Search results: "Wm. Chocolate"

Wm. Chocolate… With Corn!

When you think of inclusions in chocolate bars, what kind of food items do you think of? Maybe almonds, raspberries, sea salt, coffee or nibs?

Now think about what inclusions you’ve seen in bars that make you look twice at the label and think, “What?! That can go into chocolate?”

I used to be pretty conservative in my selection of inclusions in chocolate until I made a friend who loves “wild” chocolate combinations and my world was opened to craft chocolate showing me that the impossible is definitely possible.

I just had a double-take moment when I was thinking I wanted to try more of Will Marx’s chocolate (the found of Wm. Chocolate) and I saw that he had a bar with CORN in it! I couldn’t pass it up. How often do you see chocolate with corn in it? Never, until now.

This bar has not only corn, but ancho chile in it, so I’m really curious how this will taste. Will it remind me of texmex or Chipotle food? Since the last time I tried a couple of Will’s bars, I’ve noticed the packaging now has little interesting tidbits of information about the origin the cacao beans came from, which is really nice touch! This bar mentions that Papua New Guinea dries their cocoa by wood fire which gives a smoky flavor to the chocolate in the end.

The bar had a roasted, slightly smoky scent. I immediately tasted smokiness followed by a punch of spiciness from the chiles. What I appreciate is that the spiciness is definitely present, but it’s not overwhelming. It actually mellowed out further midway through my bite and the dried corn gave some crunchy texture. The appearance of the corn reminds of grilled corn on the cob. I was actually craving corn the other day, so this is actually perfect ­čÖé The corn flavor was very mild in flavor and subtle compared to the smokiness of the chocolate. I’m pleasantly surprised by this bar! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I would recommend it for those with adventurous palates!

For those with a more conservative palate, I next tried Will’s Dominican Republic bar. The educational bit on the back mentions that Rizek Cacao, a family based business from Santo Domingo, works mostly in the Duarte province and oversee the growth, processing and exporting of cocoa from the farms they look after. The tasting notes listed on the packaging are truffle, cream and marshmallow.┬áThe bar smelled slightly earthy and definitely like truffle. As my bite melted, I tasted mellow berry flavors mingled with sweetness, earthiness and light astringency. Toward the end of my bite the astringency mellowed out and tasted like truffle. The bar make me think of the fall season, and how that’s coming upon us soon with its deep, rich flavor combo.

If you want to learn more about Wm. Chocolate, check out Estelle Tracy’s interview with Will and you can see my thoughts on the first bars I tried by Will.

Wm. Chocolate: Made in Madison, WI

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.

 

Attempting to temper chocolate for the first time…

We all know that the summer months means taking a risk when ordering or mailing chocolate in hopes that it miraculously survives and doesn’t melt at any point of its journey. So many factors can affect the the chocolate from the time it leaves the seller to when it arrives at the doorstep of the customer. Unfortunately this late spring and summer have resulted in at least three of my packages of chocolate suffering due to the heat and due to USPS not placing my package at the doorstep but rather in the mailbox, which becomes an oven and a poor place to keep the chocolate until I can retrieve it.

I asked on Instagram for input on whether there were ways to somehow resuscitate chocolate that had melted. I got responses to retemper the chocolate from two chocolatiers. But… I’m a blogger, not a chocolate maker nor a chocolatier and I wasn’t sure what I would need to perform such a task. What if I needed to invest in some kind of large equipment to do this? So I turned to William Marx of Wm. Chocolate, who has been very patient and knowledgeable whenever I’ve asked him my chocolate questions. He agreed that my chocolate would need to be retempered, but he mentioned a product I had never heard of before and never knew existed that I could easily use.

Silk.

What is silk? It’s tempered cocoa butter! What makes it different from untempered cocoa butter is its crystal structure. According to Chocolate Alchemy, the crystal structure is Type V, which is pure and aggressive. A quick Google search says Type V crystals are a form of cubic closest packed (ccp) (or cubic closed packed or cubic close packed) structures where the atoms are packed together as tightly as possible so there is very little space between them. For a visual of what a ccp structure looks like, go here.

Will was very generous in mailing me some of his own silk to try out for retempering bloomed bars! I followed the Chocolate Alchemist’s instructions and watched this video in preparation for what I had to do. I also had to order an infrared thermometer and chocolate molds ahead of time.

These were the items I used for retempering.

