Author: Lori (Page 1 of 24)

Dormouse Chocolate

A huge thank you to Victoria Cooksey, fellow chocoholic and blogger of Dark Matters Chocolate Reviews, for these Dormouse bars! It was a pleasant surprise to receive this package in the mail, and I had never tried this brand before. I couldn’t wait to try them and besides, the tiny bars are absolutely adorable ūüôā

I was aware of Dormouse chocolates, but I hadn’t gone out of my way to get any for myself, which was why these bars were an awesome gift. I didn’t even realize that Dormouse was based out of England. They’ve been the first bean to bar chocolate maker in Manchester since 2015 and were started by Isobel who learned about bean to bar while working for a luxury chocolate brand.

Starting with the Venezuela Patanemo bar, the chocolate had a strong floral scent that kind of reminded me of lavender with a nutty undertone. The flavor was immediately a mixture of floral and nuttiness. Astringency developed that reminded me of tannins in wine, but rather than grape, I could taste the subtle flavor of apricot. The chocolate melted slowly, smoothly and evenly.

I’m confused that this bar is labeled as 37% white chocolate, but it’s milk chocolate. I’m assuming it’s a packaging oops. The chocolate smelled like creamy and like goat milk. The flavor was very similar to those browned butter bars I’ve had before (like Patric’s browned butter bar). Toward the end the chocolate tasted like caramel. This bar was smooth, sweet, creamy and addictive!

Added Note: Dormouse reached out to me and said the bar actually is white chocolate but looks like milk chocolate because the milk powder if caramelized before being added. Now the “toasted milk powder” on the wrapper makes sense! Thank you for the information, Dormouse!

The back of the 75.6% Madagascar bar lists the tasting flavors as having a “roasted start,” some spice and a finish of cherry and raspberry. The chocolate smelled woody to me, as though I were sniffing a finished wood table. My tasted buds were immediately hit by astringency and that roasted flavor that was mentioned. The astringency decreased to a flavor like tannins in wine. I didn’t taste anything that obviously reminded me of spice, but if I were to search for it, I could say that with the combination of the tannin flavors I’d think of mulled wine. The berry flavors were very subtle at the end since the astringency still lingered and was strong enough to mask all other flavors for me.

I’m intrigued when chocolate makers include details such as the conche time. The 75.6% Madagascar bar had a conche time of 25 hours. The wrapper listing the 38% white chocolate bar had a conche time of 28 hours. The Venezuelan bar had the longest conche time of 72 hours. I know that conching helps aerate the chocolate which leads to flavor reduction (learned from Ben Rasmussen), and this is shown in the level of astringency being less intense in the 72 hour conched chocolate compared to the 25 hour conched chocolate. It’s neat to try bars with different conching times side by side and taste the difference!

I rarely get to sample a chocolate that combines floral and nutty flavors together, like the tiny Venezuelan bar. I really enjoyed experiencing the taste of chocolate that reminded me of browned butter again. And I have never used the description of a bar smelling like a finished wood table, and that’s not bad since I genuinely like that scent! Overall, the bars Victoria picked for me provided a unique experience and one that I will definitely and fondly remember. Thank you again, Victoria! ūüôā If you want to read her reviews on other Dormouse bars and her interview with Isobel, go here!

Dormouse Chocolate: Made in Manchester, England

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

Cacao Review Collection #1

A while ago my first Collection from Cacao Review came in the mail. I knew it was coming for a long time and I was so excited to finally see what was inside! Hints were leaked out at times as to what the package would contain, but I was still very surprised on the outcome. I thought the chocolate makers and brands Cacao Review was working with were just letting a bar they already made be included in the bag, but nope. Cacao Review had something completely unexpected and new up their sleeves. Every product included in these bags can’t be found anywhere else in the world without purchasing the Collection. And there are only 200 of these bags available. It’s a really neat concept and it truly creates a special club that only you and the other 199 customers get to experience. To read more on Collection #1, go here.

The bag of Collection #1 goodies came packed with a second order I made through Cacao Review.

