Archive for the 'fair trade' Category

3400 Phinney Chai Tea Milk Chocolate

January 25th, 2008 by Rosa

The last bar of 3400 Phinney (BUY!) Week is Chai Tea Milk Chocolate with a 40% cacao content. Theo’s website describes this one as “milk chocolate with a warming blend of chai spices and black tea.”

I love, love, loved this bar. I don’t drink chai tea because I usually find it too sweet, but this bar was just right. Because I don’t drink chai tea, I had a hard time naming the spice flavor I got from this bar in my blind tasting. My notes say “great cinnamon-y(?) notes. Not sugary cinnamon; genuine, real cinnamon spice,” which is the best way I could describe that chai spice essence. Another friend mused that the flavor was like cinnamon but not quite and wondered if the bar had cloves. A little research revealed that chai spices can include cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and star anise. So we were close-ish.

Many of my friends didn’t really like this bar, and several of them felt the “weird” spice flavor overwhelmed the chocolate. I found the flavor intriguing, and it kept me reaching for more pieces. Like all the 3400 Phinney bars, this too was smooth and creamy. A ZOMG! from me because I couldn’t stop eating it. It was my favorite of the 3400 Phinney bars and probably the only one that I would regularly buy for snacking (if I could afford it; at $3.25 a bar, these don’t come cheap). Amongst my friends, this came in 11th out of 13 (just one spot above the Dagoba Chai) with a score of 2.67/5, so it’s not for everyone.

I was quite impressed with Theo’s 3400 Phinney line, and it doesn’t hurt that they’re all made with organic and fair trade ingredients, though that does drive up the price. I’d love to taste the other 3 varieties. Cybele from Candy Blog reviewed all 6.

Category: chocolate, fair trade, organic, review, Theo, ZOMG! | 1 Comment »

3400 Phinney Vanilla Milk Chocolate

January 23rd, 2008 by Rosa

Theo 3400 Phinney Week (BUY!) continues with the Vanilla Milk Chocolate with a 40% cacao content. The Theo website calls this one “a harmonious blend of finely ground Madagascar vanilla bean and milk chocolate.”

This milk bar had a European/Cadbury-finish which I found to be quite good. The melt is smooth and the mouthfeel creamy. I thought I tasted hints of bread or toast, but my palate is untrained, and it also may have just been the power of suggestion (I knew one of the bars would be the bread & chocolate).

The bar looks pretty dark in the photo, and it’s not just a trick of the light. 40% is a high cacao content for a milk bar, and many lesser chocolate companies would try to pass that off as a semisweet. I thought this bar was wonderful for a “milk” bar, and I thought the sweetness level was just right. An OMG from me, and a 3.71/5 from my friends, making it good enough for 4th place at my chocolate tasting party.

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

3400 Phinney Bread and Chocolate

January 21st, 2008 by Rosa

Theo’s 3400 Phinney bars (BUY!) are named after the chocolate factory’s address (3400 Phinney Ave. in Seattle, Washington). Someday, I hope to make a Theo pilgrimage. Theo makes 6 varieties of 3400 Phinney bars; all are organic and fair trade certified. I managed to get 3 of them for my chocolate party. Welcome to 3400 Phinney Week!

First up is the Bread & Chocolate, a dark 65% cacao. The website description (there’s none on the wrapper) called this “an innovative twist on a traditional pairing, featuring dark chocolate with buttery, toasted artisan breadcrumbs and the perfect amount of salt.” The ingredients? Cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, French bread (wheat flour, water, yeast, sea salt), butter, sea salt. Impressively simple.

This bar came in last out of 13 at my chocolate party with an average of 2.04/5. Many friends complained that it was too salty and too bitter. A few people, myself included, didn’t like the texture of the bar. The bread crumbs, which I mistook for rice crisps that wouldn’t dissolve properly, added an unpleasant grit and also made the bar quite dry. With a high 65% cacao content, this bar is on the bitter side and definitely not for everyone. I got a strong coffee finish. An OM from me. I liked it, but it’s too sophisticated to be a frequent indulgence.

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

Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Cranberries & Almonds

January 16th, 2008 by Rosa

It’s been a while since I posted a chocolate party review. I’m going to finish up the chocolate party posts next week so I can move on to covering my winter break candy tour. Consider these part of cleaning out my candy backlog.

Endangered Species Chocolate (BUY!) donates 10% of their profits”to help support species, habitat and humanity,” and they use their chocolate bar wrappers to raise awareness about endangered species. Some bars are organic, and I think all are fair trade. My bar was all about the wolf, and it was delicious.

Even though this dark bar boasts a high cacao content of 70 percent, it wasn’t bitter at all. If anything, I’d deem it bittersweet, and I found it surprisingly sweet for dark chocolate. The bar had an exceptional, heavy snap and a great dark finish. The almonds (in tiny pieces) added another smoky component to the bar, which worked nicely. Finally, the bar was visually gorgeous, with a deep, dark, rich color and a lovely gloss.

