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Amedei Part 2: Chuao and Number 9 Bars

If you want to read the first part where I tried Amedei’s Tocano Red and Tocano Blond bars, go here! Otherwise, let’s move on to a couple of bars that have more flavor depth to them.

Number 9, 75% bar
This bar smelled nutty and fruity. My bite started as a flavor combination of tartness, earthiness and a touch of sweetness. Then it turned into a earthy and nutty combo halfway through my bite with a hint of astringency. Toward the end, the earthiness melted away to just nuttiness. It had a very interesting flavor story and you can see why Amedei has pride in calling their chocolate “complex.”

Chuao, 70%:
This bar smelled nutty. (Why do all Amedei bars smell nutty to me? The boyfriend agrees with me on this too.) At first my bite tasted a little tart, berry-like and nutty. The tartness went away halfway through my bite, but the berry and nuttiness remained. My bite ended with just nuttiness. The boyfriend tasted hazelnut and blueberry.

I liked the Chuao bar better. The 9 bar had more tartness/astringency than I personally like. I just got an order containing Amedei’s hazelnut bar that I’ll be trying soon. I don’t think I’ll write a blog post about it, but I’ll be sharing it on Instagram. Click on the icon on the right side bar to see my Instagram page and keep an eye out for that hazelnut bar!

Amedei: Made in Tuscany, Italy

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.

Amedei Part 1: Toscano Bars

I’ve been meaning to blog about these Amedei Toscano bars for a long time because up until now, I’ve probably consumed three or four of each of these 😉 Once I get a bar in my hands, it’s gone the next moment. This time I had some self control to not inhale them right away so I could take some photos and notes of what I tasted. Keep an eye out for Amedei Part 2 where I try Amedei’s Chuao and Number 9 bars!

If you aren’t familiar with Amedei, you need to get your hands on some ASAP! They’re relatively pricey, but they don’t have a name for themselves for nothing. Before moving on to my thoughts on these bars, I recommend reading my post where I attended an Amedei tasting event at The Chocolate House in Washington, D.C., and got to hear from an Amedei representative about the companies’ story.

Toscano Red

This bar smelled like berries and slightly nutty. As my bite melted, the tartness and sweetness of the berries were the star of the show. Even though the berries were dried (strawberries, cherries and raspberries), they gave an addictive chewy texture. Toward the end of my bite, nutty flavors came through. The fruitiness and nuttiness lingered in the aftertaste. The texture of the dried fruit was what got me hooked onto this bar. I’m already eager to get try it again 🙂

Toscano Blond 

This bar had an earthy and nutty scent. Tartness and sweetness of apricot mixing with nuttiness from the chocolate took over my taste buds. There’s an umami-like savory quality to the chocolate that I couldn’t describe but sets Amedei apart from others. The texture was slightly gritty from the apricot bits and the chocolate itself. The aftertaste still contained apricot and nutty flavors.

Both bars are equally addictive! If you like fruit in your chocolate, definitely give these guys a try. If you can’t find them in a store near you, check their website or order through Chococurb, which I’ve been using lately to obtain these fruity addictions.

Amedei: Made in Tuscany, Italy

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.

 

 

Amedei Hazelnut Spread

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A long time ago when I went to an Amedei chocolate tasting, I heard that Amedei makes their own hazelnut spread. As a Nutella lover, this was news to me, and I absolutely had to try it! I’m now a convert to liking Amedei a lot more than Nutella 😉

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The spread looked smooth with tiny bits of hazelnut mixed in.

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On toast, the spread melted easily and became soupy, but not messy. I was able to taste the tiny bits of hazelnut mixed into the spread and it overall tasted more authentic in hazelnut flavor. I had this on blueberry bread, and it was absolutely delicious!

 

Now here’s why Nutella and Amedei are so different:

Nutella has oil in their spread whereas Amedei has no oil.

 

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Nutella’s ingredient list (directly from the box): sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, whey (milk), lecithin as emulsifier (soy), vanillin: an artificial flavor.

