Search results: "Hello Cocoa"

Hello Cocoa

Preston from Hello Cocoa took on the challenge of sending me these chocolates during the first heat wave that hit the mid-Atlantic area, and though he did an excellent job with packing everything, USPS decided to leave the perishable package in the sun. Sadly the truffles did not do so well. I did not want to sample the truffles because while I let them sit around room temperature to re-solidify, I’m guessing some condensation stayed in the packaging and caused the truffles to grow mold. Preston, please don’t worry because I definitely want to try your truffles but I will wait until fall rolls around again! In the meantime, you can find Hello Cocoa’s truffles here and here.

Despite the outcome of the truffles, the bars miraculously survived! Only the Mocha bar showed some blooming, but I’ve tried and enjoyed this bar before. Some blooming will not prevent me from demolishing this bar ­čśë I’m going to taste the rest of the bars before I finish with my favorite Mocha bar.┬á┬áMy boyfriend joined me in sampling these chocolates and I’ll include his thoughts. We usually taste different flavors in chocolate, which is great for getting two different views and feedback.

If you want to read a bit about Hello Cocoa’s story, you can find more about them here┬áfrom when I first tried a couple of their bars!

74% Venezuala

This bar smelled bright and fruity. I tasted citrus and with a touch of astringency. Midway through my bite the chocolate tasted floral along with the citrus flavor. These two flavors lasted through the aftertaste. The boyfriend tasted cherries and tartness. The Hello Cocoa website lists the tasting notes as gardenia, light apple, strawberries and cream.

70% Dominican Republic

This bar had a strong fruity scent that reminded me of mangos. Throughout my bite I enjoyed the tropical fruitiness that I’ve usually experienced when tasting chocolate made with cacao from the Dominican Republic. The boyfriend said this bar tasted “milkier and brighter,” and like raspberries and pear. The flavor description Hello Cocoa uses is “bold, fruity flavor.”

Ooh La Lavender – 64% Dominican Republic + Lavender + Honey + Vanilla

The back of the packaging says that each lavender bar purchase helps support the I’Mindful Gives Back Foundation, which in turn teaches veterans, firefighters, police officers and other non-profit organizations about “awareness, compassion, non-judgment and emotional intelligence through the practice of mindfulness.”

The scent of lavender was strong from this bar. I first tasted the sweetness of honey followed by the lavender. Every once in a while there was a crunch from the cocoa nibs. I didn’t taste the vanilla until the end of my bite. What’s nice is that though lavender was the dominant flavor, it wasn’t overpowering my taste buds. The boyfriend tasted lavender, honey and vanilla. Honey and vanilla were very subtle for him. He liked the lavender being the dominant flavor.

57% Uganda

This bar had a cocoa-ey and earthy scent. I was pleasantly surprised that it tasted like coffee and cream! At the end of my bite it tasted a little nutty as well. The boyfriend said it tasted like a cappuccino to him. Coffee + chocolate are one of my favorite combinations, so this will be a contender with the Mocha bar as my favorite by Hello Cocoa. I won’t be surprised if after the tasting we finish the rest of this bar! Hello Cocoa’s tasting notes for this bar are coffee, toasted coconut and blackberry.

Spring Fever – 57% Ugandan Cocoa + Dried Apricots + Basil

I remember the first time I tried this bar was when we went to the first D.C. Chocolate Festival. My boyfriend and I sampled this bar and we were both amazed by the combination. The scent of basil was light.  I first tasted coffee (due to the Ugandan cocoa) before I detected basil. The basil started off subtle but increased in strength as my bite melted. It never overwhelmed my taste buds. The dried apricots gave a nice chewy texture and bits of fruity flavor. The boyfriend also liked the combination of apricot with basil.

Mocha – 52% Dark Milk Chocolate + Mama Carmen’s Black Apple Espresso

I’m finishing with what I usually refer to as my favorite bar by Hello Cocoa! It had an apple and deep espresso scent. The chocolate had creamy, strong espresso and subtle apple flavors. According to Hello Cocoa’s website, Mama Carmen’s is a local coffee shop and the chocolate is from the Dominican Republic. The boyfriend also liked this bar and said, “It tastes like real coffee rather than imaginary coffee” (referring to the Ugandan bar) ­čÖé

Will the Mocha bar remain as my favorite Hello Cocoa bar? I’m kind of torn now between the 57% Uganda, Spring Fever and Mocha bar. If I absolutely had to choose just one bar, though, I’m staying with the Mocha bar. I liked that it combined fruity, coffee and creamy flavors.

