Author: Lori (Page 1 of 28)

Going to the Dark Side Part 2

If you haven’t read Part 1 of my adventure of trying to appreciate 100% chocolate, head there first so you get the whole picture of how many bars I’m trying altogether (it’s the most 100% I’ve ever consumed), then return here ­čÖé

My curiosity about Pump Street’s 100% bar was what started a conversation between fellow blogger Victoria Cooksey and I that I wanted to try more 100% bars and learn to appreciate their intensity. She generously mailed me several samples from her personal stash. I was thought I was only getting two pieces of 100% bars, so I was very surprised when she sent me 7 to try!

Pump Street 100% Hacienda Limon Ecuador – The scent was kind of sweet and earthy. I tasted some brightness mingled with a touch of earthiness. The texture was fudgy. It wasn’t bitter like I thought it would be, which was a pleasant surprise! My husband said the chocolate was too astringent for him but he liked the smell.

Dick Taylor 100% Brazil – This chocolate smelled sweet, fruity and nutty. Some astringency developed as my bite started to melt, but the flavor reminded me of raisins. The astringency intensified as my bite melted but the subtle raisin flavor remained. Toward the end I tasted nuttiness as well. Chocolate Path lists the tasting notes as cocoa, green tea and dates.

French Broad 100% Guatemala – This bar smelled nutty but as my bite melted, it started to taste subtly fruity while astringency started to develop. The flavors remained that way until the end of my bite where it became bitter to the point of being too much for my taste buds. I almost didn’t finish trying to savor my bite. On the other hand, another chocoholic friend, Max of Dame Cacao, enjoyed this bar and you can read her thoughts here.

NearyN├│gs 100% Dominican Repbulic Hispaniola – This chocolate smelled spicy like cinnamon. Unlike the previous samples, this one had subtle astringency and I was able to appreciate a deep chocolatey flavor combined with subtle spiciness. The aftertaste consisted of nuttiness. Trying this was a nice break since my stomach was starting to get upset from all of the astringency and brightness I was experiencing. NearyN├│gs’ website describes this bar as having tasting notes of berries and spice.

Soma Chocolate, Arcana 100% Porcelana blend – This smelled chocolaty but tasted bright, bitter and chocolaty. This time the texture was not as fudgy, which was great. Soma’s website lists the tasting notes as cashews, licorice, pink grapefruit, and grass.

Damson 100% Vietnam Ben Tre – This smelled sweet but as my bite melted the brightness and astringency started. I got a lot of strong nutty flavors from this bar, like roasted walnuts. The brightness went away and I was left with astringency, a flavor that reminded me of shittake mushrooms and nuttiness. Toward the end I got some fruitiness like tart cherries. Can you believe this is the first time I’m finally trying a Damson bar? I’m glad I experienced a flavor story with this for my first sample of Damson!

Chocolate Tree 100% Ambanja Madagascar – This also surprisingly smelled sweet and I tasted subtle frutiness. As my bite melted I was reminded of the flavor of chocolate covered cherries. This 100% was also not so bad in that it didn’t have a lot of astringency either. Chocolate Tree’s website lists fruitiness and earthiness as tasting notes for this bar.

Out of the several samples I tried the Soma, Damson and Chocolate Tree were the most tolerable for my palate in its current state. My husband made a good point in comparing 100% bars to tasting whiskey since the flavors of both products are intense. I’ll keep trying 100% bars every once in a while to keep slowly adjusting my taste buds. I do believe that over time I’ll be able to appreciate 100% since I did after all begin to grow fond of bean-to-bar chocolate after at least a year of trying various chocolate makers’ products.

Thank you, Victoria, for being so generous and for being willing to ship all of these samples to me! If you want to read Victoria’s thoughts on these bars, she writes Dark Matters Chocolate Reviews.┬áShe shares more of her reviews on Instagram┬áand on YouTube.

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.

Going to the Dark Side Part 1

I know several people who love to consume dark chocolate, but not many jump for joy whenever I ask them about 100% bars. To be honest, I don’t get excited either, but I want to try to change that. I want to try to appreciate 100% bars for their intensity and not letting sugar cover any of the natural flavors developed in the cocoa during the chocolate making process. I’m going to try sampling several 100% bars and see if by the end I’ve managed to help my taste buds adjust to going all the way to the dark side!

I’m starting off with a couple of 100% bars I bought during a recent visit to Germany. I grabbed the Kun├í and PURistique bars at a store called Chocolate & More in Munich. The 100% PURistiue bar was actually thrown into my bag for free by the lady at the shop! And because I’m trying to efficient today, I’m also going to include my thoughts on the 70% PURistique bar ­čÖé

The 100% PURistique bar smelled spicy, but tasted bitter and spicy. Partway through my bite the chocolate had a bit of a bread aftertaste flavor going on. At the end I tasted astringency and nutty. The chocolate’s texture was fudgy.

The 70% bar smelled sweet and fruity, the complete opposite experience I had from the 100%! The flavor was also sweet and very fruity reminding me of mixed berries and of apples. Halfway and to the end of my bite I was reminded of chocolate covered cherries, like those by Dilettante. The 70% was delicious and I like it a lot!

