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Chocotenango – It’s getting hot in here!

As summer is drawing to a close, I couldn’t help but try a couple more of Chocotenango’s chocolate bars. I’ve already been hooked from the first time I tried his El Puro bar (that bar remains in my taste bud memories). If you haven’t heard of Chocotenango before, they are one of the few amazingly talented Washington, D.C., based chocolate makers that are local to me. I just realized that the two bars I got both contain spicy elements in them, so we’re heating things up before fall and cooler temperatures arrive!

If you want to learn more about Chocotenango and Ismael’s story for starting his chocolate making business, refer to some of my earlier posts. Otherwise, let’s jump into potentially setting our mouths on fire ­čÖé

Apparently Arabian Nights has been a crazy popular bar. I’ve seen it show up on Instagram from various chocoholics and all of them are singing praises. Arabian Nights is simply dark chocolate with cardamom. Specifically Dominican cacao with cardamom since Ismael only uses Dominican cacao as the base for all of his bars and bonbons. How could such a simple bar blow people away? Well, the scent is pretty delicious. I got a good whiff of cardamom spiciness when I opened up the packaging. There was a punch of cardamom flavor followed by sweetness and creaminess of the dark chocolate. Dark chocolate being creamy? That’s the only way I can describe the feeling of this chocolate as it’s melting on my tongue. The cardamom was not overwhelmingly spicy, but it was present enough that it kept my taste buds intrigued. I wasn’t able to taste any natural fruity flavors I usually taste in Ismael’s Dominican-based chocolate, but the smooth texture, sweetness and creaminess partnered well with the spicy cardamom that made me want to try more of this bar. I think I can see why people like it so much! The boyfriend said this bar reminded him of chai tea and he enjoyed the texture.

Next we’re trying Zanzibar, which contains nutmeg, sea salt and chili. Since this is a milk chocolate, I’m hoping to get a similar experience as I did with Arabian Nights having the creaminess of the chocolate balance out the spices. The nutmeg scent was prominent and reminded me of pumpkin pie (I’m drooling now). I tasted sea salt with nutmeg first followed by the creaminess of the milk chocolate and finally the heat of the the chili began to develop. I don’t think I can explain why, but the sea salt seems to help tie the nutmeg and chili together and the creaminess of the chocolate keeps my mouth from burning too much from the heat. I liked this bar a lot! There was an interesting balance of flavors and an overall good flavor story that developed as my bite melted. I feel like it’s so rare for me to find a spicy milk chocolate, and this bar helped feed my sweet tooth as well as my savory tooth all at once. I wish more chocolate makers would combine milk chocolate with spices since dark chocolate sometimes makes the flavor experience of strong herbs and spices too bitter. The boyfriend also tried this bar and said it had some gritty texture, but what he considered as “optimal grit.”

Ismael, once again I greatly enjoyed your chocolate! I hope to see him again in person when I can finally get myself to the Alexandria, VA, farmer’s market that takes place on Saturday mornings. I hope to eventually try the rest of his chocolate bars and see if any new bonbon flavors have come out.

Chocotenango: Made in Washington, D.C.

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.

 

Chocotenango Bonbons

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A huge┬áthanks to Islamel, who is the founder of Chocotenango, for letting me try these bonbons, including some new flavors that aren’t a part of his regular line of bonbon flavors!┬á

If you love eating chocolate, especially if the chocolate comes from a chocolate maker or store near you, I highly recommend reaching out and saying hello to them, even if you just want to say that you enjoy their products. I’m usually a pretty shy person, but lately I’ve begun to reach out to local chocolate makers and it’s been amazing and so encouraging to receive responses from them!

I had the chance to briefly meet up with Ismael at a farmer’s market in Bethesda, MD (he also attends the Old Town Alexandria, VA, farmer’s market on Saturdays) since I saw his Instagram posts on his bonbons in preparation for Mother’s Day.┬áIt was a great opportunity to see Ismael in person again and to grab some last minute gifts.

Ismael was excited to be working with some new flavor combinations for his bonbons and asked me to try a few out and let him know my thoughts. I wanted to share them on Time To Eat Chocolate because if any of these new flavors becomes a regular in Ismael’s line, then you could get a glimpse of what you’ll experience.

Before diving into these bonbons, I do want to note that they are made using Domincan cacao, which is the same that Ismael uses for his chocolate bars. If you want to learn more about Ismael and the story behind Chocotenango, you can read my Q&A with him here.

The praline filling of this rosewater bonbon had a cocoa-ey and light floral scent. Once it was melting in my mouth, that light floral scent blossomed and filled my mouth. The flavor reminded me of the scent of my favorite floral perfume. The rosewater flavor was light and refreshing, and it was never overwhelming. The praline itself was also airy and light. I really liked this bonbon and it’s perfect for spring/summer weather! If this becomes a regular flavor, I’ll want to get a box of these next time!

I see the little poppy seeds and thick caramel filling in this lemon poppy seed bonbon. I could definitely smell the sweet caramel inside, but my taste buds first tasted lemon. The lemon was a bit strong as though I had taken a sip of lemonade. The poppy seeds gave a nice light crunch. I wasn’t able to really taste the caramel inside due to the strong lemon flavor, but toward the end of my bite I was able to taste the toasted flavor of the poppy seeds once the lemon mellowed out.

