Archive for the 'organic' Category

Fearless Chocolate – Dark as Midnight and Matcha Green Tea Peppermynt

December 13th, 2010 by Rosa

I got an assortment of free sample bars from Fearless Chocolate Co., a bean-to-bar chocolate maker. They’re about as health food faddy as it gets. Their chocolate is raw, organic, kosher, gluten/soy/dairy-free, and stocked with superfoods.

These Fearless bars are my first foray into raw chocolate. Should be interesting!

I love the rustic cardboard look of their packaging – quite the wholesome and eco-friendly feel.

My assortment contained a 75% Dark as Midnight plain bar, and three 70% bars: Matcha Green Tea Peppermynt, Super Seeds Hemp Chia Flax, and Sweet & Hot Hibiscus Ginger. I’ll review the first two today and hit the other two on Wednesday.

Each bar has a little corner bite missing from it, representing the 1% of their profits that’s donated to charity. I’d say that the bar is the size of about 2 of the full bar’s 18 segments, which makes it more like 11% – that would be a nicely hefty charitable contribution!

The 75% Dark as Midnight bar was about as pure as dark chocolate gets. The only two ingredients were organic raw cacao and organic unrefined cane sugar.

It smelled like cacao beans with a bit of chalkiness. The break was sharp and snappy, with a velvety, matte melt.

It tasted sweet and deep, starting with hints of spice before yielding to a light fruitiness and a cocoa finish. There’s a light astringency to the finish that I normally associate with bars of a much higher cacao content, perhaps due to the rawness of the chocolate. An OM.

Matcha Green Tea Peppermynt sounded like a dubious flavor combination. It smelled minty and sweet.

It first tasted like a peppermint candy with an undertone of bright sweetness. Then the grassy, herbal, slightly bitter flavors of tea came through, before giving way to sweetly fruity notes. It finally ended on a tea-ful, slightly astringent finish that lingered.

While I found it nicely complex, it wasn’t for me. An O.

Stay tuned til Wednesday, when I cover the Super Seeds and Sweet & Hot bars. In the meantime, if you want to pick some up for yourself, they’re available online.

Category: chocolate, mint, O, OM, organic, review | 1 Comment »

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 on Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Quinoa – Midnight Crunch

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 »

Salazon Chocolate Co. Bars

January 11th, 2010 by Rosa

Salazon Chocolate Co. is a newly launched company that’s specializing in organic salted dark chocolate. Thanks to my candy press status, I got to try them out via free samples from Pete Truby, the company’s founder.

According to their FAQs, Salazon is Spanish for salted. Their wrapper features a striking picture of salt farmers in South East Asia. Salazon’s natural sea salt actually comes from South America; the photo was just too pretty to pass up.

It’s also featured as the design on the bars themselves. They plan to change the photo in the future (necessitating the expense of getting new molds, perhaps?) and are inviting people to submit their own travel photos for consideration.

There are currently three bars in their lineup. The “plain”, so to speak, is their “organic dark chocolate with natural sea salt.”  The salt crystals visibly line the bottom of the bar (they’re not mixed into the chocolate).

The chocolate has a firm snap and a clean, smooth melt. It smells dusky and sweet, with notes of citrus. The salt does wonders – it brings out the many flavors of the chocolate, making it brightly sweet, tangy, and fruity, with an almost sour/salty tint. If you’ve never had salted sweets before, this bar will give you a flavor epiphany.

Next is the “organic dark chocolate with sea salt and organic turbinado cane sugar.” This seems to be Salazon’s alternative to a salted milk chocolate bar. Rather than dial down the cacao, they turned up the sweet by adding turbinado sugar, which has a large granule (visible in the photo below; see the brown speck just above the watermark?).

The salt’s effects are much more tempered here, thanks to that additional sugar, and the taste of the salt doesn’t come through much. The chocolate, still smooth and creamy, feels a bit thicker, and the bar tastes more muted. I mostly get a milky, caramel sweetness with a bit of a raisin finish. If I didn’t know that it was dark, I could swear it was milk.

The third and final bar in the Salazon line-up is “organic dark chocolate with sea salt and organic cracked black pepper.” I often seek out chili chocolates to try, but I have less experience with pepper and chocolate.

The bottom of this bar, flecked with big bits of cracked black peppercorns, is a visual treat. The salted chocolate component is back, with the sharp, tangy, sour, saltiness of the “original”, followed by a black pepper finish (full of olfactory peppery-ness). I don’t think I like it, exactly, but I did enjoy the evolving flavors and found them intriguing.

Salazon’s debuting with a solid product line of tasty bars. An OM and my best wishes for them as they make their way onto the market.

Category: chocolate, OM, organic, review | 4 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 »

Yummy Earth Organic Gummy Bears

November 6th, 2009 by Rosa

I covered Yummy Earth‘s organic gummy worms on Wednesday. Today, I’m reviewing their organic gummy bears.

Since the gummy bears share 2 out of 3 flavors with the worms, I expected them to be pretty much the same. Nope!

First of all, the bears have a much, much stiffer chew. It’s almost unpleasantly stiff. They’re softer than Jujubes and are still definitely gummies, but they are reminiscent of Jujube-ness and sort of get stuck in my teeth.

On the plus side, they taste AMAZING! The flavors are uber-concentrated, making Yummy Earth’s bears taste even better than Yummy Earth’s worms.

