To represent Oregon, I was already planning on featuring Map Chocolate, but including Ranger Chocolate was a last second decision. I happened to find a couple of Ranger bars at Stock Provisions in Richmond, Virginia, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were also made in Oregon!
Ranger Chocolate was started in 2013 after the founders traveled to the Piura, Tumbes and San Martin regions of Peru to learn about farming practices. They’re currently focused on creating their bars using single origin beans from those three regions of Peru that they visited. Ranger Chocolate partnered with Trailhead Coffee Roasters in Portland to create the first coffee and chocolate tasting room so consumers could learn how to taste nuances in coffee and chocolate and build a community that appreciates those foods. That’s such an awesome idea to reach out and teach consumers about their products! I think Washington, D.C., could benefit from having a tasting room like that! 😉
“Piura” refers to the city in the northwestern part of Peru where the cacao for this bar originated. According to the packaging, the cacao specifically comes from the Alto Piura Vally where the rare white Criollo cacao can be found. The tasting notes are listed as “cocoa forward with truffle and a black cherry finish.” Online, though, the tasting notes for this bar are listed as “stone fruit and honeysuckle with a bold strawberry finish.” I’m going to follow along with what the packaging says.
I smelled cocoa, but the flavor of black cherry was upfront and the first thing I tasted. Deep truffle flavor with slight astringency lingered in the background. Toward the end of my bite, the truffle flavor came forward as the dominant flavor while the black cherry was subtle. Two of my friends also tried this bar and they also tasted predominantly black cherry.
Nord is a “department” of Haiti and lies in the northern part of the country. The area has a history of having the largest sugar plantations which provided a good economical source, but there’s not much information otherwise about Nord. The back of the packaging says that “Ranger is one of the first makers in the United States to produce chocolate from their first harvest.”
The tasting notes are listed as butterscotch, cream and apple. The scent was astringent, cocoa and fruity. I immediately tasted astringency with a touch of cream. The astringency kind of mellowed out toward the end but I barely tasted any butterscotch and I did not taste any apple. One of my friends tasted only butter (not butterscotch), and the other only tasted apple. Both also experienced strong astringency.
What I find really neat about Ranger Chocolate is that they have a “Wildcard” bar where the chocolate makers experiment with different types of cacao beans, roasting profiles and techniques as the cacao goes through the process of becoming a chocolate bar. To find more information about what Wildcard bars they’ve made, look here.
Ranger Chocolate: Made in Portland, OR
I’ve always wanted to try Map Chocolate since I’ve found their packaging and mold to be pretty and elegant. The fact that maps are printed onto the packaging is so fitting and unique! I first learned about them through Estelle Tracy, who tried them for her 37 Chocolates blog. Click here to check out her thoughts as well as her interview with the founder to learn more about Map Chocolate!
I like Map Chocolate’s description for this bar: “Fruitiness helps to brighten chocolate, but too much can be a harsh glare; earthiness can be helpful to ground the higher notes, but can also seem just plain heavy. A balanced chocolate lover’s chocolate is a nice respite.” In fact, the bar even smells faintly fruity and earthy. I tasted earthiness first quickly followed by a hint of fruit. As my bite melted, the fruit flavor was equivalent to the strength of earthiness. The chocolate melted slowly and evenly. I personally am guilty of preferring fruity chocolates since I find predominantly earthy chocolate to be too heavy for my palate. This was a great bar to experience both worlds!
The description for the Mt. Hood bar was no longer available on Map Chocolate’s website, but the ingredients list gave me some hints of what to expect.The front of the bar mentions coffee, but it’s not listed with the ingredients. The bar smelled very sweet and like cookies as well as coffee. The ingredients included biscotti, which in itself contained molasses and brown sugar. With the inclusion side down on my tongue, the chocolate tasted like coffee, bread, caramel, pie crust and slightly spicy. The biscotti bits gave a nice crunchy texture to the bar. A friend who is a coffee enthusiast also tried this bar and said it was a “coffee shop style” bar.
I’m so glad to see more chocolate bars using sesame! I love the warm scent and flavor of sesame. The bar had a nutty, savory scent. With the inclusion side down, I tasted a touch of salt, nuttiness from the black sesame and creaminess from the chocolate. The saltiness comes from the Maldon sea salt and black lava salt listed in the ingredients. This chocolate melted quickly but evenly. The sesame seeds gave a light crunch. I might be eating the rest of this bar within the next day or two 😉
If you’re interested in reading more reviews on Map Chocolate, including these three bars, Barbie van Horn has taken courses on chocolate tasting and was able to detect more flavors than I could. Check out her thoughts here!
Map Chocolate: Made in Eugene, OR
Make sure to head over to Eating the Chocolate Alphabet to see which state Trish will be covering next in our 50 States collaboration!
Other chocolate makers based out of Oregon are:
Lillie Belle Farms
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.