The scent of mangoes greeted me as well as in flavor in this tropical bonbon. Unlike the lemon poppy seed bonbon, I was able to taste some of what looked like caramel filling alongside the mango. I could also taste the deep cocoa and fruity Dominican chocolate shell. The flavor of the shell reminded me of the El Puro bar I’ve tried by Ismael/Chocotenango. This was a nice marriage of naturally fruity cacao with added tropical fruity flavors!

The scent of coffee was strong in what looked like caramel filling in this coffee and cardamom bonbon. The flavor of coffee with the sweet caramel reminded me of a caramel latte. The coffee flavor was deep but the bitterness of the coffee was balanced out by the sweetness of the caramel. The hint of cardamom lingered in the background and was more obvious toward the end of my bite, along with a touch of fruitiness from the Dominican chocolate shell. I really liked the rich flavor story that unfolded! Very nice!

I could definitely smell ginger and sweetness of caramel from this yuzu and ginger bonbon. Yuzu is a Japanese fruit that looks sort of like a grapefruit. This would be the first time I’d be trying yuzu in chocolate and I was very excited as I enjoy trying new ingredients in chocolate. My bite started out with tasting mostly ginger and the bright yuzu. The ginger was a little sharp at first but then it dissipated along with the yuzu flavor. My bite ended with the cocoa flavor of the chocolate shell with some lingering fruitiness. I definitely liked the yuzu being present, and normally I don’t like ginger in chocolate, but this was very enjoyable!

If you don’t get the chance to see Ismael at the Old Town Alexandria or Bethesda farmer’s markets, you can also order his chocolate online here. You could also purchase his bars through Amazon. If you’ve tried his chocolate before, drop him an email or message on Instagram and let him know your thoughts!

Chocotenango: Made in Washington, D.C.

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. 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.

 

Chocotenango

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I first heard about Chocotenango when I went to the Fairfax Chocolate Festival in Vienna, VA, in 2016. During that festival, I remember seeing so many kid-friendly chocolates being sold. The only stall that really grabbed my attention and that I gravitated to was by Ismael, the founder and chocolate maker behind Chocotenango. He was very friendly and I walked away with several of his bonbons.┬áThis happened around the time when I first started writing Time To Eat Chocolate, and I’m very glad that I get to add Chocotenango to the list of local Washington, D.C., chocolate makers!

It wasn’t until a few months ago that I learned Ismael also made chocolate bars. While making an online order so I could send Trish of Eating the Chocolate Alphabet a bar to try, I got for myself the El Puro bar. It was hard not to choose just one bar since all of them were made using cacao from the Dominican Republic, which is my favorite for its fruity notes.

Ismael was very kind to answer some questions so I could learn more about the history of Chocotenango and why he chose to work specifically with cacao from the Dominican Republic.

Why was Washington, D.C., chosen as the city to base Chocotenango out of?

Chocotenango was originally born in Guatemala, where my wife and I lived for many years. My wife then found job in DC, so I followed her here. When I first came, I worked for a few years at the Four Seasons Hotel, but it was always my dream to reopen Chocotenango, which I did in 2013.

What inspired Ismael to pursue chocolate after studying and working in other aspects of being a chef?

Originally from Algeria, where our kitchen always was filled with interesting flavors, I moved to Boston with my wife and then on to Guatemala when my wife found a job in public health there. Having been a chef all of my adult life, and having studied both pastry arts and recieving my professional chef degree, I was seeking something to do in my new environment. When we moved to the touristy town of Antigua, I noticed that there were no chocolate shops despite the fact that cacao is grown in Guatemala. With my background in pastry, I decided to go for it, teaching myself how to make chocolate. Since then, I have studied under some of the best chocolatiers and have really honed my craft. But it all started on a whim.

Where did the name Chocotenango come from?

Chocotenango has its origins in Guatemala, where it first started. Tenango is a common ending for names of towns there, deriving from the Mayan language. It means the place of. So, Chocotenango is short for the place of chocolate.

The bonbons have unique, bright colors to them that are eye catching. Where does Ismael get inspiration for the molds and colors to use for the bonbons? On a related note, where does Ismael get inspiration for the chocolate bar flavors?

I’m lucky to have worked both as a savory and as a pastry chef. So, I have a wide variety of experiences when it comes to food. I always say, I don’t look for ingredients, they find me. If I am in a market and I see wasabi, for example, I will start thinking about how to make it into a delicious chocolate. I think about which other ingredients would compliment the flavor. For example, with wasabi, which is used mostly in Japanese cuisine, I would add something like yuzu, ginger and so on.

When it comes to colors and shapes for my chocolate, I like to get creative. I want my chocolates to look as they taste, vibrant, creative, bursting with flavor and texture.

Is it a blend or single origin cacao that is used for making the bonbons?

I use single origin chocolate from the Dominican Republic. I buy my organic cocoa beans from a farmer’s cooperative that pools beans from many small farms in the area. I visited the farm a year ago and loved meeting the farmers and seeing where my cacao comes from.

On Chocotenango’s website it looks like all of the chocolate bars are made with cacao from Dominican Republic. Is there a reason why only Dominican Republic cacao is being used so far?

I tried a wide variety of other beans from all over the world, but I personally like the beans from the Dominican Republic for a couple of reasons. First, they are great value for money – organic, tasty, yet affordable. Second, the flavor of the beans is fruity, a taste I personally like. And last, having visited the farms and met the farmers, I feel dedicated to supporting them.

