Monday, August 15, 2022

Trader Joe's - Oat Chocolate Bars - Aug. 15, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Trader Joe's 
Oat Chocolate Bars
Good + - Good ++ 
Weight: 0.88 oz. (25 g.) / 2.65 oz. (75 g.) in total package of 3 bars 
Calories: 140 calories in 1 small bar
Cost: $2.99 for 1 package of 3 bars (Thank you Megan!)
Purchased from: Trader Joe's 

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Rice Theme Week, featuring more examples of how foods from different parts of the Globe have found happiness together.

Today's Oat Chocolate Bars were a product of Colombia, but distributed and sold exclusively by Trader Joe's (Monrovia, CA). The company has offered a very large range of chocolate bars and confections over the years. This neatly compact package held three individually-wrapped small bars.

Chocolate and Rice as a Sweetener

Rice can serve as a flavor inclusion, or as a chocolate sweetener. While oats feature prominently in today's set of 3 small chocolate bars, the chocolate was sweetened with rice syrup (instead of cane sugar).

The aroma for these bars included: bittersweet chocolate that mellowed a little after opening, allowing subtle caramel and milk notes to shine through.

The texture was relatively thick and quite creamy. (This bar was eaten at room temperature (70 degrees F. (21.1 degrees C.).)

The flavor was uniform and chocolate-y (ganache, fudge) with faint cereal grain/oat notes. The oat flavor(s) may have made any rice syrup flavor less obvious. (Generally rice syrup is mild, with very faint nutty and butterscotch notes, which would be consistent with aroma and flavors of today's chocolate.) Vanilla flavoring added warmth.

Ingredients: Cane sugar, cocoa butter, ground oats, cocoa mass, rice syrup, sunflower lecithin (emulsifier), natural vanilla flavor.

Allergen-related information: "dairy free, soy free, gluten free, vegan"

Nora Kitchen - Champorado Chocolate Porridge - Aug. 14, 2022

Chocolate of the Day

Nora Kitchen
Champorado Chocolate Porridge 
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 3 oz. (86 g.) in total container
Calories: 310 calories in 1 container
Cost: $1.48 for 1 container
Purchased from: Walmart, Mountain View, CA

Welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate and Rice Theme Week, where I'm looking forward to several items featuring this West meets East combination.

Today's Nora's Kitchen Champorado Chocolate Porridge was distributed by Capital Foods Int'l. Inc. (Santa Fe Springs, CA).

The History of Champorado and Champurrado

This story starts in Mexico. Corn (or maize)-based, porridge-like beverages in Mexico have been fortified with chocolate/cacao for centuries*. A hearty cup of champurrado (so named when chocolate is added to cooked corn, or masa harina corn flour) is typically enjoyed hot, and sometimes with churros (fried dough pastry). (Search for "chocolate beverages from Oaxaca, Mexico" to find some of the most authentic recipes.)

Cacao likely arrived in the Philippines from Mexico/Central America by ship centuries ago. Champorado is a popular rice and chocolate porridge in the Philippines--that dates back to an era when large Spanish Galleon** ships traded goods between Mexico and the Philippines in the 1500s-1700s. These cargo ships overlapped with the time when Spain laid claim to both Mexico and the Philippines--before these two countries became independent in 1821 and 1898, respectively. 

Back to the present, with Instant Nora Kitchen Champorado

The aroma for today's easy-to-make, warm Champorado Chocolate Porridge included hot cocoa, chocolate rice cereal, and faint nutty and vanilla (cashew shortbread butter cookies) notes. 

The warm, soft porridge had a soft texture (like a tender oatmeal or cooked cereal with milk), qualifying it as a great chocolate comfort food (or a hot dessert) for a cold day. 

The flavor: hearty and rich, creamy, hot chocolate porridge. The chocolate was balanced and was very low in bitterness and acidity. It took only 5 minutes to make. (Just add hot water, stir and let sit for a few minutes.)

Yes this was sweet, but within the range I expected (sweetened chocolate cereal parameters).

Ingredients: Rice, sugar, natural cocoa powder, food starch modified, rice dextrin, non-fat milk, vanilla, guar gum, Arabic gum, sodium caseinate, salt.

Allergen-related information: Contains milk.

*The cultivation of corn in Mexico likely began around 10,000 years ago. (Cacao was first domesticated in South America around 5,300 years ago, and was likely spread to/made popular in Mexico by the Olmec people in Southern Mexico around 3,500 years ago. (These dates are estimates based on available research, and could change in the future if more information becomes available.)

**Galleons were large, often armed, cargo-carrying sailing ships (with multiple levels/decks),  used by European sea-faring nations, including Spain, Portugal and England during this period.

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