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Lately when I’ve opened up a packet of Nutella, I’ve discovered that the oil has separated from the rest of the spread components, and I have to mix it back in. That actually kind of bothers me, because the Nutella and Amedei spreads were being stored in the same cabinet at room temperature, yet Nutella was having issues keeping itself together while Amedei was fine.

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Amedei’s ingredient list (directly from the jar): hazelnut “Tonda Gentile Trilobata” (minimum 50%), cane sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa, vanilla. May contain traces of almond, pistachio, walnut, milk.

Tonda Gentile Trilobata referrs to the type of hazelnut that Amedei uses, which comes from Italy. With their shorter ingredients list, no mention of oil, and more realistic hazelnut flavor, I would rather eat Amedei’s hazelnut spread. Nutella is definitely more widely available and doesn’t cost much, but if you get a chance to try Amedei’s spread, do it!

Amedei: Made in Tuscany, Italy

www.amedei.it/en/

 

Amedei Chocolate Tasting

This was my first time attending a chocolate tasting that was serious about how to properly savor and detect notes in chocolate. Usually I tend to munch right into my chocolate, but now I’ve been taught “the way.” 🙂

First I’m going to backtrack and say that I’m very grateful that Washington, D.C., has The Chocolate House. I was thinking for the longest time that I wouldn’t be able to find any other store like For The Love of Chocolate (in Richmond, VA) that would be stuffed full of multiple brands and types of chocolate. But The Chocolate House has gone through some relatively recent changes that has allowed them to carry more variety in stock, and they’ve created the D.C. Chocolate Festival, which I’m sure many chocolate lovers in the area are very grateful for. I recently learned that they offer truffle making classes (which I would love to take at some point) and chocolate tasting classes. My interest was greatly piqued when they sent out an email regarding specifically tasting Amedei. I’ve recently tried the Porcelana bar by Amedei, after I had seen it all over Instagram, and I really liked it! It was so different than any other bar I had tried, so I was looking forward to trying other varieties by them.

Before putting any chocolate in our mouths, Marisol (an employee at The Chocolate House) walked us through some history regarding chocolate, its growth on trees, where cacao trees grow, and the process cacao beans go through to become chocolate as we know it. Because I haven’t had a chance to really read up on the history and processing of cacao, this personally was a great lesson!

We were then shown a video and taught some bits of information regarding Amedei specifically. Cecilia Tessieri, who founded Amedei in 1990, was the first female chocolatier and currently has 25 employees made up of mostly women. The local Amedei representative, Arin, confirmed that this was the case. He even shared with us a brick that Amedei handed him that came from their original building as a sign of, “Welcome to the family,” if I remembered that correctly.

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Cecelia was called the first female chocolatier because originally she began making pralines using chocolate she purchased from another source. She decided she wanted to be involved with the entire process of making her chocolate, so she searched for the best cacao beans.

I can’t remember which year this happened, but a while back Amedei wanted to buy chuao cacao from Venezuela, though the beans were only sold to Varlhona at the time. Amedei offered to purchase the beans for a higher price and prove that they could make great chocolate using them. They were also willing to pay a higher price to help financially support the farmers who grew the trees and aid them in paying off any debts they held.

Some other interesting bits of information we learned were:

  • Amedei conches their cocoa for 72 hours before using them in molds or confectionary, which is a very long time compared to most chocolate makers
  • Amedei creates both bars and confectionary products, whereas most places will focus on only bars or only confectionary
  • Amedei currently also uses Trinitario and Criollo beans

Then the part of tasting chocolate began! We were instructed to start with the higher cocoa percentage piece first. I was later told that this method allows tasters to not have a preconceived notion of what “sweetness” is, because if they started off with the naturally very sweet white chocolate, then the higher percentage chocolate would seem more bitter than it really was. Also, the high percentage of cocoa butter in white chocolate and milk chocolate can leave this coated feeling in the mouth, which could inhibit properly tasting delicate notes in darker chocolate.

