Author: Lori (Page 1 of 26)

Askanya

I bought Askanya the last time I visited The Chocolate House in D.C. and it’s probably the last remaining bar I have from that trip. My chocolate stash will get stocked up again when I attend the D.C. Chocolate Festival in April.

Askanya’s full name is Les Chocolateries Askanya founded by Corinne Joachim-Sanon. They’re the first Haitian-based chocolate maker even though cacao from Haiti is already used by other chocolate makers. I love hearing stories of people who earn their university degree in one subject, start working in that field and then quit to start their own chocolate business. Corinne started with a degree in engineering and worked in New York before moving back to Haiti to start Askanya. Because she was brand new to making her own chocolate, she hired and received help from other chocolate makers and experts. Because her business is only two years old and still quite small, she’s slowly releasing new bars one by one and hopes to expand in 2018.

The bar smelled lightly floral and nutty. The first thought that came was mind was, “This is sweet!” That may be thanks to the bar being 60% cocoa and there’s vanilla bean in it. The vanilla flavor intensified as my bite melted but I could still enjoy chocolaty goodness that reminded me of a rich drinking chocolate. Nutty and the possibly floral notes lingered in the background.

This bar was delicious! It reminded me of dark milk bars where the chocolate is sweet but not too sweet. I definitely hope I can try more Askanya bars in the future!

Askanya: Made in Nord-Est, Haiti

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.

Labooko – For Those in Love

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, it was a no brainer that I needed to pick an appropriately themed bar, or bars in this case. I remember Sharon Terenzi, a fellow chocolate blogger, sharing this set of Labooko bars on Instagram to celebrate the holiday and I decided to try them for myself this year.

I like how Labooko used a white chocolate raspberry and 60% Ecuador bar as sort of a yin and yang concept. I personally like to think of this as opposites being attracted to each other. I love seeing the differences between two people in a marriage or long term relationship. There’s always some similarities but also opposites in how they balance each other. For example, my fianceé is very patient and does not rush when it comes to making decisions. Myself on the other hand am very impatient and I tend to make rash decisions, especially when I am feeling short on time to make said decision. One of my challenges is to learn from him in how to become more patient.

The 60% Ecuador bar smelled chocolaty, sweet and a touch earthy. The flavor was delightfully tangy, sweet and fruity. As my bite melted some nuttiness evolved. Toward the end I could taste malt mingled with nuttiness. The flavor notes listed on the packaging include floral, nutty, malt and toffee. The chocolate melted smoothly and relatively quickly.

The raspberry bar smelled like raspberries with a little bit of lemon as the ingredients included lemon powder. Strong tangy raspberry and lemon flavors played together while being grounded by the creaminess of white chocolate. It was a nice bar to wake up with as I’m tasting in the morning. Creaminess from the white chocolate and raspberry lingered in the aftertaste.

I really enjoyed both bars, and the texture was amazing! I loved how smoothly and quickly the chocolate melted. I’m looking forward to trying more Labooko bars in the future. I’m sharing the rest of this with the fiancé now 🙂

Labooko: Made in Austria

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.

 

 

 

Zokoko

The first Australian-made chocolate bar I tried was by The Smooth Chocolator and I was immediately a fan of them! Now I’m trying a different chocolate maker. I recently saw Trish from Eating the Chocolate Alphabet try a couple Zokoko bars, and it encouraged me to unwrap the one I had in my stash. I have their goddess dark chocolate with orange since it was the only flavor available at the time when I made the order through (I think) Cocoa Runners.

This bar smelled very chocolaty and orange. It’s like those orange shaped chocolates but with a stronger orange scent. The flavor was also strongly of orange. The description on Zokoko’s website says the flavor is “deep, rich cocoa notes with tangy citrus reminiscent of an orange orchard”. I didn’t feel like this reminded me of an orange orchard. The orange flavoring was a bit strong for me but I liked the end and aftertaste where the flavor was subtler. The chocolate itself was very smooth and a bit fudge-y in texture.

Not my top favorite bar but I didn’t hate it either. The texture was very nice, though. I’d try another Zokoko bar if I get the chance!

