermint Cane Cane Cookies
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 2.44 oz. (69 g.) / 7.2 oz. (284 g.) in total box/package
Calories: 300 calories in 3 cookies
Cost: $6.99 for 1 box/package
Purchased from: Farm Fresh to You CSA delivery box, added item

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Spirits Theme Week.

Today (Christmas Eve) was chocolate-filled this year. This is the second post (of two) for today features two chocolate items left out for Santa. 

The first item featured was a 70% Belize Bourbon Barrel Aged dark chocolate from Dick-Taylor Craft Chocolate (Eureka, CA)--enjoyed by adults before Santa's arrival. 

Trader Joe's Mint Hot Cocoa Ornament

This pretty, shiny rose-hued ornament was submerged in pot of hot milk on the stove. After melting, the inside contents were revealed: tiny marshmallows inside the hollow center. 

The taste (when incorporated into the hot (whole) milk) was chocolate-y, creamy and satisfying with a subtle (just the right) touch of mint.

Extra points for attractive packaging and fun presentation/preparation steps--and the "magical" transformation from holiday ornament to hot chocolate treat.

(This was likely part of a larger packaged set. No packaging to refer to for ingredients.)

Maxine's Heavenly Chocolate Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies

Maxine's Heavenly Cookies were gluten free, soft and slightly chewy. (A gluten-free oat blend (whole grain oats, oat flour) was the number one ingredient.)

Embedded chunks of dark chocolate and bits of candy cane gave these soft baked cookies layers of holiday flavor and well-integrated, satisfying texture(s).

These were left out on a plate for Santa, along with Maxine's Heavenly Super Soft Gingerbread Cookies (also gluten-free, but with no chocolate). 

Ingredients: Gluten Free Oat Blend (oats, oat flour, oat fiber); palm fruit oil (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Certified; Chocolate Chunks (organic cane sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter); white rice flour; organic coconut sugar; organic coconut nectar; dates; candy cane pieces (cane sugar, organic rice syrup, peppermint oil, colored with red cabbage, purple carrots); water; cocoa powder; organic gum acacia; flaxseed; sunflower lecithin; peppermint extract; sea salt; baking soda.

Allergen-related information: Contains: Tree Nuts (coconut).

Dick Taylor - 70% Belize Bourbon Whiskey Barrel Aged (bar) - Dec. 24, 2022

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

Dick Taylor 
70% Belize Bourbon Whiskey Barrel Aged (bar)
Good +++ - Very Good 
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2 oz. (57 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $12.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Airport store or Los Altos?

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Spirits Theme Week. 

Today's 70% Belize Bourbon Whiskey Barrel Aged (bar) was created by Dick Taylor (Eureka, CA).

Aroma: heavenly. Rich, dark chocolate (single origin Belize) dark chocolate was enlivened with the aromatic spirit of a well-rounded Bourbon. Slightly fruity, and very slightly woody/woodsy notes were also part of this bouquet.

Flavor notes for this dark, smooth and creamy bar included: very appealing dark chocolate with well-balanced, diffuse fruit (sweet, dark ripe blackberry, plum, sweet citrus). Gently intoxicating Bourbon cask wafts lingered lightly in the finish.

This is one of my favorite bars this year, from one of my favorite chocolate makers. Adam Dick and Dustin Taylor (the creative duo that is Dick-Taylor Craft Chocolate) have been consistently turning out well-crafted, small-batch chocolate in Northern California for many years now. No small feat.

The only sad news: This 70% Belize Bourbon chocolate is a Limited Edition bar, that sells out quickly. So, these may be hard to find out of season.

Ingredients: Organic cacao, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, Bourbon Whiskey

Allergen-related information: Made in a facility that also processes milk, tree nuts, wheat and peanuts. 

Shekoh Confections - Mezcal - Dec. 23, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Shekoh Confections
Mezcal
Good ++ - Good +++ 
Weight: .39 oz. (11 g.) (estimate) in 1 piece
Calories: 61 calories (estimate) in 1 piece
Cost: $4.50 for 1 piece (part of a 5 piece box for $22.25)
Purchased from: Shekoh Confections, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Spirits Theme Week.

Today's "Mezcal"* luxury chocolate confection was created by Shekoh Moossavi of Shekoh Confections (Palo Alto, CA).

This attractive, pale yellow-green (artfully colored) dome-shaped dark chocolate had an aroma with balanced (not too sweet) chocolate and very faint/diffuse fruit notes.

Under the pretty color was a thin, dark (balanced bold, faint earth) chocolate couverture (shell) that surrounded a softer, sweeter ivory-hued white chocolate center. The ganache (filling) had subtle, fruit (citrus (faint lemon-lime) and pear) and very faint tequila flavor notes. 

The end result: a sophisticated, spirit-inspired chocolate.

Ingredients: (Made with Valrhona chocolate.) No full ingredient list came with individual pieces.

Allergen-related information: None listed for individual pieces.

*Mezcal is a distilled beverage made from agave (plants). Tequila is a type of mezcal.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Shekoh Confections - Grand Marnier - Dec. 22, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Shekoh Confections
Grand Marnier
Good +++
Weight: .4 oz. (11.32 g.) (estimate) in 1 piece
Calories: 62 calories (estimate) in 1 piece
Cost: $4.50 for 1 piece (part of a 5 piece box for $22.25)
Purchased from: Shekoh Confections, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Spirits Theme Week.

Today's Grand Marnier chocolate confection (truffle) was created by Shekoh Moossavi of Shekoh Confections (Palo Alto, CA).

This attractive, filled dome-shaped chocolate had an aroma with balanced, bold (Valrhona) dark chocolate with faint earth and orange liqueur notes. 

The thin dark chocolate shell surrounded a softer, flavorful orange liqueur flavored center, yielding an elegant and tasty dessert.

Ingredients: (Made with Valrhona dark chocolate.) None listed.

Allergen-related information: None listed for individual pieces.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Chocolates Baiani - Tree to Bar Chocolate with Caipirinha 65% (bar) - Dec. 21, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Chocolates Baiani
Dark Chocolate with Caipirinha 65% (bar)
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.02 oz. (29 g.) / 2.04 oz. (58 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $11.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order

Welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate and Spirits Theme Week.

Today's Dark Chocolate with Ciapirinha 65% (bar) was made by tree-to-bar maker, Chocolates Baiani (Brazil). 

Aroma notes for this cocktail-inspired bar included: dark chocolate and subtle, sweet citrus (limeade).* A Brazilian Caipirinha (drink) contains cachaca (distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice), lime juice and sugar.

This relatively thin dark chocolate was coated with lime-flavored sugar on the backside. 

Flavor notes included relatively bold, smooth, high-quality, dark chocolate with a layered, well-balanced, upbeat, zesty lime and sugar personality.

*Ingredients: "Single origin cacao beans, organic cane sugar, cocoa butter, lime zest and aged cachaca. ** Does not contain alcohol.**"

Allergen-related information: May contain traces of tree nuts and milk.



Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Noi Sirius - Dark Chocolate 45% with Toffee and Sea Salt (bar) - Dec. 20, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Noi Sirius 
Dark Chocolate 45% with Toffee and Sea Salt (bar)
Good ++ 
Weight: 1.17 oz. (33.3 g.) / 3.52 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 174.8 calories in 1/3 bar 
Cost: 419 ISK (Approx. 145 ISK = $1 USD)
Purchased from: (Store in Iceland)

Welcome to Day #10 of Chocolate and Iceland Theme Week. 

