Taylor Made Chocolate and Michel Cluizel 85%

Wouldn’t it be awesome to be a personal chocolate consultant? You could serve clients who love chocolate but aren’t in the know about various chocolate makers, so your job is to find them bars or chocolate products that fit their favorite flavor profile or to simply introduce them to something new. I love those few times when I’ve had family, friends or coworkers tell me that they want a certain flavor in their chocolate and I make it my personal mission to find them that special bar they may like. One example is when a prior coworker told me that they liked Hershey’s Cookies and Cream bar. In an effort to start guiding them in the direction of better chocolate, I gave them Milka’s Oreo bar to try, and they loved it!

Another example is when I became acquainted with a couple in Richmond and the wife said she couldn’t find a certain coconut milk dark chocolate bar anymore. She knew this bar used to be made in Hawaii but couldn’t remember the company that made it. The words “coconut milk” sounded familiar, and since I was in Richmond, I ran over to For the Love of Chocolate to find Raaka’s dark chocolate Coconut Milk bar. I was so happy when she said she liked it!

A more recent example was when we hosted my old coworkers for a game of chocolate roulette. One of the coworker’s wives joined us and said she liked dark chocolate. I asked her what kind of bars she preferred to buy for herself and if she knew what notes or flavors she liked in her dark chocolate. She said fruity, and I happened to have two Wm. Chocolate 68% Dark Belize bars, so I gave one of them to her. That same night she had already started eating it and said she liked it.

Being able to provide bars for chocolate lovers who aren’t familiar with craft chocolate makes my day! I’m still learning and will always be learning about what kind of chocolate bars and products are out there in the world because there are so, so many. What also makes my day is when I learn of a local chocolate maker that I had never heard of before. During my recent trip to For the Love of Chocolate in Richmond, I picked up these 85% Michel Cluizel and Taylor Made 67% Haitian Cacao bars for myself and I was happy to learn that Taylor Made is a local chocolate maker.

First, I’m sharing the 85% Michel Cluizel bar. Since Michel Cluizel has been kind to share their Brazil bars with me, I wanted to give back in trying another of their bars on my own. This one seemed to be a blend of 85% dark chocolate since no specific origin was stated on the packaging but most other Michel Cluizel bars are single origin. This bar smelled like cherries and cocoa powder. For me it had an initial strong cocoa flavor with a fudgy mouthfeel. As my bite melted the flavor turned a little tannic and a subtle cherry flavor developed toward the end. My husband said it was creamy with some coffee flavor. On the back of the packaging the flavor notes are listed as “roasted chestnut and slightly tangy grilled coffee beans”. For an 85% this bar didn’t taste bitter or over-roasted at all!

I learned about Tayor Made when I found several of their bars at For the Love of Chocolate. And guess what, they are based out of Virginia! In fact, they’re near Richmond. My sister sent me a video about them, which you can view here. What I love about their company mission is that they not only support Haitian farmers, but they are contributing to ending human trafficking in the Richmond area. Their story is about supporting the International Justice mission after learning that more slavery exists today than there was before, and fighting slavery by making and selling chocolate. The company’s overall message and goal is for freedom. You can learn more from their website but I hope I can visit in person someday to speak with Taylor himself.

This bar smelled fruity like raspberries to me. The chocolate tasted fruity and nutty, hen it tasted like raspberries and chocolaty. The aftertaste reminded me of grapes. I really liked this bar and I would definitely eat again! I’m so excited to hear about a small business creating a large force in the Richmond area, especially regarding human trafficking. I had no idea that Richmond was the capital of human trafficking, and since my husband and I plan on moving there in the future, this makes me want to become a regular customer and support Taylor Made’s mission.

I love stopping by For the Love of Chocolate and seeing what’s new in their inventory. I have never had the chance to speak to the owner of the shop, but I know what he looks like. The only encounter I had with him was when he said he samples so many bars to figure out which one to sell and what the people of Richmond might like. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to get the guy’s name and sit down with him for a Q&A.

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

Map Chocolate – Fall is here!

One of my favorite seasons is here! Even though fall started a while ago, in the D.C. area we have been experience high temperatures as though it were still summer, but now it’s finally starting to cool down. I’d be one of the first to raise my hand and admit I’m a fellow psycho who’s crazy for anything with pumpkin spice and throwing some flannel on. My husband is in the same boat as those who shake their heads and can’t understand why people like myself are crazy for all things pumpkin. Opposites attract, yeah? Though I’m not sipping a pumpkin spice latte at the moment, I’m sharing these bars by Mackenzie that speak to the upcoming changes in season.