The Kun├í bar smelled earthy, like dirt. I first tasted astringency followed by earthiness. Partway through my bite I experienced a touch of bright citrus followed by strong nuttiness, like walnuts. My bite ended with strong nuttiness and astringency. A coworker who tried this with me said this was the “least painful” out of the two German 100% bars.

So… to be honest I wasn’t in love with either of the 100% bars. The one I tolerated the most was by Kun├í because of the walnut-like flavor. The 70% by PURistique I would definitely have again ­čÖé Coming up in Part 2 is where a fellow blogger and chocoholic friend sent me multiple little samples of 100% bars they had!

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.

Fruition – Brown Butter Milk Chocolate

I had been eyeing this bar for a while and I made the excuse to get it in a combined order a while back. This bar was actually consumed the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day since I brought along to attend a parade with our puppy, Thompson, in Old Town Alexandria. We were able to walk down the street in the pre-parade section with other dog owners.

Our wheaten colored Scottish Terrier named Thompson!

Apparently the Scottish Terrier is the Alexandria city’s mascot! We thought it would be perfect to bring Thompson along with hopes of running into other Scottie owners. We saw a couple of other people with Scotties, but sadly we didn’t get the chance to say hi to the owners. Getting a Scottie playmate for Thompson will take a little while longer ­čÖü

Getting back to the chocolate, this bar had a deep caramel scent and flavor, which reminded me of what I like to call “meaty” caramels. Those type of caramels have a nice chewy texture and are covered with chocolate and sea salt… I’m drooling just thinking about it again ­čÖé This bar melted easily and smoothly. I would definitely eat this bar again!

Fruition: Made in Shokan, 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.

Vintage Plantations –

Since my first time of trying a Vintage Plantations bar, I figured I’d grab another when I saw them being sold at For the Love of Chocolate in Richmond, VA. My first experience was positive so I figured, why not? For the some of the story behind Vintage Plantations, head to my original post here┬áor go straight to their website!

This bar smelled citrusy and nutty. The flavors I tasted were spicy like cinnamon with a touch of chili. Halfway though my bite I got nuttiness and fruitiness. The texture was a little gritty and the bar left a dusty feeling on my tongue. I shared this bar with my coworkers who agreed with also tasting cinnamon. Overall we thought the flavors were interesting but we were not in love with the texture.

Though this bar didn’t blow me away, I’m not turned away from Vintage Plantations since my first experience trying their dark chocolate with toasted almonds bar was good. I’ll have to see if I decide to try more of their bars in the future.

Vintage Plantations: Made in Newark, NJ

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.

Naive Chocolate

Ever since I tried Naive’s Ambrosia Dark Pollen bar and remembered how much I liked it, I decided it was time to try more of Domantas’ creations.

As someone who likes the combination of chocolate + peanut butter but has a hard time finding craft chocolate bars with this combination, I practically jumped for joy when I saw that Naive had their own version. As you would expect, this bar smelled and tasted like peanut butter with creamy deliciousness of milk chocolate. The texture was amazingly smooth and it took all of my self control (which I have little of) to not eat the whole thing in one sitting! I won’t repeat Domantas’ description of this bar, but I recommend reading it for yourself here.

I’ve seen this bar shared on social media before and it seemed to be highly recommended by fellow chocoholics. I’m going off topic but I had to laugh when reading the description on the packaging because it says, “… puts the mind into a state of trance.” A State of Trance is an electronic music radio show I listen to that’s hosted by my favorite DJ, which is why I got a kick out of it ­čÖé The description mentions that the bar can taste sweet and sour at the same time due to the Incan berries inside.

The scent was very fruity, reminding me of goji berries, and delicious! Indeed, once the chocolate was melting on my tongue I got that mixture of sweetness with tartness and mild sourness. The dark chocolate seemed to ground the bright fruitiness making a delightful flavor combination. My bite ended with lingering tartness and deep chocolaty flavors.

It seems my experiences with Naive have been awesome so far! I’m definitely going to be trying more of Domantas’ bars in the future!

Naive Chocolate: Made in Lithuania

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.

Menakao

I purchased this bar through Bar & Cocoa, who I always turn to for bars that I cannot easily obtain though online shops in the United States. I simply bought this bar because I hadn’t tried Menakao before, but I had seen them on Instagram.

The packaging mentions that though a lot of cacao comes from Madagascar, most of the beans goes to external chocolate makers. Menako is different in that the cacao and the maker itself are both from and based out of Madagascar. This helps provide income to Madagascan people. The business originated from a man named Cassam Chenai, who moved from India to Madagascar about 150 years ago. He started a trading business first selling postcards, but then expanded to spices, cocoa and coffee. Fast forward to the fourth generation and 2006 where Shahin Chenai decided to start a ÔÇťfine chocolateÔÇŁ business to highlight the cocoa coming from the Sambirano region.

