Sunday, June 23, 2024

Honeymoon Chocolates - 70% Raspberry Dark Chocolate Tanzania with raw honey, Tanzania cacao (bar) - June 23, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Honeymoon Chocolates
70% Raspberry Dark Chocolate with Raw Honey, Tanzania (bar)
Good ++ 
Weight: 1.1 oz. (31 g.) / 2.2 oz. (62 g.) in total bar
Calories: 171 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $7.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Honeymoon Chocolates, online order

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

Today's 70% Raspberry Dark Chocolate with Raw Honey, Tanzania (bar) was from Honeymoon Chocolates (St. Louis, MO). 

This dark bar was created using Kokoa Kamili*, Tanzania cacao, Missouri Wildflower and Clover honey and raspberry. This follows a very similar Dark Raspberry bar, featured yesterday, by the same maker, that used Belize cacao. The Belize cacao might have been a bit smoother, but I enjoyed the bolder contrast in today's bar.

Aroma and flavor notes included: tart, sweet, ripe red raspberry and dark chocolate.

Texture: soft, very smooth, buttery, ultra-dark chocolate interspersed with rosy, red raspberry bits (with crunchy seeds) pressed into the back of this bar. 

Flavor notes included: ultra-dark (rich, very slightly earthy, bittersweet) chocolate; and authentically tart-sweet red raspberry bits. The slightly bitter chocolate and the bright, ripe berry were nicely balanced and very complementary. The more delicate sweet, floral honey showed up at the end of the finish, after the more dominant cacao and berry flavors subsided.

I appreciated that this chocolate was made with just four high-quality ingredients, and that it wasn't too sweet (thank you) -- allowing each ingredient to shine on its own.

Maker's Tasting Notes: Molasses, Cheesecake, and Raspberries

Ingredients: Raw Honey, Organic Cacao, Organic Cacao Butter, Organic Raspberry

Allergen-related information: Manufactured in a facility that prepares Dairy and Gluten products. 

*Kokoa Kamili is a central (cacao) fermentary and cacao processing facility located in Mbingu Village in Tanzania that works with farmers. They buy "wet" cacao from thousands of small farmers, process and export cacao. This social enterprise was founded in 2013 by Brian LoBue and Simran Bindra.


Saturday, June 22, 2024

Honeymoon Chocolates - 70% Raspberry Dark Chocolate with Raw Honey, Belize (bar) - June 22, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Honeymoon Chocolates
70% Raspberry Dark Chocolate with Raw Honey, Belize (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.1 oz. (31 g.) / 2.2 oz. (62 g.) in total bar
Calories: 171 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $12.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Missing information

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

Today's 70% Raspberry Dark Chocolate with Raw Honey, Belize (bar) was from Honeymoon Chocolates (St. Louis, MO). The company was "founded in a dorm room in 2016," and, happily for us, has produced a variety of (single origin cacao) chocolates sweetened with honey.

This dark bar was created using bean-to-bar Maya Mountain Belize cacao; Missouri Wildflower and Clover honey; and raspberries.

Aroma notes included: dark chocolate (deep dark chocolate fudge; berry fruit; very faint, fleeting warm spice, fruit vinegar); raspberry fruit pieces; and very faint floral (honey).

Texture - somewhat soft dark chocolate, with a rich, slow melt; and occasional bits of raspberry and crunchy whole raspberry seeds.

Tasting notes included: pleasing, single origin (Belize) dark chocolate flavor, interspersed with authentic, bright, tart-sweet raspberry fruit bits.

I liked that this chocolate was not too sweet (thank you!) and I appreciated it was made with just four high-quality ingredients--allowing each ingredient to shine.

Ingredients: Cacao, Raw Honey, Cacao Butter, Raspberry

Allergen-related information: Made in a facility that prepares Dairy products. "Free of refined sugar, soy, and gluten."


  

Friday, June 21, 2024

Honeymoon Chocolates - Switchgrass Spirits 75% Dark Chocolate Rye Whiskey (bar) - June 21, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Honeymoon Chocolates
Switchgrass Spirits 75% Dark Chocolate Rye Whiskey (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.1 oz. (31 g.) / 2.2 oz. (62 g.) in total bar
Calories: 171 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $12.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Honeymoon Chocolates, online order

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

Today's Switchgrass Spirits 75% Dark Chocolate Rye Whiskey (bar) was from Honeymoon Chocolates (St. Louis, MO).

This dark bar was created using organic Kokoa Kamili, Tanzania cacao, raw Missouri wildflower and clover honey, and (alcohol-removed) Switchgrass Rye whiskey.

The complex bouquet of aroma notes included: dark chocolate (fudge-y, very slightly earthy), sweet green, molasses/brown sugar, and very faint sweet herbal and barely detectable fermented fruit/whiskey.

This bar had a smooth, cocoa buttery, almost creamy texture and melt.

Flavor notes included: dark chocolate (very slightly earthy, roasted (coffee latte with molasses)); very faint sweet tart green (oxalis); very faint nuanced (floral, herbal) honey-like sweetness and naturally sweet/aged whiskey.

I enjoyed the rich, complex, and balanced aroma and flavor notes in this dark chocolate. And I appreciated that this bar was made with just four high-quality ingredients. (I also liked the hexagon (honeycomb) pattern on the back and the (compostable) packaging design.) A portion of the proceeds from this numbered bar were "automatically donated to support honeybee research."

Ingredients: Cacao, Raw Honey, Cacao Butter, Rye Whiskey 

Allergen-related information: Made in a facility that processes Dairy products. "Free of refined sugar, soy, and gluten."


 

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Honeymoon Chocolates - Chocolate Covered Raw Honeycomb - June 20, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Chocolate Covered Raw Honeycomb
Organic Tanzanian Cacao + Raw Honeycomb
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.5 g.) / 3.0 oz. (85 g.) in total package
Calories: 150 calories in 1/2 package
Cost: $14.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Honeymoon Chocolates, online order

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

Today's Chocolate Covered Raw Honeycomb made with Organic Tanzanian Cacao + Raw Honeycomb was from Honeymoon Chocolates (St. Louis, MO).

Aroma and flavor notes included: dark chocolate (balanced earth, fruit) and faintly floral honey.

Special preparation for this especially decadent treat included having water and wet and dry towels on hand, and enjoying this dark chocolate covered thick, chewy, waxy, honeycomb--flowing with liquid honey--leaning over a sink. That helped make cleanup a snap. 

I enjoyed the fact that this substantial confection was made with just two, high-quality ingredients (raw honeycomb and organic Tanzanian cacao)

The bulk of this sweet confection was a honeycomb full of honey and should be enjoyed as such. Thankfully I could still taste the dark Tanzanian cacao/chocolate, which broke into shards around the edges when I cut this piece in half. It was a good counterpoint to all that 'comb.

Ingredients: Honeycomb, Organic Tanzanian Cacao

Allergen-related information: (No additional information found on container.)


Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Pacific Resources International - Raspberry Dark Chocolate Patties with Manuka Honey - June 19, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Pacific Resources International (PRI)
Raspberry Dark Chocolate Patties with Manuka Honey
Good ++
Weight: 1.16 oz. (33 g.) / 5 oz. (141.5 g.) in total package
Calories: 120 calories in 1 serving (3 pieces)
Cost: $9.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: PRI, online order 

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate & Honey Theme Week.

Today's Raspberry Dark Chocolate Patties with Manuka Honey were distributed by Pacific Resources International (Carpinteria, CA).

Aroma notes for these individually-wrapped (in pink foil) patties included: faintly earthy dark chocolate and bright, sweet red berry (raspberry, strawberry), and very faint fig and nut cookie. 

Textures: slightly crunchy (in a cool room) the outer dark chocolate shell had a thick fudge-y, creamy melt and mouthfeel; and a soft, almost velvety honey filling.

I liked the contrast between the 99% cacao ultra-dark chocolate coating and the bright, very sweet, red-berry (raspberry)-infused honey filling. If it weren't for the earth-tethered cacao to ground the honey-fueled, sweet berry filling, it might have lifted off into the candysphere. 

The only downside: the chocolate and raspberry flavors were so commanding that it was harder to taste the floral and other honey notes (as I'd been able to do in PRI's Orange dark chocolate patties, featured yesterday).

Ingredients: "Manuka/Honey, 99% cocoa dark chocolate, natural raspberry flavoring"

Allergen-related information: (None I could find on the packaging.) 

*Manuka honey comes from the nectar of flowers that grow on the Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) shrub-like tree. It is native to New Zealand and parts of (coastal) Australia, but is also cultivated in other areas of the world. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Pacific Resources International (PRI) - Orange Dark Chocolate Patties with Manuka Honey - June 18, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Pacific Resources International (PRI)
Orange Dark Chocolate Patties with Manuka Honey
Good ++
Weight: 1.16 oz. (33 g.) / 5 oz. (141.5 g.) in total package
Calories: 120 calories in 1 serving (3 pieces)
Cost: $9.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: PRI, online order 

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate & Honey Theme Week.

Today's Orange Dark Chocolate Patties with Manuka Honey were distributed by Pacific Resources International (Carpinteria, CA). The company imports Manuka honey from New Zealand and Australia--to enjoy a la carte, or as inclusions in chocolates and other offerings.

Aroma notes for these orange foil-wrapped patties included: faintly earthy dark chocolate and slightly spicy orange. 

The 99% cacao dark chocolate shell had a slightly crunchy (in a cool room) texture and a thick, creamy melt and mouthfeel. Inside was a soft, almost velvety honey filling.

I enjoyed the contrast between the ultra-dark, very slightly earthy and roasted flavors of the 99% cacao chocolate coating and the bright, sweet, complex (slightly floral/herbal) orange-infused honey filling. The well-executed and layered flavors (vs. a homogeneous blend found in a bar or ganache) made this more interesting and enjoyable.  

Made with only three ingredients, all three had their turn to shine. The spotlight on center stage belonged to the very slightly spicy orange and complex honey (floral, spice, herbal, etc.) flavors. And that filling was surrounded by 99% cacao dark chocolate around the edges. The more down to earth dark chocolate was the first taste, and then came back again to linger in the finish. 

Ingredients: "Manuka/Honey, 99% cocoa Dark chocolate, Orange Oil"

Allergen-related information: None listed. (Certified Kosher)

*Manuka honey comes from the nectar of flowers that grow on the Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) shrub-like tree. It is native to New Zealand and parts of (coastal) Australia, but is also cultivated in other areas of the world.

Lindt - Almond with Honey Dark Chocolate 47% (bar) - June 17, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Lindt
Almond with Honey Dark Chocolate (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.75 oz. (50 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 266.6 calories for 1/2 bar
Cost: $1.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate and Honey Theme Week, including chocolates with honey as well as a few chocolates with honey-like tasting notes.

Today's Almond Honey Dark Chocolate (bar) was manufactured by Lindt & Sprungli USA) Inc. (Stratham, NH). 

Aroma notes for this Swiss-inspired chocolate were true to the description and included: floral honey, dark chocolate and faint nut.

Texture: smooth dark chocolate with crunchy bits of almond.

Taste: relatively bold, yet smooth, dark chocolate, honey, very faint floral (mostly in the aroma), and subtle almond.