The moment I saw the name My Favorite Plaid Shirt for a chocolate bar, I had to try it! Though all of my favorite plaid shirts had to be donated because they all shrank from previous years of washing and drying (I have terrible luck with washing cotton items despite following directions), I still have my favorite flannel shirt. Whether my flannel shirt has a proper plaid pattern, I’m not sure but I’m looking forward for the weather being cool enough to throw it on!

The ingredients list for this bar is above and the subtitle for this bar is “Fiji 73% pumpkin babka sprinkled with pumpkin seeds and caraway”. The description that Mackenzie includes with this bar speaks of raking up a pile of leaves, jumping into it and repeating the process. It pays ode to our favorite things and fond moments. When I think of fall I think about no longer sweating to death in the sun, wearing my warm flannel, watching the trees change into beautiful warm colors, being able to finally fit Thompson into his fleece jacket (he was too small for it before), and hopefully my allergies being less severe.

The scent of this bar was a mixture of earthiness and subtle spiciness. I first tasted strong spiciness, which grew in intensity as my bite melted but it never became too much. The pumpkin seeds gave a nice crunchy texture. After the initial spice, warm spices and something like chocolaty, brown sugar sweetness developed. This bar hit all of the fall niceties with a warm flavor and feeling, something pumpkin (pumpkin seeds) and spiciness.

Tyger Tyger Burning Bright also sounded like a good fall-themed bar for it’s warm sounding masala chai and gingersnap flavors. Mackenzie’s description for this bar mentions that through experience we all learn that “for every lamb there is a tiger”. Her words remind me of how some people prefer to keep peace and harmony, while nowadays we hear of too many people (like in social media) purposefully lashing out and hurting others. I love how at the end of her description she says, “Let’s all just get along and share some tea, shall we?” While it would be a miracle for the world to do that, it sounds nice.

The ingredients list for this bar is depicted above and the base of the bar is Vietnam Lam Dong 73%. I’m curious why baking soda is listed as an ingredient and what part it’s playing in the bar. I’m a fan of chai spices though in the past I haven’t been fond of candied ginger in chocolate. A few years ago when I first bought and tried a dark chocolate bar with candied ginger from Whole Foods I couldn’t bring myself to take more than one bite. In this case, the ginger looks like it’s broken into manageable tiny bits.

I could smell the ginger and chai spices with some other scent that reminded me of stoneware for some reason. The combination of scents also made me think of tiki masala and walking into an Indian restaurant (just ate some chicken with tiki masala earlier, so that’s clearly still on my mind). Sweetness like honey and caramel filled my mouth while what I’m guessing are the ginger bits were like seeds to crunch on. There was a brief moment of sharpness as a chunk of dried ginger bits dissolved at once. After the initial shock of ginger, it gave way to a very pleasant mixture of ginger and chai that reminded me of gingersnap cookies. The end of my bite was my favorite part of the journey. It was warm, delicious and already had me thinking about Christmas.

I enjoyed both bars! While My Favorite Plaid Shirt already had me at the title, I couldn’t stop at just one bite. Though I love ginger, I’m not a huge fan of crystallized ginger in chocolate. For me, the finish of the Tyger Tyger Burning Bright bar was my favorite part since it tasted like gingersnaps. Because of that I’ll be slowly enjoying more of this bar. Thank you, Mackenzie, for creating more bars with unique inclusions for us to enjoy and exercise our palates!

Map Chocolate: Made in Eugene, OR

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

Chocolate Roulette with Fossa

Chocolate roulette is one of my favorite games to play when introducing a group of people to a new brand of chocolate or even craft chocolate in general. In this case, my old coworkers got to be subjected to playing with Fossa’s Chilli Peanut Praline as the bullet. The rest of the Fossa bars are depicted above. All of these I ordered through Caputo’s Gourmet Food Market & Deli.

Before I dive into the gameplay, I’m embarrassed to say I cannot share my tasting notes of the bars like I normally do. What happened was that between the night of playing roulette and the time that I’m typing this post, I got sick and that lasted for a good couple of weeks. I set the chocolate down on my dining table and left it there for the duration of my being sick. I should have put the chocolate in a sealed food safe container or Ziploc bag… but I had forgotten to. Then this morning I wanted to individually taste the bars to share my thoughts, and several fruit flies flew up from the bars. Needless to say, I’m very grossed out by this and I don’t know if I want to touch the chocolate again. I’m sad that I have to throw chocolate away due to my forgetfulness. Hopefully in the future I’ll be able to reorder some of these Fossa bars and try them again.

