Author: Lori (Page 1 of 31)

Raaka November First Nibs Selection

Raaka always blows my mind with what they come up with next. Chocolate makers nowadays are so creative with what inclusions they throw into their bars that craft chocolate consumers barely blink when something that would otherwise be unique shows up in their next bar. I feel like Raaka is a special exception in that whoever plans and designs these First Nibs Selections is always thinking outside of the outside box, if that makes any sense. For November, Raaka played with the warm, comforting flavors of sweet potato and carrot. These aren’t off the wall ingredients, but we normally wouldn’t expect to see them combined with chocolate.

Though the Maple & Nibs bar was included with the November First Nibs Selection, I’m not going to include it in today’s post since I’ve tried it before.

We’re past Thanksgiving at the time that I’m writing this, but sweet potatoes are an ingredient I’ve started seeing on the table ever since I’ve lived in Virginia. Growing up in New Jersey I was not exposed to sweet potatoes and I don’t recall my mother ever cooking with it. It wasn’t until I attended a southern-style church potluck and a Thanksgiving with my sister’s in-laws that I was introduced to mashed up sweet potatoes covered in marshmallows. To some people this kind of dish brings up fond childhood memories. Personally I was very confused (and I didn’t touch the dish). But since Raaka uses candied sweet potatoes with their 70% Dominican Republic chocolate, they may be thinking on the same page as those sweet potatoes with marshmallows.

Raaka’s description for the candied sweet potato bar says, “We create a cinnamon-infused cocoa butter and mix it with house-caramelized cane sugar, maple sugar from Bascom Maple Farms in New Hampshire, sweet potato powder, and fruity Dominican cacao to create a bar reminiscent of the classic Thanksgiving side dish. To top it off? Jackson’s Honest sweet potato chips for crisp and crunch.” At the time I’m trying these bars I admit I’m fighting a cold and my sense of smell and taste isn’t that great, but I did detect the scent of nuttiness and sweet potato. The chips added great crunch, nutty flavors exploded in my mouth followed by a hint of salt and sweetness of maple and then fruitiness from the Dominican cacao. It was like bam, bam, bam of all those flavors hitting one after another.

The carrot cake bar was created to replicate the “natural sugars found in fall’s abundant root vegetables”. Raaka combined carrot powder, ground vanilla bean, ginger, nutmeg, allspice infused cocoa butter, organic cane and coconut sugar with earthy Congolese cacao to create this delicious sounding chocolate. Now the included description says ESCO Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo cacao was used, but the chocolate wrapper itself it says “earthy and nutty Dominican cacao”. I’m just going to go right ahead and enjoy tasting it! Since my sense of smell is terrible from being sick, the chocolate smelled chocolaty (I’m sure it’s more interesting if I weren’t congested). I tasted a lovely medley of warm spices that made me think of the last time I took a bite of carrot cake, which was a long time ago. The carrot flavor grew in intensity as my bite melted and it was delicious! It was just like eating carrot cake but with chocolate on top of it instead of that white-ish icing.

I have to say, out of the two bars, I am so blown away by the carrot cake bar! It literally tastes like carrot cake and despite my being sick, chances are high I’m going to consume the entire bar after writing this post. I’m still a little wary of those sweet potato and marshmallow dishes I see around Thanksgiving, but I give props to Raaka for creating a fun and interesting textural and flavorful experience with their candied sweet potato bar.

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.

Nola Cacao

I’m so grateful for social media! Even though apps such as Instagram can be a large distraction from the reality of life, it’s served as my sole tool for networking with fellow chocoholics and chocolate makers. Richard and Tiffany, the makers behind NOLA Cacao, reached out to me through Instagram and generously offered to send me some of their bars. They’re an up and coming company now based out of Denver, Colorado.

Tiffany is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, and their kids were raised just north of New Orleans (also called NOLA). The Brown Pelican on the packaging pays homage to their home state. The family wanted to look for cleaner food and understand where their food came from. This quest introduced them to chocolate making, which led them to creating NOLA. For the time being their bars are primarily created using cacao sourced from Guatemala, but they have experimented with beans from Dominican Republic, Belize and Bolivia. The only two ingredients used to create NOLA bars are Guatemalan cacao and organic coconut sugar.