What I liked: flavorful, honey notes; no off notes; dark, without being too acidic or bitter. 

While it tasted darker than 47% cocoa (more like 60%--which I liked), it was also fairly sweet (sugar was the number one ingredient). The sugar gave this a dark chocolate and honey candy-like flavor.

Ingredients: Sugar, Chocolate, Caramelized Almonds (Almonds, Sugar, Honey, Cocoa Butter), Cocoa Butter, Milk fat, Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier), Natural Flavor.

Allergen-related information: Contains Almonds, Milk, Soy. May Contain Other Tree Nuts. 



American Heritage Chocolate - Dark Chocolate with vanilla, orange & cinnamon (bar) - June 16, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

American Heritage Chocolate
Dark Chocolate with a hint of vanilla, orange & cinnamon (bar)
Good: ++
Weight:  1.27 oz. (36 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 190 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $2.99 for 1 bar (+tax and shipping)
Purchased from: (Online Shop at Colonial Williamsburg, Online order)

Welcome to the last day of Chocolate and Mexico Week.

Today's American Heritage Chocolate Dark Chocolate with a hint of vanilla, orange and cinnamon 57% Cacao (bar) was made in Henderson, Nevada, and distributed by Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, LLC (Hackettstown, NJ). 

I found this historically-inspired chocolate on the Colonial Williamsburg website. Cacao was ground and consumed in the U.S. by newly arrived Europeans as far back as the 1700s. Williamsburg, Virginia, was using recipes that had their roots in Mexico/Central America. 

Chocolate houses (similar to today's coffee houses) were also in vogue in parts of Europe in the 1600s-1700s; and would have been known to some of the early colonists. These early, water-based, chocolate beverages contained exotic spices and were typically sweetened with sugar.

This bar was full of rich aroma and flavors that reminded me a lot of Mexican chocolate (especially drinking chocolates). This chocolate contained a subtle warm cinnamon and spice blend, and a subtle spicy, kick--consistent with chocolate(s) with chili peppers in Mexico--and possibly in some early chocolate recipes/beverages adopted/adapted by Europeans.

The smooth, thick and creamy-textured dark chocolate had prominent cinnamon and spice (red pepper) notes that were rounded out with orange and vanilla. It had a pleasing, warm quality to it.

I enjoyed this chocolate with some (gluten free) Cinnamon Churro chips from Get Mindright Inc. (Beverly Hills, CA). I felt I'd been transported to Mexico/Latin America.

Ingredients: Chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, cinnamon, anise, nutmeg, salt, natural flavors, red pepper.

Allergen-related information: "May contain milk, peanuts, tree nuts, egg and soy."



Oaxacan Chocolate 100% Cacao (pieces) - June 15, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

(Vendor unknown)
Oaxacan chocolate 100% cacao (pieces)
Good ++
Weight: .6 oz. (15 + 2 g.)/ 2.4 oz. (69 g.) total bag of 2 pieces
Calories: 93 calories (estimate) in 1/2 of 1 piece
Cost: N/A - gift from neighbor
Purchased from: N/A - gift from neighbor (Thank you Nallely and Gomez family)

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Mexico Theme Week, featuring two chocolates.

The first chocolate, from Oaxaca, was very special; it was part of a Mexican chocolate gift bag from my neighbors. 

Aroma notes for this single-ingredient, full-strength (100%) cacao included: deep, rich, authentic cacao (beans, nibs), faint olive, dark brownie, and diffuse wine/fermentation and acidity. 

I was expecting a strong taste; but this cacao was very well-behaved for a 100% cacao item (no sugar). This was not a shiny tempered chocolate that broke with a hard snap, but rather it was easy to break off pieces--making it well-suited for making hot chocolate or adding to other dishes/beverages/desserts.

Full of authentic cacao flavors, it created a relatively smooth drinking chocolate; and I enjoyed it sprinkled over nuts and fruit for breakfast. 

It also would be a great addition to a blander, sweeter hot chocolate, to punch up the taste a bit. 

Javier Confectionery
Velvet Dark Drinking Chocolate with marshmallows
Good ++
Weight: 2 oz. (56.6 g.) / 15.75 oz. (444 g.) in total package
Calories: 375 calories (estimate) in 1 serving 
Cost: N/A - gift from neighbors
Purchased from: N/A - gift from neighbors (Thank you Nallely and Gomez family)

Today's Velvet Dark Drinking Chocolate Mix (with Marshmallows) was from Javier Confectionery* (Burlingame, CA).

This mix had a pleasing drinking chocolate (cocoa) aroma and flavor. Cocoa butter and butter oil gave this mix a creamy flavor and texture. The marshmallows added some sweet and light, lofty texture.

I also tried this chocolate with milk and a pinch of 100% cacao to make this blend slightly richer on the cacao bean side, and to make it taste a little less sweet.

Ingredients: Semi-Sweet Chocolate (chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, butter oil, soya lecithin, emulsifier, pure vanilla). Marshmallow (sugar, corn syrup, invert sugar gelatin).

Allergen-related information: Contains Milk and Soy. "Made in a facility that processes peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, wheat, and soy."

*Javier Confectionery is located in/co-located with the Preston's Candy and Ice Cream store in Burlingame, CA




Chocolate Mayordomo - Drinking Chocolate - June 13, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Chocolate Mayordomo 
Premium Drinking Chocolate (Tabletas)
Good+++
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) (part of a larger package)
Calories: 155 calories (estimate) for 1 oz. piece
Cost: N/A - gift from neighbor
Purchased from: N/A - gift from neighbor (gracias a Nallely y la familia Gomez)

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

Today's Drinking Chocolate/Hot Chocolate (en tabletas - bar form) was from Chocolate Mayordomo  (Oaxaca, Mexico). This was generously shared with me by my neighbors.*

Mayordomo is known for its mole sauces and "table chocolate" (drinking chocolate in scored tablet form and other chocolates).

Aroma notes included: rich chocolate and cinnamon, and very faint, fleeting stone fruit (ripe peach).

This chocolate was very tasty. It produced the kind of warm beverage that makes you want to sit back and relax and savor each sip with a good friend or a book.

I also found it to be great, all by itself -- to eat out of hand; as a chilled drinking chocolate with milk (or at temperature); and grated over desserts or ice cream. 

If you do taste a square or two of a tablet by itself, the initial texture will seem a bit crumbly/grainy (like the first cut of stone-ground cacao with sugar and cinnamon). This is an opportunity/reminder to savor (this and other) chocolate slowly, as you let it dissolve in your mouth.

This was a less processed, flavorful authentic cacao that was low in bitterness. I found this much more tasty than the alkali-processed cocoa we normally find when we're served hot chocolate here in the U.S.--which is also lower in bitterness, but in flavor as well as it has been processed to remove all potential bitter and sour notes that might be present. This process also takes away some of the better flavors as well.

I loved the authentic cacao flavors, and the short list of ingredients. The warm, spicy-sweet cinnamon flavor was almost intoxicating.

Ingredients: Roasted cacao beans, almonds and cinnamon, sugar

Allergen-related information: None listed on gold foil packaging (part of a larger package).

* I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and the brands of hot chocolate we see from Mexico most often in specialty stores are Ibarra and Abuelita. So this Oaxacan chocolate gift was a real treat. (For those that live in the U.S., you may be able to find Mayordomo chocolate on Etsy.)



 

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Gnosis Chocolate - The Golden Brick; and Chocolate Mayordomo - Hot Chocolate/Drinking Chocolate disc - June 14, 2024

Chocolate(s) of the Day

Gnosis Chocolate
The Golden Brick (small filled bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.02 oz. (29 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: $6.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Gnosis Chocolate, online order

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Mexico Theme Week -- featuring two chocolates.

The first chocolate was: "The Golden Brick" (inside a shiny gold bar box) from Gnosis Chocolate (Astoria, New York). This bar was listed as having a "vanilla turmeric creme filling."

Aroma and flavor notes for this filled bar included: chocolate cookie, and faint sweet botanicals and spices--with a soft, very slightly more substantial light caramel-y, chocolate-y coconut-vanilla spice filling. Both the almost velvety 70% raw chocolate covering and the sweet flavorful filling were very tasty.

The Spanish were looking for gold in the New World. But, arguably, some of the most valuable items found in Mexico were cacao, vanilla and blue agave. This Golden Brick (bar) contained all three--as well lucuma, maca and cashews--also from the Americas (Peru).

Ingredients: "70% raw chocolate (raw cacao beans*, coconut sugar*), raw cashews*, virgin coconut oil*, raw blue agave*, lucuma*, fleur de sel salt, turmeric*, eleuthero*, maca*, burdock*, Love (*organic)"

Allergen-related information: (Contains cashews, coconut)

Chocolate Mayordomo 
Hot Chocolate/Drinking Chocolate (disc)
Good++ - Good +++
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) (part of a larger package)
Calories: 155 calories (estimate) for 1 oz. piece
Cost: N/A - gift from neighbor
Purchased from: N/A - gift from neighbor (Muchas gracias a Nallely y la familia Gomez.)

Today's Drinking Chocolate/Hot Chocolate (disc) was from Chocolate Mayordomo (Oaxaca, Mexico). This was generously shared with me by my neighbors.

Mayordomo is known for its mole sauces and "table chocolate" (drinking chocolate in scored tablet and disc form and other chocolates).

Aroma notes included: rich chocolate and cinnamon, and very faint diffuse fruit (raisin, peach).

This chocolate was very tasty. And like yesterday's tablets from the same company, this chocolate was good for eating (by itself) and grating over desserts and lattes--as well as producing a warm beverage (with either water or milk of choice) that makes you want to sit back and relax and savor each sip with a good friend or a book.

The initial "grainy" texture (think sugar crystals ground with roasted cacao beans and cinnamon) gave way to a rich chocolate-y texture as it dissolves in my mouth. It reminded me to slow down and savor chocolates to enjoy them fully.

This less processed cacao was full of authentic flavors; and it was low in bitterness. I found this much more tasty than the alkali-processed hot cocoa mixes that are the rule in the U.S. The hot cocoa in the U.S is also lower in bitterness (and in natural cacao flavors as well) as it has been processed to remove bitter and acidic/sour elements that might be present. Unfortunately this process neutralizes objectionable as well as prized flavors.

I liked the smaller sized discs and tablets -- making it easier to make 1-2 person servings. And I loved the authentic cacao flavors, and the short list of ingredients.* The warm, spicy-sweet cinnamon flavor was lovely.

Ingredients: Roasted cacao beans, almonds and cinnamon, sugar (*Note this list of ingredients was obtained online and may not be 100% correct.)

Allergen-related information: May contain almonds. I gratefully received these discs without packaging (They were part of a larger package that had this information that I did not see.)

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Mamma Chia - Dark Chocolate Chia Pudding - June 12, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Mamma Chia
Dark Chocolate Chia Pudding
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1/3 cup (49 g.) / 5.3 oz. (150 g.) in total package
Calories: 240 calories in 1/3 cup (dry serving); approx. 1/3 package
Cost: Missing information (Online prices range from $5.99 to $8.99)
Purchased from: Missing information

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Mexico Week. 