Are there any new products or news coming up for Chocotenango?

I’m always experimenting with new products and while I always keep my range of flavors, I often come out with limited release bars or other products for sale for a limited time. As for news, I love seeing how my chocolate stacks up against the best chocolate in the world. So, I am once again entering the International Chocolate Awards competition. I have won 5 awards in the past two years, both bronze and silver, & World bronze but this year I am aiming for a gold!

Best of luck to Ismael when he enters the International Chocolate Awards competition and I will keeping an eye out for more limited release bars and new products by him!

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As expected, this bar smelled fruity and immediately tasted fruity, almost like a bright tropical fruitiness. There was also a touch of nuttiness or smokiness in the bar that I didn’t expect, but it wasn’t bad. My bite maintained that fruitiness with smoky/nuttiness all through way through into the aftertaste. I shared this bar with coworkers who all really enjoyed this chocolate. One of them, whose palate is much better than mine at detecting minute flavors, said this bar in their opinion was very balanced.

This bar did not last long whatsoever once I shared it with others. Ismael, you have not just mine, but also my coworkers’ approval for this bar! When my coworkers enjoy a chocolate I bring in, it’s even more amazing since they would not otherwise get craft chocolate for themselves and they mostly consume mass produced chocolate. What a way to help introduce them to craft chocolate than through the products of local chocolate makers!

Chocotenango: Made in Washington, D.C.

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.

 

Chocotenango

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These bonbons were found at the Chocolate Lover’s Festival in Fairfax, VA. They were created by Chocotenango, a local chocolate shop in Washington, D.C. I had initially forgotten the names/descriptions of these bonbons while I was tasting them, and it wasn’t until later that I looked to their website for some guidance. I had the help of my boyfriend to taste and guess what each bonbon flavor was beforehand.

Peanut Butter and Pistachio in milk choc

Peanut butter and pistachio in milk chocolate

This one definitely smelled nutty. The texture was pleasant as the ganache melted in my mouth and we could taste tiny bits of the peanuts and pistachios inside, which gave me the impression that the real stuff was used, not just flavoring or a jar of peanut butter. I would eat a boxful of these ­čÖé

Mint and Green tea?

Mint and green tea in dark chocolate

This smelled mainly of dark chocolate. I tasted more mint than the green tea. The flavorings were light and not overwhelming at all. The gananche was also melt-in-your-mouth.

Lemon and Poppy seed in milk choc

Lemon and poppyseed in milk chocolate

This actually smelled kind of buttery to me, like butterscotch. The flavor was definitely citrusy and sour. The filling itself was a tad sticky.

Coconut

Coconut in milk chocolate

This one had an earthy smell and slight sharpness to it. When I tried it, I had forgotten it was coconut, so I can’t say I recalled tasting any coconut in it. The ganache was smooth like the others, though!

Caramel?

Chili and caramel in dark chocolate

The one smelled and tasted like chili! The chili was as you’d expect, mild at first and then slowly flares up in your mouth.

My favorite was definitely the peanut butter and pistachio and milk chocolate ­čÖé

On their website, I like how Chocotenango says their bonbons are meant to have light flavorings. Just how I prefer my tea to be lightly steeped so I can appreciate the flavors, I’m glad I can enjoy┬átheir chocolate without being overwhelmed or having strong flavors put in my face.

I wish I had known about Chocotenango earlier! I hope to visit their shop and support them further in the future ­čÖé

Chocotenango: Made in D.C. (Read their story on their website! Chocotenango was founded in Guatemala.)

http://www.chocotenango.com/

What’s on my wall?

A while ago I posted on Instagram a picture of chocolate wrappers/boxes I had framed and hung on my wall. Several people asked me why I hung up the bars that I did, and that’s a very good question! Today I’m giving you a close up and my thoughts behind each picture frame.

Several of these bars I like because of personal experiences and you’ll get to know me more because several of these bars brought out memories. Not all of these bars blew me away with their flavor. I’ll give more details when I get to such bars. Remember, if everyone were to make their own chocolate wall, they would all be completely different because everyone has their own stories and experiences. The book “Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love” by Simran Sethi helped me understand that how we experience various foods is different based upon our personal stories and background.

We’re starting off with Beau Cacao’s 72% Serian Malaysia bar! What immediately attracted me was their appearance and eye for detail. Every inch of this bar, packaging and mold, screamed luxury and beauty. And it’s affordable at 8 British Pounds! If your friends aren’t blown away by other craft chocolate that you’ve been introducing them to, you can at least grab their attention with this bad boy. The reason why this bar is on my wall is for their unique appearance as well as the unique and exciting flavor combination. If you want to read more on my thoughts about this bar, go my post about Beau Cacao here.

One of my first coffee + chocolate bars by a craft chocolate maker was this Mocha bar by Hello Cocoa. I remember meeting one of the chocolate makers at the first D.C. Chocolate Festival and the guy was all smiles and so friendly. Since then, Hello Cocoa has generously allowed me to try all of their bars and I still hope to one day try their bonbons and truffles. This mocha bar has stayed on my mind even though I’ve tried it more than once and it showed me that I really like coffee/mocha in chocolate. If you want to read my previous posts on Hello Cocoa, go here.