Today's Dark Chocolate 45% with Toffee and Sea Salt (bar) was from Noi Sirius (Reykjavik, Iceland).

Aroma notes for this 45% chocolate included: chocolate (dark chocolate pudding, dark ganache), toffee, butter, and very faint, fleeting clean mineral (light clay).

This smooth, creamy dark chocolate was studded with a generous helping of crunchy, sweet buttery toffee bits.

I enjoyed the balance between the less sweet, smooth dark chocolate and the sparkles of sweet crunchy toffee candy and sea salt. (A sweeter milk chocolate base would likely have been too sweet for many dark chocolate lovers.)

Ingredients: Dark chocolate (sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, emulsifier (soya lecithin), bourbon vanilla. Cocoa dry solids min. 45%), toffee 10% (sugar, glucose syrup, butterfat, salt, natural flavours, emulsifier (soya lecithin)), sea salt 0.4%. 

Allergen-related information: "Produced in a factory which works with milk, soya, tree nuts and wheat."



Gron Balance OKO - Mork chokolade 70% Kakao (bar) - Dec. 19, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Gron Balance OKO
(Green Balance OKO)
Mork chokolade 70% Kakao
(Dark chocolate 70% Cacao (bar))
Good ++
Weight: 1.76 oz. (50 g.) / 3.52 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 284 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: 299 ISK (approx. 145 ISK = $1 USD) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Kr store, Vik, Iceland

Welcome to Day #9 of Chocolate and Iceland Theme Week.

Today's Gron Balance OKO Mork chokolade (dark chocolate) 70% Cacao (bar) was produced by ICAM S.p.A (Italy) for Dagrofa aps. (Ringsted, Denmark).

Aroma notes included: dark chocolate and faint vanilla with even fainter smoke (aromatic tobacco).

This well-tempered dark chocolate had a creamy melt and smooth texture with a very faint astringency in the finish.

Flavor notes included: bold, balanced 70% dark chocolate (ultra-dark chocolate pudding, deep cacao, dark forest), barely detectable nut, and a roasted earthiness that made this 70% dark seem even a bit darker (more like 75% - 80% cacao). At the end of the finish there was a faint, fleeting red fruit (berry, currant) note.

Ingredients: Organic, Rainforest Alliance-certified cocoa mass; organic cane sugar; organic, Rainforest Alliance-certified cocoa butter; organic vanilla extract.

Allergen-related information: (May contain traces of milk, almond, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio.)

*Note: I bought today's dark chocolate bar in Iceland. It was made by an Italy-based company for a Denmark-based company. Iceland was part of Denmark from 1814 to 1918, and was a "separate kingdom" in relationship with Denmark until 1944--when Iceland declared independence.


Noi Sirius - Milk Chocolate with Raisins and Hazelnuts (bar) - Dec. 18, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Noi Sirius 
Milk Chocolate with Raisins and Hazelnuts (bar)
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.76 oz. (50 g.) / 3.52 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 274.5 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $ missing information
Purchased from: (retail store in Iceland) 

Welcome to Day #8 of Chocolate and Iceland Theme Week. 

Today's Milk Chocolate with Raisins and Hazelnuts (bar) was produced by Noi Sirius (Reykjavik, Iceland).

Aroma and flavor notes for this well-tempered milk chocolate bar included: thick, sweet milk chocolate; light, buttery caramel; fleeting, faint clean mineral/light clay; crunchy hazelnuts; densely sweet, chewy dried grape (raisins); and very faint, fleeting warm spice.

This milk chocolate nut and fruit confection was rich and sweet. The fruit and nut elements added flavor and textural interest.

Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, skimmed milk powder, cocoa mass, emulsifier (soya lecithin), bourbon vanilla. Cocoa dry solids min. 33%), hazelnuts and raisins (min. 10%), sunflower oil. 

Allergen-related information: Contains milk, soy and tree nuts (hazelnuts). "Produced in a factory which works with milk, soya, tree nuts and wheat."

Note: This post was delayed due to international travel in Iceland and elsewhere.

OmNom Chocolate - Dark Nibs + Raspberry (bar) - Dec. 17, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

OmNom Chocolate
Dark Nibs + Raspberry dark chocolate (bar)
Good ++ - Good+++
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 2.12 oz. (60 g.) in total bar
Calories: 156.9 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: 990 ISK (145 Krona = $1 USD) for 1 bar
Purchased from: OmNom Chocolate Factory and Ice Cream Store, Reykjavik, Iceland

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Iceland Theme Week. 

Today's Dark Nibs + Raspberry dark chocolate (bar) was made by OmNom Chocolate (Reykjavik, Iceland).

Aroma notes for this dark bar included: red berries (ripe, sweet red raspberries), dark chocolate (cocoa, dark ganache, very faint woodsy earth).

Texture: a hearty, satisfying mix of crunchy (freeze dried berries, cacao nibs) and thick, creamy dark chocolate.

Flavor: relatively bold but quite smooth dark chocolate interspersed with micro-bursts of bright red berry (red raspberry), dark chocolate (ultra-dark ganache) and cocoa nibs (offering the essence of cacao, cacao beans or seeds to be exact). 

The cacao nibs helped convey a darker chocolate flavor (than the 58% cacao chocolate base); and the classic pairing of raspberries and dark chocolate was well executed. And the choice of a Madagascar cacao (which is associated with bright berry and citrus notes) seemed particularly fitting with this flavor blend.

Ingredients: Organic cocoa beans from Madagascar organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, crispy raspberries (glucose syrup, sugar, raspberries, thickener (E401, aka sodium alginate). Contains a minimum of 58% cocoa solids.

Allergen-related information: "Designed and made in Iceland, in a facility that handles nuts, dairy, gluten and sesame seeds."

Note: This post was delayed due to international travel in Iceland and elsewhere.

Noi Sirius - 70% Dark Chocolate (bar) - Dec. 16, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Noi Sirius 
70% Dark Chocolate (bar)
Good ++ 
Weight: 1.17 oz. (33.3 g.) / 3.52 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 173.8 calories in 1/3 bar 
Cost: $ missing information
Purchased from: (Store in Iceland)

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Iceland Theme Week. 

Today's 70% Dark Chocolate (bar) was from Noi Sirius (Reykjavik, Iceland).

This smooth dark chocolate bar had balanced, bold dark flavor with a hint of vanilla. It was the chocolate equivalent of the basic black dress that every young woman felt they needed or wanted to have. 

The basic 70% dark, relatively bold. flavor was softened a bit around the edges. Nothing too wild. Sophisticated in its dark, uniform simplicity. It's the kind of dark chocolate bar you might find across Europe, with a hint of vanilla.

It will please the palettes of those who enjoy a smooth dark chocolate without harsh acidity or bitterness. Not too sweet, with just enough dark flavor to be satisfying.

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, fat reduced cocoa powder, emulsifier (soya lecithin), bourbon vanilla. Cocoa dry solids min. 70%.

Allergen-related information: "Produced in a factory which works with milk, soya, tree nuts and wheat."

Note: This post was delayed due to international travel to Iceland and elsewhere.


