Due to inspiration from Estelle Tracy’s “37 Chocolates” journey and the blog “Eating the Chocolate Alphabet”, I wondered if anyone had ever tried to cover chocolate makers from all 50 states in the United States. Unfortunately not all of our states contains a chocolate maker, but we have a good number of them and that number seems to keep growing every year. Trish from “Eating the Chocolate Alphabet” will be joining me on this adventure, so refer to her blog here for any of the states that won’t be featured on Time To Eat Chocolate!
Because part of the goal for Time To Eat Chocolate is to feature chocolate shops and chocolate makers around Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital, I felt like it would be right to kickstart this adventure with a chocolate maker that was approximately 30-40 minutes away from the White House that I had yet to cover on this blog. SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier is based out of Maryland with their first shop location being in Gaithersburg.
During the time I had bought this bar and these truffles from SPAGnVOLA, I had gone to their store two days in a row. On the first day, I learned that they had someone baking little chocolate cakes using their in-house chocolate. I immediately bought one, ended up having to share it with two coworkers and had to go back to SPAGnVOLA the next day to get a couple more cakes. After about a week, I had bought a total of five cakes from them. They’re that good!
Don’t be fooled by the word “chocolatier” in the title because if you were to take a tour of their factory below the store, you’d learn that they process their cacao beans in-house to become their well known chocolate and you’d be able to see their equipment for doing so. Their name was derived from what Dominican Republic and Haiti used to be called back in the 18th century as the island of Hispaniola. This makes sense since SPAGnVOLA gets their cacao from Dominican Republic.
The creators of SPAGnVOLA get their cacao from their own estate in the eastern part of Dominican Republic called Hato Mayor Del Rey which sits on mountain slopes. If you’re not able to visit SPAGnVOLA to take their factory tour, watch this video to see the creators behind the shop and be visually walked through the process of how their cacao is prepared starting with the tree.
During my most recent visit to SPAGnVOLA, they no longer had the Chocolat de la Dominique Dominica Nature Island bar available, but they usually have 70%, 75% and 80% bars near the register (they’re also seen in the background of the video I linked to above). On their website it says the Dominica bar is limited in supply, so grab it up if you get the chance!
This bar smelled sweet! My bite started off with a jolt of astringency but then quickly faded to sweet and subtle fruity flavors. The texture was very smooth and the chocolate melted easily in my mouth. The subtle fruity flavor remained throughout my bite. I liked this bar! It reminded me of SPAGnVOLA’s 70% bar which is very similar to this Dominica bar. I might be eating this whole bar in one or two sittings!
Whenever I bring coworkers with me to SPAGnVOLA, I try to convince them to pick up some bonbons and truffles. There’s a variety of flavors ranging from fruity to spicy, coffee and alcoholic flavors in their truffles and bonbons. I like seeing what’s new whenever I stop by. All of these truffles are part of SPAGnVOLA’s signature truffle collection.
I really like it when bonbons and truffles have a nut on top like this Amaretto truffle since they lend a nice big crunch when biting into the chocolate. This truffle definitely had an almond liquor flavor, but it was subtle and not overwhelming for my taste buds at all. I don’t like overly alcoholic tasting chocolates as I think it takes away from the chocolate.
The coffee bean on top of the Mocha truffle gave a nice sharp crunch. The ganache filling had a smooth texture but I was able to feel the tiny grittiness of ground up coffee inside. The coffee flavoring was gentle and strong enough to enjoy but not overwhelm the sweetness of the dark chocolate.
I can’t remember the full name of this truffle, but I remember it was hibiscus-something. It was one of the newer truffles as the website didn’t even have it listed. I also remember that when I came back on my second day in a row, this truffle had almost sold out. It had a pleasant light floral scent, and it tasted sweet and floral. It had something of caramel or honey flavoring to it as well with maybe a touch of sea salt. I really, really liked this truffle! I’m going to see if I can get more of them next time I stop by.
The Vienna Cinnamon truffle I’ve had a couple of time now because though I normally don’t like spicy chocolate, cinnamon might be my gateway to accepting chili and other hot, burning spices in my chocolate. I don’t know what the white pearl is on top, but I could smell and taste both vanilla and cinnamon in this truffle. It’s a very nice pair!
It had been a while since I had lavender with dark chocolate. Usually in the past when I’ve had a dark chocolate bar with lavender in it, the lavender was strong and a bit overwhelming. Here, it was a little strong too, but the sweetness from the ganache filling helped balance out the strong floral flavor. The purple bits on top were crunchy like rock candy.
Orchid Vanilla I had also tried and liked before. I could definitely smell vanilla but it wasn’t until I bit into the truffle that I tasted a subtle floral flavor. There was a nice balance of the floral to sweet vanilla flavoring.
Even though the Dominica bar by SPAGnVOLA might no longer be available, I highly recommend their 75% bar! I have yet to try their 80% bar, but I plan to at some point. I also really want to try their olive oil, caramel, rum and Tiffany & Emily collections, which seem to also be relatively new along with the pastry/baked goods section. Definitely try out those chocolate cakes if any are left in stock, because those seem to sell out quickly!
SPAGnVOLA: Made in Gaithersburg, MD
Make sure to stop by Trish’s “Eating the Chocolate Alphabet” to see the next 50 States update!
Other chocolate makers in Maryland:
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.