The main reason why I’m partial to Glenmade is because they are based out of New Jersey, my home state where I was born and raised. They’re even based out of Hoboken, where I dreamed as a child I would one day live and work because I was attracted to the city life but understood NYC was crazy expensive (now I live in the metropolitan area of D.C.). As much flack as people give New Jersey, where I grew up played a large part of who I am today. I grew up in the western part of the state where there was a corn field behind my house and chickens running around in the backyard. I also really enjoyed the blackberry flavor I experienced with this Glenmade bar. You can read more of my thoughts and experience on Glenmade in my previous post on them here.

I had never experienced blueberries in chocolate until I tried Brasstown’s blueberry bar. I immediately fell in love and I’ve had this bar at least three times now! Brasstown has since changed their packaging, but I wish they had kept this old style. The texture of the box felt nice and the watercolor-looking picture of a blueberry bush reminded me of the countryside. My family used to grow blueberries when we lived in New Jersey. I wanted to preserve the old appearance of this bar. Gearharts and Kacau are the only other brands I’ve tried who have used blueberries in their chocolate, but none of them impressed me as much as Brasstown. If you want to read my first experience trying this bar, go here.

Upchurch is on my wall because they’re the only chocolate maker based out of Richmond, VA, the city of my alma mater. To be honest, I wasn’t in love with Richmond when I first started studying there. It took graduating, moving out of Virginia, revisiting Richmond multiple times and then learning that they had their own chocolate maker that helped me start to fall in love with it. Upchurch plans on changing their packaging, and even if the original wrapper was a quick design (learned through a conversation with Alex Brito), I like the simplicity of it. The parallel lines remind me of wallpaper in a southern home. If you want to learn more about the story behind Upchurch and my thoughts on their bars, check out my previous posts here.

Chocotenango is one of my local chocolate makers being one of the three based out of Washington, D.C. Ismael is friendly and approachable and I’ve enjoyed all of my conversations with him, whether in person or online. At the time of my writing this, I’ve been able to say hi to him at weekend farmer’s markets a few times where he has a table set up. Every time I speak with him, it’s more of my listening to him passionately talk about his craft and I love it! I always walk away feeling inspired and educated. I’m on a mission now to try all of his bars because I’ve enjoyed all of them! I was pleasantly surprised that my post on some of Ismael’s bonbons was helpful for a fellow chocoholic who couldn’t find much information on them otherwise. It’s so encouraging to hear my blog helping someone else! If you want to read more on Ismael and Chocotenango, check out my previous posts here.

Will Marx is so down to earth. I was impressed with how approachable and open he was to talk about anything chocolate related. He’s also been very generous to send me some of his silk cocoa butter so I could try my hand at retempering chocolate! Will informed me that the labeling on this package is not entirely correct, but don’t fret because I will replace this with another of his bars when I next make an order from him. Will has also made some interesting combinations, like when I got to try for the first time dried corn in chocolate. I’m definitely keeping an eye on Wm. Chocolate for new and exciting flavor combinations. You can read my previous posts on trying Will’s chocolate here.

Harper Macaw is another chocolate maker that is local to me and based out of Washington, D.C. Besides their mocha bar, this Amazon Rainforest bar is my favorite by them. I’ve enjoyed it at least three times and it was the first bar I tried that truly tasted like raisins to me. Any time I get the chance to purchase Harper Macaw, I throw this bar into my order. I have yet to take their factory tour and I really need to someday. If you want to learn more about other Harper Macaw bars that I’ve tried, check out my older posts here.

This bar is on my wall because I really like its texture. Thanks to Cacao Review, I later learned that the sugar in Amano bars is not ground down all the way, leaving nice larger chunks to crunch on. After my parents moved to Utah and I started learning about chocolate makers based out there, I was excited to try bars that were made local to my parents. Cacao Review is also based out of Utah ­čśë My mom has generously shared a lot of her chocolate with her friends out there. Many of those friends also enjoyed the texture of this bar and didn’t even know that Amano was in their state. To read more about other Amano bars I’ve tried, go here.

My first exposure to Amedei was through Instagram. My first purchase of their Chuao bar was at the first D.C. Chocolate Festival and I remember feeling very little confidence approaching their table since at the time I was still getting my feet wet with trying craft chocolate and Time To Eat Chocolate was still relatively new. I didn’t know how to relate to chocolate makers. After experiencing an Amedei chocolate tasting at The Chocolate House, I gained some confidence in learning how to taste chocolate, confidence in learning more about how chocolate was made and I learned more about Amedei’s story. Though the Chuao bar has been one of the most expensive bars I’ve purchased, it still stands as one of my favorite brands because of their complex flavor stories. Their chocolate hazelnut spread is amazing too! Choosing only one Amedei bar to frame was hard, but I chose their white chocolate pistachio bar because I had this thought that white chocolate was not chocolate at all, until Marisol at The Chocolate House told me it technically is (made with cocoa butter). The flavor of this bar and Marisol’s tip helped forever change the way I see and experience white chocolate. I’m now a believer, at least of white chocolate by craft chocolate makers ­čśë To see what other Amedei bars I’ve tried, go here.

I used to shy away from trying chocolate bars with chili or other strong spices in them because I didn’t really have a palate that could tolerate spice well. As I learned more about craft chocolate makers and trying their bars, I knew that I would have to eventually accept and be able to appreciate chili in chocolate. Cacao Prieto left a lasting impression because they were one of the very few subtle spicy bars that helped me get used to experiencing a burning sensation when eating chocolate. I also just really liked the flavor of this bar overall. To see more of my thoughts on this bar, check out my post┬áhere.