Today's Dark Chocolate Chia* Pudding from Mamma Chia (Carlsbad, CA) wasn't made in Mexico, although the company is located in the San Diego area, very near the U.S.-Mexico border.

I'm including this chocolate item in a Mexico themed week because chia seeds originated in Mexico (and Guatemala) and have become relatively popular in the U.S.**

Aroma notes for this organic, easy-to-prepare (just add water/milk) chocolate chia pudding included: cocoa powder, coconut, and very faint grain/seed.

The texture was smooth, and relatively creamy (coconut cream), with tiny bits of crunchy chia seeds surrounded by a gel-like substance.

The directions to make this pudding called for adding water, whisking and waiting -- about 90 minutes. (I waited for 2+ hours before eating.) Although letting this pudding sit overnight in the fridge might yield even smoother results.

Flavor notes included: coconut cream, cocoa powder, chia seeds and very faint oats.

Ingredients: Organic Chia Seeds, Organic Coconut Cream, Organic Oat, Organic Cocoa Powder, Organic Tapioca Maltodextrin, Organic Tapioca Starch, Organic Natural Flavor, Organic Guar Gum, Organic Monk Fruit, Sea Salt.

Allergen-related information: Contains Coconut. 

*Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) are part of the mint family. Nutritional properties of note in 1 serving: 6 grams of plant protein; 5 grams of ALA Omega-3 fatty acids; and 10 grams of prebiotic fiber. They are best eaten/digested after being soaked for at least a few hours (or overnight).

**Both Maya and Aztec peoples ate chia seeds. They were/are also sometimes ground into a flour. They started to become more popular in the U.S. in the early 2000s, and today you'll find them in crackers, beverages and desserts. The word "chia" means strength in the Maya language; and these seeds were used for energy and stamina by warriors and those traveling longer distances.



Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Cuna de Piedra - 60% Mexican Cacao (Chinantla, Oaxaca) with cinnamon (discs) - June 11, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Cuna de Piedra 
60% Mexican Cacao - Chinantla, Oaxaca with cinnamon
Good ++
Weight: 1.05 oz. (30 g.) / 2.10 oz. (60 g.) in total package of 2 discs
Calories: 130 calories in 1 disc
Cost: N/A - gift from neighbor
Purchased from: N/A - gift from neighbor (Thank you Nallely!)

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

Today's 60% Cacao Mexican (Chinantla, Oxaca)* chocolate disc(s) were made in Mexico by Cuna de Piedra (Nuevo Leon, Mexico). There were two small discs (individually wrapped in blue foil) in an attractive, compact black package.

Aroma notes included: dark chocolate with faint floral and gentle earth notes.

The texture was relatively smooth for a drinking chocolate style disc.** The smooth, rich texture made it a great "eating" chocolate as well. (I can't say the same for many other drinking chocolates.)

Flavor notes included: rich dark chocolate with mild/faint green floral notes, and just a little bit of earthiness in one wedge. I enjoyed the authentic, bean-to-bar chocolate flavors (vs. blends of over-roasted cacaos used in many commercial dark chocolates). It also tasted slightly darker and richer (and less sweet -- thank you!) than most 60% cacao chocolates.

The (Ceylon-style) Mexican cinnamon was very subtle, adding a faint warm, wood/spice note, while still allowing the nuanced cacao notes to shine.

I also enjoyed the smaller size disc -- that was easier to break into wedges -- as I usually make small (espresso cup sized) drinking chocolate servings for just a few people.

Ingredients: Cacao beans, Cane sugar, Mexican cinnamon.

Allergen-related information: "Manufactured on Equipment that Processes wheat, milk, soy, peanuts, tree nuts and eggs."

*I hope to visit Oaxaca (in Southern Mexico) one day. Sampling and studying food history (corn, squash, mole sauces, drinking chocolates) alone would be worth the flight.

** Drinking chocolate discs like this are usually bigger in size and have a more stoneground (slightly granular) texture. These discs are meant to be dissolved in hot water and often mixed with milk to create a creamier, smoother texture.


 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Chocolove - Chili Mole in Strong Dark Chocolate 70% (bar) - June 10, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Chocolove 
Chili Mole in Strong Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.6 oz. (45 g.) / 3.2 oz. (90 g.) in total bar
Calories: 220 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $3.49 (estimate) for 1 bar 
Purchased from: Piazza's, Palo Alto, CA 

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

Today's Chili Mole in Strong Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa (bar) was from Chocolove (Boulder, CO). 

Mole sauces from Mexico and Central America are typically made with ground chilies and may contain ground nuts, cacao, bread or crackers, corn, tomatoes or tomatillos, onion and other spices, and sometimes a touch of sugar or fruit. The chilies are a must; but other ingredients can vary widely.

Today's Chili Mole bar was inspired by mole sauce(s) and it contained ancho and chipotle chilies, cacao, vanilla and cinnamon. Other ingredients in this thoughtfully executed chocolate included: coffee, pistachio nuts and dried apricots.*

Aroma notes for this dark chocolate bar included: dark chocolate, spices: cinnamon, (slightly smokey/roasted) chili, coffee and very faint vanilla; and faint/diffuse fruit and nut.

The smooth dark chocolate yielded rich, sweet flavor notes. The chilis added flavor depth and were relatively mild (more flavor than heat). The vanilla and cinnamon gave the chocolate a natural sweet, upbeat (fresh baked goods) flavor. The coffee and chocolate** grounded this blend. And the ground nut flecks and tiny apricot bits provided mellow nut and subtle tart-sweet fruit notes, respectively.

I enjoyed the choice of flavors in this 70% bar to create a mole sauce like taste. I also liked that this dark chocolate bar was not too sweet (thank you). A very light touch of sea salt, chilies, coffee and dark chocolate helped balance the sweetness.

Ingredients: "Dark Chocolate (Cocoa Liquor, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin or Sunflower Lecithin, Vanilla), Pistachios, Dried Apricots (Apricots, Rice Flour), Coffee, Ancho Chilies, Sea Salt, Cinnamon, Chipotle Chilies."

Allergen-related information: "Contains Pistachios, Soy. Made in a Facility That Also Processes Milk, Eggs, Peanuts and Other Tree Nuts."

*Pistachios and apricots originally hail from Central Asia. And coffee had its start in East Africa. However, our food cultures have become very creatively enmeshed.

** Chocolove describes this bar as "Strong Dark Chocolate" 70% Cocoa (Belgian chocolate). But don't let the used of the word"Strong" scare you off. It was quite smooth.


Mezcla - Mexican Hot Chocolate "Puff-Crispy Bar" - June 9, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Mezcla
Mexican Hot Chocolate (bar)
Weight: 1.40 oz. (40 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 170 calories in 1 bar
Cost: 2.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Whole Foods, Fremont, CA

Hola y bienvenidos a mi blog, Chocolate Banquet. Hello and welcome. Today is Day #1 of Chocolate and Mexico Theme Week.

When people think about "Mexican chocolate" they often mention cinnamon and vanilla.*

Today's Mezcla Mexican Hot Chocolate "Puff-Crispy Bar" was distributed by Eat Mezcla Inc. (New York, NY).

Aroma notes included: cinnamon + vanilla cake/cookie; faint chocolate; and very faint cinnamon toast.

I enjoyed the soft, crunchy texture of this bar--made with pea protein crisps and organic, smooth dark chocolate. It reminded me of a Mexican-style hot chocolate with cinnamon, vanilla and a subtle touch of relatively mild chipotle pepper.

The extra protein was satisfying; and despite the slightly sweet aroma and taste, the bar was not overly sugared (Thank you!)

Ingredients: "Pea Crisps (pea protein, rice starch), Organic Dark Chocolate (Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Chocolate Liquor, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Vanilla Powder), Tapioca Syrup, Sunflower Seed Butter, Vegetable Glycerine, Pea Protein, Organic Quinoa Crisps (Organic Quinoa), Prebiotic Soluble Tapioca Fiber, Tapioca Syrup Solids, Coconut Oil, Tapioca Fiber, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Powder, Sea Salt, Cinnamon, Natural Flavor, Vanilla Extract, Chipotle Pepper"

Allergen-related information: "Contains Tree Nut (Coconut). Manufactured on Equipment that Processes Dairy, Peanut, Sesame, Soy, Tree Nuts, and Egg"

*Cinnamon, an ancient spice from SE Asia and neighboring areas, likely arrived in the New World at least 500 years ago, in the 1500s--after it was brought to Europe via Arab and African trading routes. (Although there are some individuals who believe that cinnamon might have arrived in the Americas before the Spanish, Spain usually gets the credit for introducing cinnamon.) Regardless, it has become an integral part of most "Mexican chocolate" beverages and desserts here in the U.S.

Vanilla and cacao, on the other hand, originated in Central and South America and were brought to Europe/and other nations.

 

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Wildwood Chocolate - Berry Berry 70% Cacao (bar) - June 8, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Wildwood Chocolate
Berry Berry 70% Cacao (bar)
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.5 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 225 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $18.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Healing Arts Center and Spa at Cavallo Point, Sausalito, CA

Welcome to Day #14 of Chocolate and Fruits Theme Week(s). 

Today's Berry Berry 70% Cacao (bar) was from Wildwood Chocolate (Portland, OR). Note: This bar's lovely appearance and the company's name (inspired by a local trail in the Portland area) caused me to have a positive bias--as I love color, nature and trails.

Aroma notes for this visually stunning dark chocolate bar included: big, bright red berry (authentic red raspberry and strawberry), and dark chocolate.

Texture: A very generous layer of lofty (almost airy) light, dried fruit (strawberries, raspberries) sat atop a smooth/creamy dark chocolate base.

Flavor notes included: tart-sweet strawberries and raspberries that complemented bold (slightly earthy/loamy) and relatively smooth dark chocolate. And a very faint touch of vanilla harmonized well with the berries and chocolate.

I enjoyed this very attractive*, well-executed, flavorful 70% cacao bar. The berries were not sweetened--allowing the true fruit flavors to shine. Thank you to Wildwood for not over-sugaring this fruit-flavored chocolate.

Ingredients: Bittersweet Chocolate (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla extract), Dried Strawberries, Dried Raspberries.

Allergen-related information: Contains Soy. May contain traces of the following if not listed above due to shared equipment: milk, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat or eggs.

*The Wildwood image of a fern (plant) was embossed on the dark chocolate side; and the red berries provided 100% coverage (and eye candy) on the other side.


Friday, June 7, 2024

That's it Nutrition - Organic Dark Chocolate Fig Truffles 60% Cacao - June 7, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

That's it Nutrition LLC
Organic Dark Chocolate Fig Truffles
Good + -  Good ++
Weight: 1.16 oz. (33 g.) / 20 oz. (567 g.) in total bar
Calories: 70 calories in 1 serving (3 truffles)
Cost: $ N/A - gift from neighbor (Thanks Bill!)
Purchased from: N/A - gift from neighbor

Welcome to Day #13 of Chocolate and Fruits Theme Week that has expanded into a second week--with a growing list of fruits being represented.*

Today's Organic Dark Chocolate Fig Truffles were from That's it Nutrition LLC (Los Angeles, CA).

