Search results: "Potomac Chocolate" (Page 1 of 2)

Potomac Chocolate – Sea Salt Caramel Bonbons

We’re not long past the D.C. Chocolate Festival at this point and while there, I made sure to stop by and say hi to a couple of makers who I knew and meet several who were new faces for the D.C. area. One of the familiar faces I said hi to was Ben Rasmussen of Potomac Chocolate. Ben is one of the few chocolate makers based out of Virginia, and he recently was able to fulfill his Kickstarter for a new print press, roaster and to create a new origin bar. If you want to learn more about the goals of his Kickstarter and for updates on how he’s doing with his equipment, go here!

I’ve shared several of Ben’s bars in the past here on Time To Eat Chocolate, but I heard rumors of his making bonbons. They’re not available on his website and I was starting to mentally accept that I might never try them, but thank goodness they were being sold at the Festival! While visiting his table, a group of other customers and I got to each sample a sea salt bonbon. Believe it or not, we all had the same reaction of, “Wow! This is good!” So of course I had to bring a box home ­čÖé

I experienced a flood of sweetness from the caramel, deep cocoa flavor that seemed naturally fruity (I forgot to ask Ben which chocolate he used for the shell) and a touch of sea salt. Pretty much everyone knows what sea salt caramels are like, so I there’s not much I can say except that these are addictive! If in the future these are sold in larger quantities, I’ll be getting one for myself to binge eat on a relaxing day ­čÖé

Potomac Chocolate: Made in Woodbridge, VA

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. 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.

 

Potomac Chocolate

Recently Ben Rasmussen, the chocolate maker behind Potomac Chocolate, released two new bars that I’m excited to share here! Thankfully I had the chance to stop by The Chocolate House (a great chocolate shop in D.C. if you’ve never been there) where Ben was holding a chocolate tasting. It’s awesome that The Chocolate House holds a tasting for Potomac Chocolate every time he releases new bars!

On the back of the bar you can see some texture from the sourdough bread crumbs mixed into the chocolate.

I was really excited to see that Ben had made a sourdough bread bar because bread in chocolate is not a common combination. Pump Street is the only chocolate maker I know of who has included sourdough bread in one of their bars. Theo made a bar with bread in it as well (you can read my experience trying that┬áhere). I could smell salt and “breadyness” from this bar. I first tasted the sea salt with a touch of fruitiness from the chocolate followed by the light crunchy texture of sourdough bread crumbs. The fruity flavor of the chocolate developed more as my bite melted. The bread crumbs were evenly distributed through the bar, which is great because it meant every bite contained the same textural experience. A touch of citrus developed toward the end of my bite and I was left with the aftertaste of sourdough bread. I really liked this bar because bread and chocolate are a great combination to begin with (think of those chocolate croissants) and the light texture of the crumbs is very pleasant.

It was also exciting to see Ben combine cinnamon with chili because I also feel like this combination is not as commonly found either. Chili in dark chocolate is popular, but I don’t often see cinnamon being used. Undone Chocolate and Olive and Sinclair are the only two chocolate makers I can think of from the top of my head whose bars I’ve tried with this kind of combination, and it’s nice to see another chocolate maker adding this flavor combination to their chocolate bar line. The scent of cinnamon was stronger in this bar than the chili. I also tasted the cinnamon first quickly followed by the chili as it warmed up while my bite melted. There seemed to be a combination of sweet and savoriness going on as the cinnamon, chili and fruity chocolate flavors swirled together. Though my mouth could feel the heat, it wasn’t like being punched in the face.

I definitely recommend these bars because both flavor combinations are not common and if you’re open to an adventure flavor-wise, you definitely need to give these a try! I also really enjoyed the textural experience of the sourdough bread bar. And with fall and winter coming up, I can also see the cinnamon + chili bar being appropriate for those seasons.

Potomac Chocolate: Made in Woodbridge, VA

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.

