Archive for the 'fair trade' Category

Dark Angell

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 | Comments Off

Angell Crisp

September 12th, 2011 by Rosa

I found this Angell Crisp bar in a food co-op in NYC. On Wednesday, I’ll review the Dark Angel version. The Angell Crisp wrapper promised, “milk chocolate; crispy creamy chocolate center”, all wrapped up in an organic and fair trade candy bar.

My first impression upon biting into this bar was, “Hmm… It tastes good for you.” It had this strange, almost vegetal edge to the flavor of the chocolate and a wholesome heaviness to the crisps. Neither was bad; just different.

It was impossible to tell where the chocolate shell ended and the creamy chocolate center began. The bar melted in my fingers, making for an annoying photo shoot.

The chocolate tasted almost throat-burningly sweet, despite its dark appearance. As I said before, it had a strange edge to it that reminded me of vegetables – beets maybe? – and a chocolate syrup finish.

The rice crisps had a stale mouthfeel and reminded me of puffed wheat cereal. They didn’t have a dry crisp that dissolved into airiness. Instead, they chewed up with a bit of texture to it, perhaps because they were made of brown rice.

It was an okay, if rather wholesome feeling treat. I finished off the whole bar, but I don’t think I’d buy it again, especially since the bars were $2 each. An O.

Category: chocolate, fair trade, O, organic, review | Comments Off

Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Quinoa – Midnight Crunch

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

Category: chocolate, fair trade, organic, review, ZOMG! | Comments Off

Wei of Chocolate – Vegan Dark Chocolates

January 25th, 2010 by Rosa

Apparently my distaste for Rochester winters has been, well, apparent. I recently got an email from Lisa Reinhardt, a University of Rochester grad, telling me that she sympathized about Rochester winters.

Fortunately for the sake of the blog, she was also emailing to tell me that she was the owner of Wei of Chocolate, a chocolate company that makes organic, vegan, and Fair Trade chocolates, and would I like to try some free samples, two of which would be chili chocolate? Yes, please!

I got a bag of 6 dark chocolates with very (for lack of a better word) yoga-y names and claims to bring you warmth, insight, joy, etc. According to the company website, Wei of Chocolate will help you “take your experience of chocolate to a whole new level by experiencing the finest quality organic chocolate, infused with intentional blends of deliciously complex flavors designed to balance body and mind.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: chocolate, fair trade, O, organic, review | 2 Comments »

TCHO Chocolates – Re-review

January 18th, 2010 by Rosa

After I noted TCHO’s off packaging, they sent me fresh samples with their new packaging. In the months since my roommate bought the pack that I first tasted, TCHO had switched from an inner paper liner (which probably contributed the nasty paper flavor) to an inner foil liner.

It seems like they’ve also reformulated the chocolate a tad as well. This time, only the Chocolatey was 70%. Citrus was 67%, Nutty was 65%, and Fruity 2.0 was 68%. The latter three are made from organic beans, and “Nutty” and “Fruity 2.0″ are fair trade as well.

The etchings on the mold have changed too – I much prefer the current line graph markings.

“Citrus” tasted dusky at first, then became brightly sweet and fruity/citrusy. It totally hit its mark.

“Fruity 2.0″ had a darker sweetness to it. It tasted of cherries and strawberries and carried a brightly fruity finish. There was no duskiness, and the bar had a thin melt.

“Chocolatey” was by far my favorite. It was initially sweet, then gave way to a strong nuttiness with a fruity undertone. It had a thicker melt and mouthfeel than the other bars.

Nutty had a darker nuttiness than the Chocolatey did – more reminiscent of hazelnuts, I think. It had a strong, jammy sweetness that lingered in the finish.

I greatly enjoyed this set of TCHO bars. A little packaging change made a huge difference! I’m impressed at how well the bars hit their flavor marks. These would be great bars to use for a chocolate tasting party. They’re all similar percentages, yet their flavor profiles are distinct and easily discernible. Chocolatey gets an OMG, while the others get OM.

Category: chocolate, fair trade, OM, OMG, organic, review, single origin | 2 Comments »

TCHO Chocolates

January 4th, 2010 by Rosa

TCHO chocolates have long been on my radar. I finally got to try them when my roommates were kind enough to bring me a variety pack from California. The variety pack contained 2 each of their fruity, chocolatey, nutty, and citrus flavors.

All of the squares were about 5 centimeters across the diagonal and quite thin, just half a centimeter. All were comprised of 70% cacao.

“Fruity” was made with organic and fair trade beans from Peru. It had a sharp snap with a very dry mouthfeel. There was a definite red fruit fruitiness to it, but the overall flavor was dominated by the stale taste of paper/cardboard.

At first I thought I just had an off square – I had unwrapped it to take photos and then rewrapped it for later -  but that cardboard taste pervaded the other, not-unwrapped-until-tasting-time squares.

“Chocolatey” (beans from Ghana) smelled duskier and featured strong cocoa notes and an almost savory tinge. Its mouthfeel is also dry, but it’s a bit smoother/creamier once it starts melting. The paper/cardboard taste is present in the finish.