This Steelgrass bar is special to me not only because it’s grown and made in Hawaii, the only North American state where cacao can be grown, but because of the farm’s mission to help restore the natural beauty and plant life of their land before they experienced damage from WWII. In a ways it feels like a long time and very little time has passed since that war ended, and to see it come up again and learn how it has left a lasting effect on the Hawaiian islands opened my eyes to see the harm that war literally takes on land. I think it’s amazing that Steelgrass is attempting to restore the biodiversity of their island,┬áKauai, and to educate and encourage locals to help them with their mission. To see more of my thoughts on this bar, go here.

Durci caught my attention through their packaging. I’ve always enjoyed space-related images and this packaging fed that interest. I remember picking up this Taino 70% bar at Jane’s J. Chocolatier shop. She said not many people were purchasing the Durci bars she had on display and thought it was a shame. If Jane liked Durci, then I needed to try them! Sure enough, I also liked this bar and it is my top favorite Durci bar out of the six I’ve tried. To see more of my thoughts and why I like specifically the Taino bar, go here!

When Jane of J. Chocolatier had her shop in Georgetown, D.C., I used to stop by very often. Like, every weekend if not throughout the week. If I wasn’t getting her truffles, I was trying out the Francois Pralus bars she had on display. Unfortunately all of those bars I tried long before I started recording what brands and bars I had tasted, but this Chuao bar I didn’t recall seeing at J. Chocolatier. The square packaging was different from the rectangular shape of the other Pralus bars. To be honest, I wasn’t head over heels for the flavor of this bar.

This bar is on my wall because it reminds of the days when I would visit Georgetown and therefore J. Chocolatier often after work. J. Chocolatier was the first chocolate shop I had ever gone to that made their own confections. Before that, I had only ever been to For the Love of Chocolate where they sell a variety of chocolate products but don’t create any. The fact that J. Chocolatier was in Georgetown, an area filled with shopping and restaurants, and in a city, I experienced that feeling of, “Wow, I’m finally doing this!” kind of moment. It felt fancy and I had never been able to experience a feeling like that growing up in New Jersey or while attending college in Richmond. Since then, J. Chocolatier has moved out of Georgetown and she’s set up a pop-up shop near the East Market metro station. For my thoughts on the Francois Pralus bars I’ve tried, go here.

Remember back at the Amedei white chocolate + pistachio bar I said I used to not like white chocolate at all until that bar changed my life and perception of white chocolate? This Fruition strawberries and cream did the same thing. It was SO delicious that I ate all of it within an hour and had a very hard time sharing any of it with my boyfriend. This bar has remained in my memory and… you know what, it’s still in stock on Fruition’s website. I might just order a second bar. You also can read why this bar has stuck with me here.

Potomac Chocolate is another local chocolate maker to me, and even though Ben Rasmussen is planning on changing his packaging, I always enjoyed the minimal, clean appearance of his packaging and straightforward mold. The first bar I tried by him was the coconut one followed by the San Martin, Peru. I recently tried his sourdough bread and spice blend bars, which were also very good! I always enjoy supporting my local chocolate makers and I wish Ben the best as his business continues to grow. To see what other bars I’ve tried by Potomac Chocolate, go here.

Undone is another chocolate maker that is local to me and based out of Washington, D.C. Since I currently work in a research lab, I was really happy to learn that Adam came from a scientific background before diving into his own chocolate business. What makes this bar special to me was that I didn’t like chili or any hot spices in chocolate for a long time. As I mentioned for the Cacao Prieto Domincan Spice bar, I used to not enjoy spicy chocolate and this Undone bar was spicier than Dominican Spice. But this bar slowly grew on me and I’ve now bought it several times. I think because of the cinnamon and cardamom to add sweetness and other layers of spiciness, I started to learn to appreciate the slow burn of chili. I’m now more likely to try dark chocolate with various spices because of Undone. If you want to see what other Undone bars I’ve tried (and my favorite Bolivian Amazon that’s now discontinued ­čÖü ), go here.

Ritual’s Novo Coffee was another one of the first coffee + chocolate bars I had tried. Why is it on my wall? Simply because I like the minimalist depiction of tree and mountains. Also for some reason this bar has also just stuck with me as a bar I need to try again. I remember I wasn’t absolutely in love with it, but I want to give it a second chance now that my taste buds have had more time to mature. Seeing this on my wall reminds me that I need to try more Ritual bars at some point. To see what I originally thought about the Novo Coffee bar, go here.

Why is Amedei on my wall twice? Because I like them so much! I’ve definitely had their Toscano Red bar, like, probably five times or more. I think I’ve lost count! ­čÖé It’s addictive, delicious and one of my favorite combinations is berries in chocolate. I think out of every craft chocolate bar I’ve tried, this one is the most I’ve eaten. The packaging is also pretty, which doesn’t hurt. Seriously, you need to try this bar if you haven’t! To see why I rave over this bar, you can read my thoughts on it here.