These were the steps we walked through as we tasted all 8 pieces of chocolate:

  1. Smell the chocolate. Does it smell fruity? Spicy? Chocolatey?
  2. Snap off a very small piece of the chocolate and let it simply melt on your tongue. Does it melt quickly or slowly? Is the texture smooth, oily, chalky or grainy?
  3. Try to detect the flavors developing at the beginning, middle and final part of the chocolate melting in your mouth. What notes are they? Fruity? Nutty? Acidic? Spicy?

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We were handed sheets to make notes as needed, and we were assured that everyone’s taste buds are different, so no one is 100% correct on what the chocolate should taste like. Did I have a favorite out of the samples we tried? No, because they were all delicious to me! Each bar seemed unique in its own way, and I surprisingly even liked the white chocolate! Normally I held to the belief that white chocolate is not truly chocolate, but I was told that white chocolate is made with cocoa butter, a product of cocoa, which means it actually is properly called “chocolate.” Thanks for the enlightenment, Marisol!

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After the tasting, I had learned that Amedei made their own hazelnut spread, which I will try later and talk about in a future post 🙂

It was a wonderful, relaxing night, and I hope to attend another chocolate tasting like it soon at The Chocolate House!

Coffee Theme – Askinosie, Bahen & Co., Dar Chocolate

My chocolate stash was kind of getting out of hand in that I recently received multiple orders for chocolate that I didn’t even remember making (that’s a sign of having a problem, right?), so my box where I keep my stash tucked away in the closet needed to be changed out for a larger box. As a side note, I keep my chocolate bars in my closet because that’s the only space I know of that experiences the least temperature fluctuations to prevent my chocolate from blooming or melting, especially during warmer times. I also decided it was time to organize my bars and keep some kind of order in how I should sample and share them on here because I had some that were stamped with expiration dates that were quickly coming up, though I’m aware expiration dates are not necessarily the end-all-be-all.

There were some bars I forgotten I had ordered, such as the Bahen & Co. and Dar Chocolate bars that I’ll be sharing about in a second. I’m attempting to take a step back from making further chocolate orders for the next month or two with a couple of exceptions where I’ve promised chocolate makers I would try more of their chocolate. Since these three bars were similar in that they all contained coffee, I’m sharing them here at the same time.

I’ve had my eye on Askinosie for a while. After I finished my first jar of Amedei hazelnut spread last winter, I picked up Askinosie’s hazelnut spread at The Chocolate House. This time when I returned to The Chocolate House, I picked up their coffee bar. I was glad to see Victoria Cooksey, a fellow blogger, share her experience with this bar on Instagram.

This is one of Askinosie’s “CollaBARation” bars combining cacao from Mababu, Tanzania, and Intelligentsia’s Ljulu Lipati Peaberry coffee. Intelligentsia is based out of Chicago. The Askinosie bar had a strong scent of coffee. I could taste coffee with fruity and bright citrus notes mixed with astringency. As the chocolate melted it had a thick “syrupy” consistency or “body” as noted on the packaging. It became very astringent toward the end of my bite. Since I’m not a huge fan of high astringency due to it upsetting my stomach, I can’t say I was in love with this bar. I understand some chocolate makers purposefully make their chocolate very astringent, but I can’t say it’s for me. The fiancé tried this bar as well and said he tasted fruity and coffee flavors in the chocolate.

Askinosie: Made in Springfield, MO

Josh Bahen behind Bahen & Co. was a winemaker before he delved into chocolate making. This bar is made up of two single origin beans from Brazil and Arabica coffee beans. I could smell coffee and something like blackberries from the Bahen & Co bar. The taste was of coffee and blackberries. The coffee flavor was not as strong nor as astringent as the Askinosie bar, which was a relief. Halfway through my bite I experienced nutty notes with tartness like cherries. The texture was fudgy. Toward the end I definitely tasted nutty and cherry flavors, though the tartness had worn off. In the aftertaste the cherry flavor lingered. The fiancé tasted fruity notes and agreed that this bar was smoother. It was not bad at all!

Bahen & Co.: Not quite sure where they are based, but plugging their address into Google Maps showed Australia.