Freyja - 70% Cocoa (bar) - Dec. 15, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Frejya ehf.
Frejya Original Lund Stk. 70% Cocoa (bar)
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1.17 oz. (33.3 g.) / 3.52 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 185.1 calories in 1/3 bar (556 per 100 g.)
Cost: 750 ISK for 1 bar
Purchased from: IceWear Iceland (store), Reykjavik, Iceland

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

Today's 70% Cocoa (bar) was made by Freyja ehf. (Kopavogur, Iceland). Founded in 1918,* Freyja is one of Iceland's oldest confection makers; and the company offers a wide range of chocolates/confections, including this bar that featured a picture of a puffin (bird)* on the packaging.

Aroma notes included rich, sweet chocolate, vanilla angel food cake, and very light aromatic tobacco notes.

The texture of this chocolate was rich, creamy, almost velvety. And the taste: creamy dark chocolate ice cream and vanilla wafer.

This was a very appealing and friendly 70% dark chocolate bar, with a good deal of vanilla come-hither. Warning: It would be very easy to sit down and consume more of this bar than you originally planned.

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier (rapeseed lecithin), vanillin. "This chocolate contains minimum 70% dry cocoa solids."

Allergen-related information: "May contain traces of milk and nuts."

*The company describes their history as follows: "In the middle of Iceland receiving sovereignty from Denmark, the Spanish Flu pandemic in Reykjavik, the end of the first World War and one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded Icelandic history a few chaps thought it would be a splendid idea to start a confectionery company...and what a splendid idea it turned out to be over a century later....Freyja still manufactures...over 100 delicious and unique products."

Note: This post was delayed due to international travel in Iceland and elsewhere.

*Sadly, from a bird watching point of view, my visit to Iceland in December prevented me from seeing Puffins. These charismatic birds with colorful beaks gather in nesting colonies in the warmer months off Iceland, Greenland and other North Atlantic locations. But there was not a one to be spotted mid-December.

Konungsberg - Dark Chocolate 72% (bar) - Dec. 14, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Konungsberg 
Dark Chocolate 72% (bar)
(Yule Lads of Iceland)
Good ++
Weight: 1.17 oz. (33.3 g.) / 3.52 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 289.5 calories in 1/3 bar
Cost: 790 ISK for 1 bar (approx. 145 ISK = $1 USD)
Purchased from: IceWear Iceland shop, Reykjavic, Iceland

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Iceland Theme Week.

Today's Konungsberg Dark Chocolate 72% (bar) celebrated the Yule Lads of Iceland.* This gluten-free, Iceland (Icemart) souvenir dark chocolate was made for/by Creaciones Jumi, S.L. (Girona, Spain); and it was adorned with festive illustrations of the Yule Lads* and the Christmas cat--characters frequently seen in December in Iceland. 

This bar had a relatively thick, creamy texture with a faint astringency toward the finish.

Flavor notes included: dark chocolate pudding, slightly smokey vanilla, and balanced light bitter and earth notes.

The balanced dark chocolate aroma and flavor was reminiscent of a roasted, African Forastero variety of cacao with bold, but smooth, dark flavor. A touch of vanilla added warmth.

Ingredients: Cocoa paste, sugar, cocoa butter, defatted cocoa powder, emulsifier: lecithins (soy), flavour (vanillin). Cocoa 72% minimum. Cocoa origin: Non-EU.

Allergen-related information: "Traces of nuts and milk."

*The Yule Lads are an interesting group of characters, a bit like elves or trolls, and somewhat mischievous in nature. They are the face(s) of Christmas, rather than our Father Christmas/Santa Claus in the U.S. It was lovely to find and take home this chocolate as a Christmas souvenir.

According to their Wikipedia entry: "The Yule Lads are the sons of Grýla and Leppalúði. They are a group of 13 mischievous pranksters who steal from or harass the population and all have descriptive names that convey their favorite way of harassing. They come to town (down from the mountains) one by one during the last 13 nights before Yule."

Note: This post was delayed due to travel in Iceland and elsewhere.

Mokka Kaffi - Hot Chocolate - Dec. 13, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Mokka Kaffi
Hot Chocolate
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1 cup (approximately 10 fl. oz.)
Calories: unknown
Cost: $6.03 USD 
Purchased from: Mokka Kaffi, Reykjavik, Iceland

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Iceland Theme Week. This entry is the third (of three) chocolate items featured today from Iceland.

Today's Hot Chocolate was from Mokka Kaffi (Reykjavik, Iceland). 

Mokka Kaffi was opened in 1958 and is one of the oldest coffee houses in Iceland.

There is something about magical about a steaming hot, authentic hot chocolate with real whipped cream, that is extremely satisfying on a very cold day.

This hot chocolate had rich, sweet cocoa flavor with a very faint butter/cream, nut and savory/salt notes. Is was sweet, but not too much so. The whipped cream was very lightly sweetened, if at all, and dissolved at exactly the right speed. 

Mokka Kaffi was a cozy, popular cafe, where patrons at nearby tables were enjoying coffees, waffles and hot chocolate. It was a memorable evening stop in Reykjavik.

Ingredients: (unknown)

Allergen-related information: (Contained milk/cream.) Ingredients unknown.

This post was delayed due to international travel in Iceland and other places.


Monday, December 19, 2022

Saett & Salt Sukkuladi - Rjomasukkuladi (bar) - Dec. 13, 2022

Chocolate(s) of the Day

Saett and Salt Sukkuladi
(Sweet and Salt Chocolate)
Rjomasukkuladi 
(Milk Chocolate)
Good ++
Weight: 1.76 oz. (50 g.) / 3.52 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 275 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: 1,750 ISK for 1 bar (145 Icelandic Kronur = $1 USD)
Purchased from: Blaa Lonid HF (Blue Lagoon) cafe/shop, Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Iceland Theme Week, featuring chocolate bars, confections and beverages made in Iceland, from a variety of chocolate makers and chocolatiers.

Today's Milk Chocolate bar was handmade by Elsa Gugga of Saett and Salt Sukkuladi (Sweet and Salt Chocolate) in Westfjords, Iceland.

Aroma notes for this bar included: rich milk chocolate, faint salt/savory, faint caramel and vanilla.

Texture: thick, creamy, almost velvety melt and mouthfeel.

The flavor was a bit too sweet for me; but it was satisfying, with nice milk/cream and a faint sparkle of sea salt and caramel. The touch of salt (from Saltverk) was just right--not enough to overwhelm, but enough to help balance the sweetness.

Saltverk (also located in far West Iceland, in the Westfjords area, where today's chocolatier is based) produces mineral-rich, flake sea salt.

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, cream, milk powder, cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla, soya lecithin, flake salt from Saltverk.

Allergen-related information: Contains milk and soy. "May contain nuts in trace amounts."

*The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa located in Southwest Iceland. This popular destination spot is surrounded by a lava rock field. When we visited, the dark lava rocks were limned with white frost crystals. The landscape was one of fire and ice punctuated by geothermal plant steam and the aquamarine colors of the warm Blue Lagoon. Very scenic.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Isey Skyr - Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Skyr - Dec. 13, 2022

Chocolate(s) of the Day

Isey Skyr
Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Skyr 
Good - Good +
Weight: 6 oz. (170 g.) in one container
Calories: 173 calories (estimate) in 1 container
Cost: 232 ISK (approx.) (145 ISK (Icelandic Kronur) = $1 USD)
Purchased from: Bonus (store), Reykjavik (Harbor area), Iceland 

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Iceland Theme Week. 

Today's Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Skyr was from Isey Skyr (Reykjavik, Iceland).

