May 17th, 2013 by Rosa
On Wednesday, I covered Madécasse Chocolate‘s Pink Pepper & Citrus bar. They make bean-to-bar chocolate in Madagascar, which, in addition to paying their cocoa farmers a fair price, generates 4 times the impact of Fair Trade.
Today, I’m writing up their Sea Salt & Nibs bar, which brags that it was Best in Show in the Paris Salon du Chocolat. As far as I’m concerned, it was a well-deserved award.
The Sea Salt & Nibs was “63% cocoa, crunchy, & a touch of salt”, with 2/4 dots on Madécasse Chocolate’s intensity scale. It was formed in the same mold as the Pink Pepper & Citrus bar, except its back was covered in tiny bits of cacao nib.
The chocolate had a softish bite with a light crunch from the nibs. They added a great cocoa depth without any of the bitter astringency that sometimes comes with cacao nibs.
The chocolate was intensely flavored. It started off mellow with a caramel cocoa depth, then took on powerfully bright citrus and cherry notes.
Every once in a while, I caught a crunchy crystal of sea salt. The salt brought a brief flash of saltiness while highlighting the fruity notes in the chocolate.
This was another tremendous bar from Madécasse. As corny as it sounds, every bite took me on a flavor adventure.
I am 100% sold on this brand and will be buying more bars the next time I’m at Whole Foods. A ZOMG!
Category: chocolate, fair trade, review, ZOMG! |
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May 15th, 2013 by Rosa
Madécasse Chocolate is a new company to me. They’re “bean-to-bar in Madagascar” and, though they’re not Fair Trade certified (probably due to the expense), they claim that their business practices generate 4 times the impact of fair trade cocoa.
Pink Pepper & Citrus was 63% cocoa, pink pepper, & combava fruit. Combava fruit sounds super exotic, but I think it’s just another name for Kaffir Lime (still exotic, but slightly more familiar sounding).
The bar was prettily molded to highlight that it was made in Madagascar. It broke easily along its scores, but its texture was soft, with a matte mouthfeel.
This bar was astoundingly complex. I didn’t have to close my eyes or try too hard to really focus on the flavors; they came out swinging.
It started off with a deep earthiness, then yielded to a bright, citrusy fruitiness with an undertone of pepper’s just-shy-of-acrid essence (but not its heat). All this for only 2/4 dots of intensity on Madécasse Chocolate’s scale?
I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate in my day, and it’s rare to find bars that pack so much flavor complexity and just so much flavor, period. A ZOMG!
Stay tuned til Friday, when I cover Madécasse Chcoolate’s “Best in Show” winning Sea Sat & Nibs bar!
Category: chocolate, fair trade, review, ZOMG! |
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August 10th, 2012 by Neil
Here’s another great guest post from my ex-pat friend, Neil. Jealous that Zotter is so easy for him to get! ~Rosa
I didn’t even have to travel out of the country for this one! I found the Zotter Mitzi Blue Nussmix (“Nut mix”) in a new organic gourmet shop in town. I was looking for a cookware store, then discovered that the cookware had disappeared and food had gone in its place. Quite a surprise, but a welcome one.
The packaging made me think it was one of those world music CDs. Perhaps this was intentional. While the bar itself was a disc (is that geometrically possible?), the similarities ended there.
This fair trade, organic combination of hazelnuts, hazelnut nougat, cashew nougat, walnuts, and milk chocolate was a bit broken when I took it out of the packaging. This made the task of figuring out where to start that much easier. I was most intrigued by the center circle.
The milk chocolate of the main disc was very plain and light. While the surprisingly large nut chunks were distributed somewhat unevenly, they were tasty and added an appreciated varied texture.
It turned out that the center disc was cashew nougat! It broke off as though it would be crispy but was very pleasantly creamy. I wished the whole thing had been cashew nougat.
The predominantly boring milk chocolate really underwhelmed though, so I’ll give this whole piece an O. The company has a whole line of Mitzi Blues, so maybe I’ll track down some more. It’d give me an excuse to visit that delicious shop again…
Category: chocolate, European, fair trade, guest post, nuts, O, organic, review |
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July 2nd, 2012 by Rosa
Jelina Chocolatier was one of the most interesting booths for me at Sweets and Snacks. At the time, they were a Canadian chocolate company looking for a US distributor. I hope they managed to strike a deal to get themselves sold in the US!