Sour Apple Tart is still clear and still tastes like a granny smith, but it’s darker, with more complexity than its worm counterpart. There’s a nearly imperceptibly slight bitterness that’s reminiscent of apple peels.

Strawberry Smash is lightly orange/pink. It tastes sweet and fruity, like a usual strawberry flavored gummi but with a slightly more concentrated flavor.

Pomegranate Pucker (red) is by far my favorite. It’s much more tart in bear form and tastes more deeply red, with a little astringency on the finish. A lovely sweet fruitiness lingers on the tongue after the bear is gone. This one definitely tastes authentically of pomegranate, and it’s wonderful.

I had trouble deciding which I liked more. The worms are texturally more pleasant with great flavors. The bears’ texture is just a bit too firm for me, but their concentrated flavor profile blows the worms out of the dirt. In the end, the bears win out and get an OMG.

Yummy Earth, can you mix up a batch of gummy something elses (llamas?) that combines the best of both worlds?

Category: gummi/gummy, OMG, organic, review | Comments Off on Yummy Earth Organic Gummy Bears

Yummy Earth Organic Gummy Worms

November 4th, 2009 by Rosa

I’d been meaning to try Yummy Earth‘s line of all natural, organic candy for ages, but I never got around to buying them. Fortunately, they eventually made their way back onto my candy radar and into my stash when Yummy Earth contacted me and offered to send me some free samples of their gummies and lollipops.

Today, we’ll chat about the gummy worms and hit up the gummy bears on Friday.

First up, the gummy worms. They look different from most gummy worms. Instead of a long worm made of multiple colors and sometimes flavors, they’re single unit entities and look more like little snakes (worms don’t have eyeballs!).

Texturewise, the gummies have a soft, sproingy chew that’s slightly softer than that of Haribo gummies. The opened bag smells intensely fruity, almost winey, in a good way.

They come in exotic flavors. Pomegrante Pucker (red) doesn’t taste noticebly of pomegrante, but it’s still yummy – deeply red, sweet, and fruity.

The clear worms are Sour Apple Tart. It’s mellow with a slightly sour green apple flavor. Finally, Tangy Tangerine is orange and tastes authentically of orange citrus. I even get notes of orange pith! It’s tart, tangy, tangerine-y deliciousness.

They’re uber fruity and thus super addictive. I’d take these over artificially-flavored gummies anyday. An OM.

Category: gummi/gummy, OM, organic, review | Comments Off on Yummy Earth Organic Gummy Worms

Vere Raspberry + Lemon

October 9th, 2009 by Rosa

Here’s the second of my two Vere bars (remember, they were buy one get one free), Vere Raspberry + Lemon.

Like its Mint + Nibs counterpart, the Raspberry + Lemon is an organic, single origin bar. It takes the cacao content up a notch, to 75%, and I found that difference hugely apparent. The snap of this bar is super hard – it almost hurt my teeth. It was so snappy as to be unpleasant to bite into.

The scent was dark and chalky with just a hint of citrus sourness. Upon tasting, if you survived biting into it, you’d find a dry melt and a bar that tasted of powdered dark cocoa with a lightly sweet and tart fruity finish. I could taste the raspberry and lemon, though I’m not sure that I would’ve been able to identify the specific fruits in a blind tasting.

While the Mint + Nibs bar was studded with bits of cacao nibs, the Raspberry + Lemon bar was full of raspberry seeds. That I greatly appreciated, which is surprising, considering my profound distaste for seedy raspberry candies. It may have been my imagination, but I felt as though I got a bonus burst of sweet raspberry flavor from grinding up those seeds.

All in all, the fruit flavor was decent, but the chocolate was lacking. And the bar was way too hard to eat. This bar would greatly benefit from a reformulation to make it softer. An O.

Category: chocolate, O, organic, single origin | Comments Off on Vere Raspberry + Lemon

Vere Mint + Nibs

September 23rd, 2009 by Rosa

I bought this Vere Mint + Nibs bar at my local food co-op. They were buy one, get one free, and I’m never one to turn down a chocolate deal! If you’re curious, the other Vere that I chose was a Raspberry + Lemon one. It’s currently languishing, unopened, in my chocolate stash, though I presume that it will be consumed and reviewed in due course.

I’m going to purposefully ignore mentioning how the mark over the “e” in Vere affects how one would pronounce the name. Because honestly, is that really necessary, Vere?

I will point out that the bar is certified organic, and it’s single origin. Also, the blurb on the back of the box suggests that it’s at least fair trade in spirit, if not in certification, so that’s plenty enough hip points there to not need silly naming gimmicks.

The Mint + Nibs (I will concede it the use of “+” instead of “and” but refuse to use all lowercase letters) smells strongly of mint oil (as opposed to fresh mint) and dry cocoa. I love the presentation – little bite sized pillows of shiny dark chocolate etched with uniform squiggles.

The melt is pretty dry, which is unsurprising, as it’s a fairly high 70% cacao. The nibs give it a gritty crunch. The bar’s pleasantly intriguing texture makes this fun to chew. I find it best appreciated through chomping rather than melt-on-the-tonguing.

The chocolate is lightly sweet and fruity, with a light undertone of mint oil. There’s just the barest hint of effervescent refreshing mint finish. As previously mentioned, the plentiful nibs do wonders for the texture, but they don’t add much to the flavor.

All in all, it’s a great bar for snacking but not complex or inspiring enough for slow savoring. An OM.

Category: chocolate, OM, organic, review, single origin | 1 Comment »