Thank you again, Preston, for the chance to try all of the Hello Cocoa bars! I will return for the truffles later in the year!

Hello Cocoa: Made in Fayetteville, AR

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.

50 States: Arkansas – Hello Cocoa

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I chose Hello Cocoa for Arkansas because the first time I had one of their bars it was the first time I tried basil in chocolate. I definitely recommend their Spring Fever bar if you can get a hold of it, but it was out of stock during the time I made my online order. The mocha bar, I can tell you right away, is absolutely delicious!

But first, here’s some background on Hello Cocoa. The company was started by three couples in August 2014. But before that happened, one of the co-founders, Charles, had spent one year learning the craft of chocolate making. Their goal of making chocolate was to connect with multiple communities around the world since they enjoy traveling and meeting new people. When they first started out, they only made two types of bars: 57% Dark Ugandan Forasetro Cocoa and 74% Dark Venezuelan Criollo Cocoa. Their name comes from saying a simple “hello” to greet people and the chocolate part is like giving a gift to a new friend.

Hello Cocoa quickly grew from a tiny company that sold about 100 bars a month to having a goal to sell their bars at larger stores that have multiple locations. They also want to collaborate with restaurants that can use their chocolate in their desserts. But like many other craft chocolate makers, they find joy out of connecting their customers with chocolate that originates from other cultural and geographical parts of the world.

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It’s totally out of season at this point, but I couldn’t resist trying the Harvest bar. Also since the Spring Fever bar was so popular that it sold out, this was a good excuse to try another seasonal bar by Hello Cocoa. It contains pumpkin seeds and dried cherries in 57% Ugandan cocoa. According to the back of the package, this bar has a “hint of spice.” The ingredients include not only the pumpkin seeds and dried cherries but pumpkin spice. I really like pumpkin spice! I could faintly smell and taste the spice at first. The spice flavor increased as my bite slowly melted. Halfway through my bite I could barely taste tartness from the cherries. The spice was never too strong and the “chocolateyness” of the bar was smooth and delicious.┬áThe pumpkin seeds gave a nice, light crunch to the chocolate and the cherries were chewy. This was a nice texture and flavor combination and definitely brought me mentally back to fall. When will pumpkin spice lattes come back?

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Just reading the description on the back of the Mocha bar made me drool. As I admitted earlier, I’ve already had this bar, but it’s always nice to revisit a chocolate you know you’ll enjoy!┬á The packaging says that this bar is “warm and creamy with Mama Carmen’s espresso swirled with milk into 52% dark Dominican Republic cocoa.” Mama Carmen’s is an espresso cafe based out of Fayetteville, Arkansas, just like Hello Cocoa. The bar definitely smelled like ground espresso. My taste buds were immediately washed over with espresso and creamy flavors. I’m not good at detecting flavor notes in coffee, but according to the front of the package, this bar uses specifically Mama Carmen’s Black Apple Espresso. The flavors didn’t evolve for me as my bite melted, but it definitely tasted like a cup of mocha in bar form. Very delicious and I’ll be taking this in to work with me tomorrow morning to help wake up!

As an additional note, I did end up taking both of these bars to work and I had a very hard time sharing them with coworkers. I definitely ate at least half of each of the bars ­čÖé

Make sure to head over to Eating the Chocolate Alphabet to see which state Trish will be covering next in our 50 States collaboration!

Hello Cocoa: Made in Fayetteville, AR

Other chocolate makers from Arkansas:

KYYA

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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.

 

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.

 

 

Rococo

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A huge thanks to Trish from Eating the Chocolate Alphabet for sharing this bar with me! I had never heard of frankincense in chocolate until I read her post on it, and now I get to try it too. Definitely check out her post because she has an excellent write-up about the bar, the ingredients used and you can see what she tasted.

Inside the box there was some backstory about how Rococo got started and their venture into eventually owning their own cocoa farm. Rococo was started in 1983 by a woman named Chantal, who was inspired by Willy Wonka to open her own chocolate shop. In 2014 she received an OBE from Buckingham Palace for her chocolate making skills, which means she’s an Officer in the Order of the British Empire. In 2002 Chantal started working with the Grenada Chocolate Company and eventually got her own cocoa farm, which is called Grococo.