Potomac Chocolate Holiday Bar and Others

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For this season of trying holiday bars, I definitely wanted to see what was being made locally. When Ben Rasmussen of Potomac Chocolate announced that he was in the process of making a peppermint bar well before the holiday season even began, I knew I had to get my hands on one of them!

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Peppermint

This bar clearly smelled like candy cane and there was maybe some caramel-like scent from the chocolate itself. I definitely could smell the cocoa-ness of the chocolate. With the peppermint side down on the tongue, I first tasted the peppermint and a bit of earthiness and citrus from the chocolate itself. As my bite melted, the earthiness and citrus flavor increased. My bite ended with earthiness. The boyfriend said this bar was more bitter than most peppermint chocolates he’s tried and I agree. I can see how the earthy flavor of the chocolate balanced out the sweetness of the peppermint. I’m a bit surprised. Usually chocolates I’ve had with the cacao originating from Dominican Republic are fruity in flavor. Maybe the peppermint in this bar made it taste darker than usual. I tried this chocolate again a week later and that time I tasted more citrus than earthy flavors from the chocolate itself.

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Cuyagua, Venezuela 70%

This one smelled bright and fruity. The back of the bar mentioned tasting notes of orange and spice. The orange hit my taste buds first followed by the warming up of spices. The two mingled together midway through my bite and reminded me a bit like gingerbread but without the ginger and nutmeg, or like cranberry orange muffins… maybe that’s because I just ate such muffins. This bar with the citrus and spices could also made a good holiday bar now that I think of it! Oranges and spices are usually paired together for the holiday season, right? I liked this bar!

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Upala, Costa Rica 70%

The packaging on this bar listed the tasting notes as caramel, nut and red fruit. It smelled astringent and I could barely detect the scent of caramel. I tasted the caramel and slight astringency first followed by some nuttiness. The astringency remained as my bite melted, and it wasn’t until toward the end that I was able to taste some of the red fruit notes, but it was very subtle. I still tasted astringency in the aftertaste with some caramel flavor. The boyfriend liked this bar.

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Duarte, Dominican Republic 70%

The packaging said this bar had a rich chocolate flavor with notes of red fruit. I smelled the very ,very subtle scent of red fruits and “rich chocolate”. The flavor at first reminded me of sweet, rich brownies. The red fruit flavor started to develop as my bite melted and reminded me of strawberries. I usually taste something like raspberries for red fruits, but strawberries was refreshing. My bite pretty much maintained the strawberry-like flavor with the rich brownie chocolatey-ness. The boyfriend said the chocolate reminded him of fudge and could taste the red fruit flavor as well. I liked this bar a lot! I tend to like chocolates with Dominican Republic cacao because of their fruity flavor.

Potomac Chocolate: Made in Woodbridge, VA

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.

 

Potomac Chocolate Tasting

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A couple of weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Ben Rasmussen, the creator and chocolate maker of Potomac Chocolate. Jane from J. Chocolatier was hosting a chocolate tasting at her shop featuring his bars, and it provided a great time to chat one-on-one with Ben.

I brought my boyfriend and a friend along as both were equally curious and excited as much as I was. We had a wonderful time chatting about how Ben somehow manages to have a family life, work a full time job, make chocolate as well as travel due to his business. He even managed to have time to make his own conching machine. Welded by his own hands, mathematically designed and all! What astounding dedication this man has for his craft!

I do want to add that Ben helped me be more open minded regarding acidity in chocolate bars. Usually I don’t like acidic flavors in my chocolate, but he said sometimes the maker does that on purpose as a part of their art. I’ll have to learn how to make my taste buds accept that so I can be more appreciative of what the maker is trying to accomplish!

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I had tried his 70% Dark + Coconut bar before and liked it a lot! This time I was able to try his Peru 70% bar, which he had described as tasting maybe like raisins and banana… and he was right! It became a quick favorite among my friends and I.