When I first started my journey into trying craft chocolate, I kept seeing Dick Taylor all over Instagram. I had a hard time finding them sold in stores local to me, so I broke down and eventually made one of my first chocolate online orders around Christmas-time. I was curious about the maple and coconut combination. This was unique to me at the time, and I’m glad I tried it! I have purchased this bar least a couple of times now and I’ve enjoyed every bite. I was also intrigued by the story of the owners having been involved in the boat building business before making chocolate. I love it when I see chocolate makers allow previous career influences to be reflected in their bars or packaging. This is similar to Maverick, which is coming up soon. To see my thoughts on my this bar, go here.

Just like Amedei’s white chocolate + pistachio and Fruition’s strawberries and cream bars, La Naya’s white chocolate + pistachio + cocoa nibs bar also changed the way I had originally felt about white chocolate. This bar had something of a browned butter flavor to it that was addictive. One of my coworkers actually introduced me to La Naya through this bar when they purchased it during the second Washington D.C. Chocolate Festival (which I wasn’t able to attend). This bar left such a positive impression that I had to try the rest of the La Naya bars! La Naya was generous to share some of their products with me, which you can read about here.

These last three bars are hanging on another wall and I couldn’t fit them into my original photo at the very top of this post. The lighting was hitting the frames in a way that would cause a lot of glare (I was using natural light), so I had to take photos at an angle.

You know how I was mentioning that I love how chocolate makers allow other influences to be reflected in their chocolate or packaging? One of the Maverick chocolate maker’s background in aviation engineering is shown here and you can’t help but admire the vintage depictions of flight on each bar. The chocolate itself was also delicious. I actually recently revisited Bluprint Chocolatier where I first saw and purchased Maverick and I tried to convince my friends with me to try them as well ­čÖé To see my thoughts on this bar (it didn’t last long in my hands), go here.

I actually wanted to frame Solstice’s Wasatch bar because I fell in love with it, but that wrapper got destroyed after I shared it with others ­čÖü I had to use the Ecuador wrapper in its place. I’m planning on getting Wasatch again at some point in the future, though! I sent Solstice bars to my mother for Mother’s Day, and she also liked the Wasatch bar the most. Solstice was one of the first chocolate makers I tried who uses resealable wrappers and I really appreciated being able to ensure my chocolate stayed fresh in between bites. Potomac Chocolate is currently planning to make a change for resealable packaging and I fully support that effort! To see my thoughts on both the Wasatch and Ecuador bars, go here.

We end my wall tour with Akesson’s, which I couldn’t ignore. This bar I really liked and I remember I had a hard time sharing it. Yes, I could choose to keep a whole bar to myself, but I find more joy in sharing what makes me happy with others. After trying the 75% Criollo, I remember trying the 100% after hearing good reviews of it. My taste buds weren’t ready for 100% that day, but eventually I will revisit it and I hope I will appreciate it more! I recently picked up a completely different Akesson’s bar that I’ll be trying soon ­čśë To see why I liked the 75% Criollo, you can read my thoughts here.

And that’s it! If you’ve made it to this point, you have my gratitude for enduring the length of this tour ­čÖé Maybe you agree with some of the bars I hung up and maybe you don’t, but you can always make your own wall of bars and I would absolutely love to see what it looks like! I think a wall like this helps reflect personal tastes and stories that would otherwise not be shared.

 

 

Chocolate Makers From The 50 States

“50 States” was about trying one or two chocolate makers from (almost) all 50 Northern American states. Why? Because no one else has done it before! This was also the perfect excuse to try other bars and chocolate makers I hadn’t had before ­čÖé

When people think about chocolate, usually European chocolate comes to mind. But North America is the home of many, many chocolate makers, and that number keeps growing every year! Why not feature a handful of some the well known and lesser known chocolate makers per state?

Fellow chocolate blogger and chocolate lover, Trish, who writes the blog Eating The Chocolate Alphabet, joined me on the journey of trying chocolate bars from as many chocolate makers as we could per state. Not every state contained a chocolate maker, but hopefully one day that will change. Any state that doesn’t have a chocolate maker will be clearly listed as such, otherwise click on any state to see which chocolate maker we featured!

Feel free to leave a comment below if you know of other chocolate makers we might not yet know about!

Alabama – needs a chocolate maker!

Alaska – needs a chocolate maker!

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticut – needs a chocolate maker!

Delaware

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho – needs a chocolate maker!

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa – needs a chocolate maker!

Kansas – needs a chocolate maker!

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine – needs a chocolate maker!

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi┬á– needs a chocolate maker!

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York (as well as this one)

North Carolina

North Dakota┬á– needs a chocolate maker!

Ohio

Oklahoma┬á– needs a chocolate maker!

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island┬á– needs a chocolate maker!

South Carolina

South Dakota┬á– needs a chocolate maker!

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Vermont

Virginia

Washington

Washington, D.C.

West Virginia┬á– needs a chocolate maker!

Wisconsin

Wyoming┬á– needs a chocolate maker!

Harper Macaw

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Harper Macaw is one of the chocolate makers based out of Washington, D.C., and I’ve shared about their chocolate before on here, including some of their backstory, but this will be the first time I’m trying their 74% Atlantic Forest bar (the green one). I figured I haven’t had a chance to shine the spotlight on specifically their non-inclusion bars, so that’s what I’ll be covering! There are two non-inclusion bars that I’m missing here, and that’s their milk blend and dark blend bars, which I have yet to try. I really want to try their inclusion bars sometime as well, but that will have to wait.