At the time of writing this post, Cacao Review is holding another Kickstarter to fund Collection #2. If you’re familiar with the average cost of a craft chocolate bar, you know that a lot of money is going into this project. I’m glad that Cacao Review is getting a boost of income from customers and fans such as myself because as a small company, this is a large and expensive feat they are taking on. I contributed for the second collection. If this post inspires you and these unique products seem equally exciting, please consider supporting them as well. If you are interested, you can go here to send a donation.

Let’s move on to the exciting products in Collection #1!

The Map Chocolate bar smelled like butterscotch despite being salted caramel. I first tasted the sea salt followed by a flavor like burnt caramel. The burnt flavor increased as my bite melted, but soon dissipated. Throughout my bite the burnt caramel flavor remained. I’ve seen people raving about this bar on Instagram and it’s definitely unique! I haven’t tried a bar with this kind of flavor and I’m very intrigued. The fianc√© said this bar tasted buttery and a friend (who normally doesn’t like chocolate) enjoyed it!

I actually won’t go into detail on tasting Raaka’s first ever roasted Haitian bar because I had already tried it! For my thoughts, go to my post where this bar was involved in playing Russian Roulette using chocolate.

The Durci bar included a description that they had been looking for 5 years to make a bar using white cacao. In Piura, Peru, they were able to connect with a farmer who had mostly white cacao, and this bar was the result. The flavor notes are listed as apricot and lemon. Just by opening the packaging my senses were flooded with a strong fruity scent. My taste buds were washed over with lemon and fruity flavors. My first thought was, “this is delicious!” The tartness of lemon with the tang of fruitiness helped wake me up. I really liked this bar!!!

The Dick Taylor Vanilla Raspberry bar included freeze dried raspberries and vanilla coconut palm sugar. The back of the bar was very pretty with tiny bits of raspberries. I could smell raspberries and coconut. I tasted the tart flavor of raspberry first followed by savory coconut. The chocolate itself also tasted fruity. This bar was also delicious and I immediately savored a second bite ūüôā

I hadn’t eaten a chocolate bar with giant inclusions in it like the s’mores bar by Solstice in a very long time. The piece I broke off had a huge chunk of graham cracker. It was very sweet and it’s the kind of bar I could just consume in one sitting due it its sweetness. In fact, that’s what ended up happening. My friend who normally doesn’t like chocolate said it tasted like camping trips ūüôā

I won’t be sharing the Solstice drinking chocolate or the Eat Chic hazelnut butter cups since I shared the Solstice drinking chocolate with my fianc√© immediately after receiving the package and I forget what my experience was. The Eat Chic hazelnut butter cups had melted by the time I opened them and I’m not sure why I found them in that state since the rest of the chocolate bars were in great condition ūüôĀ

Overall Collection #1 provided a nice medley of flavors and I really enjoyed trying unique products by different chocolate makers. I’m looking forward to Collection #2 already! Again, if you are interested in getting your hands on a limited amount of chocolate like this, support Cacao Review in their Kickstarter. If you can’t wait to get your hands on some delicious chocolate, you can order a variety of craft chocolate bars from Cacao Review’s online shop here. I’m wishing the best of luck to Emily and her team at Cacao Review as they take the next steps in their growing business and continuing their project of creating a unique experience for consumers.

Cacao Review: Based out of Utah, USA

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.

Valrhona

I used to shop at Trader Joe’s for my groceries and I’d see these mini bars of chocolate that were covered in black paper with either a purple or blue stripe on them for the different cocoa percentages. Though I was loading up at the time on Trader Joe’s brand chocolate covered caramels and other sweets, one day I finally grabbed up one of those mini bars and it made me rethink for a moment about why it tasted different than the usual grocery store chocolates I was consuming. That was the first time I tried Valrhona.

My conversion to liking craft chocolate didn’t happen right away. It still took one or two more years to even fine out that craft chocolate even existed. I also didn’t learn right away that Valrhona is a popular chocolate that chocolatiers and confectioners use for the base of their creations, like Artisan Confections in Arlington, VA, and J. Chocolatier in Washington, D.C.