Gila and Joel Dar first learned how to make chocolate under Paul Johnson of Caribeans Chocolate while staying in Costa Rica for one and a half years before starting Dar Chocolate in Colorado in 2016. This bar is made up of Ecuadorian cacao with Conscious Coffees beans. I could definitely smell cardamom from the Dar bar and I tasted the spice before the subtle flavor of coffee developed. Throughout my bite the dominant flavor was cardamom while coffee remained in the background. The end of my bite contained some nutty notes. Overall this chocolate gave me a feeling of warmth, perfect for  the fall season. The fiancé said this bar reminded him of how cardamom and coffee pair nicely together. He had experienced a similar flavor combination in Turkish coffee before.

Dar Chocolate: Made in Denver, Colorado

Out of the three bars we were most impressed with the Dar Chocolate bar. We really like the spice + coffee combination and there was no astringency present to upset my stomach.

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 😉 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 😉 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 here.

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, Kauai, 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 🙁 ), 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! 🙂 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 🙂 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 🙁 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 😉 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 🙂 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: Tennessee – Olive & Sinclair Southern Artisan Chocolate

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Already before I even started writing this post I found out that Olive & Sinclair have changed their packaging! I discovered this while grabbing some of their bars for a birthday gift because I almost didn’t recognize them on the shelf right away. Their new look still maintains a vintage feel, but rather than earth-toned colors like the picture above, they have brighter, more eye catching shades and it’s easier to distinguish which bar is which flavor. Check their online shop to see their updated looks if you can’t find them at a retail store near you.

I’ve tried Olive & Sinclair before, but at that time I had their Cinnamon Chili and Sea Salt bars. This time I’m trying their Salt & Pepper and (gasp) Buttermilk White bar. If you’ve been following Time To Eat Chocolate, you’ll know I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate. It’s usually too sweet for my taste.

BUT lately chocolate makers seem to be upping their game, or maybe I’m suddenly paying more attention to what’s out there for white chocolate. Amedei makes an amazing white chocolate with pistachio bar, as does La Naya (I’ll be sharing about them here soon). Fruition made a delicious strawberry white chocolate bar that had the perfect pink shade for cherry blossom season and I literally ate the whole bar within an hour.

Also, I recently read on C-Spot’s website that to determine the talent of a chocolate maker is to try their white chocolate since white chocolate uses cocoa butter, a product of the cacao bean. If the chocolate maker uses cocoa butter pressed directly from the cacao beans rather than purchased elsewhere, you can taste the flavor and quality of the cocoa butter better in white chocolate bars where you don’t have the rest of the cocoa solids there to distract your taste buds. How do you tell if the cocoa butter is of good quality? C-Spot says, “Over-roast, & it’s burnt & caustic; poor ferment – it sours & loses mouthfeel to astringency; insufficient drying – moldy or chalky.” If you’re curious, I recommend reading the rest of what they have to say about white chocolate and cocoa butter here.

Anyways, let’s get back to talking about Olive & Sinclair.

Olive & Sinclair is the only bean-to-bar/chocolate maker in Tennessee. Scott Witherow is the founder and began his journey making chocolate after visiting a chocolate producer in Canada and eating a pound of chocolate. Inspiration hit and he began making his own chocolate at home while his friends gave him feedback on his products. Olive & Sinclair began in 2007 and the name quickly spread when Gwyneth Paltrow made a large order.

The reason why the chocolate packaging has a vintage feel is because that was the look Scott liked and was going for. In general, he likes old things. At the time of this article, his form of a melanger began its life as a steam powered mill in Spain a hundred years ago. The appearance of his bars also help him blend in with the southern look that harkens back to the good ‘ol days. Southern Artisan Chocolate is the name of the bean-to-bar line under Olive & Sinclair.

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The cinnamon chili bar had some slight blooming. I could definitely smell cinnamon and chili though I tasted the cinnamon and sugar first. As the chocolate melted, I tasted, I tasted salt mixed with the cinnamon and sugar and the chili began to creep in. Saltiness was the strongest flavor midway through my bite, and “kosher salt” was included in the ingredients list. The bar a slightly gritty texture, though not as gritty as Taza. At the end of my bite, chili was the strongest and remained in the aftertaste. I could not taste the chocolate itself due to all the over flavors overpowering it. My boyfriend and his family joined me in tasting these bars. They said it tasted sweet at first and were hit by the chili at the end.

