April 12th, 2010 by Rosa
When I met my sweetie in Saratoga Springs*, our wanderings about that cute little town took us into a natural food store. This Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Quinoa (aka Midnight Crunch, hidden under that hefty price tag) bar caught my eye, as I’d never seen quinoa and chocolate together. At nearly $5 with tax, it was definitely a splurge, but one that I couldn’t pass up.
Alter Eco is a brand that’s only recently made its way onto my radar. They’re a Fair Trade organization that’s also carbon neutral, and I believe all of their stuff is organic as well. This bar was all three.
The back of the box describes this bar as, “A crispy chocolate like no other. Made with cacao and quinoa from Bolivia, Alter Eco Dark Quinoa chocolate brings together ancient ingredients from indigenous Andeans.”
As you can see, the bottom of the bar is heavily studded with bulging spheres of quinoa. While I could easily see it, however, I couldn’t taste it. Or if I was tasting it, it just tasted like crisped rice – the ingredients list calls it “rice-quinoa crisps”, so maybe it was all just one crispy entity that I was eating.
No matter. While the crisps added a nice little airy crunch, the real star here is the chocolate. At 61% cacao, it’s quite snappy.
It started off with dusky cocoa notes, then a fruity sweetness emerged along with notes of caramel and coffee, until the chocolate disappeared, leaving me with that lovely fruitiness in a lingering finish.
I could take it or leave it with the quinoa crisps, but the chocolate I could eat all day. It was satisfying yet kept me reaching for more. As always, I’m amazed at how much flavor complexity can come from just cocoa mass, cane sugar, and cocoa butter.
The bar earned itself a ZOMG! The next time I’m feeling flush and in the mood for a candy splurge, I’m going to check out more of the Alter Eco line.
Finally, for those who care about these sorts of things, the bar is soy-free, GMO-free, gluten-free, vegan, and without artificial flavors or emulsifiers.
*For the record, I don’t often refer to the boyfriend as my sweetie, but the alliteration was too good to pass up