Zokoko: made in Australia

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

Chocotenango – The last few bars I needed to try!

I have finally gotten my hands on the last three bars by Ismael at Chocotenango that I have yet to try! If you want to read more about Ismael and which of his other bars I’ve sampled before, go here.

The last bar I need to try out of Ismael’s regular chocolate line is the Maya. I could smell the chili but it wasn’t very strong. At first I could only taste chocolaty flavors, but then WHAM! The chili smacked me in the face and woke me up, which was great because I’m trying this on a Monday and the whole morning was spent feeling groggy. My mouth was pretty much on fire the rest of the time the chocolate was in my mouth. This was a bit too spicy for my personal taste, but I have coworker who loves really, really spicy foods who could definitely appreciate this! My cubemate also tried this bar with me and said he didn’t find it “refreshing” but “weird” and could describe why he felt that way.

The Bolivian bar smelled and tasted strongly nutty and roasted. As my bite melted, a savory fruity flavor like coconut developed followed by light tropical fruity notes as the roasted flavor dissipated. Nuttiness remained throughout my whole bite into the aftertaste.

The Kaffe bar took a while to get. It was so popular that it was out of stock for a while until I was able to purchase it in person at a farmer’s market. The scent of coffee was strong and the flavor of the coffee turned roasted, fruity and a touch astringent. I’m not sure if the Bolivian cocoa or Ismael’s usual Domincan cocoa was used for the base of this bar. I’m guessing Bolivian due to the roasted flavor.

I have to be honest that the chili bar was the only one by Ismael that I was not fond of, but it’s great that all the other bars in his regular chocolate line I’ve liked! I’m also glad to have finally tried all of his bar creations 🙂 So the coworker who likes really spicy foods tried the chili bar and said it tasted bitter. The first thought: “Where’s the chili? Ooooh there it is.” He ended up keeping the rest of the bar anyway because he walked away while munching on it 😀

Chocotenango: Made in Washington, D.C.

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

 

 

Amano – Ecuador and Madagascar

I’m not a stranger to Amano products,  but whenever I get the chance to try more of their bars, I take the opportunity! I ordered these a while back through Cacao Review and unfortunately from the looks of it the chocolate has suffered. There’s that white ashy look to it from bloom. Which kind of bloom? Thankfully Art Pollard, the chocolate maker behind Amano, has a very helpful article describing the differences between sugar bloom and fat bloom. Sugar bloom is when water comes in contact with the chocolate, dissolves the sugars on the surface and dries up creating a white patch or dusty appearance. Fat bloom is when the the chocolate experiences unstable temperatures and the cocoa butter crystals reform into bigger clumps and are pushed to the surface appearing as white patches.

I don’t think this is sugar bloom as the bars had just been opened and I doubt water had access to the chocolate. But as advised by the article, I wiped a damp finger on the surface of both bars to determine if sugar bloom had occurred. Sure enough, the white ashy appearance remained, so this was fat/cocoa butter bloom. From my experience, the transportation step in getting chocolate into my hands is usually the culprit in causing fat bloom since delivery vehicles don’t have temperature regulation and sometimes packages are left in the sun at my doorstep.

The back of the packaging mentions the Madagascar bar was the first to be released by Amano. The cocoa comes from a plantation in the Sambirano Valley on the northwest coast of Madagascar. The tasting notes are listed as chocolate-y, raspberries, cherries, raisin an citrus. Just reading this flavor combination makes me excited to try the chocolate! The bar smelled chocolate-y with hints of fruit and citrus. Because the bar had bloomed it took a while to melt making me chomp on the chocolate rather than let it gradually melt like usual. A punch of citrus with berry flavors developed with a chocolate-y undertone. I tasted the raisin notes at the end and in the aftertaste. The combination made me think of spring and summer when berries are ripe for picking and of sunny days. Since the weather has been cold and kind of dreary, this is what I needed as pick-me-up!