Aroma notes included: subtle dark chocolate and dried fruit (fig).

Flavor notes included: chocolate and softly chewy and almost earthy, whole dried fruit (fig). The fig was the star of the show; and the 60% dark chocolate covering/shell complemented the fruit well.

I liked that this chocolate covered fruit was authentic tasting (made with a short list of organic ingredients), and was not overly sweet. (Thank you!)

Ingredients: Organic Figs, *Organic Dark Chocolate (Organic Unsweetened Chocolate, Organic Sugar, Organic Cocoa Butter).

Allergen-related information: May contain occasional stem, seed or pit fragments. Certified Gluten Free, Certified Organic, Certified Paleo, Fair Trade Certified Cocoa.

In the earlier years of Chocolate Banquet, I ran week-long and month-long chocolate series that included flavor inclusions in alphabetical order (from A-Z). It was fun to hunt for all these different chocolates (Apple, Banana, Cherry, Durian...etc.)  

It also proved that chocolate makers are very creative, chocolate is incredibly versatile--it can be sweet or savory; bitter, sour and/or sweet, and can mix with almost every food and liquid in some form.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Wildwood Chocolate - Orange Confit and Cherries 70% Cacao (bar) - June 6, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Wildwood Chocolate
Orange Confit and Cherries
Good ++
Weight: 1.58 oz. (45 g.) / 3.17 oz. (90 g.) in total bar
Calories: 210 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $17.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Healing Arts Center and Spa at Cavallo Point, Sausalito, CA

Welcome to Day #12 of Chocolate and Fruits Theme Week(s). 

Today's Orange Confit and Cherries 70% Cacao (bar) was from Wildwood Chocolate (Portland, OR).

Aroma notes for this bar included: hearty dark chocolate (balanced, relatively heavily roasted* cacao),  and diffuse fruit(s) (stone fruit and citrus).

I enjoyed this blend of smooth, rich, dark bittersweet chocolate; plump and moist dried cherries; and long strips of very softly chewy, candied orange peel. 

Ingredients: Bittersweet Chocolate (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla extract), Dried Cherries (may contain pits), Orange Confit (orange peel, glucose syrup, sugar).

Allergen-related information: Contains Soy. May contain traces of the following if not listed above due to shared equipment: milk, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat or eggs.

* I used to be a fan of dark roasted items (e.g. espresso roast coffee, barbequed foods with little flecks of char). However, if I now prefer to taste the more nuanced, delicate fresh flavors in foods. And that includes cacao. A heavier roast may mean losing some objectionable flavors; but it will also mean that floral and some fruit, spice and botanical notes will be lost.

Zotter - Strawberry Pistachio 50% Milk Chocolate (bar) - June 5, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Zotter
Strawberry Pistachio 50% Milk Chocolate (bar)
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 2.47 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 390 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $8.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Zotter, online order

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

Today's Strawberry Pistachio 50% Milk Chocolate filled strawberry marzipan and pistachio almond praline (bar) was made in Austria and distributed by Zotter Chocolates US LLC (Fort Myers, FL).

Aroma notes for this filled fruit and nut milk chocolate bar included: berry (strawberry fruit leather, strawberry jam and nut cookie); chocolate; and very faint vanilla and spice.

The sweet, soft nougat center had two distinct layers (strawberry marzipan and pistachio-almond praline). I enjoy layered textures and flavors in desserts. Both layers were a pleasant match with the sweet, creamy milk chocolate outer covering. This bar had an upbeat (bright sweet) summer berry flavor and a sweet nutty layer; and the nuts helped balance the sugar(s) a bit.

The sugar level in today's layered bar was high. (I like to taste the chocolate and fruit flavors. And it's harder to do that when sugar is the number one ingredient.) But that didn't stop me from eating the entire fruit and nut milk chocolate confection.

Ingredients: Cane Sugar**, Marzipan* (Almonds*, Sugar*, Invert Sugar Syrup*), Cocoa Butter, Almonds, Cocoa Mass, Dry Whole Milk, Pistachios (5%), Strawberries (4%), Strawberry Concentrate (4%), Dried Strawberries (4%), Dry Skim Milk, Dry Sweet Whey, Butter (Cream), Dark Brown Cane Sugar, Lemon Juice, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Lecithin (Soy), Salt, Vanilla Bean Powder, Lemon Powder (Lemon Juice Concentrate, Corn Starch, Sugar), Rose Petals, Cinnamon.
* = Organic (91% Organic)

Allergen-related information: Contains: Almonds, Milk, Pistachios, Soy. Manufactured on equipment that processes other tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, sesame and gluten.




Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Vine to Bar - Chocolate Covered Almonds with Chardonnay Marc, Himalayan Pink Salt - June 4, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Vine To Bar
Chocolate Covered Almonds with Chardonnay Marc, Himalayan Pink Salt
Good ++ 
Weight: 2 oz. (56.6 g.) / 4 oz. (113 g.) in total package 
Calories: 340 calories in 1/2 package
Cost: $10.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: The Market at Edgewood, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #10 of Chocolate and Fruit Theme Week, featuring chocolates with several different fruits, including cherry, cranberry, marionberry, blueberry, strawberry, orange, lime, and now...Chardonnay (grape) Marc.*

Today's Chocolate Covered Almonds were manufactured for: Vine to Bar (Healdsburg, CA).

Aroma notes included: dark chocolate and subtle fruit (peach, lemon, white grape and cacao fruit) and nut notes.

Texture and flavor notes included: crunchy almonds surrounded by rich, smooth and sweet (65% cacao) dark chocolate with faint fruit/fruit cookie notes. 

The diffuse fruit notes added subtle flavor depth. The judicious touch of Himalayan Pink Salt was appealing; and it helped balance and complement the sweetness, and also tipped this snack into the addictive chocolate zone.

Ingredients: Dark Chocolate (Unsweetened Chocolate, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavors), Roasted Almonds, Wellvine (TM) Chardonnay Marc, Himalayan Pink Salt.

Allergen-related information: "Contains: Soy, Almond. May Contain: Tree Nuts, Peanut, Wheat, Milk, and Nut Shell Fragments."

* Chardonnay Marc is a byproduct (or "co-product") of the Chardonnay juice extraction process in winemaking. The marc, also known as pomace, may include grape skins, seeds and stems--and is often discarded or used as compost. Vine to Bar founders were interested in sustainability and upcycling the marc.

Vine to Bar chocolates contain Wellvine--a substance that incorporates their Chardonnay by-product-with-benefits (including dietary fiber and polyphenols/flavonols). Cacao and dark chocolate contain fairly high levels of beneficial antioxidants; and adding a few more in fruit form might be even better.

The USDA and the University of California at Davis were consulted/ involved in researching this product. UC Davis researchers helped confirm potential bioactive compounds and health benefits.




Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Scharffen Berger - 70% Dark Chocolate with Cherries + Almonds + Sea Salt (bar) - June 3, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker 
70% Dark Chocolate with Cherries + Almonds + Sea Salt (bar)
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42.5 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 225 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: (Missing information) 
Purchased from: The Market at Edgewood, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's 70% Dark Chocolate with Cherries + Almonds + Sea Salt (bar) was manufactured by Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker (Ashland, OR).

Aroma notes included: hearty, sweet dark chocolate (dark ganache); dark tart-sweet cherry fruit; nut (almond); and faint vanilla.

The blend of textures and flavors included: smooth, rich dark chocolate; crunchy crispy-sea-salty nut bits, and fleeting, chewy, tart-sweet, cherry fruit. The upticks of sea salt and small almond bits helped balance the sweetness.

Ingredients: "Cacao Beans, Cane Sugar, Almonds, Sweetened Tart Cherries (Tart Cherries, Sugar, Sunflower Oil), Cocoa Butter, Sunflower Lecithin, Sea Salt, Vanilla Bean." 

Allergen-related information: Contains Almonds. Produced in a Facility That Also Processes Other Tree Nuts and Dairy.

Zotter Chocolate - Blueberry + Hazelnut (bar) - June 2, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Zotter Chocolate
Blueberry + Hazelnut (bar) 
Good + - Good ++ 
Weight: 1.23 oz. (35 g.) / 2.47 oz. (70 g.) in total package of 2 bars
Calories: 180 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $8.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Zotter, online order

Welcome to Day #8 of Chocolate and Fruit Theme Week. Cherries, berries and citrus are heavily represented this week. It's always nice to find a bar with blueberries.

Today's Blueberry + Hazelnut - Blueberry candy bar and hazelnut praline with hazelnut pieces (bar) was made in Austria and distributed by Zotter Chocolates US LLC (Fort Myers, FL).

Zotter offers an abundant variety of creatively executed and packaged bars -- both filled ("hand-scooped") and single origin ("Labooko" line) chocolate bars.*

Aroma notes for this filled milk chocolate bar included: chocolate; blueberry; and very faint berry cereal milk and vanilla.

Texture: Creamy milk chocolate with a softer milk chocolate filling/center that contained crunchy hazelnut pieces.

Flavor notes included: sweet, slightly tangy blueberry-infused, rich and creamy milk chocolate, and subtle nut (hazelnut). 

The authentic flavors in this high-end, sweet candy bar (including the organic brown sugar) helped make this candy bar more interesting and mildly addicting. I would say that it was too sweet, but I had no trouble eating more than I'd planned. As in other candy bars, nuts helped balance out the sweetness. 

Ingredients: Cane Sugar**, Cocoa Butter** (24%), Hazelnuts** (21%), Cocoa Mass**, Dry Skim Milk, Dried Blueberries* (14%), Dry Whole Milk, Soy Lecithin*, Lemon Powder* (Lemon Juice Concentrate*, Corn Starch*, Sugar*), Dark Brown Cane Sugar**, Salt, Vanilla Bean Powder*, Cardamom*, Star Anise*. 

(* = Organic; ** = Organic and Fair Traded) Fair Trade Content: 87%

Allergen-related information: Contains Milk, Soy. "Manufactured on equipment that processes tree nuts, peanuts, and sesame." 

*Zotter is one of the only chocolate makers offering dark chocolate single origin bars "sweetened" with just milk, and with NO sugars. (No artificial or other sweeteners.) Not sure why more makers haven't done this. Hats off to the maker for this decision.

Zotter - Cranberry - Dark Chocolate 70% filled with cranberry ganache (bar) - June 1, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Zotter Chocolate
Cranberry - Dark Chocolate 70% filled with cranberry ganache
Good ++  
Weight: 1.23 oz. (35 g.) / 2.47 oz. (70 g.) in total package of 2 bars
Calories: 180 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $8.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Zotter, online order

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

Today's Cranberry - Dark Chocolate 70% filled with cranberry ganache (bar) was made in Austria and distributed by Zotter Chocolates US LLC (Fort Myers, FL).

Zotter offers an abundant variety of bars -- both filled ("hand-scooped") and single origin ("Labooko" line) chocolate bars. Today's organic Cranberry bar was one of the company's first 100% vegan fruit filled bars.

Aroma notes for this 70% filled chocolate bar included: dark chocolate; subtle fruit (red berry); and very faint coconut and vanilla.