NOLA is a family business not only due to the Tiffany and Richard heavily involved in the chocolate making process, but their three kids have some understanding on roasting and grinding beans. Since all of their kids are still relatively young, they may become more involved in the business as they grow older. It’s not uncommon for couples to start a chocolate making business, but if the kids also help out, that’s special and promises that the business can continue to grow for many years to come. For more information about NOLA Cacao, you can refer to their About Us section on their website.

When I first received the bars, I appreciated the simple packaging. Though the three bars are different colors, they are the exact same chocolate being Guatemala 78%. While several chocolate makers have changed their packaging from being simple to very colorful, I like the minimalistic look. Transparent information about the cacao used in the chocolate is available and there’s no muss or fuss. The chocolate mold is simple and pleasing to look at. The chocolate itself smelled fruity, earthy and citrusy. Once it started melting, the chocolate tasted earthy and citrusy with some astringency. It reminded me of the Madagascar Francois Pralus bar I’ve had in the past. The melt and texture was even and very smooth. In the aftertaste I experienced nuttiness like toasted walnut. I took a second bite several hours later and this time the chocolate tasted very nutty with some astringency and brightness.

This chocolate reminded me of several drinking chocolates I had recently tried that also tasted nutty and had some astringency. If you wish to try these bars for yourself, they can be ordered online through Nola Cacao’s website here. And if you want to gift them for family and friends now that the holidays are coming up, a 3-bar pack is available!

Before closing, I’m also giving a quick update. Not long ago I shared that I was working for a chocolate maker so I could gain hands-on experience with the chocolate making process. I decided to leave that position a couple of months ago for a completely different career path and who knows, I may return to science and working in the lab someday. While I loved my team, the company and working in chocolate is in general amazing, it didn’t fit into my husband’s and my future plans. I’ll fondly recall my times walking into the factory and being surrounded by the lovely scent of freshly winnowed nibs and tempered chocolate.

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay 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.

Taylor Made Chocolate and Michel Cluizel 85%

Wouldn’t it be awesome to be a personal chocolate consultant? You could serve clients who love chocolate but aren’t in the know about various chocolate makers, so your job is to find them bars or chocolate products that fit their favorite flavor profile or to simply introduce them to something new. I love those few times when I’ve had family, friends or coworkers tell me that they want a certain flavor in their chocolate and I make it my personal mission to find them that special bar they may like. One example is when a prior coworker told me that they liked Hershey’s Cookies and Cream bar. In an effort to start guiding them in the direction of better chocolate, I gave them Milka’s Oreo bar to try, and they loved it!

Another example is when I became acquainted with a couple in Richmond and the wife said she couldn’t find a certain coconut milk dark chocolate bar anymore. She knew this bar used to be made in Hawaii but couldn’t remember the company that made it. The words “coconut milk” sounded familiar, and since I was in Richmond, I ran over to For the Love of Chocolate to find Raaka’s dark chocolate Coconut Milk bar. I was so happy when she said she liked it!

A more recent example was when we hosted my old coworkers for a game of chocolate roulette. One of the coworker’s wives joined us and said she liked dark chocolate. I asked her what kind of bars she preferred to buy for herself and if she knew what notes or flavors she liked in her dark chocolate. She said fruity, and I happened to have two Wm. Chocolate 68% Dark Belize bars, so I gave one of them to her. That same night she had already started eating it and said she liked it.

Being able to provide bars for chocolate lovers who aren’t familiar with craft chocolate makes my day! I’m still learning and will always be learning about what kind of chocolate bars and products are out there in the world because there are so, so many. What also makes my day is when I learn of a local chocolate maker that I had never heard of before. During my recent trip to For the Love of Chocolate in Richmond, I picked up these 85% Michel Cluizel and Taylor Made 67% Haitian Cacao bars for myself and I was happy to learn that Taylor Made is a local chocolate maker.

First, I’m sharing the 85% Michel Cluizel bar. Since Michel Cluizel has been kind to share their Brazil bars with me, I wanted to give back in trying another of their bars on my own. This one seemed to be a blend of 85% dark chocolate since no specific origin was stated on the packaging but most other Michel Cluizel bars are single origin. This bar smelled like cherries and cocoa powder. For me it had an initial strong cocoa flavor with a fudgy mouthfeel. As my bite melted the flavor turned a little tannic and a subtle cherry flavor developed toward the end. My husband said it was creamy with some coffee flavor. On the back of the packaging the flavor notes are listed as “roasted chestnut and slightly tangy grilled coffee beans”. For an 85% this bar didn’t taste bitter or over-roasted at all!