Their line of chocolate bars included many intriguing offerings. Luckily for me, they were generous in offering me free samples of what I thought were their two most interesting bars, a Honey Nougat Milk Chocolate and a Maple Crunch Milk Chocolate.
Both bars came in a shiny, sturdy silver bag inside an un-dyed cardboard paper box – probably a calculated move to play up their wholesome Fair Trade factor – with quaint little line drawings representing the contents. The chocolate bars themselves were formed into a 3X5 lightly scored grid of rectangular pods.
Honey Nougat had a soft break along its segments. The milk chocolate base was thick and creamy with strong caramel notes.
The nougat bits added a light toffee-like crunch. Those honeyed bits had a pure, amber sweetness that reminded me of Lyle’s golden syrup. It added just the right touch of sweetness.
Finally, there was some tiny bits of almonds dispersed throughout the bar. They didn’t add much nuttiness, but they did contribute to the crunch factor, along with the nougat bits. An OM.
Maple Crunch was unlike anything I’ve ever had before. The milk chocolate also had a soft break, but here it tasted sweeter with less prominent caramel notes.
The bar was full of slightly grainy bits of maple sugar that added a wonderful, surprisingly sturdy crunch. I didn’t think it would be possible to mix maple sugar into melted chocolate without melting the sugar as well, but I guess it is.
The deep brown sugar tones of the maple syrup sugar paired well with the sweet milk chocolate. I loved this for its unique flavor and texture. An OMG.
Category: chocolate, fair trade, nougat, nuts, OM, OMG, review |
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March 12th, 2012 by Rosa
Endangered Species is a brand that I’ve had a few times but only properly reviewed once. A sale at Whole Foods prompted me to pick up a couple of bars for review.
Their gimmick is that they give 10% of their profits for animal conservation. As an added plus, their cacao is “100% ethically traded”, which I think is in the spirit of Fair Trade without the full certification.
Each flavor is branded with an endangered animal, and the inside of the wrapper describes the animal and their plight. The Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Toffee was the black rhino.
The beautifully tempered bar was scored into 12 squares, each imprinted with their tree logo. The 72% dark chocolate had a sharp snap and broke pretty cleanly along the breaks.
That chocolate was dry with a smooth, non-creamy melt with no astringency. Its flavor was that of dusky cocoa powder with a light sweetness.
The toffee bits were sprinkled throughout the bar. They were pretty tiny and added a light crunch and little flashes of sweetness.
I didn’t get any buttery toffee notes, but there was a light but noticeable nuttiness from the hazelnuts. I wish the toffee made more of a noticeable impact.
An OM, mostly carried by the great flavor of the chocolate, with a lament about the missed toffee opportunity.
Category: chocolate, Endangered Species, fair trade, nuts, OM, review, toffee |
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December 9th, 2011 by Rosa
Today I’m reviewing the rest of my free samples of sweetriot‘s new riotBar line: the pure 70% and pure 85% dark chocolate bars. I covered the 60% dark chocolate with crunchy cacao nibs on Wednesday.
Like the 60%, both of these bars were too lightly scored to be useful for clean snapping. The 70% (top) had a sharp initial snap but softened as it was chewed.
The melt was smooth and matte. It started off lightly sweet before developing a hint of bitterness, then finishing with a brighter, fruitier sweetness than the start.
There was a bit of astringency to the end that made me want a drink of water afterwards, but it was mild enough to not be off-putting. An OM.
The 85% was even snappier. The melt wasn’t much fun, as it was very dry and astringent.
The flavor profile began with a sharply bright fruitiness that was quite vibrant. The finish, however, was quite astringent and left a lingering bitterness that I didn’t care for. An O for the strong start, at least.
Category: chocolate, fair trade, O, OM, organic, review |
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December 7th, 2011 by Rosa
sweetriot recently sent me free samples of their new line of chocolate riotBars. Before the riotBar additions, they sold chocolate in unBars, which were in thick, unwieldy blocks. I have an unBar that’s been kicking around my stash for a while. I’ve yet to open it because it seemed so cumbersome to eat.
sweetriot is also known for their cacao nibs, which I reviewed ages ago. It’s nice to see that a chocolate company committed to using fair trade cacao has prospered over the years.
Today, I’m reviewing the pure 60% dark chocolate with crunchy cacao nibs. Friday I’ll review the pure 70% and pure 85% dark chocolate bars.