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I’m starting with my favorite bar by Harper Macaw. The 77% Amazon Rainforest was the first bar I tried by them a year ago, and it has remained as one of my top favorite chocolate bars! The cacao for this bar specifically comes from the Tom├ę A├žu estate in Par├í, which is in the northern part of Brazil. The tasting notes on Harper Macaw’s website are listed as “earthy with dried fruit such as raisins.” The chocolate smells like and immediately tasted like raisins. The dried fruit flavor quickly developed and kind of reminded me of dried mangos. A mild astringency developed as my bite melted and then dissipated toward the end. The raisin flavor returned strongly at the end of my bite as well and┬álingered in the aftertaste.

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The cacao for the 74% Atlantic Forest bar comes from the Vale Do Juliana estate in Bahia, Brazil. The tasting notes for this bar are listed as toffee, licorice, peppercorn and that this bar is a “mystery.” Peppercorn is not one of my favorite flavors in chocolate, but today I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone. The peppercorn scent was strong but once it was on my tongue, I tasted sweetness and warmth of toffee. Then the peppercorn and licorice flavors kicked in. The peppercorn was surprisingly not as strong in flavor as I expected.┬áAll three flavors were balanced for the rest of my bite and into the aftertaste. I wasn’t sure if I would like this bar, but I’m glad to say that I do!

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The cacao for the 75% Atlantic Forest bar comes from the Manoel Lib├ónio Agricola estate in Bahia, Brazil. The tasting notes are listed as malt, tart cherries and white fruit. I don’t know what white fruit means and I’ve never seen that listed as a tasting note before. I definitely got a malt scent from this bar. Once the chocolate was on my tongue, I tasted tart cherries quickly followed by malt. Since I could taste two out of the three flavors listed, I was searching for whatever the white fruit flavor was. And I’m still confused what specifically I’m supposed to be tasting for that. Maybe it’s the general fruitiness of the chocolate halfway through my bite and toward the end.┬áThe malt and fruitiness lingered in the aftertaste.

I don’t think I can put into words as to why the blue 77% Amazon Rainforest bar is my favorite. It just is, and I’ve picked it up every time I get a chance to purchase some Harper Macaw. They┬árecently came out with a mini-bar pack featuring all 5 of their non-inclusion bars. Their chocolate drops are new to me as well. I imagine those will be awesome for snacking, baking and making drinking chocolate!

Trish from Eating the Chocolate Alphabet recently tried these same three bars herself and had a different palate experience than I did! You can read her thoughts here.

Of course since Time To Eat Chocolate likes to support locally made metro D.C. area based chocolate makers, I find it hilarious that Harper Macaw has a line of politically themed bars! It’s so fitting. I have yet to try any of them, but I definitely will in the future and share about it on here. You can order them online if you want to try them before I do!

Harper Macaw: Made in Washington, D.C.

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.

Chocolate Brands I’ve Tried

Since my blog has been a personal log of what chocolates I’ve tried, many times while I’m writing a post I’ll look back to Time To Eat Chocolate myself to recall if I’ve tried a specific chocolate brand or company before. The search tool has been very helpful, but I figured it’s time to keep an updated list on what brands I’ve tried. Looking over this list, I’ve tried a huge range of grocery store to craft chocolate. I’ve noticed my style of writing and my taste buds have changed since my first post. I’m looking forward to seeing how this blog and my palate develop over time ­čÖé

Akesson’s

Alter Eco

Amano

Amedei

Antidote

Baci

Beau Cacao

Bixby

Blue Bandana/Lake Champlain

Bluprint Chocolatier

Brasstown

Brookside

Burke Mountain Confections

Butlers

Cacao Prieto

Canada True

Cao Artisan Chocolate

Castronovo

Cavalier

Cellar Door

Charm School Chocolate

Christopher Elbow

Chocolate Alchemist

Chocolate Con Amor

Chocolate Fusion

Chocolove

Chocotenango

Chouquette

Chuao

Cocoa Vienna

Coco Sala

Commonwealth Joe

Cote D’Or

Cultura

Dandelion

Double Premium Confections

Dagoba

Damak

Dancing Lion

De Ruijter

Dick Taylor

Dilettante

Divine

Dolfin

Dove

Droste

Durci

Dylan’s Candy Bar

El Ceibo

Endangered Species

Enna Chocolate

Equal Exchange Chocolates

Fine & Raw

Francois Pralus

French Broad

Fruition

Gearhart’s

Ghyslain

Glennmade

Godiva

Good Health Cocoa

Green & Black’s

Guittard

Hammond’s

Harper Macaw

Harry and David

Hawaiian Chocolate

Hello Cocoa

Heritage Chocolates

Hotel Chocolat

Hu

Icelandic Chocolate

Ikea Brand Chocolate

Jacques Torres

J. Chocolatier

Jcoco

John & Kira’s

Justin’s Organic

Kacau

KYYA

Kakawa Chocolate House

Karam Bitter

Kinder

Lake Champlain

La Naya

Letterpress

Lily’s

Madecasse

Madre

Manoa

Map

Marou

Mars Bar

Mast Brothers

Maverick

Max Brenner

Meiji

Merci

Michel Cluizel

Milka

Moonstruck

My Chocolate Shoppe

Nathan Miller

Neuhaus

NibMor

Ocho

Olive & Sinclair

Omnom

Ovation (chocolate orange)