I learned about Tayor Made when I found several of their bars at For the Love of Chocolate. And guess what, they are based out of Virginia! In fact, they’re near Richmond. My sister sent me a video about them, which you can view here. What I love about their company mission is that they not only support Haitian farmers, but they are contributing to ending human trafficking in the Richmond area. Their story is about supporting the International Justice mission after learning that more slavery exists today than there was before, and fighting slavery by making and selling chocolate. The company’s overall message and goal is for freedom. You can learn more from their website but I hope I can visit in person someday to speak with Taylor himself.

This bar smelled fruity like raspberries to me. The chocolate tasted fruity and nutty, hen it tasted like raspberries and chocolaty. The aftertaste reminded me of grapes. I really liked this bar and I would definitely eat again! I’m so excited to hear about a small business creating a large force in the Richmond area, especially regarding human trafficking. I had no idea that Richmond was the capital of human trafficking, and since my husband and I plan on moving there in the future, this makes me want to become a regular customer and support Taylor Made’s mission.

I love stopping by For the Love of Chocolate and seeing what’s new in their inventory. I have never had the chance to speak to the owner of the shop, but I know what he looks like. The only encounter I had with him was when he said he samples so many bars to figure out which one to sell and what the people of Richmond might like. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to get the guy’s name and sit down with him for a Q&A.

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.

Map Chocolate – Fall is here!

One of my favorite seasons is here! Even though fall started a while ago, in the D.C. area we have been experience high temperatures as though it were still summer, but now it’s finally starting to cool down. I’d be one of the first to raise my hand and admit I’m a fellow psycho who’s crazy for anything with pumpkin spice and throwing some flannel on. My husband is in the same boat as those who shake their heads and can’t understand why people like myself are crazy for all things pumpkin. Opposites attract, yeah? Though I’m not sipping a pumpkin spice latte at the moment, I’m sharing these bars by Mackenzie that speak to the upcoming changes in season.

The moment I saw the name My Favorite Plaid Shirt for a chocolate bar, I had to try it! Though all of my favorite plaid shirts had to be donated because they all shrank from previous years of washing and drying (I have terrible luck with washing cotton items despite following directions), I still have my favorite flannel shirt. Whether my flannel shirt has a proper plaid pattern, I’m not sure but I’m looking forward for the weather being cool enough to throw it on!

The ingredients list for this bar is above and the subtitle for this bar is “Fiji 73% pumpkin babka sprinkled with pumpkin seeds and caraway”. The description that Mackenzie includes with this bar speaks of raking up a pile of leaves, jumping into it and repeating the process. It pays ode to our favorite things and fond moments. When I think of fall I think about no longer sweating to death in the sun, wearing my warm flannel, watching the trees change into beautiful warm colors, being able to finally fit Thompson into his fleece jacket (he was too small for it before), and hopefully my allergies being less severe.

The scent of this bar was a mixture of earthiness and subtle spiciness. I first tasted strong spiciness, which grew in intensity as my bite melted but it never became too much. The pumpkin seeds gave a nice crunchy texture. After the initial spice, warm spices and something like chocolaty, brown sugar sweetness developed. This bar hit all of the fall niceties with a warm flavor and feeling, something pumpkin (pumpkin seeds) and spiciness.

Tyger Tyger Burning Bright also sounded like a good fall-themed bar for it’s warm sounding masala chai and gingersnap flavors. Mackenzie’s description for this bar mentions that through experience we all learn that “for every lamb there is a tiger”. Her words remind me of how some people prefer to keep peace and harmony, while nowadays we hear of too many people (like in social media) purposefully lashing out and hurting others. I love how at the end of her description she says, “Let’s all just get along and share some tea, shall we?” While it would be a miracle for the world to do that, it sounds nice.

The ingredients list for this bar is depicted above and the base of the bar is Vietnam Lam Dong 73%. I’m curious why baking soda is listed as an ingredient and what part it’s playing in the bar. I’m a fan of chai spices though in the past I haven’t been fond of candied ginger in chocolate. A few years ago when I first bought and tried a dark chocolate bar with candied ginger from Whole Foods I couldn’t bring myself to take more than one bite. In this case, the ginger looks like it’s broken into manageable tiny bits.