But Despite my not being able to personally taste each of the bars, I can at least share the descriptions and tasting notes listed on the packaging of each of the bars.

Chilli Peanut Butter, 54% Dark: “Inspired by our favourite satay sauce, we created this unapologetically bold and fiery chocolate that will leave you craving for more. Wash it down with some beer for the complete experience.” I do recall that the Chilli Peanut Praline bar first tasted like peanut butter and the spicy burn slowly builds up. At its peak the chilli doesn’t burn your mouth off, but it’s definitely enough to detect it. I had never tried a peanut + chilli bar before and it was a nice combination!

Pisa, Haitia, 68% Dark, tasting notes of raisin, floral and honey: “Blessed with rich soil, Northern Haiti produces cacao amongst other crops like coffee and even oranges used for the famous Grand Marnier liqueur. This chocolate is named after Produits Des Iles SA (PISA), a cacao processor dedicated to helping growers understand and improve the quality of their cacao since 2014.”

Pak Eddy, Indonesia, 70% Dark, tasting notes of creamy almond with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg: “Single-estate chocolate made from cacao personally cultivated, fermented and dried by our friend, Pak Eddy (local term for Uncle Eddy) in his small estate in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. A blend of 14 cacao varietals from 32 trees gives this chocolate a complex profile.”

Rehoboth Estate, Phillipines, 70% Dark, tasting notes of tawny port and prunes: “In Davao City, the cacao capital of the Phillipines, Rehoboth Estate collects wet cacao from smallholder farms to ferment in a central fermentary, providing a reliable source of income for the farmers. This special chocolate is made from heirloom cacao harvested from old trees. The pre-dominantly white coloured beans give the chocolate a light brown color.”

Davao, Phillipines, 70% Dark, tasting notes of tawny port and fresh cream: Same description as the Rehoboth Estate bar above.

Öko Caribe, Dominican Republic, 72% Dark, tasting notes of bright coffee and peanut brittle: “Nestled in the heart of the cacao-rich Duarte province within the Dominican Republic, Öko-Caribe maintains close relationships with its 181 farmers through technical training in agronomic practices to produce consistently high quality cacao. Our preparation brings out the deep chocolate-peanuty flavour found naturally in these prisine beans.”

Alto Beni, Bolivia, 70% Dark, tasting notes of hazelnut latte and pine needles: “Deep in the jungles of Bolivia, cacao beans are collected from small-holder farmers who are paid premium prices by the Alto Beni Cacao Company. Our cacao is a hybrid variety known as ‘Walikeewa’, a local Aymara language for ‘improved’, as the farmers constantly try to improve the quality of every batch.” I remember when I opened this bar I loved how it smelled and I recall definitely tasting nuttiness from the bar!

Alto Beni, Bolivia, 85% Dark, tasting notes of pecan, cream and cinnamon: Same description as the 70% Alto Beni bar above.

 

My old coworkers remember me as being a crazy chocolate lady. I used to work at a research lab with my desk being in a cubicle. One of my desk drawers was dedicated to holding chocolate and I would welcome anyone to come by and help themselves to whatever chocolate was available. When I knew I was seeing some of those coworkers, I told them I had several Fossa bars I needed help eating and they happily were willing to participate in a game of roulette.

Since 12 people were playing (excluding myself) and I only had the 8 Fossa bars, I doubled up some of the bars on the plate but there was only one piece of Chilli Peanut Praline. We played three rounds of roulette, and thankfully a different person got the spicy bar each round. Since the spicy kick isn’t immediate, there was a moment of silence as we all waited in anticipation to see who got the “bullet”. That moment is one of my favorite parts of the game as people nervously look around at each other’s expressions to see who appears to be in pain. At the end of the rounds, everyone wanted to try a piece of the Chilli Peanut Praline bar. It’s funny that at the end of every chocolate roulette game, everyone is curious about how spicy the “bullet” is and even those with a low spice tolerance want to try it.

Hopefully the next time I host a game of chocolate roulette I remember to store the chocolate in a bag or container safe from fruit flies so this doesn’t happen again! Otherwise I’ve enjoyed every Fossa bar I’ve tried. If you go to my Instagram page (@timetoeatchocolate) you can find a couple of other Fossa bars aside from the ones I shared here that I’ve enjoyed.