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The salt & pepper bar had a slight pepper and brown sugar scent (brown sugar was included in the ingredients list). I tasted salt first quickly followed by pepper, then the sweetness of brown sugar. I could taste the chocolate itself this time, which seemed to have roasted and caramel notes. The texture was a lot smoother. It wasn’t as salty or peppery as I thought it would be, which is great!

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Even though this bar on the front is called buttermilk white, the ingredients list includes salt and black peppercorns. It also says unfiltered cacao butter. I can’t say I know the difference between cocoa butter and cacao butter. Is the unfiltered cacao butter freshly pressed out of the cacao beans while cocoa butter is purchased from another supplier? This bar smelled creamy, buttery and salty. I tasted the salt first and then sourness. Salt and sour flavoring remained throughout my bite. My boyfriend and his family also tasted sourness from this bar. Their other words to describe it were “citrus” and “yogurt.” But then I brought the rest of this bar to my workplace so my coworkers could try it, and one of them said it was the best white chocolate bar they ever had, so….

 

I’ve tried Olive & Sinclair’s sea salt bar before and I have to admit that out of their four varieties of bars I’ve tried, that sea salt one would be my top pick. I can’t say I was in love with the salt and pepper bars. The chili and cinnamon bar I didn’t mind, though I wish I could have tasted more of the chocolate itself.

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

Olive & Sinclair: Made in Tennessee

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 🙂

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

Salazon and Hu

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I hadn’t tried Hu before, and I found their Hazelnut Praline bar at my local Mom’s Organic Market. The second Hu bar, Almond Butter and Puffed Quinoa I got at The Frenchman’s Corner while I was visiting Fredericksburg.

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I’ve tried Salazon’s Gin bar in a previous post, but I hadn’t tried any of their other artisan series bars. The Caramel Peanut Crunch bar got my attention and did not taste as I expected…

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The Salazon Caramel Peanut Crunch bar was pretty to look at, where I could clearly see chunks of peanut, caramel and sea salt on the surface of the chocolate. According to the packaging, this bar contains bits of Fisher’s Popcorn Caramel Peanut Crunch in it, which has been locally made by hand in copper kettles at Delaware and Maryland beaches since 1937.

The bar smelled nutty, buttery and salty. I tasted the peanuts at first, followed by sea salt and then the flavor and chewy stickiness of the caramel. The chocolate itself surprised me in that it tasted smoky. Smokiness was not what I expected to taste alongside the sweetness and saltiness of the caramel and sea salt. As my bite melted, the strength in smokiness grew, but mellowed out at the very end. The peanuts, sea salt and caramel provided a nice crunchy texture to the bar.

Salazon: Made in Eldersburg, MD

http://www.salazonchoc.com

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I love hazelnut, so I definitely wanted to try Hu’s Hazelnut Praline bar! I could immediately smell hazelnut upon unwrapping the chocolate, and I could taste nuttiness when the chocolate started melting in my mouth. Aside from the praline filling, it seemed like the chocolate itself contained nutty notes as well. The praline filling melted quickly and had a toasted nutty flavor to it, which I really enjoyed. The hazelnut flavor seemed strongest at the end of my bite and reminded me of Amedei’s hazelnut spread, but with added saltiness to it.

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Hu’s Almond Butter and Puffed Quinoa bar also smelled and tasted nutty, but it also had this bread-like flavor from the quinoa. Like a toasted wheat bread. As the chocolate melted, I could taste more of the almond butter praline filling and the crunchy dry quinoa bits. The crunch of the quinoa was light and airy. At the end of my bite, I tasted mostly almond butter and saltiness. I liked the almond butter flavoring as well as the delicate texture of the quinoa!

When I picked up this bar from The Frenchman’s Corner, it was raining very hard that day and the wrapper got a bit wet. Fortunately it looked like the chocolate wasn’t greatly affected by the moisture and it didn’t taste “off” in any way.