I could smell the ginger and chai spices with some other scent that reminded me of stoneware for some reason. The combination of scents also made me think of tiki masala and walking into an Indian restaurant (just ate some chicken with tiki masala earlier, so that’s clearly still on my mind). Sweetness like honey and caramel filled my mouth while what I’m guessing are the ginger bits were like seeds to crunch on. There was a brief moment of sharpness as a chunk of dried ginger bits dissolved at once. After the initial shock of ginger, it gave way to a very pleasant mixture of ginger and chai that reminded me of gingersnap cookies. The end of my bite was my favorite part of the journey. It was warm, delicious and already had me thinking about Christmas.

I enjoyed both bars! While My Favorite Plaid Shirt already had me at the title, I couldn’t stop at just one bite. Though I love ginger, I’m not a huge fan of crystallized ginger in chocolate. For me, the finish of the Tyger Tyger Burning Bright bar was my favorite part since it tasted like gingersnaps. Because of that I’ll be slowly enjoying more of this bar. Thank you, Mackenzie, for creating more bars with unique inclusions for us to enjoy and exercise our palates!

Map Chocolate: Made in Eugene, OR

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

Chocolate Roulette with Fossa

Chocolate roulette is one of my favorite games to play when introducing a group of people to a new brand of chocolate or even craft chocolate in general. In this case, my old coworkers got to be subjected to playing with Fossa’s Chilli Peanut Praline as the bullet. The rest of the Fossa bars are depicted above. All of these I ordered through Caputo’s Gourmet Food Market & Deli.

Before I dive into the gameplay, I’m embarrassed to say I cannot share my tasting notes of the bars like I normally do. What happened was that between the night of playing roulette and the time that I’m typing this post, I got sick and that lasted for a good couple of weeks. I set the chocolate down on my dining table and left it there for the duration of my being sick. I should have put the chocolate in a sealed food safe container or Ziploc bag… but I had forgotten to. Then this morning I wanted to individually taste the bars to share my thoughts, and several fruit flies flew up from the bars. Needless to say, I’m very grossed out by this and I don’t know if I want to touch the chocolate again. I’m sad that I have to throw chocolate away due to my forgetfulness. Hopefully in the future I’ll be able to reorder some of these Fossa bars and try them again.

But Despite my not being able to personally taste each of the bars, I can at least share the descriptions and tasting notes listed on the packaging of each of the bars.

Chilli Peanut Butter, 54% Dark: “Inspired by our favourite satay sauce, we created this unapologetically bold and fiery chocolate that will leave you craving for more. Wash it down with some beer for the complete experience.” I do recall that the Chilli Peanut Praline bar first tasted like peanut butter and the spicy burn slowly builds up. At its peak the chilli doesn’t burn your mouth off, but it’s definitely enough to detect it. I had never tried a peanut + chilli bar before and it was a nice combination!

Pisa, Haitia, 68% Dark, tasting notes of raisin, floral and honey: “Blessed with rich soil, Northern Haiti produces cacao amongst other crops like coffee and even oranges used for the famous Grand Marnier liqueur. This chocolate is named after Produits Des Iles SA (PISA), a cacao processor dedicated to helping growers understand and improve the quality of their cacao since 2014.”

Pak Eddy, Indonesia, 70% Dark, tasting notes of creamy almond with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg: “Single-estate chocolate made from cacao personally cultivated, fermented and dried by our friend, Pak Eddy (local term for Uncle Eddy) in his small estate in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. A blend of 14 cacao varietals from 32 trees gives this chocolate a complex profile.”

Rehoboth Estate, Phillipines, 70% Dark, tasting notes of tawny port and prunes: “In Davao City, the cacao capital of the Phillipines, Rehoboth Estate collects wet cacao from smallholder farms to ferment in a central fermentary, providing a reliable source of income for the farmers. This special chocolate is made from heirloom cacao harvested from old trees. The pre-dominantly white coloured beans give the chocolate a light brown color.”

Davao, Phillipines, 70% Dark, tasting notes of tawny port and fresh cream: Same description as the Rehoboth Estate bar above.