On the back of the packaging it says this “cocoa comes from a remote community in the Guayas River Basin just up river of Guayaquil, Ecuador”. Art made sure the families growing the cocoa got to taste the finished bar and he threw a launch party for them. The tasting notes are listed as chocolate-y, green bananas, smoke and blackberries. The scent of the bar was light smoky and green bananas. When I bit into this chocolate, smokiness burst forth followed by the slightly grassy green banana flavor. I didn’t taste any blackberry flavors. A couple of coworkers tried this bar with me and they definitely tasted green bananas.

I really enjoyed the Madagascar bar! The flavor combination was my type since I prefer fruity flavors in chocolate (nutty flavors are my second favorite). I’ve tried a few Amano bars now, but there are still a couple I have yet to get my hands on. When my current chocolate stash has gotten low enough, I’ll be placing an order.

Amano: Made in Orem, UT

 

Fleurir Chocolates

Fleurir is currently based out of Alexandria, VA, but they used to have a location in Georgetown, D.C., which was where I first got to try their products and where they were originally based. They no longer have that Georgetown location, but I remember it was a couple of streets north from M Street NW. The shop seemed to be in a very quiet area set apart from the hustle and bustle of shoppers and traffic. I had stopped by there twice to pick up bonbons and truffles. I’m sad that store is no longer there, but I also don’t go into Georgetown as often as I used to.

I had never tried any of Fleurir’s bars and I had the chance to pick some up at The Emporiyum, which took place in November in D.C. As much as I was tempted to try more of their bonbons and truffles, I wanted to get a few bars as gifts and for myself. I picked the ones the lady at the Fleurir table happily recommended.

Fleurir was started in 2009 by Robert Ludlow and his wife Ashley Hubbard. In 2012, an article announced that the shop would expand to the Old Town part of Alexandria. According to their website, he and Michelle Whittaker are the chocolatiers.

I think it’s cute the chocolate bars are named after parts of D.C. and the surrounding areas. The chai tea milk chocolate is called The Northwest Bar, probably after the northwestern part of D.C. and possibly after the area Fleurir originally started. I remember getting really excited when I first tried Theo’s chai tea milk chocolate bar and I fell in love with that flavor combination. I could see tiny flecks of tea in the bar and the scent was strong of chai. It smelled SO good! The flavor was a mixture of chai and creamy milk chocolate goodness. My cubemate tried these bars with me and he also enjoyed the scent and flavor of this bar.

The Georgetown Bar consisted of butterscotch toffee and salted pretzels in dark chocolate. The scent was a mixture of sweet and salty, and kind of like… barbecue? I’m not sure why I’m smelling that. I think my sinuses are playing tricks on me. Or maybe not, because the flavor was kind of smoky when I put the chocolate in my mouth but the sweetness of toffee pulled through and eventually some saltiness from the pretzels. I’m very curious why I’m tasting smokiness, but my cubemate also enjoyed this bar and even asked me to pick one up for him if I stop by Fleurir’s shop in Alexandria 🙂

The Alexandria Bar consisted of candied espresso beans in dark chocolate. I think it’s suitable that espresso would be associated with Alexandria. There are a few local coffee shops in Old Town that some of my friends and I enjoy stopping by when we’re in the area. The scent was strongly of espresso with some smokiness and nuttiness, like peanuts and walnuts. Once again I try a bar with coffee in it and it either has a fruity or nutty flavor to it! That nutty flavor developed into what reminded me of peanut butter as my bite melted.

Because these were bars by a chocolatier, I didn’t expect any flavor stories to unfold, but a mishmash of ingredients to experience as my bite melted. The only bar I was not fond of was The Georgetown bar for that strange smokiness. I’m not sure what Fleurir uses for couverture. Despite that, next time I go to Alexandria I need to hunt down their shop!

Fluerir Chocolates: Made in Alexandria, VA

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

 

Altus Chocolate

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

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

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

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

Description for what the name “Altus” means.

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

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

Altus Chocolate: Made in Lynchburg, VA

 

 

WKND Chocolate

WKND Chocolate was on my chocolate wish list but what pushed it up in priority was my sister’s recent interest in turmeric. She was advised by a friend to try turmeric to help alleviate migraines. Instead of going straight to shredded turmeric in hot water, I suggested she try chocolate containing turmeric. Thanks to positive posts I’ve seen by fellow bloggers and chocoholics, the Turmeric of a Goat Thing by WKND seemed the best candidate to try.

