Raaka – September First Nibs Selection

Well, once again I’m running late on this First Nibs Selection from Raaka since it’s now October and this selection is from September, but I’m very excited nonetheless to share these unique flavors because I’m glad to see more Japanese influences in chocolate! As a proud half-Japanese, I’m more than happy to partake in these interesting combinations 🙂

The first time I heard about mushrooms in chocolate was when I tried Vosges Haut Chocolat’s dark chocolate bar with reishi mushroom, which I’m sad I can no longer find sold at Whole Foods. In fact, the bar is possibly not being made anymore since the only trace I could find of it on Vosges’ website was in a recipe. Maybe this is a sign that the public is not ready to accept mushrooms in chocolate, which is why my admiration for Raaka has been increased. They took a huge risk and ran with it.

Their mushroom bar uses enokitake mushrooms, otherwise known as enoki mushrooms. I need to take a moment because enoki mushrooms are one of my FAVORITE! They are awesome in hot pot! If you haven’t had hot pot (no matter which style), you’re missing out! I love the warm feeling when having simmered meat and veggies in broth on a cold day, and my fiancé and I always, always, always choose enoki as one of our ingredients.

What I thought was very intriguing was that dashi was also listed on the front of this bar. The ingredients on the back include mirin, kombu and shiitake mushroom.  Mirin is a type of rice wine and has a light, sweet flavor. Kombu is a thick seaweed that can’t be simmered for too long or else it can give the dashi broth a bitter flavor. Traditionally dashi is prepared using bonito (fish) flakes and kombu.

Raaka’s explanation for this bar was that they prepared a vegetarian version of dashi. The broth was then infused (via steam) into the Congolese cacao nibs leaving a savory and subtle acidic flavor. The bars are then topped with dried enoki mushrooms for light flavor and texture. I’m very intrigued by Raaka’s vegetarian version of dashi! Sometimes I cheat and use instant dashi in place of kombu and bonito flakes (also our bonito flakes are now used as treats for our cat, Choco), but I’m going to have to give this a try!

The bar itself smelled chocolatey and kind of salty like dashi. Light astringency developed as my bite melted, but as Raaka described, something of subtle salty and savory flavor was also present. The dried enoki mushroom that peeled off in my piece gave a light chewy texture. The chocolate itself was chocolatey and sweet while the subtle astringent and savory flavors were in the background. My bite finished with one last sharpness in astringency before savoriness lasted in the aftertaste. I liked this bar a lot! I think the chocolatey flavor was dominant and helped balance out the astringency and savoriness in the bar. I’m otherwise just really happy that Raaka managed to include dashi in chocolate because that’s really neat!

When I saw that Raaka was including green tea in more of their bars, I was so happy! They had previously made bars using genmaicha and hojicha. This time they used genmaicha tea again infused into the cocoa butter and then mixed with earthy Congolese cocoa. Raaka’s description for this bar mentions that bancha green tea leaves and toasted brown rice are combined (making genmaicha) and contribute a nutty flavor to the bar. Puffed quinoa adds a crunchy texture.

Indeed the bar smelled earthy and nutty. As my bite melted, earthiness developed first quickly followed by a strong nutty flavor and smokiness. The toasted quinoa gave a light crunchy texture. The nutty and smoky flavors dominated halfway through my bite. At the end, it finished with a bit of astringency and earthy, smoky and nutty flavors. I really enjoyed the texture of this bar and the strong smoky and nutty flavors!

I’m going to have a really hard time sharing these bars if they even last enough to share. If I had to choose a favorite out of the two, I’m leaning toward the enokitake and dashi bar because I’m so intrigued that Raaka made such a chocolate bar exist. I’m already looking forward to my next First Nibs Selection from Raaka!

Raaka: Made in Brooklyn, NY

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.



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