Öko Caribe, Dominican Republic, 72% Dark, tasting notes of bright coffee and peanut brittle: “Nestled in the heart of the cacao-rich Duarte province within the Dominican Republic, Öko-Caribe maintains close relationships with its 181 farmers through technical training in agronomic practices to produce consistently high quality cacao. Our preparation brings out the deep chocolate-peanuty flavour found naturally in these prisine beans.”

Alto Beni, Bolivia, 70% Dark, tasting notes of hazelnut latte and pine needles: “Deep in the jungles of Bolivia, cacao beans are collected from small-holder farmers who are paid premium prices by the Alto Beni Cacao Company. Our cacao is a hybrid variety known as ‘Walikeewa’, a local Aymara language for ‘improved’, as the farmers constantly try to improve the quality of every batch.” I remember when I opened this bar I loved how it smelled and I recall definitely tasting nuttiness from the bar!

Alto Beni, Bolivia, 85% Dark, tasting notes of pecan, cream and cinnamon: Same description as the 70% Alto Beni bar above.

 

My old coworkers remember me as being a crazy chocolate lady. I used to work at a research lab with my desk being in a cubicle. One of my desk drawers was dedicated to holding chocolate and I would welcome anyone to come by and help themselves to whatever chocolate was available. When I knew I was seeing some of those coworkers, I told them I had several Fossa bars I needed help eating and they happily were willing to participate in a game of roulette.

Since 12 people were playing (excluding myself) and I only had the 8 Fossa bars, I doubled up some of the bars on the plate but there was only one piece of Chilli Peanut Praline. We played three rounds of roulette, and thankfully a different person got the spicy bar each round. Since the spicy kick isn’t immediate, there was a moment of silence as we all waited in anticipation to see who got the “bullet”. That moment is one of my favorite parts of the game as people nervously look around at each other’s expressions to see who appears to be in pain. At the end of the rounds, everyone wanted to try a piece of the Chilli Peanut Praline bar. It’s funny that at the end of every chocolate roulette game, everyone is curious about how spicy the “bullet” is and even those with a low spice tolerance want to try it.

Hopefully the next time I host a game of chocolate roulette I remember to store the chocolate in a bag or container safe from fruit flies so this doesn’t happen again! Otherwise I’ve enjoyed every Fossa bar I’ve tried. If you go to my Instagram page (@timetoeatchocolate) you can find a couple of other Fossa bars aside from the ones I shared here that I’ve enjoyed.

Fossa Chocolate

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. 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.

 

Michel Cluizel Releases New Cacao Origin of Brazil

Thanks to Michel Cluizel, I am able to try their new bars using cacao sourced from Brazil, specifically from a plantation in Riachuelo. According to Google, Riachuelo is a municipal in the northeastern state Sergipe. Michel Cluizel currently sources cacao from a handful of countries and it’s exciting to see them branch out to Brazil now that I’m seeing more chocolate makers start sourcing their cacao from Brazil!

If you aren’t familiar with Michel Cluizel, they are a family owned business that originally started in Damville, Normandy. The name comes from Michel, who is the son of Marc and Marcelle Cluizel. Michel’s parents were already experienced in making pastries and chocolate confections, so Michel started an apprenticeship under them when he was only 16 years old. While his parents had the goal of making their family business grow, Michel brought it to the industrial level. The family now has a manufacture location in West Berlin, NJ. Because this manufacturer is based out of my home state, I’m glad to support Michel Cluizel!

Though my latest post mentions that the purest dark chocolate contains just cacao/cocoa and sugar, Michel Cluizel adds some cocoa butter and “bourbon vanilla pod”. Some chocolate makers will add additional cocoa butter (cocoa beans are already naturally made up of about 50% cocoa butter) to help make a smoother mouthfeel or texture in their bars. Some vanilla is added to sometimes help enhance or improve certain flavors in a bar.

Since I’m still getting over a cold, I’m not able to smell this chocolate very well, but I tasted fig or stone dried fruit followed by nutty and nibby (like cocoa nibs) flavors. Then I taste strong fruity what was like blackberry flavors. The aftertaste was very cocoa-y as if I had just drunk some nutty dark hot chocolate. The tasting notes listed on the packaging are “grilled cocoa, dried fruit and berries, mingling with bitter-sweet notes, in a delicately spiced chocolate and caramel long finish”.