Rococo has a single origin bar consisting of 66% Grenada Grococo. They also have several interesting combinations with their chocolate, including basil and Persian lime, orange marmalade, and floral violet all in dark chocolate. Their “Festive Artisan” bars include not only this frankincense and myrrh bar but Christmas pudding, morello cherry and gingerbread spice. All of those sound delicious!

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So, not only was I out of season earlier for trying Hello Cocoa’s Harvest bar with pumpkin seeds, but I’m out of season again trying this bar since the packaging says it’s a Christmas bar. A quick Google search said that myrrh is an herb and can be used to aid blood circulation, heal wounds, as a digestive aid and possibly as an anti-inflammatory agent. And since we know that chocolate is delicious, when it’s combined with myrrh it should be pretty awesome, right? ­čÖé┬áFrankincense can taste woody, medicinal and herby. Gold… well that just tasted metallic to me when I took a bite.

This bar smelled like oranges to me. It tasted like oranges and there was some kind of bitter, herby flavor. The chocolate itself was very smooth in texture and melted relatively quickly. I tasted more orange flavoring than anything throughout my bite. The aftertaste still consisted of some bitterness, herb and orange flavors. This was a very unique bar to try and I am glad that the orange flavor was there to help with the bitterness and balance out the herb flavoring. If you want to be adventurous, definitely give this bar a try!

Rococo: Made in London, England

 

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

Vavako

The first half of this post covers my first shipment from Vavako. Scroll down to see the second half of this post when Vavako re-sent the bars I had originally ordered (plus extras!) and for an updated version of my thoughts on their chocolate. 

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Vavako, we need to talk.

I was looking forward to trying some flavor combinations that I hadn’t tried before in chocolate, but my bars arrived sticky and not in good condition. A big thing I noted: there was no ice pack in sight when I opened the slim package that the bars arrived in. I don’t mind paying a few extra bucks to get an ice pack thrown into the package! But please don’t send out a package from the west coast knowing that it will go to the east coast during the summer months and assume the chocolate will be 100% perfect by the time it arrives.

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The extra two bars that you threw into my package? That was very generous! And I appreciate the extra gesture. The expiration date for all of the five bars I received was dated for March 2017. But I’m very sad to say that these two extra bars were very hard to break apart, dried up and it was hard to taste anything.

Once again, please take better care in sending your chocolate through the mail so your customers are happier with the quality of the chocolate!

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I had heard about Vavako before, which was why I wanted to try them. I knew that ordering chocolate during the summer would be a risk, but after my 6 pack of Durci chocolate came in great condition, I assumed I could continue ordering from other western states. That might have been a mistake as you could tell from my rant above.

Anyway, I wanted to try out some different flavor combinations in chocolate, and these bars by Vavako caught my eye. I’ve had basil in chocolate before when I tried Hello Cocoa’s Spring Fever bar, but basil and lemon? That would be new for me!

The chocolate smelled acidic, but once I put it in my mouth, I was able to immediately taste the lemon and basil, which seemed to be floating in the chocolate as gooey and sticky pockets at this point. The acidity of the chocolate seemed to be the strongest flavor midway through my bite, but then it mellowed out and became a bit sweeter with the basil flavoring coming forward. My bite finished with tartness from the lemon. The chocolate seemed dry, probably due to the blooming the occurred from its journey across the country.

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This bar smelled earthier and I could immediately taste the guava. Midway through my bite I could taste the warmth of anise. The chocolate seemed to have some tropical fruit notes in it as well, unless that was the guava I was tasting. The anise overall was more of a background than forefront flavor for me. This bar was less dry than the basil and lemon bar.

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The coffee and cardamom bar arrived in the best condition compared to everything else. I could smell and taste the coffee in this bar right away. With the coffee-side down on my tongue, the coffee seemed bright, acidic, fruity and a tad smoky. It lended some nice crunchy texture to the chocolate. The coffee seemed to overwhelm the chocolate flavors through the the middle part of my bite. Toward the end I was able to taste the chocolate more, which was smooth in texture and acidic in flavor with some fruity notes.

I wish I could have tried these chocolate bars in better condition. I think the guava and anise bar was my favorite. I’m used to tasting anise flavors in pho and I didn’t think I would like it in chocolate, but maybe because it wasn’t strong or overwhelming I didn’t mind it at all!