Pardon the not-so-neat handwriting. This was the equation and my calculations for determining how much of the silk to use.

Measuring out the silk. Even though I needed 0.7g of silk, apparently the scale I used isn’t the most sensitive. The smallest amount it could weigh was 1g, so… thank goodness silk is pretty forgiving material!

I melted the bloomed bar using a double boiler. I don’t have a melanger.

Using the infrared thermometer, I monitored the temperature of the melted chocolate and waited for it to get to around 94 degrees. Then I added the silk, waited 2 minutes, stirred it again, placed it into the mold and tapped out air bubbles.

I was advised to try putting the chocolate in the fridge for 25 minutes to let it set.

After 25 minutes, the chocolate was still a little soft and the chocolate hadn’t fully pulled away from the mold. So I let it sit for another 25 minutes while checking it a couple of times.

After the second set of 25 minutes, the chocolate had fully pulled away from the mold and the bar easily fell out. There was some marring on the face, however I now have more respect for chocolate makers that can somehow make their bars look shiny and perfect straight out of the mold.

So which bar did I retemper? My mom was very kind to mail me some Pump Street Bakery chocolate. The first shipment arrived fully melted and bloomed. The second shipment thankfully seems to have arrived intact. After retempering, the bar still had a “bready” scent to it. I was worried that it would have absorbed food odors while setting in my fridge. Right out of the fridge, the bar had a nice, sharp snap. Though after sitting at room temperature for a few minutes it became soft. I was able to taste the sea salt, milkiness and crunch on the rye bread bits. I’ll have to compare this experience to when I taste the un-retempered version of this Pump Street bar.

Though the process overall was simple and easy to perform, I did encounter some issues. Even though I have a picture above showing the chocolate reaching 94 degrees before I added the silk, the entire bowl of melted chocolate wasn’t actually 94 degrees. Depending on where I aimed the thermometer, I would get anywhere from 88 to 90 and then finally 94 degrees. It was definitely not consistent. I’m not sure if I needed to boost the heat for the water for my double boiler, but the Chocolate Alchemist was correct in that my chocolate was thicker in consistency when it came time for molding since it probably wasn’t fully at 91 degrees at that specific step.

I think I need a new scale to weigh out the silk. Despite taring the scale and measuring both with and without the small plate, the scale still only read 1g. When I attempted to remove some of the silk to obtain 0.7g, the scale actually started to read a higher weight. I may look into purchasing a new more accurate and sensitive scale for future tempering projects. Usually in the lab (my day job) we have plastic “boats” to weigh chemical powders in, and I don’t have such material in my kitchen, but I might try using parchment paper instead (which I’d also have to get).

I need to explore my options for setting the retempered chocolate. I don’t want it becoming soft after sitting in room temperature in case I wanted to store it in a cabinet and taste it later for the blog. Though Will had another bit of advice in that if tempering was not an option, he would melt down the bloomed bar and taste the melted chocolate. It’s not ideal for determining the original snap of the bar, but you could still technically detect the flavors of the chocolate.

I’m otherwise happy with my first attempt at retempering chocolate and I’m excited to give a try again! I might purposefully force some bars to bloom to practice on ­čÖé

A big thank you again to Will from Wm. Chocolate for providing the silk, for answering my questions and for being supportive in a blogger attempting to temper! He is based out of Madison, Wisconsin, and if you haven’t tried his chocolate before, I definitely recommend giving it a go. I’ve tried a couple of his bars before and hope to get my hands on more of them in the future when temperatures outside are cool again.

 

50 States: New Hampshire – Enna Chocolate

Enna Chocolate was named after it’s creator and owner, Enna Grazier. Her background was in anthropology and photography, but she always liked chocolate and she had a great interest in the flavor profiles and economy behind chocolate. I like how she says in this article that the flavor profiles in a bar can reveal the chocolate maker’s preference for how they roast their beans. Also that chocolate is like apples because in the grocery store you can find a variety of apples with a variety of flavors due to different seeds and trees the apples come from.

The cacao for this bar came from the municipality Wampusirpi in Honduras. This sounds very familiar… Oh yeah! Wm. Chocolate also made a bar with cacao from this area!

The wrapper looked like an envelope. A very nice look!

Instructions on how to savor chocolate included with the bar.