Fossa Chocolate

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

 

Michel Cluizel Releases New Cacao Origin of Brazil

Thanks to Michel Cluizel, I am able to try their new bars using cacao sourced from Brazil, specifically from a plantation in Riachuelo. According to Google, Riachuelo is a municipal in the northeastern state Sergipe. Michel Cluizel currently sources cacao from a handful of countries and it’s exciting to see them branch out to Brazil now that I’m seeing more chocolate makers start sourcing their cacao from Brazil!

If you aren’t familiar with Michel Cluizel, they are a family owned business that originally started in Damville, Normandy. The name comes from Michel, who is the son of Marc and Marcelle Cluizel. Michel’s parents were already experienced in making pastries and chocolate confections, so Michel started an apprenticeship under them when he was only 16 years old. While his parents had the goal of making their family business grow, Michel brought it to the industrial level. The family now has a manufacture location in West Berlin, NJ. Because this manufacturer is based out of my home state, I’m glad to support Michel Cluizel!

Though my latest post mentions that the purest dark chocolate contains just cacao/cocoa and sugar, Michel Cluizel adds some cocoa butter and “bourbon vanilla pod”. Some chocolate makers will add additional cocoa butter (cocoa beans are already naturally made up of about 50% cocoa butter) to help make a smoother mouthfeel or texture in their bars. Some vanilla is added to sometimes help enhance or improve certain flavors in a bar.

Since I’m still getting over a cold, I’m not able to smell this chocolate very well, but I tasted fig or stone dried fruit followed by nutty and nibby (like cocoa nibs) flavors. Then I taste strong fruity what was like blackberry flavors. The aftertaste was very cocoa-y as if I had just drunk some nutty dark hot chocolate. The tasting notes listed on the packaging are “grilled cocoa, dried fruit and berries, mingling with bitter-sweet notes, in a delicately spiced chocolate and caramel long finish”.

The 51% milk chocolate bar contained not only cocoa, cocoa butter and vanilla, but also whole milk powder as expected. When I remember to, I always like to include the ingredients lists for bars I’m trying in case anyone has any food allergies but is interesting in trying a specific chocolate bar, or for those who are discerning as to whether these bars contain emulsifiers or other filler ingredients.

For me this bar tasted like caramel, nuts and mostly butterscotch. The flavors gave me a warm, comforting feeling, which is great for recovering from a cold. The flavor experience described on the packaging says “creamy, tender texture, with sweet notes of milk, cream and caramel, mingling with notes of red fruits and cocoa, with a spicy and fresh lingering flavor.”

It was very nice to try milk and dark chocolate bars back-to-back made with cocoa beans from the same origin! It’s not often that I get to experience this kind of flavor comparison and I want to do it more often. If you enjoy chocolate and want to take your tasting journey to another level, I recommend trying these Michel Cluizel bars or any two bars that are from the same origin but different cocoa percentages.

Thank you again to Michel Cluizel for sharing these bars with me!

Michel Cluizel

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

 

Are you confused when shopping for “good” dark chocolate?

This post is for people who are new to craft chocolate and aren’t sure how to interpret the words and labels slapped all over the wrappers of chocolate bars. Have you wandered down the aisle of Whole Foods, Mom’s Organic or other store feeling unsure of whether you can trust what the packaging is trying to tell you? Trust me, I’ve been there too! When I was brand new to trying craft chocolate, I had no idea what to look for in the ingredients list or to even look for the origin of the cocoa.

Now when I look at the chocolate selection of Whole Foods, I wonder if I can truly believe that the majority of the chocolate sold there is held at the same standard as craft chocolate and I’ve learned that sadly a lot of the chocolate bars being sold there have been co-packed. From my understanding, co-packed means that a brand approached a chocolate manufacturer and asked them to produce a certain type of bar for them. This co-packer can produce hundreds, maybe even thousands of bars for the brand (this makes me think of mass produced chocolate like Hershey’s). Then the brand just slaps their label onto it. An example is Endangered Species chocolate.

I remember going to Endangered Species’ website trying to find information on the origin of their cocoa and I could not find it anywhere. When you look at their ingredients list, it begins with “chocolate”, which consists of chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin and vanilla. The purest dark chocolate bar should simply contain cocoa and sugar (with the exception of any added fruits, nuts, salt, and other inclusions).

Thanks to Ana Brady from Food Packaging Labels, Ana shared with me a helpful visual guide for those who are lost when deciding which chocolate bars to purchase. The only thing I would add to this visual guide is to alway look for the origin of the cocoa. The origin could simply be the country that the cocoa beans came from, or even the specific cocoa plantation. This helps the consumer trace their food to the source and potentially to the farmer’s hands that helped cultivate the cocoa pods. To view the guide, go here, and I hope that next time you enter a store to try a new chocolate bar you’ll be less confused and feel empowered to understand the difference between “good” chocolate and great chocolate!