Skyr is an Icelandic cultured dairy product that is high in protein. It is similar to Greek-style yogurt in the U.S., but it's less tart and has a thick, almost silky texture and creamy flavor. (The heirloom Icelandic cultures used to make skyr are said to date back several centuries.*)

I enjoyed the skyr offerings in Iceland--none more so than a bowl in a small restaurant in the middle of the countryside. After that experience, I bought four types of skyr for a side-by-side breakfast tasting--including this Isey Skyr single-serving container with chocolate.

This skyr (made with skimmed milk) was flavored with dark chocolate and vanilla. Small chocolate flavored pieces/flecks contributed light chocolate chip type flavor. And faint vanilla added warmth and implied sweetness.

 Overall, this skyr was creamy and smooth and not too sweet (thank you).

See the next two posts for the 2nd (lunch) and 3rd (dinner) chocolates I also enjoyed today (Dec. 13, 2022).

Ingredients: Skimmed milk, chocolate chips (3%) (cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar), corn starch, binder (pectin), flavoring, sweetener (sucralose, acesulfame-K), vanilla bean, skim bacteria.

Allergen-related information: Contains milk. Does not contain wheat. (Contains artificial sweeteners: sucralose, acesulfame-K.)

Note: This post was delayed due to international travel in Iceland and elsewhere.

* Isey Skyr uses the "original Icelandic skyr cultures from MS Iceland Dairies," a large dairy co-op with more than 500 farms.



OmNom Chocolate - "Ram" and "Octopus" Chocolate Ice Cream desserts - Dec. 12, 2022

Chocolate(s) of the Day

OmNom Chocolate
"Hruturinn" (Hrutur = Ram) Ice Cream dessert
Good ++ 
Weight: Medium cup (weight unknown)
Calories: (unknown) 
Cost: 1190 ISK (Icelandic Krona) (about 145 ISK = $1 USD)
Purchased from: OmNom Chocolate Factory and Ice Cream Shop, Reykjavic, Iceland

OmNom Chocolate
"Kolkrabbinn" (Kolkrabbi = Octopus)
Good + - Good ++
Weight: Medium cup (weight unknown)
Calories: (unknown)
Cost: 1190 ISK (Icelandic Krona) (about 145 ISK = $1 USD)
Purchased from: OmNom Chocolate Factory and Ice Cream Shop, Reykjavic, Iceland

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Iceland Theme Week.

This evening's two fantasy ice cream desserts were created by OmNom Chocolate (Reykjavik, Iceland). (Together these ice cream desserts formed the second of two chocolate items featured today. See previous post for the morning chocolate.)

OmNom Chocolate (in the Reykjavik Harbor/Marina area) expanded their bean-to-bar chocolate factory offerings when they added special ice cream treats and festive yellow outdoor picnic tables during the Covid pandemic. Their creative ice cream desserts tie in with their chocolate bars. (Most of their chocolate packaging features stylized illustrations of different Arctic animals/wildlife.)

Side note: More reasons to like Iceland...People in Reykjavik like chocolate, and they also have no problem enjoying ice cream in December, a month when the sun is visible for only 4-5 hours per day. (I agree; ice cream is great any time of year, even if you're eating it inside, while peering out a window at the icy cold and dark outdoors.)

Hruturinn (Ram)
Hands down my favorite. The Ram sundae-style dessert contained ice cream and the classic (candy bar) elements of chocolate and nuts (peanuts, almonds) and caramel aroma, texture and flavors.

Toasted and caramelized peanuts were covered in Madagascar milk chocolate. And it also contained almond butter.  This flavorful dessert was likely inspired by the OmNom Sea Salted Almonds bar (adorned with the same geometric illustration of a ram).*

Kolkrabbinn (Octopus)

The "Octopus" dessert leveraged the OmNom Lakkris (licorice) and raspberry white chocolate bar's strengths. Outstretched (very edible) creamy, raspberry licorice octopus "arms" extended beyond the cup's outer edges making for a fun presentation. 

This licorice and red berry flavored dessert was further enlivened by sweet and tart chewy raspberry gummy candy pieces.

Ingredients: (No ingredients were listed on dessert cups, but helpful staff answered questions, and the list(s) may be available upon request.)

Allergen-related information: Both these desserts contained dairy, but were gluten free.

Note: The post for these desserts was delayed due to international travel in Iceland.

*There are many sheep in Iceland, approximately 1.2 sheep for every 1 person. Iceland is one of several countries in the world with more sheep than people. (Quick fun fact: Mongolia has 4.5 sheep for 1 person.) And yes, Australia and New Zealand have more than their share as well. Wales clocks in at 3 sheep per person. Source: Jan. 2022 article on  https://www.entegra.com.au/which-country-has-the-most-sheep/


Noi Sirius - Milk Chocolate Praline Caramels with Sea Salt - Dec. 12, 2022

Chocolate(s) of the Day

Noi Sirius
Milk Chocolate Praline with Caramel and Sea Salt (Noa Konfekt)
Good + - Good ++
Weight: .89 oz. (25.2 g.) / 1.48 oz. (42 g.) in total box of 5 pieces
Calories: 125 calories in 3 pieces
Cost: 899 ISK (Krona) for 1 box of 5 pieces
Purchased from: Kr (store), Vik, Iceland

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Iceland Theme Week.

This morning's Milk Chocolate Praline with Caramel and Sea Salt confections were from Noi Sirius (Reykjavik, Iceland). The box of 5 pieces came neatly packaged, and with a cover photo of two Arctic foxes.

(See next post for chocolate ice cream desserts enjoyed later this same day (in the evening) in Reykjavik.)

Each of these oval-shaped confections was topped with a tiny raised image--in the shape of the county of Iceland.

Aroma notes included: sweet milk chocolate and caramel.

The texture: soft, flowing (liquid), light golden caramel encased by a layer of smooth milk chocolate.

Flavor notes included: balanced confectionery levels of sweet milk chocolate, caramel, and faint salt.

Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, whole milk powder, skimmed milk powder, emulsifier (soya lecithin), bourbon vanilla. Cocoa dry solids min. of 37%), caramel filling (33%) (sugar, glucose syrup, water, vegetable oil (palm kernel), whole milk powder, molasses, table salt, flavours, invertase, emulsifiers (soya lecithin), acid regulator (E501), acid (E296)).

Allergen-related information: Contains milk, soy. "Produced in a factory which works with milk, soya, tree nuts and wheat."

Note: This post was delayed due to international travel in Iceland, and travel within the U.S.


 

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Omnom Chocolate - Peru 100% (bar) - Dec. 11, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Omnom Chocolate 
Peru 100% (bar)
Good + 
Weight: 1.05 oz. (30 g.) / 2.1 oz. (60 g.) in total bar
Calories: 194.4 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $11.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order 

Welcome to Day #12 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's Limited Edition Peru 100% bar* was designed and made by OmNom Chocolate (Reykjavik, Iceland), using Gran Nativo Blanco cacao beans.

Aroma notes for this single origin, single ingredient ultra-dark chocolate included: 
hearty, ultra-dark chocolate; very faint, fleeting clean mineral (clay); natural sweetness; very faint sweet green (herbal/floral); and faint, fleeting freshly baked bread (yeast, fermentation).

The texture was relatively smooth with faint astringency/tannins.

Flavor notes: balanced bitter and sour notes (think sour+bitter ale with a complex but pleasing flavor profile); ultra-dark dense chocolate; very faint naturally sweet, green herbal/floral.