The 51% milk chocolate bar contained not only cocoa, cocoa butter and vanilla, but also whole milk powder as expected. When I remember to, I always like to include the ingredients lists for bars I’m trying in case anyone has any food allergies but is interesting in trying a specific chocolate bar, or for those who are discerning as to whether these bars contain emulsifiers or other filler ingredients.

For me this bar tasted like caramel, nuts and mostly butterscotch. The flavors gave me a warm, comforting feeling, which is great for recovering from a cold. The flavor experience described on the packaging says “creamy, tender texture, with sweet notes of milk, cream and caramel, mingling with notes of red fruits and cocoa, with a spicy and fresh lingering flavor.”

It was very nice to try milk and dark chocolate bars back-to-back made with cocoa beans from the same origin! It’s not often that I get to experience this kind of flavor comparison and I want to do it more often. If you enjoy chocolate and want to take your tasting journey to another level, I recommend trying these Michel Cluizel bars or any two bars that are from the same origin but different cocoa percentages.

Thank you again to Michel Cluizel for sharing these bars with me!

Michel Cluizel

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. 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.

 

Are you confused when shopping for “good” dark chocolate?

This post is for people who are new to craft chocolate and aren’t sure how to interpret the words and labels slapped all over the wrappers of chocolate bars. Have you wandered down the aisle of Whole Foods, Mom’s Organic or other store feeling unsure of whether you can trust what the packaging is trying to tell you? Trust me, I’ve been there too! When I was brand new to trying craft chocolate, I had no idea what to look for in the ingredients list or to even look for the origin of the cocoa.

Now when I look at the chocolate selection of Whole Foods, I wonder if I can truly believe that the majority of the chocolate sold there is held at the same standard as craft chocolate and I’ve learned that sadly a lot of the chocolate bars being sold there have been co-packed. From my understanding, co-packed means that a brand approached a chocolate manufacturer and asked them to produce a certain type of bar for them. This co-packer can produce hundreds, maybe even thousands of bars for the brand (this makes me think of mass produced chocolate like Hershey’s). Then the brand just slaps their label onto it. An example is Endangered Species chocolate.

I remember going to Endangered Species’ website trying to find information on the origin of their cocoa and I could not find it anywhere. When you look at their ingredients list, it begins with “chocolate”, which consists of chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin and vanilla. The purest dark chocolate bar should simply contain cocoa and sugar (with the exception of any added fruits, nuts, salt, and other inclusions).

Thanks to Ana Brady from Food Packaging Labels, Ana shared with me a helpful visual guide for those who are lost when deciding which chocolate bars to purchase. The only thing I would add to this visual guide is to alway look for the origin of the cocoa. The origin could simply be the country that the cocoa beans came from, or even the specific cocoa plantation. This helps the consumer trace their food to the source and potentially to the farmer’s hands that helped cultivate the cocoa pods. To view the guide, go here, and I hope that next time you enter a store to try a new chocolate bar you’ll be less confused and feel empowered to understand the difference between “good” chocolate and great chocolate!

 

I did not receive pay or any compensation for sharing links or information from Food Packaging Labels. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. 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. 

 

 

 

Raaka First Nibs Selection – September 2018

Because my First Nibs Selection subscription with Raaka comes every other month, I get super excited when I see a Raaka box on my doorstep. I’ve raved in the past about their unique inclusions in these limited edition bars. For September, my eyes almost popped out of my face. Nibby Butter Buckwheat Cookies?! Cranberry Sage Pie?! Already the names of these bars are very interesting!

According to the description sent with these bars, Food52 is releasing a new cookbook on September 4th (we’re past that now). They chose three of their dessert recipes that would work well with chocolate and handed them off to Raaka to “work their magic”. The new cookbook is called “Genius Desserts: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Bake”.

The first bar is Nibby Butter Buckwheat Cookies in Asochivite, Guatemala 72%. That’s quite a mouthful for the title! According to the description, buckwheat is an alternative to wheat flour. The recipe originally calls for using grassy buckwheat and bitter cacao nibs in shorbread cookies. Raaka believed these flavors would pair well with a fudgy Asochivite.

For me, the scent of this bar was a mixture of fruity and earthy. With the buckwheat side down on my tongue, I first tasted salt followed by strong herby and light fruity flavors. The toasted buckwheat bits literally added a “pop” of flavor and texture. Once the buckwheat flavors had dissipated I was left with fudgy brownie. The thought of fudgy pecan brownies crossed my mind, but instead of pecans there’s buckwheat. This bar was like having a party in my mouth! There was a lot going on with texture and flavors, and in the end it comes down to reminiscing about brownies.