Texture: The soft, pink ganache (center) was surrounded by a thin but firm, dark chocolate shell.

Flavor notes included: smooth dark chocolate and a uniform, authentic tasting, tart-sweet cranberry filling. 

Ingredients: Cane Sugar**, Cocoa Mass**, Cocoa Butter**, Cranberries*(17%), Rice Drink Powder* (Rice*, Sunflower Oil*, Salt), Cranberry Concentrate*, Apple Juice*, Invert Sugar Syrup*, Dried Cranberries*, Glucose Syrup*, Coconut Powder* (Coconut Paste*, Coconut Milk*, Coconut Flour*), Lemon Juice Concentrate*, Toasted Coconut**, Lecithin (Soy)*, Salt, Emulsifier: Lecithin (Sunflower)*, Lemon Powder* (Lemon Juice Concentrate*, Corn Starch*, Sugar*), Vanilla Bean Powder** 

(* = Organic; ** = Organic and Fair Traded); "Fair Trade Content in Total: 70%"

Allergen-related information: Contains soy (and coconut). "Manufactured on equipment that processes tree nuts, peanuts, milk, gluten and sesame."



Saturday, June 1, 2024

Mama Ganache - Spicy Orange 70% Cocoa Chocolate (bar) - May 31, 2024 + Candied Watermelon - May 31, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

1.) Mama Ganache 
Spicy Orange 70% Cocoa Chocolate (bar)
Good ++
Weight: .5 oz. (14.1 g.) / 1 oz. (28 g.) in total bar
Calories: 95 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: N/A - gift from a friend
Purchased from: N/A - gift from a friend (Thank you Eric!)

2.) Homemade by Megan
Candied Watermelon strips
Good ++
Weight: .75 oz. (21.2 g.) (estimate) for 1 serving
Calories: 83 calories (estimate) in 1 serving
Cost: N/A - gift from family (Thank you Megan!)
Purchased from: N/A - homemade by Megan

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Fruit Theme Week. Today's Spicy Orange 70% Cocoa Chocolate (bar) was from Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates (San Luis Obispo, CA). I enjoyed this chocolate with a side of homemade candied watermelon rind strips. (Thank you Megan!)

Aroma notes for this bar included: dark chocolate and citrus (orange oil, fruit).

Texture: smooth, buttercream-like chocolate with an appealing, creamy melt.

This bar had a bittersweet, smooth dark chocolate flavor, suffused with just the right amount of authentic orange (oil), followed by a spicy (cayenne pepper) uptick that bloomed mid-way through the tasting experience; and the "heat" gradually subsided 10-12 seconds after it peaked.

The sugar/sweetness level was about right; the 70% dark chocolate was very slightly bitter (bittersweet), and that balanced out the sweetness. A small amount of vanilla added a bit of baked goods warmth to the orange and chocolate flavors.

The pale pink candied watermelon rind strips I paired this chocolate with were fruity and chewy with a smooth, refreshing, bright, naturally sweet melon flavor. And they were a perfect complement to today's spicy orange dark chocolate. 

Ingredients: Organic bittersweet chocolate (Organic chocolate liquor*, organic sugar*, organic cocoa butter*, organic cocoa powder*, and organic vanilla*), organic orange oil and organic cayenne. (* = Fair Trade)

Allergen-related information: "Made on equipment that also processes peanuts, nuts, wheat and dairy"

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates - Candied Coconut + Makrut Lime (bar) - May 30, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates
Candied Coconut + Makrut Lime (bar) - 43% Madagascar Couverture
Good ++ 
Weight: 2.6 oz. (75 g.) in total bar
Calories: 403 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $7.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Farm Fresh, online order 

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

Today's Candied Coconut and Makrut Lime (bar) with 43% Madagascar Couverture was from Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates, Inc. (Sacramento, CA).

Today's lime flavor was from lime leaves and lime oil. The Makrut Lime leaves from Beck Grove Farm in Southern California (Fallbrook, CA).

Aroma notes for this 43% bar included: dark milk chocolate, fruit (lime, very faint sweet melon/cacao fruit), and very faint coconut and vanilla.

Texture: smooth dark milk chocolate and tiny, chewy/crunchy shreds of coconut.

Flavor notes included: dark milk chocolate; lilting, pleasingly complex lime; light vanilla; and very subtle coconut.

Flavors and textures were well-balanced and executed. Warning: the complex, slightly fruity sweet, milky cocoa and caramel notes made this bar slightly addictive, especially if you're hungry.

Maker's notes: "This custom single origin 43% chocolate from Madagascar is blended to have a higher amount of cocoa than traditional milk chocolate. Candied coconut and Makrut lime pair perfectly with the delicate acidity and soft caramel notes of this beautiful chocolate."

Ingredients: Milk Chocolate (Cocoa beans from Madagascar, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Whole Milk Powder, Dried Skimmed Milk, Vanilla Extract, Soya Lecithin, Natural Vanilla Flavor), Cocoa Paste (100% Cocoa Beans from Madagascar), Organic Coconut, Cane Sugar, Organic Makrut Lime Leaves, Cold Pressed Lime Oil.

Allergen-related information: "This product contains milk, soybeans and coconut. This product may contain traces of wheat, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts."

Lindt - Excellence - Lime Dark Chocolate (bar) - May 29, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Lindt 
Excellence - Lime Dark Chocolate (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 140 calories in 1 serving (30 grams)
Cost: $4.89 for 1 bar 
Purchased from: The Market at Edgewood, Palo Alto, CA

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

Today's Excellence - Lime Dark Chocolate (bar) was from Lindt -- distributed by Lindt and Sprungli (USA) Inc. (Stratham, NH).

Aroma notes included: dark chocolate and citrus (lime). 

Texture: smooth dark chocolate with tiny (slightly crunchy) freeze-dried lime bits--that hydrated in my mouth and tasted like flecks of pleasant (not bitter) lime fruit and peel.

Flavor notes included: smooth, relatively sweet dark chocolate and small sparkles of authentic (freeze-dried) lime fruit/rind. 

Many chocolates with fruit flavor inclusions start to taste more like candy. They often contain a higher percentage of sugar, and a lower percentage of cacao. 

While this 47% cacao chocolate was sweet (sugar was the first ingredient listed), the dark chocolate and lime both helped balance the sweetness; and the bitterness level was fairly low. The blend was well-balanced and executed.

I also liked that the smooth yet hearty (and less sugar-y tasting) dark chocolate with authentic lime also harmonized with the naturally occurring "fruit" flavors (e.g. "citrus" notes) found in cacao. 

Ingredients: Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Freeze-Dried Lime, Natural Flavor, Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier).

Allergen-related information: Contains Milk, Soy. May Contain Sesame and Tree Nuts.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Holm Made Toffee Co. - Marionberry - Oregon Hazelnut Toffee - May 28, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Holm Made Toffee Co.
Marionberry - Oregon Hazelnut Toffee
Good ++  
Weight: 2 oz. (56.6 g.) / 4 oz. (114 g.) in total package
Calories: 310 calories (estimate) in 1/2 package
Cost: $10.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Farm Fresh, online order/add-in

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

Today's Marionberry - Oregon Hazelnut Toffee was from Holm Made Toffee Co. (Bend, OR). 

Aroma notes included: sweet berry (fruit, jam), faint chocolate, and berry (somewhere between sweet black raspberry and ripe blackberry) jam shortbread cookie (with nuts, berries and vanilla). 

Texture: crunchy toffee core with creamy (dark and white chocolate)

Flavor notes included: sweet, crunchy, buttery toffee; nut and berry "cookie" with smooth/creamy rich chocolate and cocoa texture and flavor; and finely chopped hazelnuts that added a crunchy, nutty texture.

I liked that this rich toffee was made with real marionberries*, real butter, and no gluten, soy or corn syrup. Dark/flavor fans may prefer a version with more dark chocolate and less white chocolate, and more berry flavor. (Try the company's Vanilla and Cardamom toffee--my favorite Hold Made Toffee flavor--for a bit more chocolate flavor.)

This toffee confection was tasty, and it captured Oregon flavors like hazelnuts, marionberries and berry pie. 

Ingredients: Butter [cream (milk) & salt], pure cane sugar, Oregon hazelnuts, dark chocolate [unsweetened chocolate, sugar, sunflower lecithin, and vanilla], white chocolate [palm kernel and palm oils, whey, nonfat milk], blackberry oil [oils of natural flavors], freeze-dried Oregon marionberries.

Allergen-related information: Contains tree nuts (hazelnuts) and dairy 

*The Marionberry was created at Oregon State University in 1948. Considered a type of blackberry (a cross between Chehalem and Olallie blackberries), it also has some Himalaya blackberry and red raspberry heritage.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Mama Ganache - Cherry Almond Bark - May 27, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Mama Ganache
Cherry Almond Bark
Good ++
Weight: 2 oz. (56.6 oz.) / 4 oz. (113 g.) in total package
Calories: 310 calories in 1/2 package 
Cost: N/A - gift from a friend
Purchased from: N/A - gift from a friend (Thank you Eric!)

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

Today's Cherry Almond Bark was from Mama Ganache, a Stafford's Chocolates Company (San Luis Obispo, CA).

Aroma notes included: dark chocolate (chocolate-y with very subtle loamy earth and oxalis*), and faint fruit (cherry) and nut.

Texture: smooth, relatively thick and creamy, chocolate bark with embedded pieces of dried cherries and almonds.

Dark chocolate and authentic Bing cherries are a reliably tasty blend. And roasted almonds are an excellent complement to chocolate and cherries. I enjoyed this combination.

Ingredients: Organic Dark Chocolate (Organic Fairtrade Chocolate, Chocolate Liquor, Organic Fairtrade Cane Sugar, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Fairtrade Vanilla Extract), Bing Cherries, Almonds

Allergen-related information: Contains nuts (almonds). "Manufactured in a factory that handles tree nuts."

*Oxalis is a slightly tart green plant (also known as common yellow wood sorrel, and sour grass) that contains oxalic acid (aka Oxalates)--naturally occurring compounds in many plants such as leafy greens and seeds (including cacao). These compounds also can impart a faint lemon-green herb and/or citrus note(s) to greens, and to chocolate.

Andy's Orchard - Cherry Chocolate Fantasy - May 26, 2024

 Chocolate of the Day

Andy's Orchard
Cherry Chocolate Fantasy  
Good ++
Weight: 3.5 oz. (100 g.) / 7 oz. (200 g.) (estimate) in total container
Calories: 465 calories (estimate) in 1/2 container
Cost: $9.00 for 1 container
Purchased from: Andy's Orchard, Morgan Hill, CA 

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

Today's Cherry Chocolate Fantasy confections were from Andy's Orchard (Morgan Hill, CA).

Aroma notes included: sweet, dark chocolate (dark ganache, dark chocolate syrup and marshmallows, and brownies); and faint fruit, nut and vanilla.

Texture: blend of dark chocolate, nuts and dried cherry bits.

Tasting notes: rich jumble of chocolate-y flavors: dark chocolate surrounding chewy, authentic dried cherry pieces, pecans, and hints of marshmallow.