What I had forgotten was that my sister does not like spicy foods, as in hot spicy. And this bar contains cayenne pepper. I knew this bar had cayenne when I read the ingredients, but mistakenly still offered the chocolate to my sister. In the end I got to take the rest of it home. I’m not complaining because now I get to try the turmeric bar that everyone else has been raving about!

Before I dive into trying these bars, I first want to mention that Lauren Heineck, the chocolate maker behind WKND, is a busy woman! She’s not only making chocolate, but also managing a Facebook page called Well Tempered and a podcast also called Well Tempered. Her chocolate making business is only one year old! I originally only ordered the Turmeric of a Goat Thing with two other bars, but Laura was very generous in sending a few others my way.

If I’m tasting multiple bars in one sitting, I normally don’t start with the spiciest one, but I can’t wait to try Turmeric of a Goat Thing! It contains a medley of spices, but the obvious ones I smell are turmeric, ginger and cinnamon with creaminess of the white chocolate. I first tasted ginger, turmeric, cloves and cinnamon while the heat of cayenne slowly intensified as my bite melted. I couldn’t outright taste the white pepper but the other spices might have been overpowering it. This bar reminded me of turmeric milk that my fiancé made the other night. That milk might have been improved with the addition of some spices like this bar 😉 I don’t know how Lauren came up the spice combination for this bar, but I like it and I’m curious how it would do in dark/single origin chocolate.

I guess we’re working our way from creamy chocolate to dark/single origin chocolate today. It’s interesting that the ingredients list for this bar says the cocoa beans is a “house blend” but there are no hints of what could be in the blend. The chocolate smelled chocolatey and the flavor was a tad sour, like goat milk bars I’ve tried in the past. Rather than creaminess like I usually taste in a dark milk bar, I got astringency and something like grapefruit flavor. My bite finished up with some nutty notes. I was honestly hoping this bar would have some creamier flavor to it, but I didn’t get that. The fiancé thought it was a little dry, but enjoyed the aftertaste.

Chocolate bars made with maple-anything make me excited! I think it’s because maple and chocolate combinations are not common and using a variation in sweeteners is interesting. Sure enough, I could faintly smell maple deliciousness from this bar. I first tasted woody and herby flavors mixed with subtle maple as my bite melted. The wood flavor went away halfway through my bite, and the herby turned into jasmine. The maple flavor was more obvious toward the end and it was what I dreamed it would be like: pure delicious chocolatey goodness with some maple. Though the initial flavor combo was not my favorite, the middle part with jasmine and the maple ending I enjoyed.

The back of the packaging lists the coffee as coming from Huckleberry Roasters. The whole milk powder for this bar is “rBST free”. I’ve never noticed that before on any food label and a quick Google search showed that “rBST” means “recombinant bovine growth hormone”, which is a synthetic growth hormone that can be injected into cows to increase milk production. This bar smelled like coffee and cream. I don’t know why, most chocolate + coffee bars I’ve tried the coffee seems to usually have a naturally fruity or berry flavor. That was the case here too. I tasted what reminded me of raspberries with chocolate and cream. I’m not complaining though because I think it tasted delicious! The fiancé said this bar reminded him of espresso.

This bar contains both cane and brown sugar. Most craft chocolate bars contain cane sugar, so I’m curious of why two types of sugar are being used. This bar had a deep earthy scent. The flavor was also earthy and my bite took a while to melt despite having a smooth texture. Some nuttiness developed halfway through my bite and remained that way through the end. The fiancé said the bar seemed “summery” but wasn’t sure why.

This bar had a subtle spicy scent. I tasted some astringency and spiciness before a red berry flavor creeped in. I also tasted some nuttiness. I don’t know why I seem to taste nuttiness in almost all of these bars. My bite ended with subtle astringency, subtle berry and nuttiness. The fiancé said he tasted a rich blackberry flavor.