Updated thoughts on Vavako after receiving a second shipment of their bars…

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Vavako was quick to respond and reach out to me regarding the bars mentioned above when they heard about the condition they were received. They were kind in re-sending me the same bars. This time, ice packs were definitely included in the packaging and Vavako was very generous including nine┬áextra bars under another brand name! I will cover them in future posts. I’m blown away by their generosity! Vavako, thank you for listening to customers and for reaching out because it means a lot when companies respond to feedback!

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The Guava and Anise bar was a bit sticky when I unwrapped it, but the chocolate looked perfectly fine otherwise. The pieces broke apart with a clean snap. I could smell guava and sweetness from the chocolate itself. I first tasted tartness from the guava and fruitiness from the chocolate. The tartness from the guava remained throughout my bite. I couldn’t really taste anise until the very end. It was quite subtle, but I like anise when it’s subtle rather than when it’s overwhelming.

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The Basil and Lemon bar was sticky like the Guava and Anise bar, but it was also still in good condition with the same clean, sharp break when the pieces were broken apart. I could smell both basil and lemon. I first tasted tartness from the lemon followed by herbal basil flavor. As my bite melted, I tasted earthiness from the chocolate. The basil grew in strength and continued throughout the rest of my bite. The earthiness of the chocolate and lemon flavor also lingered until the end. I liked how the lemon remained throughout my bite. Ever since I tried Theo’s lemon + milk chocolate bar, I’ve more of an appreciation for lemon in chocolate ­čÖé This bar┬áreminded me of spring with the citrus and green herb combination. I liked it!

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From the Coffee and Cardamom bar, I could smell both the coffee and a slight hint of cardamom. I could immediately taste the strong flavor of coffee, which seemed bright and fruity on its own. The spiciness of cardamom was subtle in the background. There was a pleasant crunchy texture due to the coffee. The chocolate itself tasted acidic, but it brought out the fruitiness of the coffee. The acidity from the chocolate mellowed out at the end of my bite while fruitiness from the coffee lingered. The flavor combination seemed warm and very fall-like combining the cardamom spices with coffee (which I’ll need more of with the decrease in daylight). With the current changing of the seasons I’m looking forward to fall, so this would be one of those fall season bars for me ­čÖé

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The 77% and 60% bars were extras that Vavako originally included in my first order from them. Originally they were very dry, hard to break apart, and had bloomed badly. They look excellent this time around! Both gave a clean, sharp snap when broken apart. The 77% bar smelled earthy and it took a while to melt, but it was smooth in texture. It tasted earthy and a little acidic at first, and then grew in acidity as it melted. Partway through my bite I tasted red fruit notes. At the end it returned to earthy.

The 60% bar smelled sweet and tasted very sweet. It melted quicker than the 77% bar and tasted just like cherries! Can I make a cherry pie using this chocolate? The entire duration of my bite just tasted like cherries, and it was very pleasant and smooth in texture. This was my favorite out of all 5 of the bars with Basil and Lemon being the runner up.

Vavako: Made in Bellevue, WA

www.vavako.com

 

Other Chocolates Made in North America

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I love chocolate made in Europe, and for the longest time I thought that was the best stuff. I still do enjoy and rave about chocolate from the Netherlands, Germany, Japan and other places. But America has clearly been making noise in the chocolate world and teaching all those other countries that we have some weight to pull too. Unfortunately as Americans we still have the stigmatism that we only eat Hershey’s. I’m sure other fellow chocoholics and more adventurous chocolate consumers have been struggling to get their fellow coworkers, family and friends to “come to the dark side” (as I like to say) and branch out to craft chocolate or other brands that don’t cost $1 a bar. I hope we can continue to gently persuade others who haven’t made the dive yet learn that there is much more available within our own country that is worth trying!

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Though I’m born and brought up in New Jersey, had lived in Richmond, VA, for a few years and never understood the ways of “the South” (and still don’t), there is something simple yet comforting that just seems… southern. Like what you’d expect. And for some reason I get that warm southern feeling just by looking at the packaging of Brasstown. The box itself has texture to it and the picture on the front is simple yet nice to look at. It reminds me of a painting that I would see on the wall of a kitchen.

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The chocolate looks beautiful! And I love it I can see the inclusions from the outside. I was attracted to this bar because it had blueberry in it. I think blueberries in chocolate bars aren’t as common as they could be (compared to almonds, sea salt, raspberry, etc.) and it makes me sad because I think that blueberries + dark chocolate make a great combination.