 

I did not receive pay or any compensation for sharing links or information from Food Packaging Labels. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. 

 

 

 

Raaka First Nibs Selection – September 2018

Because my First Nibs Selection subscription with Raaka comes every other month, I get super excited when I see a Raaka box on my doorstep. I’ve raved in the past about their unique inclusions in these limited edition bars. For September, my eyes almost popped out of my face. Nibby Butter Buckwheat Cookies?! Cranberry Sage Pie?! Already the names of these bars are very interesting!

According to the description sent with these bars, Food52 is releasing a new cookbook on September 4th (we’re past that now). They chose three of their dessert recipes that would work well with chocolate and handed them off to Raaka to “work their magic”. The new cookbook is called “Genius Desserts: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Bake”.

The first bar is Nibby Butter Buckwheat Cookies in Asochivite, Guatemala 72%. That’s quite a mouthful for the title! According to the description, buckwheat is an alternative to wheat flour. The recipe originally calls for using grassy buckwheat and bitter cacao nibs in shorbread cookies. Raaka believed these flavors would pair well with a fudgy Asochivite.

For me, the scent of this bar was a mixture of fruity and earthy. With the buckwheat side down on my tongue, I first tasted salt followed by strong herby and light fruity flavors. The toasted buckwheat bits literally added a “pop” of flavor and texture. Once the buckwheat flavors had dissipated I was left with fudgy brownie. The thought of fudgy pecan brownies crossed my mind, but instead of pecans there’s buckwheat. This bar was like having a party in my mouth! There was a lot going on with texture and flavors, and in the end it comes down to reminiscing about brownies.

The next bar is Cranberry Sage Pie in Kokoa Kamili, Tanzania 66%. First of all, this bar is gorgeous to look at! The brown sugar glistens in the light and the deep red cranberries are like little dark rubies. The description for this bar mentions the Elsen sisters who run a bakery called Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn. They go beyond creating traditional pies “splashing bitters into their filling and showering salt across the top”. This bar was inspired by a pie they made that uses raw and dried cranberries, sage and fall spices.

The scent of this bar is like Christmas with the brown sugar scent reminding me of gingerbread cookies and the strong cranberry scent was like cranberry sauce that’s seen around Thanksgiving. If you don’t like chocolate, then the scent alone is what you need. I want the essence of this bar as a perfume that I can wear during the fall and winter. I first tasted the sweetness of the brown sugar followed by the sweet yet tart dried cranberries. The sage was subtle and I could definitely taste the fall spices. The Tanzanian chocolate is described as being sweet and it was a nice way to pull all the sweet things together yet balance out the sage. This bar is SO good!

The last bar is Roasted Sugar in CAC Pangoa, Peru 68%. The description for this bar says it was inspired by a happy accident of Stella Park (writer behind the book “Brave Tart”) in leaving sugar in an oven at low heat for hours. Instead of melting, the granules became “more caramelly”. The bar smelled sweet like honey. The flavor reminded me of the brown sugar in the Cranberry Sage Pie bar and like light molasses. This is a great chocolaty, sweet bar that is subtle rather than intense for people who are exploring dark chocolate bars but don’t like bitterness.

One again Raaka made three very unique bars! The Nibby Butter Buckwheat Cookie bar is great for people looking for a flavorful and textural experience. The Cranberry Sage Pie is awesome for fall-lovers such as myself who love the holidays of the colder months and the foods that come along with it. The Roasted Sugar bar is good for savoring anytime of the day and anytime of the year. If I had to pick one out of the three, I gravitated the most to the Cranberry Sage Pie. And I’m saying this as I’m already popping another piece of it in my mouth 🙂

Raaka Chocolate

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

 

WKND Chocolate

Apparently I had tried these WKND bars at the end of spring and somehow never got to finishing writing my thoughts about these bars! At this point, Lauren of WKND Chocolate is in the process of moving overseas and relocating her business, which means the bars I’ll be sharing here might be the last I get to try until she’s settled into her new location. Since I can’t immediately recall my experience, listed below are my old notes from the original time of tasting.

Strawberry bar: “The World Through Strawberry Colored Glasses”

The ingredients list contains cocoa butter, almonds, balsamic vinegar and freeze dried strawberries. Balsamic vinegar? That’s very interesting and a unique ingredient! The bar smelled fruity and delicious. I tasted some “tang” once I put the chocolate in my mouth. After reading balsamic vinegar in the ingredients, it was stuck in my mind and I could taste it. It was like the vinegar brought out some tartness and the sweetness of the strawberries. The almonds gave the bar some subtle crunch and texture. This was delicious and very different than other strawberry bars I’ve experienced.