I always enjoy my fiancé trying chocolate with me so I can hear another opinion. The Café con Leche and Turmeric of a Goat Thing are definitely not lasting the rest of the day as they were my favorites! The fiancé like the turmeric and 78% Tanzania the best. Though I may not have loved the other bars, WKND is a young business and I look forward to trying more of Lauren’s work!

WKND Chocolate: Made in Denver, CO

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.

Francois Pralus – Indonesia

During the holidays I had the chance to stop by my favorite chocolate store in Richmond, VA, where I found their Francois Pralus selection was sizeable and I remembered that I haven’t shared many experiences sampling their bars on Time To Eat Chocolate. I used to consume a lot of Francois Pralus in my early years of living around Washington, D.C., but sadly I never recorded my thoughts or which bars I had tried.

The back of the bar gave a helpful description explaining that the cacao is a criollo variety brought to the island of Java in Indonesia by the Spanish in the 17th century. The expected flavor is smokiness due a combination of the island’s terroir, harvesting, fermenting and drying methods and whatever process Francois Pralus uses to create their bars. Indeed the scent is of light smokiness. Smokiness in chocolate always reminds me of barbecue and savoriness. It’s almost dinnertime at the time of my writing this, so I could also just be hungry.

These larger sized Francois Pralus bars are like bricks. They’re thick and have some heft to them. I haven’t tried using them as weapons but it took a bit of effort to break off a piece. The flavor was also lightly smoky but then the flavor turned sour. I could barely finish eating this bar because the combination of smoky with sour was making my stomach turn. Chomping through the rest of my bite brought back just the smoky flavor with a touch of earthiness and astringency.

Sadly I can’t say I want to experience tasting this bar again. It may be great for other people with the palate adjusted to this type of strong flavor, but I can’t handle it. Thankfully I think I know of someone I can give the rest of the bar to and who will appreciate it.

Francois Pralus: Made in France

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.

 

Millcreek Cacao Roasters

I had not heard of Millcreek Cacao Roasters until my sister, while visiting my parents, sent me a photo of what chocolate options were available at a nearby store. First of all, I was amazed and admittedly jealous that my parents had such a great craft chocolate selection available not far from their home. Second, my eyes landed on packaging that I was not familiar with, which was Millcreek. My mom was surprised that I hadn’t tried them before and was kind to ship a couple of bar my way.

I know there are several chocolate makers based out of Utah, such as Solstice, Ritual and Amano, but Millcreek somehow flew under the radar when I last Google searched for chocolate makers in that state. And yet the address on the back of the packaging reads Salt Lake City as their location! Google needs some updating or something so more people can find Millcreek.

The packaging is simple yet elegant as the bar slides out of the bar. A sheet inside explains that Millcreek sources their Arriba Nacional beans from from a farm called Hacienda Limon in Ecuador. The cacao can have caramel and fruity flavor notes.

I’m excited to try any berry + chocolate combination in bar form, so I’m trying the blackberry one first. The description for this bar on Millcreek’s website says it’s “warmly sweet and slightly tart”. The chocolate smelled very sweet, almost like a syrup. The flavor was a strong berry flavor but I was reminded me of grape flavored Jolly Ranchers. As my bite melted, though, the chocolate tasted more roasted and the berry flavor subsided to something like cough syrup. This bar was a bit too sweet for my tastes and I can’t say I’m fond of my chocolate reminding me of medicine, especially as I’m getting over a cold at the time of my writing this.

This bar had the strong scent of mint. Like the blackberry bar, the flavor of mint was quite strong in flavor and it reminded me of mint gum. The description for this bar on Millcreek’s site says “refreshing and pungent”. I wouldn’t say it’s refreshing, but it is definitely pungent. My fiancé tried these bars with me too and wondered if the overpowering flavors could be masking something. I’m curious as well. Or maybe simply a lot of flavoring was infused into the cacao beans or whatever process Millcreek uses to infuse flavors into their chocolate.

I can’t say I’m a fan of both these bars. Sorry, Millcreek! Maybe I’ll be able to give them a second chance, but for now my chocolate stash is currently quite large due to receiving a lot of chocolate for Christmas. I have a lot of catching up to do!

Millcreek Cacao Roasters: Made in Salt Lake City, UT

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