Ingredients: Chocolate, Marshmallows, Pecans, Dried Cherries

Allergen-related information: Contains nuts (pecans). "May Contain Pits or Pit Fragments."


Gnosis Chocolate - Date-Sweetened Earl Grey: Botanical Alchemy (bar) - May 25, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Gnosis Chocolate
Date-Sweetened Earl Grey: Botanical Alchemy (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.1 oz. (30 g.) in total bar
Calories: 170 calories (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: $5.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Gnosis Chocolate, online order

Welcome to Day #15 of Chocolate and Dates Theme Week(s).

Today's Date-Sweetened Earl Grey: Botanical Alchemy (bar)was created by Gnosis Chocolate (Astoria, NYC, NY).

Aroma notes for this bar included: smooth and flavorful dark chocolate with faint citrus/oxalis and barely there fruit-floral notes. 

Texture:  smooth, appealing texture with a very faint astringency/graininess in the finish.

Flavor notes included: dark chocolate (brownie) with balanced earth (cream/yogurt, loamy soil (mushroom, root and green vegetables). I enjoyed the Earl Grey (black) tea that showed up in the finish.

I also appreciated that this chocolate was mindfully made with a short list of (almost all) organic ingredients--and without soy (or other) lecithins.

Ingredients: 70% raw cacao beans*, ground dates*, coconut*, Earl Grey black tea, Blue Majik (TM) spirulina**, Love (*  = organic; ** = wild-crafted)

Allergen-related information: (Contains coconut)

 

Friday, May 24, 2024

Gnosis Chocolate - A Special Date (bar) - May 24, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Gnosis Chocolate
A Special Date (bar)
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1.1 oz. (30 g.) in total bar
Calories: 170 calories (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: $5.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Gnosis Chocolate, online order

Welcome to Day #14 of Chocolate and Dates Theme Week(s).

Today's "A Special Date" bar was created by Gnosis Chocolate  (Astoria, NYC, NY).

Aroma notes for this bar included: rich dark chocolate and faint dried fruit (date).

Texture: Smooth, creamy dark chocolate. (The whole bar was smooth; there was no date texture or any faint date sugar crystal graininess.)

Flavor notes included: tasty dark chocolate (dark chocolate torte) with subtly complex fruit (date).

Today's bar was one of my favorite date + chocolate blends this week. My two favorites were crafted with the fewest ingredients: just dark chocolate and dates. It's led me to believe that perhaps this is one of those combinations that works fairly well and doesn't necessarily benefit from additional company. 

I enjoyed the sweet, satisfying flavor of this chocolate. And the fact that it was made (with love) and just two, organic ingredients. Thank you to chocolate girl--aka gnosis chocolate maker Vanessa Barg.

Ingredients: 70% raw cacao beans*, ground dates*, Love (* = organic)

Allergen-related information: "Carefully handcrafted in a kitchen that also uses tree nuts and coconut."

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Simply - Salted Peanut Chocolate Date Bars - May 23, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Simply Gum, Inc.
Salted Peanut Chocolate Date Bars
Good ++
Weight: 1.48 oz. (42 g.) / 4.5 oz. (128 g.) in total bar
Calories: 180 calories in 2 pieces
Cost: $6.66 (sale price)
Purchased from: Whole Foods Market, Los Altos, CA 

Welcome to Day #13 of Chocolate and Dates Theme Week(s).

Today's Salted Peanut Chocolate Date Bars were from Simply Gum, Inc. (Brooklyn, NY).

Aroma notes for these gluten-free, vegan, small bars included: slightly umami/salty peanut, chocolate and date cookie.

An inner peanut and date blend offered a caramel-nougat-like filling, with a pliable date-like chew. The thin outer layer of dark chocolate was quite smooth. 

There was barely any of the faint graininess* in this bar that I've tasted in many other chocolate + date confections.

Flavor notes included: peanut-date-caramel (coconut sugar) nougat-like filling and subtle dark chocolate. The thin layer of dark chocolate took a back seat in this confection; but the flavors were all complementary and well-balanced.

The salted peanuts and chocolate help balance out the date-fruit sweetness. I also liked that these smaller snack-sized bars (that were not individually wrapped) were easy to share (weren't stuck together). 

Ingredients: Organic Dates, Roasted Peanuts, Dark Chocolate (Cocoa Mass, Organic Coconut Sugar, Cocoa Butter), Sea Salt

Allergen-related information: Contains: Peanuts, Coconut.

*A sense of graininess is often due to sugar crystals that can form in the dates as they age.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Jooliettes Date Nibbles - Blood Orange Dark Chocolate (covered diced dates) - May 22, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Jooliettes Date Nibbles 
Blood Orange Dark Chocolate (covered diced dates)
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 4 oz. (113 g.) in total bar
Calories: 120 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $6.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Farm Fresh, online order

Welcome to Day #12 of Chocolate and Dates Theme Week(s).

Today's Organic Blood Orange (Organic) Dark Chocolate (Covered Diced Dates) snack was distributed by Joolies Superfruit LLC (Coachella, CA). 

Aroma notes included: dark chocolate, relatively strong citrus (slightly floral orange juice) and subtle dried fruit (date). 

Flavor notes included: tart, sweet orange; dark chocolate; and softly chewy date centers. There was a very slight graininess in the texture. They were sweet and satsifying.

This week I've enjoyed the sheer variety of date and chocolate combinations. And many of the dates have hailed from here in California. Medjool dates grown in the Coachella Valley are popular (in) snacks and treats.* 

Ingredients: Dark Chocolate* (Unsweetened Chocolate*, Cane Sugar*, Cocoa Butter*, Natural Vanilla Extract*), Dates*, Cane Sugar*, Rice Flour*, Orange Juice Powder*, Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Tapioca Syrup*, Natural Flavor*. (* Organic)

Allergen-related information: "Processed in a facility that also manufactures products that contain Milk, Wheat, Peanuts, and Tree Nuts."

*My favorite childhood, date-related memory: sampling a date + nutmeg + vanilla ice cream milkshake on a visit to Southern California on a hot day.) And the smell of freshly squeezed orange juice being made that same visit. It was probably too hot for chocolate. (No A/C in the family car back then.)

 

Jooliettes Date Nibbles - Sea Salt Dark Chocolate (covered diced dates) - May 21, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Jooliettes Date Nibbles 
Sea Salt Dark Chocolate (covered diced dates)
Good ++
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 4 oz. (113 g.) in total bar
Calories: 120 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $6.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Farm Fresh, online order

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

Today's Organic Sea Salt Dark Chocolate (Covered Diced Dates) snack was distributed by Joolies Superfruit LLC (Coachella, CA).

Aroma notes for today's dark chocolate date nibbles included: dark chocolate; sweet-tart green (sugar + oxalis + vanilla); and faint dried fruit (date).

Texture: hearty, soft chew; plump, soft date pieces covered with smooth dark chocolate; with a very faint graininess (possibly from dates/rice flour).

Flavor notes included: smooth dark chocolate (with barely there vanilla), dates*, and tiny undulations of sea salt that balanced the sweetness. 

I liked the balance and layering of flavors; and the relatively short list of quality, organic ingredients. 

Ingredients: Dark Chocolate* (Unsweetened Chocolate*, Cane Sugar*, Cocoa Butter*, Natural Vanilla Extract*), Dates*, Rice Flour*, Sea Salt. (* Organic)

Allergen-related information: "Processed in a facility that also manufactures products that contain Milk, Wheat, Peanuts, and Tree Nuts." 

*This snack was made using upcycled Ugglies dates.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Gnosis Chocolate - Salted Caramel Filled Raw Chocolate Bar - May 20, 2024

Chocolate of The Day

Gnosis Chocolate 
Salted Caramel Filled Raw Chocolate Bar
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.25 oz. (35 g.) / 2.5 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 193 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $14.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Gnosis Chocolate, online order

Welcome to Day #10 of Chocolate and Dates Theme Week(s).

Today's Salted Caramel Filled Raw Chocolate Bar was from Gnosis Chocolate (Astoria, NY).

Aroma notes behind this thoughtfully crafted bar included: dark chocolate, very faint fruit (date), and very faint caramel and botanicals.

Texture: smooth (dark chocolate and velvety caramel), yet it was also slightly granular. 

Flavor notes included: dark chocolate and caramel with very faint nut and slightly sweet botanicals (consistent with maca, lucuma).

The sweetness level was relatively high; but it was less than most caramel filled chocolates. And it had less of a sugar buzz. (Thank you!) The salt was very subtle.

Ingredients: "raw cacao beans*, medjool dates*, raw cashews*, virgin coconut oil*, coconut sugar*, raw blue agave*, lucuma*, Balinese pyramid salt, maca root*, Love (* - organic)"

Allergen-related information: (contains cashews; coconut (oil, sugar))


Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Conscious Bar - 75% Cacao Espresso Crunch (bar) - May 19, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

The Conscious Bar
75% Cacao - Espresso Crunch (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.15 oz. (32.5 g.) / 2.3 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 145 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $81.90 for 7-bar variety pack
Purchased from: The Conscious Bar, online order

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

Today's 75% Cacao Espresso Crunch (bar) was distributed by The Conscious Bar LLC (Miami, FL).

Aroma notes included: strong, roasted coffee and dark chocolate.

Texture and flavor notes included: crunchy espresso roast coffee bits; faint/mild, fleeting, green pepper; and smooth dark chocolate. The relatively fibrous, roasted espresso bean texture and flavor lingered into the finish.

I liked the short list of organic ingredients. In today's bar the strong coffee (espresso) dominated the texture and flavor profile--making it difficult to pick up the nuances of the (fully incorporated) dates and dark chocolate. Although I did enjoy the espresso-in-chocolate taste more than the initial (strong) aroma. This would be an interesting bar for espresso, mocha and/or coffee fans to try. 

Ingredients: Organic Cacao Beans, Organic Coffee Beans, Organic Dates, Organic Cacao Butter

Allergen-related information: "Made In A Facility That Handles Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, And Tree Nuts."

Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Conscious Bar - 75% Cacao Creamy Tahini (bar) - May 18, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

The Conscious Bar
75% Cacao - Creamy Tahini (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.15 oz. (32.5 g.) / 2.3 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 170 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $81.90 for 7-bar variety pack
Purchased from: The Conscious Bar, online order

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

Today's 75% Cacao Creamy Tahini (bar) was distributed by The Conscious Bar LLC (Miami, FL).

Aroma notes included: dark chocolate, nut butter, sesame peanuts--and very faint, fleeting bitter fruit vinegar (that dissipated over a short time).

Texture: smooth dark chocolate with a velvety nut-butter creaminess. Both dates and tahini were fully incorporated into the chocolate.

Flavor notes included: smooth dark chocolate; subtle tahini (toasted, fully ground sesame seeds with creamy nut butter-like texture). Not too sweet (thank you!). The flavors were not too bold (nothing spikey or off that I could taste). And it was mellow without being too blah. 

I enjoyed the blend of these three ingredients (cacao, date and sesame). It was well balanced and executed. And I appreciated the maker's choice to fully blend them together, resulting in a creamy, smooth end product. (I normally like layered flavors and textures, but this was a great choice here.)