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The bar gave a nice loud snap when broken apart. I could smell raisin from the bar, and I could definitely taste raisin and banana-like notes in the chocolate. One of my friends commented that it was like a “punch in the mouth of various flavors.” The texture was very smooth and it was hard not to eat the whole thing in one sitting.

I’m looking forward to eventually trying all of Potomac Chocolate’s bars and hopefully I’ll be able to meet Ben again!

Potomac Chocolates: Made in Woodbridge, VA

www.potomacchocolate.com

 

 

Altus Chocolate

When I first picked up this bar at For the Love of Chocolate in Richmond, VA, I didn’t recognize the name at all and I thought they were a brand new chocolate maker based out of Lynchburg, VA. I had completely forgotten that they used to be called Cao Artisan Chocolate and they experienced a name change due to some shop in Florida already having claimed the same name.

If you want to learn more about Altus Chocolate’s beginnings, head to my first time trying their chocolate when a dear friend gave me a box of their chocolate with a helpful flavor guide. Since their website has been revamped, I’ve now learned that Altus can use honey, dates and maple syrup as natural sweeteners in their chocolate. I’ve heard of honey and syrup being used in place of cane sugar, but not dates!

I’m glad to see that Virginia is slowly gaining more craft/bean-t0-bar chocolate makers. We have Potomac Chocolate, Upchurch and Altus to date. And Altus now has a second location in Roanoke, VA! I hope to some day go to an Altus store in person and experience their lounge.

The interior of the packaging mentions that Altus uses dates, honey and maple when possible as sweeteners rather than just cane sugar. 

Description for what the name “Altus” means.

The front of the packaging lists the flavor of the bar as “light bright fruity notes of mango, peach and lemon with a gentle sweetness like wildflower honey”. The bar definitely smelled fruity. The initial flavor was slightly astringent with honey and bright fruity notes. I mostly taste mango and a touch of citrus, that lemon flavor mentioned in the description. My bite finished with not only bright fruitiness and the sweetness of honey, but nuttiness. A coworker tried this bar with me and said they definitely tasted citrus/lemon but that the texture seemed powdery to them. Personally I didn’t find the bar powdery but it had a fine gritty texture.

The same coworker also commented that the bar didn’t taste “dark”! This is something I’ve been gradually working on with some of my coworkers, especially those who think all dark chocolate is bitter. I’m hoping to pick up more Altus bars next time I stop at For the Love of Chocolate. Or maybe I’ll just have to take a trip to Lynchburg and visit one of their stores.

Altus Chocolate: Made in Lynchburg, VA

 

 

Fu Wan Chocolate

“Made in Taiwan?!” I stared at my screen to make sure I was reading it correctly. Yes, this bar is definitely made in Taiwan. Cocoa trees mainly grow 20 degrees and north and south of the equator, but just because a country falls within that band doesn’t mean we commonly see chocolate grown AND made there. (I say mainly because I’ve heard of a cocoa tree being grown in Chicago and Ben Rasmussen of Potomac Chocolate is currently monitoring the growth of his own little tree at home in Virginia.) Taiwan has very few bean to bar makers who make chocolate using their own cacao.

When I saw that Fu Wan was being sold by Cocoa Runners, I immediately placed an order since I saw another Instagramer share their bar and at that point you know it’s going to sell very quickly. By the time I got to Cocoa Runners’ website, only the Taiwan #1 62% bar was left in stock, though Fu Wan has other varieties. I’m even mailing half of my bar to a fellow chocoholic since they couldn’t get their hands on one in time.

Fu Wan started off as a resort but became Fu Wan Chocolate when the executive chef, Warren Hsu, met a cacao farmer while on a personal quest to find local ingredients. The Taiwanese government is encouraging cacao to be grown there to help repair the damage done by over farming betel nuts. Though farmers have been able to grow cacao there, the cocoa industry is still young in Taiwan. For a full story about Fu Wan, see Cocoa Runners’ description.