Like many 100% (unsweetened) chocolate bars, this may be a bit strong even for dark chocolate lovers. But this one also had its own special charms and belongs in a 100% tasting flight. 

I braced myself for bolder flavor, taking a tiny nibble first. And even as I was thinking this may be too much, I was enjoying the lack of sugar and all the subtler notes. The bitter/sour notes faded. Then I found myself wanting to go back and take a few more bites.

Ingredients: Peruvian Gran Nativo Blanco Cocoa Beans

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

Note: The post for this entry was delayed due to international travel in Iceland. And, yes, I did buy this Limited Edition Peru 100% OmNom (crafted in Iceland) bar in the U.S. and then traveled to Iceland with this chocolate with me in my chocolate suitcase--back to its place of "birth" to kick-off Chocolate and Iceland Week. (This 100% Peru bar was no longer available at the OmNom Chocolate Factory and Ice Cream Store in Reykjavik.)

Pascha - 55% Cacao Barely Dark, Organic Dark Chocolate (bar) - Dec. 10, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Pascha 
55% Cacao Barely Dark, Organic Dark Chocolate (bar)
Good + - Good ++
Weight: .95 oz. (27 g.) / 2.82 oz. (80 g.) in total bar
Calories: 150 calories in 4 pieces (1 serving) of bar
Cost: $2.39 (sale) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #11 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's 55% Cacao "Barely Dark" Organic Dark Chocolate (bar) was a product of Peru and distributed by Pascha Chocolate Company (Toronto, Ontario, Canada).

Aroma notes for this sweet, dark chocolate Peru bar included: sweet herbal + green floral; faint brown sugar and molasses; dark chocolate (dark ganache); and very faint dried fruit and licorice herb.

The texture was relatively smooth with a very faint graininess (more similar to stoneground chocolate than fruit astringency). 

Flavor notes included: dark chocolate (dark ganache (truffle filling), dark chocolate cookie); faint nut (walnut brownie); sweet, slightly floral herb; and faint licorice herb. (There were no walnuts or herbs in this bar.)

This certified Organic, sweet, dark chocolate bar with interesting and balanced complexity was made in Peru. And the chocolate liquor and cocoa butter used to make this chocolate were from Rainforest Alliance Certified (www.ra.org) farms.

Ingredients: Organic cane sugar, organic chocolate liquor, and organic cocoa butter.

Allergen-related information: "Made in an allergen-free facility...No peanuts, no nuts, no gluten, no egg, no wheat, no soy, no dairy, no emulsifiers"

Note: This post was delayed due to international travel.


 

Pascha - 85% Cacao Very Dark Organic Dark Chocolate (bar) - Dec. 9, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Pascha Chocolate Company 
85% Cacao Very Dark Organic Dark Chocolate (bar)
Good + - Good ++
Weight: .95 oz. (27 g.) / 2.82 oz. (80 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories in 4 pieces (1 serving) of bar
Cost: $2.39 (sale) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's, Palo Alto, CA 

Welcome to Day #10 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's 85% Cacao Very Dark Organic Dark Chocolate (bar) was a Product of Peru and distributed by Pascha Chocolate Company (Toronto, Ontario, Canada).

Aroma notes included: fragrant sweet green herb; earth; dried fruits (date, fig); maple sugar; brown sugar; graham cracker; very faint fleeting menthol (Pine Sol cleaner); woodsy; and almost nutty (walnut).

The texture of this high-percentage bar was creamy smooth, fudgey chocolate with a very slight astringency.

Flavor notes were similar to the aroma notes listed above, with more dark chocolate (ultra-dark chocolate fudge)--more similar to a 75% than 85% cacao dark chocolate. This Peru bar had interesting complexity and was low in bitterness.

Ingredients: Organic chocolate liquor, organic cane sugar and organic cocoa butter. (UTZ certified cocoa.)

Allergen-related information: "Completely free from the 8 major allergens"

Note: This post was delayed due to international travel. 

 

La Feverie - Chuncho Urusayhua 75% Peru (bar) - Dec. 8, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

La Feverie
Chuncho Urusayhua 75% Peru (2019 Harvest) (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2 oz. (57 g.) in total bar
Calories: 163 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $12.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order

Welcome to Day #9 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's Chuncho Urusayhua 75% Peru (2019 Harvest) (bar) was made at La Feverie, Hasnaa Chocolats Grands Crus (Bordeaux, France).

Aroma notes for this handcrafted dark chocolate included: fermented cacao (the faint fermentation and fruit vinegar notes dissipated after the package had been opened), and faint, floral peppercorn and sweet, ripe blackberries.

This 75% single origin dark chocolate was relatively smooth, with only a very slight graininess/fruit astringency.

The flavor notes for this bar included: floral (pink and black) peppercorn (that faded after package had been opened for about 30 minutes); sweet green and maple sugar; very faint and fleeting olive; sweet red berry; and slightly tart-sweet, ripe lush blackberries.

This was an enjoyable single origin bar with a pleasant, layered complexity that included balanced flavors and sweetness level(s). It was slightly tart-sweet, and low in bitterness.

Maker's flavor profile description/tasting notes read as follows: "Succession of fresh and greedy notes of red fruits (cherry, wild strawberry...) on a slightly Moka finish (coffee)."

Ingredients: Organic cacao beans and organic sugar

Allergen-related information: (No information listed on packaging.)

Note: The post for this entry was delayed due to international travel.

Casa de Chocolates - Organic Peruvian Espresso (bar) - Dec. 7, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Casa de Chocolates
Organic Peruvian Espresso (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) in total bar
Calories: 155 calories (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: $4.25 for 1 bar 
Purchased from: Napa Farms Market at SFO (airport)

Welcome to Day #8 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's Organic Peruvian Espresso (bar) was from Casa de Chocolates (Berkeley, CA). The company specializes in high-quality, small batch chocolates--many of them with a Meso-American flavor or twist/connection.

Aroma notes for this small bar included: sweet, almost floral, dark chocolate and coffee.

The texture was creamy, almost velvety, smooth dark chocolate with crunchy bits of finely ground espresso coffee beans.

This bar had a smooth, creamy dark chocolate flavor with bright sweetness and satisfying espresso coffee flavor accent notes, and a very faint touch of vanilla spice.

Ingredients: "Cacao, sugar, cocoa butter, crushed organic Peruvian espresso beans, vanilla, sunflower lecithin..."

Allergen-related information: "Dairy and gluten free"

Note: This entry was posted late due to international travel.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

A. Morin - Perou 63% Absolut - Limited Edition (bar) - Dec. 6, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

A. Morin 
Perou Absolut 63% Edition Limitee (tablette)
Peru Absolute 63% Limited Edition (bar)
Good +++
Weight: .88 oz. (25 g.) / 3.52 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 140.75 calories in 1/4 bar
Cost: $12.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's Perou Absolut 63% Limited Edition (bar) was from SAS Chocolaterie A. Morin (Donzere, France). 

All three ingredients--cocoa beans, cocoa butter and sugar--used to make this truly single origin dark chocolate were all from Peru. 

Rich and pleasingly complex aroma notes for this dark chocolate included: dried fruits (date, plum, fig, dried peach, and barely detectable dried pineapple with some almost invisible (perhaps imaginary) rum), warm spice cake, faint sweet green, very faint molasses, and very faint, warm, woody earth (peat).