The next bar is Cranberry Sage Pie in Kokoa Kamili, Tanzania 66%. First of all, this bar is gorgeous to look at! The brown sugar glistens in the light and the deep red cranberries are like little dark rubies. The description for this bar mentions the Elsen sisters who run a bakery called Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn. They go beyond creating traditional pies “splashing bitters into their filling and showering salt across the top”. This bar was inspired by a pie they made that uses raw and dried cranberries, sage and fall spices.

The scent of this bar is like Christmas with the brown sugar scent reminding me of gingerbread cookies and the strong cranberry scent was like cranberry sauce that’s seen around Thanksgiving. If you don’t like chocolate, then the scent alone is what you need. I want the essence of this bar as a perfume that I can wear during the fall and winter. I first tasted the sweetness of the brown sugar followed by the sweet yet tart dried cranberries. The sage was subtle and I could definitely taste the fall spices. The Tanzanian chocolate is described as being sweet and it was a nice way to pull all the sweet things together yet balance out the sage. This bar is SO good!

The last bar is Roasted Sugar in CAC Pangoa, Peru 68%. The description for this bar says it was inspired by a happy accident of Stella Park (writer behind the book “Brave Tart”) in leaving sugar in an oven at low heat for hours. Instead of melting, the granules became “more caramelly”. The bar smelled sweet like honey. The flavor reminded me of the brown sugar in the Cranberry Sage Pie bar and like light molasses. This is a great chocolaty, sweet bar that is subtle rather than intense for people who are exploring dark chocolate bars but don’t like bitterness.

One again Raaka made three very unique bars! The Nibby Butter Buckwheat Cookie bar is great for people looking for a flavorful and textural experience. The Cranberry Sage Pie is awesome for fall-lovers such as myself who love the holidays of the colder months and the foods that come along with it. The Roasted Sugar bar is good for savoring anytime of the day and anytime of the year. If I had to pick one out of the three, I gravitated the most to the Cranberry Sage Pie. And I’m saying this as I’m already popping another piece of it in my mouth 🙂

Raaka Chocolate

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. 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.

 

WKND Chocolate

Apparently I had tried these WKND bars at the end of spring and somehow never got to finishing writing my thoughts about these bars! At this point, Lauren of WKND Chocolate is in the process of moving overseas and relocating her business, which means the bars I’ll be sharing here might be the last I get to try until she’s settled into her new location. Since I can’t immediately recall my experience, listed below are my old notes from the original time of tasting.

Strawberry bar: “The World Through Strawberry Colored Glasses”

The ingredients list contains cocoa butter, almonds, balsamic vinegar and freeze dried strawberries. Balsamic vinegar? That’s very interesting and a unique ingredient! The bar smelled fruity and delicious. I tasted some “tang” once I put the chocolate in my mouth. After reading balsamic vinegar in the ingredients, it was stuck in my mind and I could taste it. It was like the vinegar brought out some tartness and the sweetness of the strawberries. The almonds gave the bar some subtle crunch and texture. This was delicious and very different than other strawberry bars I’ve experienced.

53% Micolate

The ingredients included Vale Potumuju Brazilian cacao, cocoa butter, cane sugar and non-fat milk powder. This bar smelled less creamy than most milk chocolate bars I’ve had. Even though it tasted subtly milky, the flavor of the chocolate reminded me of coffee and I experienced a chocolaty aftertaste. This was also delicious and I loved how I got to enjoy more of the cacao’s flavor than just the milk powder. Maybe this milk chocolate having a natural light coffee flavor is why it’s called mico-late? 🙂

Scarlett Sunrise 80% Dark Chocolate

Ingredients include Vale Potumuju Brazilian cacao, cane sugar, freeze dried raspberries, hibiscus flowers, red Alaea Hawaiian salt, and cardamom. What a unique combination of hibiscus flowers with salt and raspberries! I could definitely smell the raspberries and if I searched for it, I could detect subtle floral and spice. The salt hit my taste buds first, followed by tart raspberries and an interesting combination that almost seemed savory of the cardamom and hibiscus. This flavor combo reminded me of sweet spice rubs used for ribs. Once the initial party of flavors dissipated, I tasted only the chocolate base, which was the same as the 53% Micolate, so I also tasted subtle coffee and strong nuttiness. I applaud Lauren on making such a unique combination! It’s perfect for the summertime.