These two bars came from my fianc√©’s martial arts teacher, who brought them back from visiting France. It was a pleasant surprise because since I learned Valrhona was used for bonbons and other confections, I don’t know, it kind of lost it’s luster in my mind. I remember walking past their table at the D.C. Chocolate Festival without giving them a second thought.

But before I dive into sampling these bars, if you want to purchase them for yourself, you can find them under the “Tasting Bars” section of Valrhona’s website. I guess I was so used to hearing about chocolatiers using a blend of Valrhona’s chocolate that I forgot they made single origin bars as well.

The Manjari 64% with candied orange peel bar is made with Madagascar cacao and its flavor is described as “fresh and tangy.” The bar had a strong citrusy and sweet, chocolatey scent. Citrus flavor exploded in my mouth with chocolatey sweetness as my bite melted. The flavor combo reminded me of Terry’s chocolate oranges, but with some more intensity on the citrus flavor and the light, sugar crystal texture of the candied oranges. I don’t get Terry’s oranges anymore and this bar would be the perfect replacement!

The Andoa 70% bar is made with Peruvian cacao and its flavor description is listed as “fresh and bittersweet.” The bar smelled fruity, almost like tropical fruit. “Fresh” isn’t the way I’d describe the flavor of this bar, but slightly astringent, bright citrus, fruity and chocolatey. Strong nutty flavors developed at the end of my bite.

I’m glad I had the chance to try Valrhona again! I think it helped that I got to try two flavors that I have not been able to find in store. I’m grateful for the generous and thoughtful gift from my fianc√©’s martial arts teacher and his wife and now I look forward to trying more of Valrhona’s bars!

Valrhona: 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.

Dick Taylor Solomon Islands and Cacao Hunters

These bars arrived on my doorstep from Bar and Cocoa. I hadn’t tried them before and I figured, why not? I had no idea that the Dick Taylor Solomon Island bar would be a favorite among multiple fellow chocoholics, so I’m very excited to try it.

The cacao for the Dick Taylor Solomon Islands bar is single origin but also single estate from a man named Kenny Patovaki on the¬†island of Paspaskato. Dick Taylor had already gone to the Solomon Islands in hopes of finding that cacao could grow there and then to ensure it consistently grew year after year. Kenny sent Dick Taylor some samples of the cacao he had grown and they fell in love with it. It’s because of Kenny’s ability to produce great tasting cacao that Dick Taylor used his beans to make this bar. You can read more of the story¬†here.

Adam Dick of Dick Taylor described the flavor of cocoa from the Solomon Islands as bright and fruity. The description of this specific bar on Dick Taylor’s website includes cherry, almond butter and apricot as the aroma, flavor and finish respectively.

The bar smelled more citrusy to me, but the flavor of cherry first hit my tongue. Some astringency developed as my bite melted as well as a citrus and walnut-like flavors. The texture was chewy and chalky at the same time since the bar had bloomed in transit. My bite ended with nuttiness, citrus and lingering astringency. If you want to hear another person’s thoughts, Victoria Cooksey, fellow blogger and chocoholic, also tried this bar.

Dick Taylor: Made in Eureka, California

The Cacao Hunters only use cacao from Colombia (you can see a map here showing the various parts they source from) and this bar is made with cacao from the Eastern Plains of Colombia along the Arauca river (listed as #5 on the map). Carlos Velasco founded the company with the goal of working with local farmers to identify and protect the different types of native cocoa in their country.

The flavor notes are listed as honey, cashew and mandarin. The scent was amazing from this bar. It was just like sniffing a mandarin orange! The flavor of honey developed as my bite melted as well as blackberry. I ended up having to chomp on this chocolate since it was taking a very long time to melt and the flavor started to remind me of Tootsie Rolls. Astringency developed at the end with nuttiness.

Even though both bars had badly bloomed, but they were still worth trying! Normally I would share the leftovers with my coworkers, but these bars are small and I’m going to do my best to finish them on my own.

Cacao Hunters: Made in Colombia

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.

 

√Čclat Chocolate

I had to laugh when I read on the back of the packaging, “Let your adventurous side be seduced!” because once again, I am trying a chocolate bar with corn in it. When some of my friends and coworkers learned that I’ve tried a chocolate bar with corn in it (by Wm. Chocolate), they were disgusted, confused and then intrigued. Maybe as chocoholics with an explorative palate it’s more amusing to see people’s reactions than it should be, but let’s be positive and say we’re trying to expand people flavor boundaries.