The relatively thick bar had a smooth, relatively buttery melt and a very fine granularity consistent with some stoneground chocolates (or shorter conche times that help preserve flavors). These two absolutely complementary textures were skillfully melded together, to arrive at what felt like the best of both worlds.*

The taste was very consistent with the aroma described above, with more dark chocolate (flavorful dark ganache) notes intermingled with the deep, dark but smooth, dried fruit and molasses spice cake holiday party murmuring softly in the background.

This well-executed, all-Peru chocolate offered rich, sweet flavor depth and complexity. And the choice to go sweeter (63% vs. 70%) worked well in this case. The sugar seemed to brighten up/highlight all the best naturally occurring notes in the cacao beans and added cocoa butter--rather than overpowering them.

Ingredients: Peru cocoa beans, Peru cane sugar, Peru cocoa butter.

Allergen-related information: "May contain traces of milk, nuts and sesame."

*Longer grinding and conching times can reduce cocoa solid particle size and fully integrate solids and cocoa fat (butter) together, resulting in a creamy/creamier texture. But, taken too far, longer processing times can result in the loss of more volatile flavor elements that would be desirable to preserve. There is both art and science that goes into this step, and arguably every step, involved in chocolate making.



 

Monday, December 5, 2022

Fresco Chocolate - Lamas Andean Amazon, Peru 100% (bar) - Dec. 5, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Fresco Chocolate
Lamas Andean Amazon, Peru 100% (bar)
Good - Good +
Weight: .9 oz. (25 g.) / 1.8 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 127.5 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $13.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's Lamas Andean Amazon, Peru 100% (bar) was made by Fresco Chocolate (Lynden, WA). (It was labeled: Recipe 283, Batch 21-465.)

Fresco offers different recipe and batch-labeled (single origin) chocolate bars (made with different roast and conche levels), allowing buyers to better appreciate different flavor nuances that result from different choices, and to conduct their own side-by-side chocolate tastings (and comparisons) at home or with friends.

I paired this 100% ultra-dark bar with its 74% sibling (featured yesterday), made with the same Lamas Andean Amazon cacao. The cacao was from the Lamas Province in the San Martin Region of northern Peru, and home to Oro Verde, a co-operative of over 700 small farmers producing certified organic cacao.

This 100%er had a subtle ultra-dark chocolate aroma with faint, fleeting well-done toasted bread and very faint tropical fruit notes.

As with yesterday's 74% cacao version of this single origin bar, the medium conche resulted in smooth, even texture.

Flavor notes included: ultra-dark chocolate with bitter (slightly fruit-herbal tannic astringency) and charcoal notes

For those already on the fence about dark chocolate, I wouldn't call this easily approachable. But, I still enjoyed trying it, if for no other reason than I could more easily taste the effects that added sugar has on taste.

For example, it became clear that the faint, diffuse fruit (dark berry) note in yesterday's Fresco 74% cacao version of this Peru bar was likely at least enhanced (if not inferred) due to added sugar.

The dark roast choice for this single ingredient chocolate also seemed more obvious--even "severe"--in this 100% version, with no sugar to cushion the blow. Assuming the roast times were the same for the 74% and 100% bars, added sugar made the 74%er dark roast cacao more "friendly." (It would be like adding sugar and a (non-intuitive twist of lemon peel) to mellow a dark roast espresso.)

Thank you to the maker for providing us with these educational options. Nothing can take the place of a side-by-side tasting to learn more about what you like.

Maker's notes on cacao origin: "This Andean Amazon region produces fine flavor cacao with deep herbal notes that can include tannins reminiscent of green banana."

Ingredients: Organic cocoa beans

Allergen-related information: "Free from: gluten, dairy, nuts, soy"

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Fresco Chocolate - Lamas Andean Amazon, Peru 74% (bar) - Dec. 4, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Fresco Chocolate
Lamas Andean Amazon, Peru 74% (bar)
Good ++
Weight: .9 oz. (25 g.) /1.8 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 136.5 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $9.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order

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

Today's Lamas Andean Amazon, Peru 74% (bar) (Recipe 282, Batch 21-451) was from Fresco Chocolate (Lynden, WA). Fresco was founded in 2010 by computer scientist, Rob Anderson.

Anderson crafts Fresco's bean-to-bar chocolate (bars) so that different versions of the same origin bars can be tasted side by side, to better appreciate differences between roast, conche and other choices--e.g. between a light, medium or dark roast (of cacao beans) or a short, medium or long conche--during the chocolate making process. Today's single origin Peru bar was made with a dark roast, and a medium conche.* 

Aroma notes included: dark chocolate (dark ganache), earth, and diffuse sweet fruit (ripe, dark berry).

Texture: Smooth with a very slight astringency in the finish.

Flavor notes included: dark chocolate (bold dark ganache with a very faint roasted note), diffuse sweet fruit (dark, ripe berry), earth, and very faint, fleeting warm spice (barely detectable ginger). 

This 74% dark chocolate had a lingering dark chocolate finish, with a very slight astringency.

Tomorrow I'll be tasting a Fresco Chocolate 100% cacao dark Peru bar--also made with (dark roast, medium conche) Lamas Andean Amazon (Peru) cacao. 

Ingredients: Organic cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter

Allergen-related information: "Free from dairy, gluten, nuts, soy"

*Conching is a process done with equipment that mixes and agitates cacao, reducing particle size and blending cacao solids with cacao butter. Choices for this process (duration, speed, machine type, etc.) help create an optimal result for smooth mouthfeel while still retaining desired flavor(s). (Some more volatile flavor elements may attenuate during the cacao grinding and conching process if it continues for a long time.)

Fresco maker's note on medium conching level chosen for this bar read: "Heat, motion, aeration and time produce chocolate's final flavor; this is conching. Adjusting these variables can produce dramatically different flavors..." The medium conche level provides a "balance between aggressive and subdued, mellow."

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Monsoon Chocolate - Origin Series Ucayali Peru 72% Dark Chocolate (bar) - Dec. 3, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Monsoon Chocolate 
Origin Series - Ucayali Peru 72% Dark Chocolate (bar)
Good ++
Weight: .88 oz. (25 g.) / 1.76 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 136 calories (estimate, no information on packaging) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order 

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's Ucayali Peru 72% Dark Chocolate (bar) was made by Monsoon Chocolate (Tucson, AZ).

The Ucayali River cacao used to make this dark chocolate was grown in the Amazonian rainforest in Eastern Peru, and was obtained through "a central fermentary that works with nearly 400 cocoa farmers along the Ucayali River outside the Peruvian city of Pucallpa."

Aroma notes were relatively complex for this single origin dark bar and included: chocolate (dark cocoa, ultra dark ganache), balanced earth; cream/butter; very faint, tart green (oxalis); faint ripe dark berry; and faint brown sugar.

Texture: creamy and smooth with a slightly buttery mouthfeel.

Flavor notes included: ultra dark chocolate with a very faint, well-managed, bitter earth-sharpness; diffuse fruit (dark, ripe berry); and cream.

Ingredients: Cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter

Allergen-related information: "There is no gluten or animal product added to this bar; however it is processed in a facility that also processes wheat, dairy, nuts, and soy."