Their website says that name Menakao comes from the Malagasy word for ÔÇťredÔÇŁ (ÔÇťmenaÔÇŁ) and “cacao” (“kao”). The red represents the color of the soil the cacao is grown from, ÔÇťrich in mineral sediments deposited by our Sambirano river, red like the tones of the colour of our chocolate. Red like Red Island, the island of MadagascarÔÇŁ. The beans come from cooperatives in the upper and lower parts of the Sambirano Valley. All ingredients used to create Menakao bars come from Madagascar.

The tasting notes listed on the back of the bar is very descriptive! It includes red fruits, citrus, intense, elegant, bright, long rich yet subtle acidic finish. Let me take a moment to catch my breath! The chocolate smelled citrusy and earthy, literally like freshly tilled dirt. The flavor was mostly earthy with some citrus. As my bite melted, astringency started to develop with a subtle fruit flavor like plums. Then it turned into what kind of reminded me of Cheezits (yes, as an adult I still sometimes eat them). Like the slightly sour flavor of cheese. My bite stayed that way until the end where it finished with subtle earthiness.

Even though I don’t jump for joy over chocolate made with Madagascan cacao since I usually find them too astringent for my taste, this bar helped change the game for me. I think I’ll be more likely to purchase bars made with Madagascan cacao again in the future.

Menakao: Made in Madagascar

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.

 

 

Solstice – Bolivia

When I first tried Solstice I learned that I really like their 70% Wasatch Blend for its subtle spiciness. I figured I needed to start slowly making my way through trying as many of their bars as I can, so today it’s their Bolivia bar.

Though the tasting notes listed on the packaging mentioned nut, honey and cream, I smelled sea salt and caramel. If I searched for them, I could detect nut, honey and cream. The bar had an ashy look to it and it was hard to break apart. Rather than letting the chocolate naturally melt on my tongue, I had to dig in and chomp. The nutty flavor reminded me of almonds mixed in with creaminess and some sweetness. The nuttiness lingered in the aftertaste.

I shared this with a coworker who said the bar tasted like brownies to them. We both liked it and I quickly finished the rest of the bar ­čśÇ Time will tell which Solstice bar I try next!

Solstice: Made in Salt Lake City, UT

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.

Chocolarder

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

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

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

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

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

Chocolarder: Made in Cornwall, England

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

Taste Chocolate

These bars are courtesy of my mother, who generously put together many bars made in Utah (the state my parents are current living) for me as a Christmas gift. I have just recently started trying them. Sorry, Mom!

“Taste Chocolate” seems very straightforward and I was curious why they called themselves that… but looking at their website it makes sense. They carry not just chocolate bars but oil, vinegar and honey among other products. They’re basically encouraging people to try what’s locally made in Utah. Like Cacao Review, who is also based out of Utah, they sell bars by other chocolate makers.

The back of the packaging mentions the Piura bar was created using white cacao/cocoa beans, which are not very common. They’re specifically from Peru and the packaging pointed out that the chocolate itself is lighter in color compared to other dark chocolates. The tasting notes are listed as caramel, fig and “subtle melon”. I tried this bar with coworkers and we all agreed the chocolate has a very strong scent. At first I thought it might be herby but one of them said it was like raisins, and I have to agree with them.

I could definitely taste fig, earthiness and subtle caramel with some astringency. As my bite melted, the fig flavor intensified as the astringency became subtle. My bite ended with astringency and a dry feeling on my tongue.

For the Amazonas bar, the packaging mentions that Awajan natives harvested the cocoa using wooden tools to avoid damaging the beans. The tasting notes are listed as blackberry and cream. The bar smelled and tasted fruity and tart in a way that was reminiscent of wild blackberries. The texture was smooth and I did not taste any creaminess. I did get chocolaty flavors other than blackberry. This chocolate did not leave a dry feeling in my mouth.

I prefer the Amazonas bar over the Piura for the blackberry flavor, but overall both were good! I ended up snacking on both of these bars while driving to and from work, so they did not last long in my hands ­čÖé

Taste Chocolate: Made in Provo, Utah

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.

Luisa Abram

I ordered this bar through Cocoa Runners after seeing it shared once on Instagram, and suddenly Luisa Abram seems to be exploding everywhere! One of my coworkers said they could see this maker growing in popularity over time. I tried a sample of another of Luisa’s bars (I forget which one it was) and I recall enjoying it. If you want to learn more about Luisa Abram and how she started her chocolate business, read Cocoa Runners’ interview with her here.

First off, I love the presentation and packaging. It’s simple yet elegant! The white wrapper around the bar itself is folded in a way that reminds me of origami. I like how the ingredients listed on the back of the packaging simply consist of just cocoa and sugar. The bar itself smelled subtly nutty and as my bite melted, I tasted both nuttiness and astringency. The texture was very smooth though the chocolate took a little while to melt on my tongue. Midway through my bite, the astringency melted away and I could appreciate just the nuttiness as well as some earthiness.

This was a very pleasant bar! As someone who prefers nutty over earthy bar, I was able to appreciate the subtle earthiness without my palate feeling overwhelmed. I’m really looking forward to trying more of Luisa’s bars in the future!

Luisa Abram: Made in Sao Paulo, Brazil

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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