The bar smelled earthy and nutty. For the majority of my bite the bar tasted earthy, though midway some nutty notes developed along with a touch of astringency. Toward the end it tasted roasted. The texture was relatively smooth though a bit chalky. According to Enna’s website, the tasting notes are “toasted sweet biscuits, tobacco, milk, and a tantalizingly subtle tannin aftertaste.” I┬áthink the bloomed condition of the bar didn’t help.

I’m glad I finally tried a bar from a New Hampshire based chocolate maker! There don’t seem to be many chocolate makers in the New England part of the United States. Hopefully that number will change over time.

Enna Chocolate: Made in Exeter, New Hampshire

Don’t forget to head over to Eating the Chocolate Alphabet to see which state Trish will be covering next out of the 50 states!

Other chocolate makers in New Hampshire:

Dancing Lion
Source Chocolates
Vicuna

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.

50 States: Wisconsin – Wm Chocolate

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It’s great when you’re craving chocolate and have some bars to try out for the first time! I chose Wm Chocolate to represent Wisconsin because admittedly I was attracted to the minimalist-looking name. Even though I know most consumers are attracted to colorful packaging and fancy looking writing, I sometimes prefer the minimalist approach. I found out later that “Wm” stands for the initials of the chocolate maker, William Marx, who started making his own chocolate when he wasn’t satisfied with the chocolate he was finding and decided to make his own that would fit within his personal standards.

Thank you so much to Will for answering some questions about Wm Chocolate and for being patient with me as we went back and forth over email discussing making chocolate!

Why did you choose Madison as your base for Wm Chocolate?

Madison has been home for most of my life, and it’s where I was living when I fell in love with chocolate making. Most importantly, it’s where I have supportive people helping me get my business off the ground.

If your journey began looking for (and eventually making) chocolate that you would like to eat yourself, were you a huge fan of chocolate beforehand and what kind of chocolate products were you trying at the time that pushed you to start making your own chocolate?

The journey actually began with a total rejection of chocolate. About five years ago, when I was first living in my own place and doing all the cooking for myself, I did a ton of reading and thinking about our food system and nutrition–and I did a ton of kitchen experiments. I came out of those experiences with a strong belief in eating whole foods produced using traditional techniques. That meant I quit eating products with refined sugar and other refined additives, so pretty much everything on the chocolate shelf was out for me, and what was left usually wasn’t worth eating–like grocery-store 100% bars and cocoa powder. After a couple years, though, I needed to bring chocolate back into my life. That’s when I started experimenting with homemade concoctions made from cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and honey. They were okay but left something to be desired from a flavor and texture standpoint, so I decided to look deeper into processing chocolate myself, with the unrefined cane sugar I was using elsewhere in my kitchen.

How did you go about first learning how to make chocolate? Were there websites that you were able to turn to for help or other resources?

For the basic process, I owe a lot to Chocolate Alchemy’s website. Then and now, I don’t think there is a better resource out there for getting started. Most other books and resources describe large industrial versions of the process, which isn’t all that useful for small-batch production.

What were your biggest challenges when you first began making chocolate? Do you have any current challenges that you are working through?

I think I’m not alone in saying I had a lot of trouble with tempering at first. That and figuring out how to use unrefined cane sugar, which behaves a little differently than refined crystal sugar. These days the biggest challenge is space–I don’t have much, meaning I still work with very small equipment and put in a lot of manual labor.

What helps you determine what kind or origin of cacao you will be using to make your chocolate? Does your purchasing through Uncommon Cocoa or Chocolate Alchemy have any affect on your choice(s)?

I have some fundamental requirements for ethics and sustainability, and beyond that it’s largely about flavor. The great thing about working through either of those companies is I know they care about ethics and sustainability too, so the origin-selection process begins with making test batches of whatever they have and determining what is the best fit for the flavor categories I’m trying to fill. My general aim is to stock origins in the classic, fruity, and nutty broad flavor categories, plus an origin or two I just find really compelling. If I’m on the fence, I definitely favor origins that go above and beyond in terms of ethics and sustainability, and that bring geographical diversity to my lineup. That being said, one limiting factor from purchasing through these companies is that most of what they offer is from Central & South America.

Do you have any exciting news or upcoming events for Wm. Chocolate?

I have plans to expand my production space later this year. In the meantime, I’ll be doing lots of markets and events in the Madison area to continue introducing my city to craft chocolate.