Monsoon Chocolate - Ucayali Peru 60% Dark Milk Chocolate (bar) - Dec. 2, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Monsoon Chocolate 
Ucayali Peru 60% Dark Milk Chocolate (bar)
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: .88 oz. (25 g.) / 1.76 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 138 calories (estimate - not listed on packaging) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $12.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order 

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's Ucayali Peru 60% Dark Milk Chocolate (bar) was made by Monsoon Chocolate (Tucson, AZ).

The Ucayali River cacao used to make this bean-to-bar chocolate came from "a central fermentary that works with nearly 400 cocoa farmers along the Ucayali River outside the Peruvian city of Pucallpa."*

Aroma notes for this single origin, dark milk chocolate bar included: chocolate (slightly fruity cocoa) very faint, fleeting green; cream; and buttered (Southern U.S.) biscuit/well-buttered rice.

This relatively thick bar had a thick, rich and buttery mouthfeel.

Flavor notes blended very harmoniously in this well-executed bar, including the buttery, creamy flavors described in the aroma and texture (above). 

The organic cocoa butter and organic milk powder smoothed over the cacao notes (it's hard to know what we might or might not be missing and diminished the relative sweetness (thank you). 

That said, diffuse fruit (ripe sweet berries); very faint fermented cacao; rich whole milk warm cocoa; quiet buttery caramel; faint, fleeting cheesecake; very faint, fleeting floral spice (light honey and buttered saffron rice) and very faint salt notes, managed to shine through in this creamy fantasy of a bar.

Ingredients: Cocoa beans, organic cocoa butter, organic cane sugar, organic milk powder

Allergen-related information: Contains milk. "This product contains dairy. It is processed in a facility that also processes wheat, nuts, and soy."

*This chocolate was all sweetness and light. But Moonsoon Chocolate also describes some of the economic challenges and choices facing farmers in this Peruvian agricultural growing region that has a "long and complex history of narco-trafficking" and coca (cocaine). (Both coca and cacao are native to South America.)

Like many high-end craft chocolate makers, Monsoon works to obtain high-quality cacao grown in unique regions around the globe. Monsoon Chocolate pays Ucayali River farmers a premium for their wet cacao, "giving local farmers access to an alternate market to cocaine." 


Standout Chocolate - Single Origin Urubamba Peru 70% (bar) - Dec. 1, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Standout Chocolate
Single Origin Urubamba Peru 70% (bar)
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: .88 oz. (25 g.) / 1.76 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 146 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.25 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's Standout Chocolate Single Origin Urubamba Peru 70% (bar) was hand-crafted in Sweden, with cacao beans grown in the Urubamba Valley of Peru.*

Aroma notes for this bar included: very faint, fleeting fermented cacao; hot cocoa/drinking chocolate; subtle fruit (sweet, dark red berries); and very faint, fleeting roasted coffee/mocha.

The texture was creamy smooth. Standout chocolate maker, Fredrik Martinsson, notes: "We slow roast to preserve as much of the natural taste profile as possible. We then stone grind for days and days until the flavors and texture are perfected."

Flavor notes included: naturally-sweet fruit flavor(s) (gentle, fleeting floral/fruit honey and ripe, sweet dark red berries (combination of ripe strawberry and sweet (Highbush) blueberry and ripe blackberry/black currant) and cream. 

The cacao was just bold enough--with a wee bit of balanced earth and true chocolate (dark cocoa)--to be interesting and complementary with its fruity flavor facets (a memory of faint, gentle earth recently attached to basket of freshly picked berries).

Nice creamy texture (and implied fresh cream flavor) perfectly meshed with lush and layered, authentic berry flavor(s). All this from just two organic ingredients: Peruvian cacao and sugar. 

Maker's tasting notes: "dark fruits, floral, blueberry"

Ingredients: Organic cacao beans, organic cane sugar

Allergen-related information: (May contain traces of milk.)

*The cacao producer in the Urubamba valley was Alto Urubamba Cooperative (made up of approximately 50 local farmers). The altitude in this growing region is between 700-1500 meters (2,297-4,921 feet) above sea level.


Friday, December 2, 2022

Hogarth - Peru Single Origin 66% Cacao Piura Blanco (bar) - Nov. 30, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Hogarth Chocolate Makers
Peru - Single Origin 66% Cacao Piura Blanco (bar)
Good ++
Weight: .5 oz. (14 g.) / 2.47 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 77.7 calories in 1 serving (1/5 bar)
Cost: $11.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order  

Welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's Peru Single Origin 66% Cacao Piura Blanco (bar) was created by Hogarth Chocolate Makers (Nelson, New Zealand). 

The Hogarth company name refers to chief chocolate maker, Karl Hogarth. And the company offers a variety of bean-to-bar chocolates, including today's single origin Peru bar.

Aroma notes for this single origin Peru chocolate included: gentle fermented cacao, cream; very faint, balanced earth; and very faint diffuse spice and lemon-herb (oxalis).

Texture: smooth with a very slight granularity (astringency). 

Flavor notes included: chocolate (warm cocoa/drinking chocolate), natural diffuse fruit sweetness (faint, slightly tart-sweet pink lemonade and goji berry), and fresh fleeting green (sweet green tea latte with lemon).

Ingredients: Organic fair trade cocoa beans, organic fair trade cocoa butter, organic cane sugar.

Allergen-related information: May contain traces of milk and nuts. "100% Organic, vegan, gluten free, soy free"

Coco Polo - Ginger dark chocolate - Nov. 29, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Coco Polo 
Ginger dark chocolate
Good +
Weight: .49 oz. (13.8 g.) (estimate) in small sample packet 
Calories: 70 calories (estimate) in 1 sample packet
Cost: $N/A - free sample
Purchased from: N/A - free sample

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Holiday Spices Theme Week.

Today's Ginger dark chocolate (sample) was from Coco Polo (Highland Park, NJ). The company offers a line of sugar-free, stevia-sweetened chocolates.

Ginger spice triggers holiday memories for me, with associations of gingerbread people, holiday gingerbread houses and castles, hot ginger tea, and gingerbread molasses cookies.

This sample Ginger chocolate had smooth dark chocolate, faint ginger spice, and very faint menthol (cooling feeling in mouth) flavor notes.

(Note: In fairness to Coco Polo, this sample was one I received quite a while ago. However, the full-sized 70% Ginger Root bar dark chocolate bar was still available when I checked the Coco Polo website today.)

Ingredients: (Ingredients were not listed on small sample packet.)

Allergen-related information: Not listed on small sample packet.

Thomas Keller Armando Manni - K+M Extra-Virgin Milk Chocolate Winter Spice (bar) - Nov. 28, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Thomas Keller - Armando Manni
K+M Extra-Virgin Milk Chocolate Winter Spice (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.25 oz. (35 g.) / 2.5 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 193 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $12+ (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Sweet Shop, Los Altos, CA

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Holiday Spices Series.

Today's K+M Extra Virgin Milk Chocolate Winter Spice (bar) was a collaboration bar between Chef Thomas Keller and extra virgin olive oil maker Armando Manni. (K+M Chocolate is based in Napa, CA.)

Aroma: The initial sniff revealed pleasing, balanced, warm holiday spices, faint chocolate and very faint citrus (sweet orange). Note: after being opened for a few hours, the spice aromas were not quite as strong.

Texture: This Thomas Keller + Armando Manni (K+M) holiday milk chocolate bar had a very special, smooth texture with a relatively creamy, luxurious slow melt. The collaboration between chef + olive oil expert delivered a unique, rich mouthfeel.