I picked up this bar at The Chocolate House because seeing toasted corn as an inclusion definitely grabbed my attention. I admire Will’s boldness to put corn in his Papua New Guinea bar, and to see someone else trying that combination was exciting. √Čclat Chocolate is not a chocolate maker but a chocolatier, and yes this bar does contain soy lecithin for those who abstain from it. Even though the chocolate is a blend and came from Belgium, the map on the inside of the packaging reveals that Christopher Curtin got his corn from Cuzco, Peru, so one of these items is single origin.

Why did Christopher put corn in their chocolate? The chocolatier enjoyed world travel and was inspired by those experiences to make this unique combination. This chocolate was described as being a “Destination Bar.”

The bar smelled very nutty. The crunchy texture of the corn reminded me of hard granola and the flavor was at first like popcorn minus salt and butter. Halfway through my bite, the combination of nutty chocolate with the corn and subtle raisin flavors was sweet and savory. Overall the texture and flavor was similar to breakfast granola bars, though toward the end the corn flavor was dominant.

The flavor experience with this bar was very interesting. It was as though it tasted like popcorn first, then a granola bar, then corn on a cob. It’s like my summer snacking in a nutshell!

√Čclat Chocolate: Made in West Chester, Pennsylvania

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.

 

Alkimia Chocolate

Alkimia Chocolate caught my eye due to the unique shape of their packaging. I don’t think I know of any other bar or chocolate maker that uses a hexagonal shaped box (which is made of recycled paper) to keep their bars safe. The bright colors are also pleasing to look at. Sadly I was not able to take pictures of these bars with better lighting at the time I was sampling them.

I first heard about Alkimia through Instagram but unfortunately their bars are not currently being sold in the U.S. Hopefully they can one day make it possible. Daniela, one of the founders of Alkimia, worked with me to send some bars for me to try. She created the company with her father, Roberto, when they combined their efforts through their love of chocolate. Their bars are only made with Peruvian cacao and they currently only have the three bars: Cusco, Piura and Amazonas.

The inside of the packaging beautifully depicts the steps Alkimia (and most other chocolate makers) use to create their bars starting with direct trade and ending with the packaging, yet the steps are in a circle showing the process as a never ending cycle. All of the bars have the same shape and appearance.

The flavor notes for the Cusco bar include citrus/grapefruit, honey and “hints of herbs,” according to the packaging. Indeed the chocolate smelled citrusy, raisiny, and sweet, like honey and caramel. The flavor was immediately herby, raisiny and sweet like honey mixed with the tang of citrus. As my bite melted, the texture was of fine grittiness. The raisin, herb and honey flavors were strong while the citrus was more subtle. The end and aftertaste of my bite was mostly herby with honey and subtly of raisin. It was a unique combination of flavors and I really liked it!

The flavor notes for the Piura bar include berry with hints of vanilla, clove and nuts. The bar smelled tart to me and closer to a cranberry scent than blackberry or other red berries with a hint of vanilla. The tartness immediately hit my taste buds followed by spice and the warmth of vanilla. Some astringency developed as my bite melted with a toasted walnut flavor. The end and aftertaste consisted of vanilla, subtle astringency and walnut flavor.

The tasting notes for the Amazonas bar include citrus/mandarin, raisins and “hints of cinnamon.” The scent was definitely spicy and fruity like raisins. The flavor of raisins and subtle spice first hit my tongue, but the strength of the spice increased as my bite melted. A citrusy flavor also developed. The combination of citrus with cinnamon reminded me of the scent of simmering pots my sister likes to make during the fall and winter seasons using citrus fruits and spices. The end and aftertaste consisted most of cinnamon and citrus with subtle raisin flavors. This combination was perfect for a rainy fall day.