53% Micolate

The ingredients included Vale Potumuju Brazilian cacao, cocoa butter, cane sugar and non-fat milk powder. This bar smelled less creamy than most milk chocolate bars I’ve had. Even though it tasted subtly milky, the flavor of the chocolate reminded me of coffee and I experienced a chocolaty aftertaste. This was also delicious and I loved how I got to enjoy more of the cacao’s flavor than just the milk powder. Maybe this milk chocolate having a natural light coffee flavor is why it’s called mico-late? 🙂

Scarlett Sunrise 80% Dark Chocolate

Ingredients include Vale Potumuju Brazilian cacao, cane sugar, freeze dried raspberries, hibiscus flowers, red Alaea Hawaiian salt, and cardamom. What a unique combination of hibiscus flowers with salt and raspberries! I could definitely smell the raspberries and if I searched for it, I could detect subtle floral and spice. The salt hit my taste buds first, followed by tart raspberries and an interesting combination that almost seemed savory of the cardamom and hibiscus. This flavor combo reminded me of sweet spice rubs used for ribs. Once the initial party of flavors dissipated, I tasted only the chocolate base, which was the same as the 53% Micolate, so I also tasted subtle coffee and strong nuttiness. I applaud Lauren on making such a unique combination! It’s perfect for the summertime.

Now that I’m finishing this post at the end of summer, the strawberry bar has lingered the most in my memory and it must be because of that balsamic vinegar. I hope that Lauren is having no trouble in relocating and hopefully down the road I’ll be able to try more of her creations!

WKND Chocolate

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

 

An update…

Hi all! It’s been a while since I’ve shared a post here on Time To Eat Chocolate and I figured I would give an update and chat a bit about what’s been going on. Hang tight because this will take a while! I’ll be diving into some topics that have been weighing heavy on my mind and why I’ve taken a step back from social media and from blogging.

Ever since March when I got married my life has become busier. I’d been warned by married friends and family members that once you get married, in general you become busier. It just kind of happens. Personally I think I’ve been focusing more time on family, helping raise our “children” (meaning our Scottish terrier and cat) and doing all the regular chores and grocery shopping takes longer now I’m not just looking after myself. I’m starting to understand why when people get married they kind of fall off of the edge of the earth compared to when they’re living a single life!

I also want to share that ever since mid-February I’ve been working as an assistant chocolate maker for a business in the D.C. area. I made the switch so I could gain hands on experience learning what it’s like to make bean to bar chocolate. I admire how some people can simply read a book about the process and fully understand it. I’m a tactile and visual learner, so this has been the best way for the process to stick in my mind.

I never put this job switch out there on social media because I wasn’t sure if I’d receive any backlash, but now I feel like I need to mention it somehow. I’m surrounded by chocolate at work and when I come home I want to unwind and take a break from chocolate, which affects my time spent on social media and sometimes from consuming it at home. I still love chocolate, don’t get me wrong! But I think I’m experiencing overexposure.

I won’t name the company that I’m working for because that should not matter nor should people be nosing into my business, but if you haven’t already read it at the bottom of every post since mid-February, I make it clear that my thoughts in my reviews are always my personal thoughts despite my working in the chocolate industry. I have to stress that since a someone in the chocolate industry I used to admire decided to be disrespectful toward me since they learned of my job and I had to remind them that I’ve already been reviewing chocolate products for three years prior to my working in chocolate. Because I’ve now seen and experienced the behind the scenes work at a craft chocolate business, my tolerance for rude behavior from other makers and businesses has greatly decreased. If I and other customers are using our hard earned money to buy their bars and therefore support their business, they have no grounds to treat us that way! It’s simply poor customer service.

Besides overexposure, I’ve taken a step away from social media and considered cancelling this blog since I’d come home from work with no energy to scroll through Instagram, read articles or write a blog post. Also in the past my husband pointed that out I was probably spending an unhealthy amount of time on my phone and laptop. He had a good point. I’ve been happy yet sad about this change. Happy in that I have been able to better appreciate the moment when I’m not staring at my phone or laptop, and sad because I’m missing out on chocolate news. After some thinking, I’ve decided I’m going to keep the social media accounts I’ve set up and this blog since my current rate of sharing may be slow, but down the road I might be able to return to a regular schedule of blogging possibly posting twice a month rather than once a week.