Flavor: The smooth, relatively mellow dark chocolate (made with cacao from Hacienda Victoria, Ecuador) had notes of faint warm spices (star anise, allspice, cinnamon, ginger). A blend of whole milk powder, cocoa butter and extra virgin olive oil provided splendid texture, but may have muted some of the chocolate and spice (smooth and balanced) flavors a bit. However, it was still a very enjoyable and interesting bar to try. 

K+M maker's tasting notes: "Allspice, Citrus, Lush, Velvety"

Note: K+M also offers a Winter Spice hot chocolate, made with spices (such as: allspice, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper)

Ingredients: (Note: missing complete packaging. As I recall ingredients included: Cocoa beans, whole milk powder, organic sugar, organic cocoa butter, organic extra-virgin olive oil, spices, tangerine oil)

Allergen-related information: (Contained milk.)

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Hu - Pumpkin Spice Dark Chocolate (Holiday Edition) - Nov. 27, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Hu
Pumpkin Spice Dark Chocolate (Holiday Edition)
Good +++
Weight: 1.05 oz. (30 g.) / 2.12 oz. (60 g.) in total bar
Calories: 180 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $ Missing information on cost
Purchased from: Missing information (purchased locally) 

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Holiday Spices Series.

Today's Hu (Kitchen) Holiday Edition Pumpkin Spice Dark Chocolate (bar) was distributed by Hu Products LLC (Austin, TX). 

Aroma notes for this thick dark bar included: pumpkin pie spices and dark chocolate gingerbread. 

The texture was thick and creamy with a very faint granularity, possibly from finely ground spices (and/or from stoneground dark chocolate).

The cacao selected was a great choice for this holiday edition chocolate. The flavorful, balanced 70% dark chocolate helped balance the sweetness level, and worked well with the spices. Ah, the spices. They were divine.

The spice flavors were well balanced and wonderful--capturing the best of not one (pumpkin pie) but two favorite holiday desserts (pumpkin pie and dark chocolate gingerbread--one of my personal favorites). Unrefined coconut sugar (and a smidge of organic pumpkin) contributed some background warm holiday flavors to this blend as well.

In an unofficial endorsement, this Hu bar won the holiday spice chocolate taste-off at my family's Thanksgiving get-together. The fact that it was Organic, Fairtrade (and didn't contain any emulsifiers/lecithins) was an added plus.

I hope this high-quality, Holiday Edition Pumpkin Spice bar makes a comeback next year!

Ingredients: Organic, fair trade cacao; organic unrefined cane sugar; organic fair trade cocoa butter; organic pumpkin; organic cinnamon bark extract (organic cinnamon bark, organic olive oil); sea salt; organic allspice extract (organic allspice, organic olive oil); organic nutmeg extract (organic nutmeg, organic olive oil), organic ginger extract (organic ginger, organic olive oil); organic clove extract (organic clove, organic olive oil).

Allergen-related information: Produced using equipment that also processes tree nuts, soy, peanuts, milk and wheat. (No refined sugar, cane sugar, sugar alcohols or erythritol; No dairy or soy; No palm oil; No lecithins or emulsifiers.)

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Dick Taylor - Orange Bourbon Pecan 65% Dark (bar) - Nov. 26, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Dick Taylor
Orange Bourbon Pecan (bar)
Good ++ 
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2 oz. (57 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Sweet Shop, Los Altos, CA

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Holiday Spices Series.

Today's Orange Bourbon Pecan 65% Dark (bar) was handcrafted by Dick-Taylor Craft Chocolate (Eureka, CA).

Aroma notes for this bar included: chocolate, pecan cookie, orange and slightly sweet spirits (Bourbon/whiskey).

Smooth, flavorful 65% (Belize cacao) dark chocolate enveloped crunchy pecan bits that were full of complex flavor upticks: nut, Bourbon, orange (and faint maple) flavors. 

I sprinkled one piece of this bar with a tiny shake of freshly ground cinnamon. It tasted like a holiday pie dessert plate in one bite.

And speaking of holiday pies, a family recipe for a Bourbon-soaked pecan (and orange) flavored pie was the inspiration for this Dick Taylor chocolate bar. Worked for me! I loved the layered sparkles of complementary flavor(s).

Ingredients: Chocolate (organic cacao, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter) organic pecans, organic maple syrup, bourbon, orange essential oil 

Allergen-related information: Produced in a facility that also uses milk, tree nuts, wheat and peanuts.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Dick Taylor - Ginger Snap 55% Milk Chocolate Seasonal Release (bar) - Nov. 25, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Dick Taylor
Ginger Snap 55% Milk Chocolate Seasonal Release (bar)
Good ++ 
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2 oz. (57 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Sweet Shop, Los Altos, CA

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Holiday Spices Series.

Today's Ginger Snap 55% Milk Chocolate Seasonal Release (bar) was handcrafted by Dick-Taylor Craft Chocolate (Eureka, CA).

Aroma notes for this bar included: flavorful milk chocolate, sugar cookie and warm spices.

Texture: creamy milk chocolate (made with organic A2/A2 whole milk powder) was blended with ginger snap cookies.

Flavor notes were similar to the aroma notes mentioned above only with a deeper luxurious dive into the creamy, flavorful dark milk chocolate that surrounded the ginger snap cookie bits.

Ingredients: Chocolate (organic cacao, organic cane sugar, organic A2/A2 whole milk powder, organic cocoa butter, organic vanilla bean) Ginger Snap Cookies (unbleached enriched all-purpose flour, butter (pasteurized sweet cream butter), molasses, brown sugar, sugar, eggs, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, allspice, white pepper, cayenne). (Cacao solids 55% minimum)

Allergen-related information: (Note: this bar was not gluten free.) Contains milk and wheat. "Made in a facility that also processes tree nuts and peanuts."

Friday, November 25, 2022

Nature's Heart - Churro Cacao Pecan Crunch - Nov. 24, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Nature's Heart
Churro Cacao Pecan Crunch
Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28.28 g.) / 4 oz. (113 g.) in total package
Calories: 200 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $2.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate in the U.S. And, welcome to Day #7 of International Chocolate and Nuts Theme Week, and Day #1 of a short Holiday Spice Series.

Today's Nature's Heart Churro Cacao Pecan Crunch was distributed by Terrafertil US, LLC (Torrance, CA). Nature's Heart was started by two brothers in Ecuador, and the company's offerings are inspired by South American flavors.

Aroma and flavor notes for this spiced pecan snack included: fruit (apple), warm spices (cinnamon), faint cacao/cocoa, and nut (pecan), and very light/faint (possibly implied) coconut milk vanilla spiced latte. 

The pumpkin seeds (pepitas), cacao nibs and toasted coconut adhered to the pecans added some soft crunch and textural interest to the blend.

These pecans were pleasant and complex, and not too sweet. Lighter on the chocolate side, they provided a great holiday spiced snack for Thanksgiving--a welcome treat and dessert plate item that was also less sweet and filling than pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and holiday spiced eggnog (rompope) and churro flavored items.

Ingredients: Pecans, Erythritol (natural sweetener), pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted coconut chips, roasted cacao nibs, inulin prebiotic fiber, ground flaxseeds, MCT oil, ground cinnamon, cassava powder, sea salt, rosemary extract, stevia extract (rebaudioside A), ground allspice.

Allergen-related information: Contains tree nuts (coconut, pecans). Manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, egg and milk products.


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