Now that I’m finishing this post at the end of summer, the strawberry bar has lingered the most in my memory and it must be because of that balsamic vinegar. I hope that Lauren is having no trouble in relocating and hopefully down the road I’ll be able to try more of her creations!

WKND Chocolate

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. 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.

 

An update…

Hi all! It’s been a while since I’ve shared a post here on Time To Eat Chocolate and I figured I would give an update and chat a bit about what’s been going on. Hang tight because this will take a while! I’ll be diving into some topics that have been weighing heavy on my mind and why I’ve taken a step back from social media and from blogging.

Ever since March when I got married my life has become busier. I’d been warned by married friends and family members that once you get married, in general you become busier. It just kind of happens. Personally I think I’ve been focusing more time on family, helping raise our “children” (meaning our Scottish terrier and cat) and doing all the regular chores and grocery shopping takes longer now I’m not just looking after myself. I’m starting to understand why when people get married they kind of fall off of the edge of the earth compared to when they’re living a single life!

I also want to share that ever since mid-February I’ve been working as an assistant chocolate maker for a business in the D.C. area. I made the switch so I could gain hands on experience learning what it’s like to make bean to bar chocolate. I admire how some people can simply read a book about the process and fully understand it. I’m a tactile and visual learner, so this has been the best way for the process to stick in my mind.

I never put this job switch out there on social media because I wasn’t sure if I’d receive any backlash, but now I feel like I need to mention it somehow. I’m surrounded by chocolate at work and when I come home I want to unwind and take a break from chocolate, which affects my time spent on social media and sometimes from consuming it at home. I still love chocolate, don’t get me wrong! But I think I’m experiencing overexposure.

I won’t name the company that I’m working for because that should not matter nor should people be nosing into my business, but if you haven’t already read it at the bottom of every post since mid-February, I make it clear that my thoughts in my reviews are always my personal thoughts despite my working in the chocolate industry. I have to stress that since a someone in the chocolate industry I used to admire decided to be disrespectful toward me since they learned of my job and I had to remind them that I’ve already been reviewing chocolate products for three years prior to my working in chocolate. Because I’ve now seen and experienced the behind the scenes work at a craft chocolate business, my tolerance for rude behavior from other makers and businesses has greatly decreased. If I and other customers are using our hard earned money to buy their bars and therefore support their business, they have no grounds to treat us that way! It’s simply poor customer service.

Besides overexposure, I’ve taken a step away from social media and considered cancelling this blog since I’d come home from work with no energy to scroll through Instagram, read articles or write a blog post. Also in the past my husband pointed that out I was probably spending an unhealthy amount of time on my phone and laptop. He had a good point. I’ve been happy yet sad about this change. Happy in that I have been able to better appreciate the moment when I’m not staring at my phone or laptop, and sad because I’m missing out on chocolate news. After some thinking, I’ve decided I’m going to keep the social media accounts I’ve set up and this blog since my current rate of sharing may be slow, but down the road I might be able to return to a regular schedule of blogging possibly posting twice a month rather than once a week.

The business I’m currently working for already knows that I won’t be with them for long. As my husband and I have been discussing the future and what our family will look like a few years from now, we’ve decided we want to move away from the D.C. area, get a house and eventually start raising children (“children” includes having more Scottish terriers 🙂 ). I will be moving to part-time work to free up my schedule a bit so I can continue focusing more of my attention to family. Sadly this means that this job position may be the only time in my life when I’m able to work for a chocolate maker, but I’m grateful and satisfied to even have the opportunity. On the positive side, hopefully when I leave my current job it means overexposure to chocolate won’t affect my blogging and sharing on social media.

If you’ve made it this far in reading this post, thank you for your time and patience! I’m thankful and grateful for the network of fellow chocoholics, makers and bloggers I’ve come to know thanks to writing this blog and social media. If you follow me on Instagram @timetoeatchocolate and notice I’m quiet there, I’m most likely active on @lauberhaus where I share family-related activities. I’m excited for what the future brings and I hope that I can at some point return with a regular schedule in sharing thoughts/reviews on chocolate products!

 

 

 

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