Ingredients: Organic Cacao Beans, Organic Dates, Organic Tahini, Organic Cacao Butter

Allergen-related information: "Made In A Facility That Handles Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, And Tree Nuts."

Friday, May 17, 2024

The Conscious Bar - 75% Cacao Orange Blossom (bar) - May 17, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

The Conscious Bar
75% Cacao - Orange Blossom (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.15 oz. (32.5 g.) / 2.3 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $81.90 for 7-bar variety pack
Purchased from: online order

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

Today's 75% Cacao Orange Blossom (bar) was distributed by The Conscious Bar LLC (Miami, FL).

Aroma notes included: dark chocolate and orange (oil).

The texture was relatively smooth. (The dates were fully integrated with the chocolate.)

Flavor notes included: dark chocolate and orange (fruit, extract, blossom).

Once again, I appreciated the short list of organic ingredients, and the 75% dark chocolate and date blend in The Conscious Bar's 7-bar variety pack I've sampled this week. (The chocolate was naturally sweet, but too sweet; not too bold or blah.)

The orange oil was pleasant, and even complex (floral). In general orange is a flavor that harmonizes well with dates and chocolate; but it may be a bit strong for someone who is hunting for (fruit, floral or other) inherent nuances present in the cacao.

Ingredients: Organic Cacao Beans, Organic Dates, Organic Cacao Butter, Pure Orange Oil

Allergen-related information: "Made In A Facility That Handles Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, And Tree Nuts." 

The Conscious Bar - 75% Cacao Almond Sea Salt (bar) - May 16, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

The Conscious Bar
75% Cacao Almond Sea Salt (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.15 oz. (32.5 g.) / 2.3 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 165 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $81.90 for a 7-bar variety pack
Purchased from: The Conscious Bar, online order 

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

Today's 75% Cacao Almond Sea Salt (bar) was distributed by The Conscious Bar LLC (Miami, FL).

Aroma notes included: dark chocolate (very slightly fruity, dark ganache) and nuts (almonds).

Texture: Smooth chocolate interspersed with a generous, uniform constellation of crunchy almond bits. (Note: the dates were fully incorporated into the chocolate.)

Flavor notes included: chocolate (smooth, dark; chocolate-y), with roasted almond texture and flavor, faint fruit (date), and a judicious pinch of sea salt. 

The balance of flavors and the sweetness levels in this week's bars (by The Conscious Bar) have been just right (for me at least) this week. 

The natural sweetness from the dates is enough to be very pleasant. The chocolate is smooth, but still with some complexity in terms of flavor(s)--almonds in today's case. And, their 75% dark chocolate choice is not so bold that it will scare milk chocolate fans.

I also appreciated the use of a short list of quality, organic ingredients.

Ingredients: Organic Cacao Beans, Organic Almonds, Organic Cacao Butter, Organic Dates, Sea Salt.

Allergen-related information: "Made In A Facility That Handles Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, And Tree Nuts."

Thursday, May 16, 2024

The Conscious Bar - 75% Cacao Smooth Dark Chocolate (bar) - May 15, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

The Conscious Bar
75% Cacao Smooth Dark Chocolate (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.15 oz. (32.5 g.) / 2.3 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $81.90 for a 7-bar variety pack
Purchased from: online order

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

Today's 75% Cacao Smooth Dark Chocolate (bar) was distributed by The Conscious Bar LLC (Miami, FL).

Aroma notes included: pleasant, flavorful dark chocolate with subtle sweet green and fruit (ripe, dried, dark, sweet berry, date), and very faint (barely detectable coconut-like sweet herb)

Texture: Pleasing, rich, smooth texture: creamy with a very faint thick, natural, paste-like quality (dates).

Flavor notes included: smooth, rich chocolate flavor with well-balanced, rich dried fruit notes (date, dark sweet berry, and very faint (and fleeting) stone fruit (light peach or nectarine). 

This was a well-executed dark chocolate and dates bar--that was (as promised) very smooth, with some depth/complexity but no spiky or unexpected flavors. The choice of 75% cacao seemed just right. It wasn't too sweet, nor was it too bold.

Ingredients: Organic Cacao Beans, Organic Dates, Organic Cacao Butter.

Allergen-related information: "Made In A Facility That Handles Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, And Tree Nuts." 

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

The Conscious Bar - 75% Cacao Roasted Hazelnut (bar) - May 14, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

The Conscious Bar
75% Cacao - Roasted Hazelnut (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.15 oz. (32.5 g.) / 2.3 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 170 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $81.90 for a 7-bar variety pack
Purchased from: online order

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

Today's 75% Cacao Roasted Hazelnut (bar) was distributed by The Conscious Bar LLC (Miami, FL).

Aroma notes included: dark chocolate (roasted cacao, very faint fruit), and faint toasted nut and barely detectable roasted grain (popcorn). 

Texture: smooth dark chocolate with softly crunchy nuts (hazelnut bits). (No date particles detected; dates were fully integrated with chocolate; thank you!)

Flavor notes included: smooth, dark chocolate, permeated with a dark roast cacao and nut flavor and occasional fleeting flickers of fruit (dark, ripe, berry jam and date). 

The slight roastiness made this dark bar seem a little "darker" than its other Conscious Bar 75% cacao chocolate siblings (which tasted more like 68%-70% cacao chocolate. (Other factors that can make different chocolates taste "darker" include cacao origin(s), cacao variety(ies), and cacao bean roasting profiles; and these were not listed on the label.) All the bars were relatively smooth and well-executed. 

I enjoyed this balanced and gluten-free chocolate, made with a short list of Organic ingredients. And the flavors meshed well together. 

When both fruit and nut ingredients have been skillfully integrated into a dark chocolate, the end result can be particularly satisfying. Rather than popping out and competing with each other, a harmonious blend of these three ingredients can seem to (pleasingly) amplify naturally occurring notes found in cacao.  Thank you to the makers for their skillful integration of dates and chocolate in all their bars I've tasted so far.

Ingredients: Organic Cacao Beans, Organic Hazelnuts, Organic Dates, Organic Cacao Butter

Allergen-related information: Contains hazelnuts. "Made In A Facility That Handles Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, And Tree Nuts." 

Monday, May 13, 2024

The Conscious Bar - 75% Cacao - Toasted Coconut Flakes (bar) - May 13, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

The Conscious Bar
75% Cacao - Toasted Coconut Flakes (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.15 oz. (32.5 g.) / 2.3 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 175 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $81.90 for a 7-bar variety pack
Purchased from: online order

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

Today's 75% Cacao Toasted Coconut Flakes (bar) was distributed by The Conscious Bar LLC (Miami, FL).

Aroma notes included: dark chocolate, light floral (vanilla, coconut), date, and very faint sweet, green nut.

Texture: The dark chocolate base was relatively creamy, and interspersed with authentic, chewy flecks of coconut. The coconut flakes were just about the right size--thin enough to have an almost delicate, authentic melty-chew (i.e. they weren't too dry or tough, or slathered in sugar/syrup -- thank you!).

Flavor notes included: smooth but gently flavorful 75% dark chocolate melded effectively with authentic coconut flakes. The background date sweetness (there was no added sugar other than dates) tasted authentic and did not overwhelm: the dates seemed to be well incorporated into the chocolate, with no trace of date texture/graininess. There was a pleasant faint, sweet nutty note throughout (likely from the coconut) that I liked. 

I enjoyed this nicely balanced and well-executed, gluten-free chocolate, made with a short list of Organic ingredients.

Ingredients: Organic Cacao Beans, Organic Coconut Flakes, Organic Dates, Organic Cacao Butter

Allergen-related information: "Made In A Facility That Handles Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, And Tree Nuts." 

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Mindright Inc. - Nootropic-Infused Protein Bar - Chocolate Sea Salt - May 12, 2024

Chocolate of The Day

Mindright Inc.
Nootropic-Infused Protein Bar - Chocolate Sea Salt 
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.76 oz. (50 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 200 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $ Missing information
Purchased from: Missing information (store in Palo Alto, CA)

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

Today's Nootropic-Infused Protein Bar - Chocolate Sea Salt - was distributed by Get Mindright Inc. (Orange, CA). 

The company offers a line of gluten free superfood snacks and protein bars--including several flavors with chocolate or chocolate chips. (This bar contained 10 grams of protein.) And, you guessed it, this bar was sweetened with chocolate chips, coconut sugar and...dates.

Aroma notes for this chocolate sea salt bar included: dark chocolate, ripe sweet dark berry, date and very faint coconut and sweet vanilla.

Texture: soft chewy; fudge-y; smooth with some very faint, slightly hearty-grainy texture (could be from date paste, pea protein, fiber (vegetable), powder (cocoa) or other nutraceuticals/nootropic ingredients**). The latter textural aspect was not objectionable, unless you were expecting silky smooth dark chocolate. 

Flavor notes included: sweet dark chocolate (dark ganache, chocolate chips), dried fruit (date, berry), faint sweet coconut and faint nut (almond); and faint sweet, green floral (vanilla). The quantity of sea salt seemed just right--enough to balance the sweetness a bit, but not enough to dominate any other flavor(s).

Ingredients: Prebiotic vegetable fiber, almond butter, almonds, pea protein, coconut sugar, dates, chocolate chips (unsweetened chocolate, cane sugar, cocoa butter), cocoa powder, vegetable glycerin, natural flavors, vanilla flavor, Nootropic Blend: (MCT Oil Powder, Magnesium Aquamin (tm), Whole Coffee Fruit Extract (Cognatiq*), sea salt.

Allergen-related information: Contains tree nuts (almonds), coconut (sugar). "Manufactured In A Facility That Processes Tree Nuts, Peanuts, Sesame, Soy, Wheat, and Milk."

*COGNATIQ is a trademark of VDF Futureceuticals, Inc. Pat. FCPatent.com.

** Added food items with nutritional/health benefits (including certain naturally-occurring minerals, vitamins)--that, in today's case, are thought to have specific brain-benefitting properties.


Saturday, May 11, 2024

Gnosis Chocolate - Elderberry Dark Velvet Bar - May 11, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Gnosis Chocolate
Elderberry Dark Velvet (bar)
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.5 oz. (42 g.) / 3 oz. (84 g.) in total bar
Calories: 232 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $20.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Gnosis Chocolate, online order

Welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate and Dates Theme Week, featuring date-containing and date-sweetened chocolates.

Today's Elderberry Dark Velvet (bar) was created by Gnosis Chocolate (Astoria, NY).

Described as a Botanical Truffle Style Bar, the aroma notes for this thick, filled chocolate included: dark chocolate and fruit (ripe dark berry, date).

Texture: dark chocolate couverture surrounded a softer, fruitier filling. The chocolate had a very faint graininess (from added mushrooms/date perhaps?).

Flavor notes included: rich, sweet, fruity dark chocolate; dark, sweet berry (elderberry) and date; and a very, very faint smoky/umami earth (mushroom-like flavor) in the finish.

The overall dark chocolate and berry/date flavors were authentic and the bar had a natural berry and date fruit sweetness--that was balanced by well-executed, smooth, flavorful, (raw) dark chocolate. I also liked the lack of a sugar buzz (blood sugar spike) after eating this.