Out of the three I have to say the Cusco bar was my favorite. I haven’t experienced many herby with raisin and sweet flavors in a chocolate bar, which was a unique experience for my taste buds. All three of these bars had a fine gritty texture to them and they all offered deep flavor stories. Hopefully Akimia will be able to start selling their bars here in North America and other countries so their business can grow and more people can experience their chocolate’s unique flavors!

Alkimia: Made in Lima, Peru

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.

 

 

Raaka – September First Nibs Selection

Well, once again I’m running late on this First Nibs Selection from Raaka since it’s now October and this selection is from September, but I’m very excited nonetheless to share these unique flavors because I’m glad to see more Japanese influences in chocolate! As a proud half-Japanese, I’m more than happy to partake in these interesting combinations ūüôā

The first time I heard about mushrooms in chocolate was when I tried Vosges Haut Chocolat’s dark chocolate bar with reishi mushroom, which I’m sad I can no longer find sold at Whole Foods. In fact, the bar is possibly not being made anymore since the only trace I could find of it on Vosges’ website was in a recipe. Maybe this is a sign that the public is not ready to accept mushrooms in chocolate, which is why my admiration for Raaka has been increased. They took a huge risk and ran with it.

Their mushroom bar uses enokitake mushrooms, otherwise known as enoki mushrooms. I need to take a moment because enoki mushrooms are one of my FAVORITE! They are awesome in hot pot! If you haven’t had hot pot (no matter which style), you’re missing out! I love the warm feeling when having simmered meat and veggies in broth on a cold day, and my fianc√© and I always, always, always choose enoki as one of our ingredients.

What I thought was very intriguing was that dashi was also listed on the front of this bar. The ingredients on the back include mirin, kombu and shiitake mushroom.¬† Mirin is a type of rice wine and has a light, sweet flavor. Kombu is a thick seaweed that can’t be simmered for too long or else it can give the dashi broth a bitter flavor. Traditionally dashi is prepared using bonito (fish) flakes and kombu.

Raaka’s explanation for this bar was that they prepared a vegetarian version of dashi. The broth was then infused (via steam) into the Congolese cacao nibs leaving a savory and subtle acidic flavor. The bars are then topped with dried enoki mushrooms for light flavor and texture.¬†I’m very intrigued by Raaka’s vegetarian version of dashi! Sometimes I cheat and use instant dashi in place of kombu and bonito flakes (also our bonito flakes are now used as treats for our cat, Choco), but I’m going to have to give this a try!

The bar itself smelled chocolatey and kind of salty like dashi. Light astringency developed as my bite melted, but as Raaka described, something of subtle salty and savory flavor was also present. The dried enoki mushroom that peeled off in my piece gave a light chewy texture. The chocolate itself was chocolatey and sweet while the subtle astringent and savory flavors were in the background. My bite finished with one last sharpness in astringency before savoriness lasted in the aftertaste. I liked this bar a lot! I think the chocolatey flavor was dominant and helped balance out the astringency and savoriness in the bar. I’m otherwise just really happy that Raaka managed to include dashi in chocolate because that’s really neat!

When I saw that Raaka was including green tea in more of their bars, I was so happy! They had previously made bars using genmaicha and hojicha. This time they used genmaicha tea again infused into the cocoa butter and then mixed with earthy Congolese cocoa. Raaka’s description for this bar mentions that bancha green tea leaves and toasted brown rice are combined (making genmaicha) and contribute a nutty flavor to the bar. Puffed quinoa adds a crunchy texture.

Indeed the bar smelled earthy and nutty. As my bite melted, earthiness developed first quickly followed by a strong nutty flavor and smokiness. The toasted quinoa gave a light crunchy texture. The nutty and smoky flavors dominated halfway through my bite. At the end, it finished with a bit of astringency and earthy, smoky and nutty flavors. I really enjoyed the texture of this bar and the strong smoky and nutty flavors!

I’m going to have a really hard time sharing these bars if they even last enough to share. If I had to choose a favorite out of the two, I’m leaning toward the enokitake and dashi bar because I’m so intrigued that Raaka made such a chocolate bar exist. I’m already looking forward to my next First Nibs Selection from Raaka!

Raaka: Made in Brooklyn, NY

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.

 

 

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 fianc√© 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.