Hu: Made in New York, NY

hukitchen.com

 

Omnom, François Pralus, Fruition and Ritual

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I had fun with these chocolate bars in that I have pics of myself holding them so I could update my profile pictures for the Time To Eat Chocolate social media accounts. If you share pictures or comments of chocolate on social media, and you’re comfortable with it, let’s start showing our faces with the chocolate so we can better relate to who we are sharing the love of chocolate with! Who knows, maybe we will run into each other in person and have an impromptu chocolate tasting session 🙂

The Brasstown blueberry bar I have already talked about in a previous post, so I won’t share about it again here. I had to get a second bar because I liked it so much!

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I’ve tried this brand before, but it was a long time ago and I’m suddenly seeing Omnom show up all over Instagram. I used to be such a milk chocolate lover, and I will still eat it, but it’s starting to taste too sweet for me. I’m truly amazed at this, and it’s all thanks to fellow chocolate bloggers who I follow and help introduce me to new brands. I really like dark milk as a great transition for those whose palates are not prepared yet to dive into dark chocolate. It’s not too sweet, but it’s enough for when my “sweet tooth” is out of control.

This bar smelled sweet with a bit of astringency. It also tasted sweet, creamy, a bit astringent, with burnt sugar flavors. The burnt sugar and this sort of buttery flavor developed as the chocolate melted, and turned into sugary sweetness in the aftertaste (like the icing on cakes). I liked how smooth and not-too-sweet this bar was! If I ever get a chance to visit Reykjavik, I am totally hitting these guys up!

Omnom: Made in Reykjavik, Iceland!!!! (Congrats to Iceland, by the way, for progressing so far in the Euro Cup 2016 soccer games!)

www.omnomchocolate.com

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I knew I was going to have to share François Pralus here sometime!!! I definitely want to share more of their bars on here sometime, but for now we’ll make do with their Chuao bar. I’m so glad that I learned more about the chuao beans from Venezuela from Amedei Chocolate as I’m finding I really like the fruity flavors I’ve been tasting in bars made with such beans.

This bar had the sharpest snap out out of the four I’m sharing here. It had a fruity and slightly astringent scent, and tasted the same way, though the astringency was mild. The chocolate melted slowly and was very smooth in texture. As it melted, it first became more astringent in flavor but retained the fruitiness, then it turned sweet and earthy at the end finishing off with that sweetness and fruitiness lingering in the aftertaste. I shared this bar with a couple of friends, and they said this was their top favorite out of the four bars!

Francçois Pralus: Made in France

www.chocolats-pralus.com/en/

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I’ve been seeing Fruition all over Instagram lately, so I was excited to be able to finally try them! I wasn’t sure which bar to get by them while at The Chocolate House, and for some reason I was drawn to this one. This bar had a slight astringent and citrusy scent. I got an immediate citrus flavor and maybe floral notes in my first bite. It grew more astringent as it melted, but returned to citrus notes at the end which remained in the aftertaste. It was like the perfect bar for summer with all of those bright citrus flavors 🙂 I definitely would like to try more Fruition when I can next get my hands on some!

Fruition: Made in Shokan, NY

www.tastefruition.com

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The unique patterns and color of Ritual’s packaging, as well as having previously heard about them, was what convinced me to picking up one of their bars. Green tea in chocolate bars are one of my top favorite combinations (as well as hazelnut), but coffee is quickly becoming a favorite of mine as well! Once unwrapping the chocolate, I could immediately smell the coffee as well as taste it. A friend who tried this bar with me and who is a coffee aficionado said that the coffee in the chocolate reminded them of a dark roast Colombian coffee. On the back of the bar it mentioned that blueberry and honeycomb flavors were in the chocolate, and I was able to detect them. Even though the coffee flavor was strong and a bit bitter, the blueberry and honeycomb balanced it out. I would have eaten this whole bar by myself if I didn’t have to share 😉

Ritual: Made in Park City, UT

www.ritualchocolate.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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