“Nutty”, made from organic and fair trade beans from Peru, was the softest and creamiest of the bunch, and it did carry a distinctly nutty favor. But that paper tinge is still there.

Finally, “Citrus” (organic beans from Madagascar) smells sweet and has a very dry and crumbly melt. It tastes a bit chalky with a sweet bright finish, and again that infuriating, ruinous tinge of paper/cardboard taste.

I think TCHO needs to rethink their packaging on these bars, as they all took on an unpleasant, papery overtone that ruined the taste experience. I’ve had them sitting around for a few months, but bars should keep for at least that long, especially when you’re selling them in 90-day supplies.

I’m torn on how to rate these. The paper taste warrants a , but that doesn’t seem quite fair, as TCHO didn’t mean for them to taste of paper. Then again, they did choose the packaging and neglected to put a “best by” date on the package or any storage guidelines (that I could find) on their website. So the stands, with the caveat that my supply was off.

Category: --, chocolate, fair trade, organic, received as gift, review, single origin | 4 Comments »

Master’s Tea with Judy Logback

March 16th, 2009 by Rosa

A couple of weeks ago, on February 25th, I skipped my bootcamp class at the gym and went to a Master’s Tea with Judy Logback, the founder of Kallari chocolates, instead. After complaining about the Times Styles’ snarky chocolate review that fawned over Kallari a bit too much, how could I pass up the opportunity to meet and taste chocolate with the woman who founded the cooperative?

Judy, a student at Yale’s School of Management, gave a great talk and tea. She covered the details of how the Kallari cooperative works, what the cooperative’s farmers and chocolate makers do, and how each step that they do themselves earns them more money and helps them work their way out of poverty. I was quite impressed.

Along the way, Judy threw in neat chocolate facts. I learned that processing cacao with alkali (aka Dutch processing) darkens the color of the cacao without affecting the flavor, which explains why some chocolates manage look so much darker than they taste. I also learned that high quality chocolate doesn’t need lecithin as an emulsifier because they’re comprised of just cocoa butter and cocoa solids. And, most shockingly of all to me, I learned that in the U.K., single-origin bars only need to contain 10% of beans from that single-origin. In the U.S., the claims are totally unregulated.

3_bars.jpg

We tasted 8 bars along the way, four of them from Kallair. Three were the above bars that Kallari is now selling via Whole Foods, and the fourth was one of their artisanal bars. While the Whole Food bars are machine tempered and molded, the artisinal bars are entirely handmade, from tempering to molding. Judy had us taste the chocolates as she went through her Kallari slideshow, stopping every few slides ask us about what we thought about what we were eating. It was a little intimidating to verbalize my tasting notes to a chocolate expert, but it was also neat to hear her responses and feedback.

The bars were tasted blindly, though Judy gave us their percentages as we went. The bars and my notes are below the photo.

kallar17tiffcopy.jpg

  1. 86% Ghirardelli – cool, thin, glossy melt thanks to good use of cocoa butter. Pretty bitter, dry finish, but not exactly unpleasant.
  2. 85% Kallari artisinal bar – more burnt smell; sweeter, winey notes to the flavor. A thicker melt than the above bar, but still not thick, exactly, and with a slight grit
  3. 85% Kallari bar available at Whole Foods – thicker melt, fruity finish. Astringent.
  4. 85% Lindt – strong smell, thick melt. A light, fruity sweetness that gave way to a super dry finish.
  5. 75% Kallari bar available at Whole Foods – milky, caramel notes with a wonderfully dusky finish (Judy said the caramel notes were from their use of organic raw cane sugar). ZOMG
  6. 75% Chocolove – sweet, strong cherry notes. Suprisingly thick melt for dark chocolate.
  7. 70% Green & Black’s – flat fruity citrus sweetness. Unexceptional and, well, flat.
  8. 70% Kallari bar available at Whole Foods – reminds me of European bars with the dusky caramel flavors.

My favorite bar of the lot was number 5, Kallari’s 75% bar. I went back for seconds, and it definitely merits a ZOMG! I’ll be looking for it next time I’m in a Whole Foods.

Finally, just a logistical note to point out, these bars aren’t technically certified Fair Trade, but I’ve chosen to tag them as such. Kallari has gone so far above and beyond the ideals of Fair Trade that they’re really beyond certification.

Category: chocolate, fair trade, organic, review, ZOMG! | Comments Off

Dubble

November 12th, 2008 by Rosa

I think the Dubble bar I bought at an OxFam (secondhand charity shop) in Cambridge was the cheapest fair trade chocolate I’ve ever come across. At 49 pence (about $1.00 when I was in England, now $0.77), it’s comparably priced with mass produced bars that aren’t so kind to their cacao growers.

Dubble was billed as “smooth milk chocolate crispy crunch” on its wrapper. Clearly Dubble is better at being socially conscious than it is at using correct grammar. The wrapper also promised that it would be “dubbly good,” possibly because the Dubble comes presegmented so that it’s easy to break in half, with each half stamped with the dubble facing B logo.