Beautiful packaging and unique in that the bar is hidden away rather than being the immediate focal point when opening the box.

Cocoa Runners describes this bar as having a subtle aroma with a warm spice and chocolatey flavor and a creamy texture. I smelled nutty and a touch of citrus from this bar. I tasted strong nuttiness with caramel and slight astringency. The nutty flavor was like hazelnuts and I experienced the creamy texture Cocoa Runners was talking about.

I really liked this bar! The creamy texture with the strong nutty notes made me think of hazelnut lattes, which sounds amazing at this moment since it’s chilly outside as I’m writing this. Hopefully Fu Wan will become more available in the future. One of their YouTube videos mentions seafood being used in their chocolate and I’m definitely curious about trying that the pink shrimp chocolate shown in the video!

Fu Wan Chocolate: Made in Taiwan

Chocolarder

I purchased this bar because it was made in Cornwall, England, and my brother has a special attachment to the area due to his spending some time there. He loved the people and the place, so I made sure he got to take a nice chunk of this chocolate when he last visited me.

What also made me interested was that this bar is made using gorse flower. I shared this with coworkers while tasting it and one of them looked up a photo of what the flower looked like. It’s much like a shrubbery! (Insert Monty Python jokes here…) According to the packaging, gorse flowers were “handpicked from around Cornwall’s rugged coastline and steeped in cocoa butter for several weeks to impart their heady scent”. A lot of details were included on the front of the packaging consisting of the grind length, conche time and ageing.

For those who don’t know, grinding is the process of breaking down the cocoa nibs to a smaller particle size so the chocolate bar in the end is smooth in texture and has a nice mouthfeel (if cocoa butter is added, that can also add to the nice mouthfeel). Conching is where the chocolate liquor, gained from grinding, is aerated so the chocolate loses some of it’s natural astringency via releasing volatile agents from the chocolate into the air. I remember learning from Ben Rasmussen of Potomac Chocolate that conching is a “flavor reducing” step. It makes sense since cocoa nibs taste very astringent and very full of flavor, yet after grinding followed by conching, the chocolate is more palateable. Ageing is another flavor-affecting step where I don’t fully understand the chemistry behind it, but here’s an article by Will of Wm. Chocolate for those who are curious.

This bar smelled like a field of flowers but the flavor of coconut was the most obvious besides floral. I did not taste any walnut but I could see why toffee was listed as a potential flavor even though the toffee flavor wasn’t as obvious to me. One of my coworkers who tried this bar with me said they were reminded of Charm School Chocolate since Charm School uses coconut milk in a lot of their bars.

I really liked this bar even though I’m not a huge fan of strong coconut flavors. I think the curious combination of coconut with floral was interesting. I’m now looking forward to trying more Chocolarder bars in the future!

Chocolarder: Made in Cornwall, 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.

Pump Street Bakery

All three of these Pump Street bars were courtesy of my mom, whose nearby Harmon’s store has an excellent stock of chocolate! She originally tried to send me the sourdough + sea salt and rye crumb, milk + sea salt bars during the summer, but they melted during transit and I attempted to re-temper one of the bars. My mom decided to send the same bars again, and later she mailed me the Honduras bread + butter bar, which I’m very excited to try!

What’s unique about Pump Street is that they make both bread and craft chocolate. I’ve said before that coffee, tea and berries make wonderful marriages with chocolate, and I hadn’t thought much about bread + chocolate until I had Potomac Chocolate’s toasted sourdough bread chocolate bar, which was amazing! With their strong bakery background, I strongly believe that they know exactly which breads to pair with single origin chocolate.