The business I’m currently working for already knows that I won’t be with them for long. As my husband and I have been discussing the future and what our family will look like a few years from now, we’ve decided we want to move away from the D.C. area, get a house and eventually start raising children (“children” includes having more Scottish terriers 🙂 ). I will be moving to part-time work to free up my schedule a bit so I can continue focusing more of my attention to family. Sadly this means that this job position may be the only time in my life when I’m able to work for a chocolate maker, but I’m grateful and satisfied to even have the opportunity. On the positive side, hopefully when I leave my current job it means overexposure to chocolate won’t affect my blogging and sharing on social media.

If you’ve made it this far in reading this post, thank you for your time and patience! I’m thankful and grateful for the network of fellow chocoholics, makers and bloggers I’ve come to know thanks to writing this blog and social media. If you follow me on Instagram @timetoeatchocolate and notice I’m quiet there, I’m most likely active on @lauberhaus where I share family-related activities. I’m excited for what the future brings and I hope that I can at some point return with a regular schedule in sharing thoughts/reviews on chocolate products!

 

 

 

River Sea Chocolates

I learned of River Sea Chocolates through the D.C. Chocolate Festival and I was glad to see that they added to the few number of chocolate makers based out of Virginia. Virginia is now my home state (New Jersey still remains in my heart) so whenever I hear of any new chocolate makers pop up here, it makes me very happy! What was pleasantly surprising is that River Sea is based out of Sterling, which is in the northern part of Virginia and not too far from my current stomping grounds (but that will change in a year or two). If you’ve ever flown through Dulles International Airport, you were very close to Sterling.

I like that the back of every bar says that River Sea Chocolates “partners with small-scale growers who use sustainable farming methods that prevent deforestation and reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers or pesticides that could harm bio-diversity”. According to their website, their name was inspired by the “world’s cacao grow[ing] in coastal jungle areas influenced by the daily flow of the tide”. You can read more about their name origin here.

It’s perfect that I’m trying this matcha bar because this morning I tried to make a matcha cake roll, which didn’t work out well, but basically matcha is the theme today. I also made a matcha latte for the first time and thankfully that worked out way better than the cake roll. If you’ve been following my blog or social media you’d know that I LOVE any chocolate that has matcha in it.

I remember this was the first bar I wanted to try at River-Sea’s table during the D.C. Chocolate Festival. The ingredients consist of cocoa butter from Ecuador, whole cow milk from Brazil, cane sugar from Brazil and Gyokuro leaves from Japan. Usually I see “matcha powder” being used so I’m curious if River-Sea ground up the Gyokuro to obtain their matcha. Their website says that “matcha green tea leaves” were used. From what I understand, sencha, matcha, even black and other teas come from the same type of leaf and its the growth and preparation of the leaves prior to consumption that makes their differences in flavor, so the way it was listed on the bar is no big deal, just interesting.

There was a subtle matcha scent with creaminess from the white chocolate base. As expected, this bar was creamy goodness with some subtle bitter but delicious matcha flavors (matcha alone is naturally bitter). As usual this bar will not last long as I’ll probably eat the whole thing in one sitting since most matcha bars end that way in my hands.

The milk chocolate hemp bar is made up of cocoa beans from Ecuador, cane sugar from Brazil, help seeds from the United States and cocoa butter from Tanzania. I remember sampling this bar at the D.C. Chocolate Festival as well and I was intrigued in trying a chocolate bar with hemp in it for the first time. I’m not familiar with the flavor of hemp and before people go all crazy, a quick Google search shows that though hemp is a variety of cannabis it is NOT the same as marijuana and it lacks THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which causes the psychological effects that marijuana has on its users. Go to this website and read the differences for yourself if you’re getting worked up.

I got a subtle herby smell and chocolaty creaminess. River Sea’s website describes this bar as “fudgy, nutty, nourishing and rich”. I definitely experience a fudgy texture though more of a roasted than nutty flavor. If the flavor is viewed as nutty, it would be like roasted walnuts. There is a subtle herby flavor going on in the background as well. I would actually be interested in trying hemp in a dark chocolate.

The 72% bar consists of cocoa beans from Tanzania, cane sugar from Brazil and cocoa butter from Ecuador. Their website says the bar is “made from Kokoa Kamili Certified Organic Cacao Beans and then roasted using our Alchemist Roast”. My guess is that they referred to John Nanci’s Chocolate Alchemist posts (such as this one) to learn about roasting cocoa/cacao beans, but there aren’t any other specifics about what Alchemist Roast means.