Ingredients: raw cacao beans*, elderberries*, medjool dates*, yacon syrup*, virgin coconut oil*, coconut sugar*, Paul Stamets Mycommunity Immunity Mushroom Blend (chaga, maitake, reishi, cordyceps, royal sun blazei, enokitake, mesima, lion's mane, turkey tails, oyster, artist's conk, oregon ganaderma, agarikon, amadou, shiitake, birch polypore, split gill polypore). * = organic

Allergen-related information: Contains coconut (oil, sugar). (No allergen information listed on package.)


 

Friday, May 10, 2024

Chocolove - 55% Cocoa - Salted Almond Butter in Dark Chocolate (bar) - May 10, 2024

Chocolate of The Day 

Chocolove
55% Cocoa Salted Almond Butter in Dark Chocolate (bar)
Good ++ 
Weight: 1.6 oz. (45 g.) / 3.2 oz. (90 g.) in total bar
Calories: 240 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $3.49 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Chocolate Banquet, and a transition day between Chocolate and Virtual Caribbean Cruise and Chocolate and Dates Theme Week.

Today's 55% Cocoa Salted Almond Butter in Dark Chocolate (bar) was from Chocolove (Boulder, CO).

Aroma notes included: dark chocolate (faint roasted, ultra-dark but smooth, Forastero-like variety cacao).

Texture: relatively thick smooth dark chocolate encasing a thick, rich, nutty almond butter filling.

Flavor notes included: ultra-dark, bold dark chocolate (rich, dark, drinking chocolate), very faint graham cracker, and lightly salted almond butter filling. It was quite "dark" for 55% Cacao chocolate, but also relatively smooth. The almond butter added mellow, nutty flavor.

So where's the Caribbean in this chocolate? I paired this bar with plantain chips and nances (small fruits that look like yellow cherries) -- two popular Caribbean fruits/foods that complemented this U.S.-made chocolate. It's back to the virtual mainland today.

Ingredients: Dark Chocolate (Cocoa Liquor**, Sugar, Cocoa Butter**, Soy Lecithin and/or Sunflower Lecithin, Vanilla), Almond Butter (Dry Roasted Unblanched Almonds), Milk Chocolate (Sugar, Cocoa Butter**, Milk, Cocoa Liquor**, Soy Lecithin and/or Sunflower Lecithin, Vanilla), Organic Palm Fruit Oil, Organic Butter Oil, Sea Salt, Sunflower Lecithin. (** Rainforest Alliance Certified. Find out more at RA.org.)

Allergen-related information: Contains: Almonds, Milk, Soy. "Made in a Facility That Also Processes Eggs, Peanuts, And Other Tree Nuts."


Venice Organics - Stress & Immunity Support - Reishi & Chaga 70% Chocolate (Dominican Republic) Bar - May 9, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Venice Organics
Stress & Immunity Support - Reishi & Chaga 70% Chocolate Bar
Dominican Republic - Single Origin 
Good ++ 
Weight: 1.325 oz. (37.5 g.) / 2.65 oz. (75 g.) in total bar
Calories: 206 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $11.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Farm Fresh, online order

Welcome to the last day (Day #7) of Chocolate and Virtual Caribbean Cruise Theme Week.

This virtual cruise week has been relaxing. Today's Dominican Republic cacao chocolate even offered stress and immunity support--an appreciated dose of dark benefits before rejoining a more hectic life back on the virtual mainland next week.

Today's Organic "Stress and Immunity Support" Reishi & Chaga 70% Chocolate Bar was made from cacao bean-to-chocolate bar--by Venice Organics (Los Angeles, CA), using single origin cacao from the Dominican Republic.

Aroma notes for this single origin dark chocolate included: pleasing dark chocolate; sweet green (coconut sugar, almost floral); and very faint, herby botanicals; and slightly woodsy almost-coconut shell. (There was no shell in this bar.)

Texture: smooth, almost creamy, fully incorporated ingredients (with zero detectable graininess from any mushroom particles in case you're wondering).

Flavor notes included: rich dark chocolate (dark brownie, extra dark ganache), and some well-balanced, very faint earth-toned complexity (very faint woodsy, coconut sugar, and umami/mushroom); and all these harmonious flavor notes tapered off together into a pleasant finish.

Ingredients: *Chocolate (*Cocoa, *Coconut Sugar, *Cocoa Butter), *Cocoa Butter, *Reishi, *Chaga (* = Organic) 

Allergen-related information: Processed in shared equipment with products containing nuts. 


 

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Zotter Chocolate - Opus 5 - Cuvee 72% Dark Chocolate (2023 Edition) - May 8, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Zotter Chocolate
Opus 5 - Cuvee 72% Dark Chocolate (2023 Edition) 
Good ++ 
Weight: 1.23 oz. (35 g.) / 2.47 oz. (70 g.) in total package of 2 bars
Calories: 210 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $8.99 for 1 package of 2 bars
Purchased from: Zotter, online order

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Virtual Caribbean Cruise Week.

Today's Opus 5 - Cuvee 72% Dark Chocolate (2023 Edition) was made in Austria and distributed by Zotter US LLC (Fort Myers, FL).

This "island hopping" bar was made using a blend of five cacaos from Madagascar, Sao Tome, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Belize. Zotter describes this cuvee as having "Caribbean flair...and a harmonious, and at the same time incredibly exciting aroma profile." 

Each cacao variety was individually roasted (with their own roast profile), and then combined together, and the chocolate was conched for 20 hours.

Aroma notes for this 72% chocolate included: bittersweet chocolate; faint, fleeting molasses; diffuse fruit (cherry, faint salted lime). 

Texture: smooth texture with a very faint, barely detectable astringency/fruit tannic acidity toward the finish.

Flavor notes included: dark chocolate (with very, very faint aromatic wood) and  a complex and delicious fruit blend (dark, ripe-sweet berry; sapote; dried tropical fruits; elderberry juice/sangria with a little squeeze of citrus, and warm spice).

Maker's tasting notes: "...The intense fragrance and flavor of speculoos, spices, and citrus fruit take center stage. In the nose, you'll experience especially festive accents of spiced shortbread and almond marzipan, enhanced by strong notes of orange and lime. On the palate, you'll initially perceive a mildly roasted flavor or biscuits, almonds, and cream, which eventually culminates in a spritz citrus fruit aroma (oranges, limes, and grapefruit) with herbal and mildly spicy characteristics. The finish gracefully fades into subtly roast accents and gentle notes of wood.

Ingredients: Cocoa Mass**, Cane Sugar**, Cocoa Butter** (** = Organic and Fair Trade)

Allergen-related information: "Manufactured on equipment that processes tree nuts, peanuts, milk, gluten, soy and sesame."



Zotter - Labooko Dominican Republic 62% Dark Chocolate (bar) - May 7, 2024 (bonus entry)

Chocolate of the Day

Zotter
Dominican Republic 62% Dark Chocolate (bar)
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.23 oz. (35 g.) / 2.47 oz. (70 g.) in total package of 2 bars
Calories: 200 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $8.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Zotter, online order

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Virtual Caribbean Cruise Week. This bar was the second chocolate (bar) featured today--a bonus entry. 

Today's Dominican Republic 62% Dark Chocolate (bar) was made in Austria and distributed by Zotter USA LLC (Fort Myers, FL). It was created with cacao from Zorzal* in the Dominican Republic.

Aroma notes for this Fair Traded and Organic bar included: chocolate-y, faint green-white floral (orchid, lily).

The texture was smooth and creamy, almost like thick, creamy, high-end dark chocolate frosting (on a warm day).

Flavor notes included: rich chocolate-y (hot cocoa, chocolate chocolate frosting; smooth, moist, nut brownie); lots of naturally sweet and chocolate-y notes continued into the finish. The true chocolate notes were bold/flavorful enough to keep this 62% bar from tasting over-sugared.

Maker's Tasting Notes: "Fragrance profile: nutty caramel; Taste profile: very mild and sweet, chocolatey, with notes of walnut, caramel and pickled cherries"

Ingredients: Cocoa Mass**, Cane Sugar**, Cocoa Butter** (** = Fair Traded and Organic) Fair Traded, Fair Trade Content in Total = 100%.

Allergen-related information: "Manufactured on equipment that processes tree nuts, peanuts, milk, sesame and soy."

*Zorzal is a private bird sanctuary and nature reserve that "extends over 412 hectares of land, and 70% of that has been designated to remain wild rainforest. The cacao is grown and harvested directly within this nature reserve. And Zorzal also cooperates with neighboring farmers who are actively included in the project and supply their own cacao....As a result, cacao is an ideal conservation tool: it thrives as a mixed crop and is traditionally well suited to wild harvesting."


White Label - Trinidad Garcia Estate 72% (bar) - May 7, 2024

 Chocolate of the Day

White Label
Trinidad Garcia Estate 72% (bar)
Good +
Weight: 1.15 oz. (32.5 g.) / 2.3 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 178 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: Missing information
Purchased from: White Label/Mutari - Santa Cruz

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Virtual Caribbean Cruise Theme Week.

This Trinidad Garcia Estate 72% dark chocolate (bar) was from White Label Chocolate (Santa Cruz/Watsonville, CA).

This cacao was grown on the Garcia Estate in Trinidad--sourced from producer Joseph Garcia. (The cacao was harvested in the 2019 season, fermented for six days inside wooden fermentation boxes, and dried for 8 days using raised beds.)

Aroma and flavor notes for this smooth, even-textured bar included: dark chocolate (dark ganache), herb/spice (very faint star anise), very faint botanical/floral (vanilla-tobacco).

This bar had a natural sweetness to it and an interesting, balanced and subtle complexity.

Maker's tasting notes: "Nutty, Sweet, Tabacco, Floral"

Ingredients: Cacao Beans, Organic Sugar, Organic Cocoa Butter

Allergen-related information: (none listed)

Spinnaker Chocolate - 58% Trinidad Dark Milk (bar) - May 6, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Spinnaker Chocolate
58% Trinidad Dark Milk (bar)
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2 oz. (57 g.) in total bar
Calories: 140 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $ Missing information
Purchased from: Spinnaker Chocolate

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Virtual Caribbean Cruise Theme Week.

Today's 58% Trinidad Dark Milk (Batch: Jun 2023/71.1 bar) was from Spinnaker Chocolate (Seattle, WA).

Aroma notes included: dark milk chocolate (cocoa, milky/buttery caramel).

Texture: creamy texture, melt and mouthfeel.

Flavor notes included: dark milk chocolate with butter, caramel; and very faint sweet fruit-floral (vanilla; flowers (very muted butterfly pea flower and almost undetectable rose); and very faint, balanced, aromatic pepper in the finish.

I loved the cream and caramel notes (and creamy texture), as well as the traces of other, almost floral-fruit nuances in this bar. It was borderline addictive. At least two people I shared this bar with were converted from dark chocolate only lovers to dark milk fans. 

Sadly this Trinidad bar is not currently available; however, other single origin dark milks are listed for sale on the Spinnaker website. Hoping today's bar will return in the future. 

Ingredients: Cacao, Organic Cane Sugar, Dried Milk, Cocoa Butter

Allergen-related information: Contains: Milk. 


 

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