Saturday, May 26, 2012

B.T. McElrath Ginger Toffee Chocolate Bar


3oz (85g) bar
Ingredients: Chocolate liquor, sugar, cane sugar, cocoa butter, milk fat, salted butter, soy lecithin, vanilla, ginger, sodium bicarbonate, cayenne pepper, natural flavor, sea salt.
13g sugar/43g serving (30.2% by wt.)

Corporate Info: (Altered from 12/17/11) Minneapolis's B.T. McElrath was founded by a chef, and accordingly seems to focus on creating unusual flavored bars and interesting seasonal confections. No organic/fair trade here. B.T. McElrath's Chile Limón Bar is one of my favorites, and while I was less enamored with the seemingly popular Salty Dog, I'm always up for more of the company's fun flavor combos.

Today's Bar: Continuing a ginger theme is B.T. McElrath's bar of both ginger toffee and candied ginger in 70% cacao. The complex-sounding flavor, which includes cayenne pepper in the toffee, sounds right up my alley.

Appearance: Shiny, rich brown with tiny light flecks under the surface and intermittent, barely-perceptible bumps on the back.

Smell: Rich, sweet, nutty, and mild, but with a bitter-sour undercurrent for chocolatey realness.

Taste: Not nearly as gingery as I thought it would be! I can see little toffee and crystallized ginger pieces, but the ginger here mostly adds candied complexity and texture to a mild, pleasant chocolate, with the cayenne contributing a super-subtle (and quite nice) burn at the end. As the smell demonstrated, the chocolate isn't flavorless, it just doesn't have any standout flavors: It's balanced sweet/sour/bitter/beany with no sharp edges and a smooth (save the inclusions) texture, a very easy 70% cacao. Kind of boring, but nice.

Conclusion: B.T. McElrath Ginger Toffee Chocolate Bar is a nice, mild dark chocolate with textural interest and just a hint of ginger and cayenne.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Green & Black's Ginger Dark Chocolate


3.5oz (100g) bar
Ingredients: Organic fair trade chocolate, oft. raw cane sugar, oft. cocoa butter, soy lecithin, oft. vanilla extract, o. crystallized ginger pieces (ginger and cane sugar), o. whole milk powder
18g sugar/40g serving (45% by wt.)

Corporate Info: Check out this Brand Overview from March.

Today's Bar: This is the first of three weeks of ginger flavored bars, with today's being just plain ginger in 60% cacao. Sweet for me, but hey.

Appearance: Light grey-red-brown, matte looking but slightly glossy if you wipe away surface dust. Little lighter flecks under the surface, presumably crystallized ginger. Note: Green & Black's molding is very blocky, with wide but shallow scoring. I assume that keeps bars in one piece during shipping, but it makes them a little challenging to break cleanly. Oh well.

Smell: Not strong but sweet-sour and gingery. I anticipate a mild chocolate with minor tartness and sweet crystallized ginger pieces with no “bite.”

Taste: Goes down easy. Sweet, mild, with pleasant, rounded tang. Thoroughly shot through with ginger, which adds harshness-free flavor and soft, candied textural interest rather than discernible pieces within separate chocolate.

Conclusion: Ginger for the mass market: An introduction to ginger for nervous eaters, or an unchallenging, everyday noshing chocolate for ginger lovers.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Taza Chocolate Mexicano Chipotle Chili



2.7oz (77g) in two disks
Ingredients: Organic cacao beans, o. cane sugar, o. chipotle chili powder

Corporate Info: (Copied from 5/5/12) Taza Chocolate is pretty lovely. The chocolate comprises only organic ingredients, sources its cocoa beans using a variation on fair trade principles called Direct Trade, was made in the U.S., and is wrapped in recycled paper (and foil) or just old-school wax paper. It's neat tasting, too: Rather than being smooth throughout, the chocolate is made from stone-ground cocoa beans and not conched, both of which make for a gritty chocolate with discernible sugar crystals. Taza produces dark bars; Chocolate Mexicano Discs that are just sugar, cacao, and flavorings; and baking chocolate and other items, including a neat Chocolate Mexicano Extract.

Today's Bar: Chipotle! And in 70% cacao.

Appearance: Virtually identical to last week's “rich, orangey-brown with slight gloss,” despite the big jump in cacao content. I should also mention that Taza's chocolate has a very slightly mottled look: tiny lighter-colored flecks in the darker chocolate around it. I wonder if that's the sugar?

Smell: Beany, rawish chocolate with a definite sweet, smoky chipotle smell. Aroma-wise they're well-balanced, with neither smell overwhelming the other.

Taste: The chipotle's roasted heat hits first, throat-filling but not painful, along with some sugar. Then the tart rawness of the chocolate. Finally, only in the aftertaste do I really get the pepper's smoky-sweet flavor along with lingering heat. I wouldn't mind a little more accessible flavor along with the heat, but if you like the particular kind of fire that chipotle provides (i.e. smoky and not searing), this delivers.

Conclusion: Taza Chocolate Mexicano Chipotle Chili is warm, tart, and beany, though it delivers more chipotle heat than chipotle flavor.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Taza Chocolate Mexicano Guajillo Chili



2.7oz (77g) in two disks
Ingredients: Organic cacao beans, o. cane sugar, o. guajillo chili powder

Corporate Info: (Altered from 8/27/11) Taza Chocolate is pretty lovely. The chocolate comprises only organic ingredients, sources its cocoa beans using a variation on fair trade principles called Direct Trade, was made in the U.S., and is wrapped in recycled paper (and foil) or just old-school wax paper. It's neat tasting, too: Rather than being smooth throughout, the chocolate is made from stone-ground cocoa beans and not conched, both of which make for a gritty chocolate with discernible sugar crystals. Taza produces dark bars; Chocolate Mexicano Discs that are just sugar, cacao, and flavorings; and baking chocolate and other items, including a neat Chocolate Mexicano Extract.

This Bar: In the past I've only had Taza's plain bars, but I saw a (fairly minor) sale on the Chocolate Mexicano Discs and use it as an excuse to finally buy several. Today's “bar” contains guajillo chili, which one site says has “either a green-tea or fruity flavor, with hints of berries”; Taza claims the disk has “powerful notes of citrus and smoke, with a slow-to-develop heat that's assertive but not overwhelming.” Oh, and this bar is lower than my usual cacao requirement, only 50%.

Appearance: Rich, orangey-brown with slight gloss.

Smell: Beany, a little roasted, almost coffee-ish. I don't smell chili.

Taste: First, Taza's signature gritty, stone-ground texture. As for flavor, for me, sweetness can often get in the way of discerning other elements, and this is indeed sweet, but it still has a really dark quality, probably because of the rawness and roasted flavors. The chili is super-integrated, more like an enhancement of the chocolateyness: I do get a little tart, rounded fruit, and smokey vibe, and just a little warmth on the back of the throat—I wouldn't even call it spicy, only warm. Unless you're super sensitive to heat and chili flavors, you might not even notice the chili, just thinking of the chocolate as really complex and sour-fruity-earthy-toasty. Very cool.

Conclusion: Despite its relatively high sugar level and added chili powder, Taza Chocolate Mexicano Guajillo Chili just tastes like a super-complex, tart-fruity-earthy-roasted, close-to-the-tree chocolate.