The 100g bar was lightly scored into a 10 x 3 grid. Each rectangle of chocolate had 20 calories, which is a nice nod to portion control, except the scoring was too shallow to be that helpful for clean breaking.
The chocolate had a thick, sharp snap. If you look closely, you can see a nib in the break line. Those nibs added a nice, dry crunch with minimal grittiness and astringency. The chocolate had a lovely, matte melt around the nibs.
The chocolate was sweet and fruity with middle cherry notes and a vibrant cocoa finish. I appreciated the distinct and assertive flavor complexity.
I really enjoyed the texture of the nibs mixed with the chocolate. It made from fun chomping and yielded great, varying chocolate flavors. An OM.
Category: chocolate, fair trade, OM, organic, review |
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November 11th, 2011 by Rosa
Here’s the second of the two bags of Javaz that I found at Cost Plus World Market. I reviewed the milk ones on Wednesday, and today’s review is of the dark version.
As I noted on Wednesday, Javaz are chocolate covered coffee beans that are then covered with a shiny sugar shell. The milk ones were lovely, and the dark ones even more so.
With their deep obsidian shells lightly flecked with bits of white, they could be little marble pebbles. Just check out that lovely sheen!
Thankfully, they’re much more edible than actual pebbles. The dark chocolate was a bit stiffer than the softer milk chocolate. Otherwise, the textural combination of sugar shell crunch and coffee grit was similar to that of the milk Javaz.
The chocolate had a lightly sweet fruitiness in its body and a slightly smokiness to the finish. I think the deepness of the chocolate made for a better foil for the bitterness of the beans.
Each complimented the other, so that the bitter astringency of the coffee was reduced and the fruitiness of the chocolate was amped up. For me, this was an addictive combination. An OMG.
Category: chocolate, coffee, fair trade, OMG, review |
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November 9th, 2011 by Rosa
I found two bags of Javaz candies at Cost Plus World Market. I’ll review the milk ones today and save the dark ones for Friday.
They’re chocolate covered coffee beans – a once novel treat that’s become fairly run of the mill these days – but with a twist: they’re also covered with a candy shell.
The beans are absolutely gorgeous to behold. The milk chocolate ones had smooth and shiny cream colored shells flecked with brown. If they were stones, they’d make gorgeous earrings!
The shell was crunchy and lightly sweet while the beans in the center were gritty. It wasn’t the most pleasing texture combination, but it wasn’t a deal-breaker for me.
The milk chocolate was sweet with a nice butteriness to the finish. It reminded me of a Hershey’s Cookies and Cream bar, thanks to some creamy dairy notes.
The coffee bean was doing the heaviest flavor lifting here. At times, I felt it overpowered the lovely nuance of the milk chocolate, but when you buy a coffee treat, you expect the coffee to be a star, so I shouldn’t complain. An OM for this version.
Category: chocolate, coffee, fair trade, review |
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September 14th, 2011 by Rosa
On Monday, I covered the Angell Crisp bar. Today, I’ll review its darker (but still fair trade and organic) counterpart, the Dark Angell. It was comprised of “dark chocolate, rich cocoa, and [an] almond center.”
I’ll give it style points for the name, which conjures up an expectation of sinful deliciousness. Unfortunately, the bar fell short of my expectations.
My bar showed a hint of bloom, but it wasn’t enough to have a noticeable impact on the taste or texture. The thin dark chocolate shell was brighter and fruitier than the milk chocolate of the Angell Crisp, which actually made the dark chocolate seem sweeter. The dark also had diminished cocoa flavors compared the milk.
The filling was a mix of crushed almonds and a chocolate ganache that tasted like the same chocolate of the shell. The almonds were mostly smashed to gritty smithereens, though I did come across at least one slightly larger chunk (visible in the below photo) that managed to retain some toothiness.
The almonds lacked crunch. Instead, they were almost chewy, like they’d gone stale or simply taken on moisture. Perhaps the small bits had too high a surface area to volume ratio? They brought minimal nuttiness and instead served to dry out the bar and its mouthfeel.
I liked the chocolate component to this bar, but it went all wrong with the almonds. Those nuts were broken into too small pieces and lost everything that’s great about nuts in chocolate: the added flavor and crunch factor were gone. A missed opportunity and an O.
Category: chocolate, fair trade, nuts, O, organic, review |
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