Pacari

Parliament

Pascha

Patric

Perugina

Potomac Chocolate

Prestat

Raaka

Ranger

Ritter Sport

Ritual

Rococo

Royal Chocolates

Salazon

Sanders

Scharffen Berger

Schogetten

Schwarze Herren

Shameless Chef

Seattle Chocolates

Seed and Bean

Sirene

Solstice

Southern Artisan Chocolate

SPAGnVOLA

SRSLY Chocolate

Steelgrass Farm

Steven Howard

Sucre

Taza

TCHO

The Chocolate Conspiracy

Theo

Toblerone

Twenty-Four Blackbirds

Undone

Upchurch

Vanini

Vavako

Videri

Violet Sky

Virginia Chocolate Company

Vivel

Vosges Haut Chocolat

Williams Bennett

Wm. Chocolate

York’s Chocolate Story

Yves Thuries

Zoe’s

What’s Around Washington, D.C.?

Part of my purpose for this blog is to help bring attention to what chocolate makers, chocolatiers and shops are around the metro Washington, D.C., area. So much attention is given to politics and yes, we’re the nation’s capital, but we have so much more to offer!

This page is a work in progress. As my blog grows and as time allows,┬áI will be re-trying chocolate products from these brands and shops. I’ve had chocolate from all of these places before, but that was before I started this blog.

If you are searching for craft chocolate and bean-to-bar chocolate makers:

Undone

Harper Macaw

Charm School Chocolate

Chocotenango

Salazon

SPAGnVOLA

Potomac Chocolate

If you are searching for chocolatiers and chocolate shops:

The Chocolate House – My favorite chocolate store to find a variety of great quality and bean-to-bar chocolates in one place!

Bl├╝print Chocolatiers

Artisan Confections

Fleurir Chocolates

J. Chocolatier

Cocoa Vienna

Zoe’s

Coco Sala

Chouquette

Whole Foods Run Part 2

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Once again, Whole Foods got the best of me. I like running there to grab lunch if I haven’t packed one for work, and I tend too – well, more like consciously – wander into the chocolate aisle to see what catches my eye and what my chocolate craving for the day points to. These are the bars that grabbed my attention…

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This bar was brand new when I saw it on the shelf. The bright coloring of the packaging and the fact that it had candied rose petals in it screamed, “Try me!!!” A friend recently told me that she loved candied rose petals, but that happened well after I had tried a bar by J. Chocolatier that contained them. This was a great opportunity to share with her such a chocolate bar!

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Honestly, I had to take a moment and just stare at the bar. It looks like spring personified in chocolate! And with all of the rain and cloudy skies we’ve been getting lately, this was perfect for brightening up the day. It took self control to not eat this bar right away. So I got a second one to share with my friend before taking pictures for this post ­čśÇ

This bar just smells sweet all over with a little bit of nuttiness from the pistachio. There was a light crunchy texture from the pistachios and a hard, sugary, crunchiness from the candied rose petals. They remind me of rock candy but a little softer on the teeth. The milk chocolate is sweet and lingers in the background while the candied rose petal takes center stage and the pistachio is like its assistant.

I’m very, very glad to say that one acquaintance in particular claims to not like chocolate (or they will just eat white chocolate), and they said they actually LIKED this bar! They said it was due to the candied rose petals, but hey, it’s a step in the right direction ­čśë I would say that I’d like to try these inclusions in dark chocolate if Sucr├ę ever makes it that way.

Sucr├ę: Made in New Orleans, Louisiana

www.shopsucre.com/chocolate

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I’m a big fan of Vosges, and they’ve never disappointed! I’ve actually tried their pomegranate and goji bar before, but it had been a long time. I like goji and chocolate together so it was time to have a reminder of how this bar tasted ­čÖé

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The chocolate smelled fruity, slightly sweet and dark and gave a very sharp snap. My first first bite began tasting a little salty, followed by smooth sweetness and tartness from the pomegranate and goji. There were tiny hard and chewy bits inside, and a hint of acidic flavor to the chocolate. The more I chewed on the chocolate, the more the acidity blended into bittersweet. This is a bar I’ll be sharing with coworkers to introduce them to something different, and I’ll be taking my time working through this bar ­čśë

Vosges: Made in Chicago, IL

www.vosgeschocolate.com

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I’ve probably tried all of the El Ceibo bars before, but again, it was a long time ago when that happened. I’ve seen El Ceibo at my local Whole Foods, and this specific one caught my eye. I had recently tried a bar by Chocotenango with cocoa nibs on it, so cocoa nibs must have been on my mind.

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When smelling the bar, I detected some fruity notes. My first bite was filled with saltiness, crunchiness from the cocoa nibs, bitterness and acidity from the chocolate. This one is a little too acidic for my tastes, but I do like the texture of the cocoa nibs.

El Ceibo: Produced in La Paz, Bolivia

www.elceibochocolate.com

I’ve noticed that over the past month I’ve been showing a preference for dark chocolate. I used to be absolutely in love with milk chocolate and I would inhale the stuff, but now I’m realizing that sometimes milk chocolate is too sweet for me. As I’m learning more about craft chocolate and that you only need cocoa and sugar to make a bar, I’m starting to accept and adjust my taste buds to a more bitter flavor palate in chocolate. I’m still not used to acidity and bitterness, but I’ll take it one step at a time!

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