As you can see, my bar wasn’t in pristine shape when I unwrapped it, but it tasted wonderful. The crisped rice makes up a thin layer on the bottom, and it’s super crisp and crunchy. The ingredients say that the rice is caramelised. I didn’t notice any taste difference from that caramelization, but I think it was a crucial textural component.

The thick layer of chocolate is really what made this bar stand out. It was wonderfully creamy and thickly coated the inside of my mouth. And it tasted like really high quality cocoa, definitely better than the chocolate from comparably priced, mass produced chocolate bars. I would definitely buy this again (and wish I could). After all, how often do you find a bar that’s affordable, delicious, and fair trade? An OMG.

Category: chocolate, European, fair trade, OMG, review | Comments Off

Zotter Mango-Brazil Nuts

July 28th, 2008 by Rosa

I discovered Zotter bars in The Candy Store in San Francisco. They carried several varieties, including one with blood orange, one with cheese, and one with mango and Brazil nuts. I thought long and hard about buying the one with cheese, just because a cheese-filled chocolate bar isn’t something you come across every day, but it was $8 a bar, so I decided to play it safe and opted for the mango-Brazil nuts bar instead of possibly wasting all that money on something too exotic to be enjoyed.

What are Zotter bars, and why are they so expensive? For starters, they’re fair trade and organic and made in Austria. And their creative fillings (of which there are a bazillion creative varieties) are hand-scooped. Hence the hefty price tag. Was it worth it?

According to the Zotter website, the mango-Brazil nuts variety is “Excitingly tropical. Mango and mango puree with Brazil nuts in dark alp milk chocolate.” Dark alp milk chocolate strikes me as oxymoronic. Zotter takes it to mean a 50% cacao content.

The bar carried a strong winey smell. The dark milk chocolate enrobing layer was thin, and I couldn’t get much sense of its flavor profile because the filling’s flavor was so strong. The mango paste filling was quite sweet but tasted to me more of apricot than mango. Little bits of dried mango and Brazil nuts can be found in the paste, which adds a nice chew when you come across them. The Brazil nuts weren’t very noticeable and were too bland to add much in terms of flavor.

My final verdict? $8 is a lot to spend on a single bar, and this particular variety wasn’t worth it to me. An OM. But that won’t stop me from pining after the other flavors. To name a few unusal ones: Lemon Polenta, Rowanberry or Mountain Ash, Spicy Chicken Ensemble – Chilli, Tofu and Sake, Sweet Potato Mocha Rosemary, Tomato Liquid Olive, Wine with Curd Drops, Yellow Chocolate with Brittle, and Beetroot with Galangal.

Cybele tried the Lemon Polenta (zitrone polenta) and Banana Curry.

Category: chocolate, European, fair trade, nuts, OM, organic, review | 1 Comment »

Terra Nostra Organic Chocolate

May 19th, 2008 by Rosa

After my Earth Day round-up of environmentally friendly chocolates left them off, I got an offer to taste some Terra Nostra Organic chocolate, which I eagerly accepted. They sent me a Ricemilk Choco, an Intense Dark, a Double Dark Truffle, a Robust Dark & Roasted Almond, and a Satin Milk Truffle.

The Ricemilk Choco (below) is made with ricemilk rather than dairy milk, making it gluten and dairy-free for those on special diets. It was the only one of the five to come sealed inside a thin foil wrapper. The melt was quite smooth but neither creamy nor thick on the tongue, and the taste was sweet, but innocuously so. I felt that the ricemilk chocolate had no flavor complexity to it, which made it kind of ho hum. Still, I wouldn’t have known it was made with rice milk, making it a great substitute for milk chocolate. And it was the only bar marked as Equitrade, meaning that they not only pay a living wage but also give back by donating money for literacy or food programs.

The Satin Milk Truffle (below) was made from 41% cacao, and according to the label, 100% renewable energy. Neat. It was sweet milk chocolate with a slightly darker cocoa center, though I noted no textural difference between the two layers. The melt was thick and wonderfully tongue-coating, but the flavor had a slight, almost sour middle.

The Double Dark Truffle (60% cacao) was similarly two layered with a less noticeable truffle middle. Visually, it was sort of dull for a 60% cacao bar, but it had the expected sharp snap. Tastewise, I found it to be sweet and floral.

The Intense Dark (73%) had an extremely sharp snap and a fairly dry melt. It was not very sweet and had a slight fruitiness to it. I got a slight duskiness overall, with just a hint of banana to the finish.

The Robust Dark with Roasted Almonds (60% cacao, below) had fresh, nutty almonds evenly distributed throughout the bar, which tempered the sweetness of the chocolate quite well.

With the exception of the Ricemilk, which I would give an O because I don’t have to eat dairy free chocolate, the rest earn an OMG overall. They make a good snacking/savoring chocolate, but the lack the extreme complexity of the Amano single origin bars that now set the standard for me for tasting chocolate. Still, they get bonus points for being organic and for participating in fair trade and sustainable energy practices, so their borderline OM/OMG gets bumped up to the higher rating.

Category: chocolate, fair trade, nuts, OMG, organic, review | Comments Off