This bar is made using cacao from Ecuador, specifically the Hacienda Limon farm as listed on the packaging on the Pump Street website. You can read more about their description about the farm here, and I recommend it since it’s a good read, but what I find interesting is that this farm incorporated a pre-drying step to decrease acidity in the cocoa beans compared to when the beans were immediately fermented. The back of the packaging says that this bar is the second in their bakery series, and that the tasting notes are creamy chocolate with nuttiness and acidity from the rye bread. The bar smelled creamy and sour to me, like goat milk chocolate. I tasted sea salt with creaminess of the chocolate first. A slightly sour flavor developed as my bite melted and there was a pleasant crunchy texture from the rye crumbs. Toward the end I was able to taste nuttiness mixed with sea salt and that light sour flavor. I did not experience any astringency from this bar.

This bar uses the same cacao as the rye bar, though this time the back of the package listed malt flavor. The chocolate definitely had a malty scent. The flavor was also of malt, creaminess and with crunchy bits from the sourdough bread. As my bit melted, I experienced some bitterness with strong malt flavor. Toward the end I tasted only malt with some sea salt and nuttiness.

This bar is made with cacao from Honduras, specifically from the Finca Tres Mar├şas estate. The family that owns this property were the first to bring a cacao plantation to their local area. You can read more about their story here. The back of the packaging lists creamy and caramel notes for the chocolate and “malty, hot buttered toast,” which sounds delicious! This bar smelled malty and slightly buttery. The flavor was more buttery than malty, which I really enjoyed. I prefer malt as a light flavor than in-your-face. As my bite melted, the chocolate literally tasted like buttered toast. It was crazy! I could close my eyes and imagine myself eating it without the crunchy texture of toast.

Honestly hands down my favorite bar was the Honduras Bread & Butter bar because the flavor experience of the chocolate literally tasting like buttered toast was mind blowing. Even in the aftertaste I was thinking about it ­čÖé

Pump Street Bakery: Made in Orford, Suffolk, UK

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.

 

 

50 States: Virginia – Upchurch

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I’m going to make a confession… This isn’t my first time trying Upchurch. No, I don’t mean when I first reviewed them on here, I mean a time before that. I had just started writing Time To Eat Chocolate and my taste buds had not matured enough to appreciate craft chocolate, so at the time I didn’t quite know what to expect or how to properly taste chocolate. It’s now a year or so later, and I’m glad to give Upchurch another try!

I first heard about Upchurch through my sister, who had originally sent me three of their bars. Upchurch is the only chocolate maker I know of who is based out of Richmond. Had I known about them while I was attending college in Richmond, and had my palate been more refined as it is now, I would have been a loyal and regular customer!

According to their website, the name “Upchurch” was taken from┬áan old family name from one of the founders of the chocolate company in an effort to carry on the lineage when there was no one else to take the name. The hot air balloon picture on all of the bars symbolizes “carrying on,” and to enjoy the journey of getting to a destination. Additionally, hot air balloons will always land in┬áa different place than where it took off. I personally see it as a creative way of keeping the family name alive and strong in the upcoming years through a company where it will be associated with a pleasant item: chocolate!

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The tasting notes on this bar listed raspberries, fruit punch and lemon. It smelled faintly citrusy and like berries and the bar tasted citrusy and tart at first. The chocolate’s texture was a little gritty, but not as gritty as Taza’s chocolate. The chocolate melted relatively quickly on my tongue! The tartness disappeared halfway through my bite, but the citrus flavor remained as mellow fruity notes worked their way up. In the aftertaste I was left with that mellow fruitiness with a touch of citrus.

I liked this bar! I’m so glad I got to try Upchurch again with improved taste buds! Hopefully as I keep trying new chocolates my taste buds will continue to mature and be able to detect more subtle notes in chocolate.

Upchurch: Made in Richmond, VA

Other chocolate makers in Virginia:

Altus Chocolate

Frolic Chocolate

Potomac Chocolate

Shark Mountain Coffee

Tightrope Chocolate

Don’t forget to check out Eating the Chocolate Alphabet to see what state and chocolate maker Trish is covering next!

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

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