I first tried a piece of the chocolate bar that did not include any blueberries in it. The chocolate hard a sharp snap when broken apart, and the texture was very smooth. I detected fruity notes as well a little bit of acidity, but it was very slight acidic in flavor. That’s the kind of acidity I personally prefer and can enjoy! I next tried a bite with the blueberries. The blueberries had a light chewy texture and their sweetness and tartness helped balance out any of the little acidic flavor there was in the dark chocolate. Very nice balance and combination!

Brasstown, I’m now officially a fan ­čÖé I absolutely love your blueberry bar!

Brasstown: Made in Brasstown, NC

brasstownchocolate.com

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My most recent trip to Philadelphia was a couple of years ago, and I’m sad I didn’t know about Chocolate Alchemist until now!!! I found out from their story on their website that a married couple are in charge of a local restaurant in the area and Chocolate Alchemist. My impression after reading their story is that Robert, who is the main force behind Chocolate Alchemist, is very outspoken in telling people there is a big difference between craft chocolate and “crap.”

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I have to say, this piece of chocolate is very small from what I’m used to. And because I was sharing it with my boyfriend, it was gone in an instant! This chocolate was lighter in flavor since it was made with milk, and the chocolate practically melted away in my mouth. The coconut and hazelnuts in the chocolate added some nice light, crunchy texture. My boyfriend said his bite consisted of mainly hazelnut, which made it hard for him to detect the chocolate flavors alone, but he enjoyed the chocolate nonetheless. I really like hazelnuts, so I wasn’t bothered by that ­čśë

Chocolate Alchemist: Made in Philadelphia, PA

www.sazonphilly.com

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Cacao Prieto uses beans from Dominican Republic to make all of their chocolate. Because I’ve visited a small cacao farm in D.R. before, I was especially excited to try their chocolate! I tried their Dominican Spice bar because it has a unique combination using cloves, cassia, nutmeg and cardamom for the spiciness.

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I really enjoyed admiring the crisp, clean lines of the chocolate itself, and the chocolate gave a sharp snap when broken apart. I could immediately detect the spicy flavors in the first bite. Usually I’m not into spicy (especially “hot spicy”) chocolate, but this is a very nice effect where your mouth isn’t burning at all. My boyfriend is totally fine with hot spicy bars, but he also really enjoyed the unique spice combination here. I really liked this bar!!! I’m also a fan now of Cacao Prieto ­čÖé

I hope to some day try their spiced hot chocolate when the seasons turn chilly again.

Cacao Prieto: Made in Brooklyn, NY

www.cacaoprieto.com

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One thing that drew me to Hello Cocoa (despite their having a table set up at the D.C. Chocolate Festival) was that that the guy manning the table (sadly I have forgotten his name) had a huge smile on his face and we very personable. My boyfriend and I were amazed that he would travel from as far as Arkansas to share Hello Cocoa. What dedication! Hello Cocoa’s website tells that story of three couples who started Hello Cocoa as a way to introduce chocolate lovers and the like to other “friends, lifestyles, cultures & landscapes around the world. And it all starts with a simple greeting, hello.”

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Mocha bar on the left, Spring Fever bar on the right.

I love the cute, simple style of their wrappers and layout for chocolate break points. I had to grab a Spring Fever bar by them because my boyfriend and I sampled a piece and were really intrigued. Apricot and basil in chocolate??? I’ve heard that herbs are difficult to work with in chocolate, and Hello Cocoa did an awesome job with the basil! In my first bite I first tasted the chewy sweetness of the dried apricots, followed by basil and then the dark chocolate hanging out in the background. The longer I chewed on my piece, the stronger the basil grew in flavor. But it was never overwhelming. I think the apricot was a really nice touch to balance the “herbiness” and earthiness of the dark chocolate.

According to the mocha bar, it contains “Mama Carmen’s Black Apple Espresso.” Though I couldn’t detect any apple flavors, I definitely smelled and tasted espresso in the chocolate! The flavor and scent was warming and made me feel like I was sitting at my favorite small local coffee shop. The grittiness of the coffee was balanced by the smooth and slight creaminess of the dark milk chocolate. I’ve basically fallen in love with all of the chocolate bars I’ve tried here ­čÖé┬á I personally think that coffee and chocolate make a great pairing and Hello Cocoa made an awesome marriage of the two. As an added note, I had some coworkers try this chocolate, and all of them liked it as well.

Hello Cocoa: Made in Fayetteville, AR

www.hellococoachocolate.com

 

 

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!

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.

 

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