Pump Street Bakery

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pump Street Bakery: Made in Orford, Suffolk, UK

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

Russian Roulette with Raaka Chocolate Including July and August First Nibs Subscription Reviews

I’m crazy late on reviewing the July and August First Nibs Subscription bars from Raaka, but I think the timing wasn’t too bad because these bars managed to get involved in a game of Russian roulette. I’ll get more into that story later, but first let me show you what came in the mail from Raaka in July and August.

Unfortunately at the time of my tasting these bars I was getting over a cold. I relied on the descriptions from Raaka to help get me through. Also, Russian roulette was only a couple of days away and I had to taste them by myself before introducing my friends to these bars.

Starting with the July First Nibs selection, I’m starting off with their Peach Cobbler bar. This bar combines the natural fruity flavor of Dominican cacao with peach powder. Then brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla spiced oat crumble is sprinkled on top. The back of the package also listed sea salt as an ingredient. The bar smelled like a subtle spice medley. I immediately tasted peach, cinnamon and brown sugar flavors. The oats gave a temporary crunchy texture and the flavor of vanilla was more obvious at that point. This bar really did remind me of peach cobbler with a chocolatey twist. I think pairing these peach and spice flavors with fruity Dominican chocolate was a good choice. If this were, say, an earthy type of bar, it would be a stark flavor contrast and not enjoyable. The natural fruity flavor of the chocolate itself was easily detectable toward the end of my bite where it reminded me of strawberries.

Similar to their Cabernet Sauvignon bar (my most favorite wine infused chocolate bar!), Raaka steamed the cocoa nibs over simmering Merlot wine to create the Sangria bar. This helps the red fruit flavors of Merlot to seep into the nibs. Raaka steeped dried oranges and limes in the cocoa butter so it would take on citrusy flavors. They also “melanged” apples, raspberries and cherries with the cocoa (after infusion with Merlot) to add more fruity flavors. This whole process sounds like a ton of work yet absolutely delicious. And delicious it was! The bar had a deep, rich fruity scent which reminded me of the Cabernet Sauvignon bar but less “grapey.” My mouth was filled with fruitiness with hints of citrus. As my bite melted the fruity flavor increased in intensity. It was very much like enjoying a sangria and even though it’s now fall, the chocolate brought me mentally back to the summer months. I felt as though I could taste the bits of fruit floating around in a sangria. I really enjoyed this bar!

I’ve tasted the Maple and Nibs bar before, but I’m trying it here again. Congolese cacao is combined with Dominican cocoa nibs and maple sugar from Vermont to create what Raaka described as a fudge flavor and like a pecan brownie. They recommended trying this bar in a s’more. Too bad it’s too late for me to try that! I made s’mores with some of my coworkers a couple of weeks ago but I used Letterpress’ Peruvian bar at the time. The back of the package also recommended enjoying this bar with coffee. I could definitely smell and taste the maple sugar. With the season being fall now, this bar was perfect! It had a warm, brownie-like deep cocoa flavor that wasn’t too bitter because of the maple sugar.¬† The crunch of cocoa nibs reminded me of the chunks of chocolate sometimes found in brownies at bakeries. Toward the end of my bite a nutty flavor developed holding true to Raaka’s pecan brownie description.

The theme to the August First Nibs selection seems to be roasted vs. unroasted. If you’re familiar with Raaka, you’d know that they tend to not roast their cacao beans. What’s even better is that this time they included the same type of bar, one that was unroasted like usual, and the second was roasted so you could experience an immediate comparison.

I’m starting with the unroasted Haiti bar. Every First Nibs batch comes with a card that is very helpful in giving little details about the making of each bar and the ideas behind it. The card mentioned that Raaka usually doesn’t roast their cacao to “highlight the wild, natural flavors found in each cacao bean.” These Haitian cacao beans came from farms near Cap Haitien. The consumer is to expect flavors akin to tannins like red wine with some Caribbean spice in this bar. Caribbean spice sounds very specific and I can’t say I’m familiar with what that tastes like, but the bar had a subtle spicy scent and immediate flavor. The tannins Raaka was talking about quickly developed. I also tasted subtle fruitiness as my bite melted, which returned to subtle spiciness at the end.