The flavor notes are listed as cherry, coffee and lemon. The scent reminds me of jerky with roasted notes, but once my bite started to melt I could see why River Sea chose those flavor notes. It does seem like a fruity, roasted flavor combo with a slight touch of acidity. As my bite melted further, I was reminded of woody flavors, like a finished wood table, and tobacco.

While the match bar will certainly not last long in my hands, I’ll be taking my time with the other two bars. The hemp and the flavor combo of the 72% Tanzanian bars were different for my palate in a good way. I’m looking forward to trying more of River Sea’s bars in the future!

River Sea Chocolates: Made in Sterling, VA

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

Puna Chocolate

After hearing and briefly meeting the chocolate makers behind Puna Chocolate during the D.C. Chocolate Festival, I had to order some of their bars. I didn’t have time to purchase any in person, so I placed a couple of orders for their half-size bars online.

Despite being based out of Wauconda, IL, Puna Chocolate owns a cacao farm in Puna, Hawaii. As mentioned on the back of their plain 70% bar, Puna first planted cacao in the Puna District in 2012. Also mentioned on the packaging is the reason why Hawaii is the only state where cacao can both grow and produce cacao is due to the volcanic soil and tropical climate. Proceeds go toward supporting Hawaiian agriculture.

I’m going to start with tasting Puna’s plain 70% dark chocolate. The scent was wonderful and seemed to be a mixture of fruity/berry and nutty. The flavor exploded in my mouth of fruitiness and nuttiness. While I’m tasting, the screen door is open and I’m listening to the rain fall outside. My memories took me back to the time when I was visiting a rural part of Dominican Republic and I was thinking of the wonderful smell of being surrounded by tropical trees and trying local sweet fruit. I loved this bar!

The cashews and Hawaiian sea salt bar smelled like the plain 70% bar but it was chomp-friendly with delicious cashews and plenty of sea salt. Besides the cashews the sea salt gave a light crunchy texture. It’s a good snacking bar combining two healthy things: nuts and chocolate 🙂

See the pictures above for the pepper and spice ingredients as well as the interesting description for the The Kilauea Volcano Style bar. I could smell and taste the spice medley. It took a little bit of time but eventually my mouth was on fire. The crunchy nibs were helpful in distracting me from the burn. It’s not for the weak of heart but it’s also not too hot. At the end I experienced not just the heat but I could taste the Aleppo pepper, which was nice.

The back of the packaging says, “Fresh golden Macadamia Nuts are roasted to a gentle nutty crunch and combined with crispy coconut flakes for a sweet and salty pairing.” Coconut was forefront in scent and flavor but I could taste macadamia in the background. I find coconut to be relatively savory and combined with the savory roasted macadamia nuts, the sweet and salty combo had more of a subtle saltiness. This was still a delicious combination!

I love coffee + chocolate combinations! Also my brother has visited Kona multiple times and loves Kona coffee, so this made me think of him. The bar had a light fruity scent but the flavor was coffee, nibby (from the nibs), and fruity. Since I’m trying this on a rainy day this bar helped me wake up. It was like consuming a cup of cold brew coffee with a fruity aftertaste. I liked this bar!

The back of the Horchata bar says that this dark milk bar contains less sugar than the 70% dark bar and the dairy used is sourced from the midwest. The flavor was chocolaty with milk creaminess and a touch of cinnamon. The texture of the crispy rice was light. The spiciness of this bar was minimal so it’s perfect for those who have a low spice tolerance but enjoy a sweeter chocolate bar. I could easily eat this bar in one sitting, but I’ve promised to share this with a fellow chocoholic.

The scent of rose and pistachio from the Rose Cardamom Pistachio bar had a calming affect. The rose was the most obvious flavor. I could taste the cardamom as well, which was never overpowering. The pistachio gave a nice light, crunchy texture. A great bar for winding down from a busy day!

To make this Honey Wine Berry bar, Puna let raspberries soak in wine then dried and pressed them into the chocolate. I could smell the raspberries and sweetness of honey. Right away I was in love with this bar! The sweetness of the honey and chocolate nicely balanced out the touch of tartness from the wine raspberries. I could definitely see myself enjoying a full sized version of this bar.

Out of the bars I tried, my top favorites are the Honey Wine Berry, 70% plain, Kona Coffee with Nibs, and Rose Cardamom Pistachio. The Honey Wine Berry might be my number one favorite out of the ones I just listed.

Puna Chocolate: Cacao grown in Hawaii, Bars made in Wauconda, IL

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

 

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