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This bar looked really shiny and had a nice sharp snap when broken apart. The tasting notes are listed as blackberry, custard, and candied pineapple. The chocolate definitely had a fruity scent to it. I definitely tasted pineapple and what could remind me of custard as a secondary flavor along with some light berry notes. The chocolate melted evenly, slowly and was very smooth in texture. I really liked this bar!

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I could see the Hawaiian red sea salt on the back of this bar. The tasting notes are listed as malted milk, banana and caramel. It definitely had a malty, caramel, sweet and salty scent. With the salt side down, I tasted the salt first followed by malt flavoring, then caramel sweetness. Toward the end of my bite I was able to taste that banana flavor with the caramel. I liked that this bar didn’t have a strong malt flavor since I’m not a huge malt fan.

For both of these bars, neither of the flavors were too overwhelming or dominant throughout my bites, which provided nice flavor stories. I would get both of these bars again, but I do want to try other bars by┬áWill since I imagine by the time I get around to making another order (when cooler weather returns), he might have completely different bars in stock. I’m very excited to see what flavors and types of bars Will makes next and I will definitely be shooting him some emails when I read up more on the science of chocolate!

Wm Chocolate: Made in Madison, WI

Don’t forget to check out Eating the Chocolate Alphabet to see which state Trish will be covering next!

Other chocolate makers in Wisconsin:

Del Sol Chocolate
Omanehe Cocoa Bean Co.
Sjolinds Chocolate House
Tabal Chocolate

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

Chocolate Brands I’ve Tried

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

Akesson’s

Alter Eco

Amano

Amedei

Antidote

Baci

Beau Cacao

Bixby

Blue Bandana/Lake Champlain

Bluprint Chocolatier

Brasstown

Brookside

Burke Mountain Confections

Butlers

Cacao Prieto

Canada True

Cao Artisan Chocolate

Castronovo

Cavalier

Cellar Door

Charm School Chocolate

Christopher Elbow

Chocolate Alchemist

Chocolate Con Amor

Chocolate Fusion

Chocolove

Chocotenango

Chouquette

Chuao

Cocoa Vienna

Coco Sala

Commonwealth Joe

Cote D’Or

Cultura

Dandelion

Double Premium Confections

Dagoba

Damak

Dancing Lion

De Ruijter

Dick Taylor

Dilettante

Divine

Dolfin

Dove

Droste

Durci

Dylan’s Candy Bar

El Ceibo

Endangered Species

Enna Chocolate

Equal Exchange Chocolates

Fine & Raw

Francois Pralus

French Broad

Fruition

Gearhart’s

Ghyslain

Glennmade

Godiva

Good Health Cocoa

Green & Black’s

Guittard

Hammond’s

Harper Macaw

Harry and David

Hawaiian Chocolate

Hello Cocoa

Heritage Chocolates

Hotel Chocolat

Hu

Icelandic Chocolate

Ikea Brand Chocolate

Jacques Torres

J. Chocolatier

Jcoco

John & Kira’s

Justin’s Organic

Kacau

KYYA

Kakawa Chocolate House

Karam Bitter

Kinder

Lake Champlain

La Naya

Letterpress

Lily’s

Madecasse

Madre

Manoa

Map

Marou

Mars Bar

Mast Brothers

Maverick

Max Brenner

Meiji

Merci

Michel Cluizel

Milka

Moonstruck

My Chocolate Shoppe

Nathan Miller

Neuhaus

NibMor

Ocho

Olive & Sinclair

Omnom

Ovation (chocolate orange)

Pacari

Parliament

Pascha

Patric

Perugina

Potomac Chocolate

Prestat

Raaka

Ranger

Ritter Sport

Ritual

Rococo

Royal Chocolates

Salazon

Sanders

Scharffen Berger

Schogetten

Schwarze Herren

Shameless Chef

Seattle Chocolates

Seed and Bean

Sirene

Solstice

Southern Artisan Chocolate

SPAGnVOLA

SRSLY Chocolate

Steelgrass Farm

Steven Howard

Sucre

Taza

TCHO

The Chocolate Conspiracy

Theo

Toblerone

Twenty-Four Blackbirds

Undone

Upchurch

Vanini

Vavako

Videri

Violet Sky

Virginia Chocolate Company

Vivel

Vosges Haut Chocolat

Williams Bennett

Wm. Chocolate

York’s Chocolate Story

Yves Thuries

Zoe’s

What’s 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.

 

 

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