The roasted Haitian bar was listed as Raaka’s first roasted bar! I’m glad to be able to experience this! The card says that the cacao beans were roasted at 250 degrees for 25 minutes. We know that roasting changes the flavor of the beans in that it decreases their astringency/acidity, but I had no idea that it could help ease the winnowing process. The tasting notes were listed as fruity with a “tang,” malt and caramel. I could barely smell fruitiness and caramel from the bar. The card was right in that I first tasted fruitiness with a touch of astringency followed by a warm caramel and malty flavor. The description was spot on! It’s kind of mind blowing being able to taste and experience the same bar side by side with the only difference being whether the beans were roasted or not. I hope more chocolate makers do this because it’s a nice experiment and experience! It helps me appreciate the chocolate making process even more by not just knowing but now experiencing how the flavor of the chocolate is greatly changed by one step.

We’re finishing up the August selection with the Banana Foster bar. What’s neat about this bar is that the cacao was steamed over rum rather than roasted. The fruity Peruvian cacao was then combined with bananas, vanilla bean and caramelized cane sugar. I could smell banana and fruitiness from the bar with some sweetness. I actually first tasted earthiness from this bar followed by a sugary, caramel-like flavor. I tasted vanilla halfway through my bite. The texture of the chocolate was slightly sticky in my mouth like eating bananas. I couldn’t easily detect the flavor of bananas. It was in the aftertaste the I could finally experience it. For the majority of my bite I tasted the subtle fruitiness of the Peruvian cacao and caramelized sugar. I have to honest, I’m not a huge fan and my friends that played Russian roulette also weren’t in love.

 

I’ve already tried and shared the Cabernet Sauvignon bar here before, but I’m trying it again because as I mentioned earlier, it’s my most favorite wine infused bar. I breathed in the familiar sweet grape scent. Grape and wine flavors exploded in my mouth. I prefer sweeter wine over dry white and red wines, and this bar seemed to capture that sweet wine flavor very well. I’ve gifted this bar to people before and so far everyone who has tried it has greatly enjoyed it. During roulette, some people thought they tasted some spiciness in it. In the aftertaste I can see why they would say that. To me, what could be spiciness makes me think it’s tannins from the wine.

 

Now I’ll get back to Russian roulette. One of my friends had mentioned beforehand their curiosity of how ghost pepper would taste in chocolate. They were unaware that Raaka makes such a bar, so of course I had to order one and show them that such a magical item indeed exists. I hadn’t tried their ghost pepper bar before and I was just as curious. Once my friend saw this bar, they came up with the grand idea that we should play Russian roulette with it. Since I still had the July and August First Nibs bars, they were perfect to use for such a game and the molds look similar so it would be hard to tell the various bars apart.

The mess on the side while I prepared a plate of 8 pieces from each of the bars. Kept it simple with a plastic plate in case any accidents happened, like flailing from sudden surprise of consuming a piece of chocolate with ghost pepper.

Since my friends were nervous, I offered to taste the ghost pepper bar first. The chocolate smelled sweet, like sugar. But once it was in my mouth, there was a spicy kick that slowly increased in intensity and then plateaued. The fruity Dominican chocolate flavor I could barely taste in the background. In the aftertaste the spiciness lingered for a long time. Basically this bar gives you an even burn, but it’s actually not too bad! As someone who can tolerate spiciness but won’t jump for joy for it, I did not mind this bar at all!

During 3-4 rounds of roulette, the same two people kept getting the ghost pepper bar. Eventually everyone wanted to try it and we all agreed that the spiciness was tolerable. I would say it’s like a dark chocolate + chili bar but with a slight increase of intensity.¬†My sights are now on the Carolina reaper bar by Geogria Ramon! Actually, I might spare my friends after a couple of them shared they were even more scared of Carolina reaper. Though the ghost pepper bar was exciting, I don’t want to scare them off from being adventurous with their chocolate palate, though I joked about having them try a chocolate bar with mushrooms in it. Come to think of it, Raaka also make such a bar recently and I think I ordered it…

Raaka Chocolate: Made in Brooklyn, NY

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

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