The bits of cranberry inside the bar were quite noticeable. You can see a piece of one poking out in the photo. They were dried pieces of cranberry, like raisins (or craisins, I guess). Usually the cranberry pieces melded nicely with the dark finish, but every once in a while a chunk of cranberry would be too big, too sweet, and too distracting.

At first I didn’t find this bar to be too exceptional. Sure, it was great dark chocolate, but so what? Yet I found myself reaching for more… and more… and more… It turned out to be quite addictive, enough so to earn a ZOMG! rating from me. Many thanks to my friend Katie for buying it for me. My friends’ ratings placed it 7th with a score of 3.5/5. I should note that the people who liked it really liked it.

My bar was just one of 15 varieties. I can’t wait to taste my way through more.

Category: chocolate, Endangered Species, fair trade, nuts, received as gift, review, ZOMG! | 1 Comment »

Par-tay!

November 6th, 2007 by Rosa

Chocolate party, that is. I’ve been stockpiling nice chocolate bars and haven’t gotten around to eating them yet. Now I have too much chocolate to possibly eat on my own (my life is so hard, I know), so I’m going to throw a chocolate tasting party. Yum!

The featured guests:

Category: chocolate, Dagoba, fair trade, news, organic, received as gift, Theo | 2 Comments »

Jocalat by Larabar

August 9th, 2007 by Rosa

According to Larabar’s website, these bars used to be called Maya bars. They’ve replaced the cocoa nibs in Maya bars with ground cocoa beans for a smoother texture and renamed the result. The Jocalat name sounds swankier (because we’re not sure how to pronounce it), and it lets Larabar use an accent breve (it’s amazing what I still remember from my high school French classes) to create a fancier looking logo.

food-blog-pictures-019.jpg

Jocalat bars (BUY) are made with organic and fair trade certified ingredients, usually some combination of organic dates, organic nuts, organic cocoa mass, organic cocoa powder, and organic flavoring. They’re gluten free, dairy free, soy free, kosher, vegan, and with no added sugar. Unlike regular Larabars, these are made from only 90% raw ingredients because the cocoa beans must be roasted, but that’s still impressive.

The bars come in chocolate, chocolate mint, chocolate orange, and chocolate coffee. As an energy bar or meal replacement bar, they’re pretty good. I personaly prefer the texture of Clif Bars to Jocalat, but I do find the Jocalat bars much more palatable than Powerbars and Odwalla bars.

food-blog-pictures-021.jpgAll four bars are softy, chewy, and studded with nuts. The texture sort of resembles that of fudge, like a stiff puree with an extremely fine grain.

Chocolate - This bar is nuttier than the others, containing walnuts, almonds, and cashews in addition to dates. That’s according to the label, as I couldn’t distinguish between the different nuts as I was eating the bar. It smells deliciously of rich chocolate with a sweet and sour fruity overtone. While the Larabar website claims it to be as indulgent as a fudge brownie, I find that claim a stretch. Real fudge brownies are much better, but real fudge brownies are also full of sugar and butter and bad for you things. The Jocalat bars are fairly chocolate-y but not cloyingly sweet. Unfortunately, the Jocalat bar also has a bit of a sour aftertaste, possibly due to the dates. It’s not terribly unpleasant, but I could do without it.

Chocolate orange - The bar contains only dates and almonds and smells of a freshly peeled orange, and the taste of orange is definitely there. The sour aftertaste is less objectionable here, I think because orange is supposed to be sour.

Chocolate mint - This date and almond filled bar has a strong smell of peppermint, but it doesn’t taste as minty as it smells. The mint taste lingers a bit after the bar is swallowed, and it serves to completely hide the sour taste I found in the chocolate.

Chocolate coffee - According to the website, this bar has significantly more caffeine than the others. It smells sweetly of chocolate covered espresso beans. Tastewise, however, the coffee flavor is only barely detectable as a light aftertaste. In fact, if not for the coffee smell, it find it nearly indistinguishable from the regular chocolate bar. The chocolate coffee is also sweeter than the other bars, and that slight sour taste is pretty obvious.

Overall, I’m impressed that Larabar made something this tasty out of wholesome, mostly raw ingredients. I would recommend these if you’re on a vegan, raw food, gluten-free, or casein-free diet, and I know several parents of children with autism that may find these to be a valuable addition to the pantry and well worth the cost. As for me, I try to eat healthily, but I’m not health conscious to the point of spurning all processed foods. I’ll probably spend my money on deliciously bad for you candy bars instead.

Category: chocolate, coffee, fair trade, mint, not candy, nuts, OM, organic, review | 4 Comments »