Saturday, March 30, 2013

Chocolove Chilies & Cherries in Dark Chocolate



3.2oz (90g) bar
Ingredients: Cocoa liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla, dried cherries, ancho chilies, chipotle chilies
14g sugar/30g serving (46.7% by wt.)

Corporate Info: (Copied from 3/16/13) I have a soft spot for Chocolove, having lived in near its hometown of Boulder, Colorado and enjoyed the company's samples in my local Whole Foods. It's a relatively young company (Wikipedia says 1996; Chocolove's website indicates similar), hasn't yet been bought by a giant conglomerate, and claims it has taken or is taking several steps toward "sustainability & social responsiblity." On the other hand, Chocolove produces only three organic, fair trade bars and is rated a C by the Better World folks (same as Hershey's, much better than Nestle), so I don't want to give them my unconditional Choco-love (ha ha, I crack me up). But it's cheaper than most premium chocolate—$2-2.50 a bar—and reliably tasty.

Note: Chocolove's flavored dark bars are in 55% cacao, which I know I'll find too sweet, but I can't help but be enticed by all the flavor options.

Today's Bar: Dried cherries with two types of chiles, mild ancho and smoky chipotle, in 55% cacao.

Appearance: Another purple-grey brown, in Chocolove's quilted mold, with a somewhat bumpy back.

Smell: Sweet and rich, with the nose-filling scent that is clearly the chile, though it doesn't strike me as distinctively chile-ish.

Taste: Sweet and thick, then the chew of the dried cherries, then their sweet and sour flavor, then a slow build and finally throat-prickling chile. The spice isn't at all overwhelming--either heat or smoke--more of a rounded addition that adds to the overall flavor and experience, complementing the sweet-tart cherries and mouth-coating chocolate. Really an excellent combination.

Conclusion: Chocolove Chilies & Cherries in Dark Chocolate combines thick, sweet dark chocolate and chewy, sweet-tart cherries, with the mouth-filling support of prickly, not overly hot or smoky chile.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Chocolove Cherries & Almonds in Dark Chocolate



3.2oz (90g) bar
Ingredients: Cocoa liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla, dried cherries, almonds, rice flour, sunflower oil
13g sugar/30g serving (43.3% by wt.)

Corporate Info: (Copied from 3/16/13) I have a soft spot for Chocolove, having lived in near its hometown of Boulder, Colorado and enjoyed the company's samples in my local Whole Foods. It's a relatively young company (Wikipedia says 1996; Chocolove's website indicates similar), hasn't yet been bought by a giant conglomerate, and claims it has taken or is taking several steps toward "sustainability & social responsiblity." On the other hand, Chocolove produces only three organic, fair trade bars and is rated a C by the Better World folks (same as Hershey's, much better than Nestle), so I don't want to give them my unconditional Choco-love (ha ha, I crack me up). But it's cheaper than most premium chocolate—$2-2.50 a bar—and reliably tasty

Note: Chocolove's flavored dark bars are in 55% cacao, which I know I'll find too sweet, but I can't help but be enticed by all the flavor options.

Today's Bar: Cherry and almond in 55% cacao.

Appearance: Purple-grey brown in Chocolove's quilted pattern, with rounded bumps and visible almonds on the back.

Smell: Sweet and nutty. I don't get cherries per se, but there's a little dried fruit in there.

Taste: This is another sweet and thick dark Chocolove bar, but unlike last week's, with its tart freeze-dried raspberries, this one includes sweet, chewy cherries and pieces of almond. The cherry does have a bit of sweet-sour charm (and I do love cherries in chocolate), and its texture is a great addition, but mostly it doesn't cut the sweetness of the chocolate. The almonds are tasty but intermittent: Not all squares include enough almond to taste. So this isn't my favorite, but really it's a pretty good bar.

Conclusion: Chocolove Cherries & Almonds in Dark Chocolate has good textural variation from the cherries and the intermittent almonds and a slight tartness in the sweet cherries, and is overall a good, fairly sweet, rich bar.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Chocolove Raspberries in Dark Chocolate



3.2oz (90g) bar
Ingredients: Cocoa liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla, freeze dried raspberries
13g sugar/30g serving (43.3% by wt.)

Corporate Info: (Altered from 10/15/11) I have a soft spot for Chocolove, having lived in near its hometown of Boulder, Colorado and enjoyed the company's samples in my local Whole Foods. It's a relatively young company (Wikipedia says 1996; Chocolove's website indicates similar), hasn't yet been bought by a giant conglomerate, and claims it has taken or is taking several steps toward "sustainability & social responsiblity." On the other hand, Chocolove produces only three organic, fair trade bars and is rated a C by the Better World folks (same as Hershey's, much better than Nestle), so I don't want to give them my unconditional Choco-love (ha ha, I crack me up). But it's cheaper than most premium chocolate—$2-2.50 a bar—and reliably tasty

Note: Chocolove's flavored dark bars are in 55% cacao, which I know I'll find too sweet, but I can't help but be enticed by all the flavor options.

Today's Bar: Raspberry, as in freeze-dried raspberries as an inclusion.

Appearance: Red and grey undertones in Chocolove's usual quilt-like pattern. The back is covered in bumps of raspberry coated with chocolate.

Smell: Mild but fresh, with a hint of raspberry and nuts.

Taste: Okay, yes, this is sweet, but the freeze-dried raspberries retain their tart flavor, so I get a hit of sour freshness to cut the mild, sweet, and creamy chocolate. The creaminess is a good match for the sugar, too, because while it might be sweeter than I like, it's evened out by a rich flavor and texture. Raspberry seeds add to the textural variation--not that there are tons, but there are enough to crunch a little and stick in my teeth, which is actually a boon in that it provides a lingering sour counterpoint to the chocolate. Success.

Conclusion: Chocolove Raspberries in Dark Chocolate's sweet, thick chocolate and crunchy, tart freeze-dried raspberries balance each other well.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Cachet Lemon & Pepper


3.5oz (100g) bar
Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, lemon granules (inulin, lemon extract, lemon zest), cocoa butter, butter oil, black pepper, soy lecithin
14g sugar/38g serving (36.8% by wt.)

Corporate Info: (copied from 2/23/13) Cachet is a subsidiary of Kim's Chocolates, a Belgian company founded in 1987 that makes bars and confections under the Cachet name as well as a line called KC Chocolatier. I'm not sure what the difference is in terms of branding, other than that Cachet is "available in supermarkets and at many confectioners," while KC Chocolatier is in "specialist chocolate shops, delicatessens, Duty Free shops and on board aeroplanes." Cachet offers a fairly large assortment (click through to see groupings), including a few sugar-free varieties, though I notice that no ingredients are listed on the site. 

Today's Bar: Lemon & Pepper in 57% cacao, again one of Cachet's "fruit tablets." Contains the hated "granules."

Appearance: Plain old medium brown, slightly glossy.

Smell: Not strong. I get both lemon and pepper, which is nice, and a little mild chocolate.

Taste: Waxy chocolate, then lemon--not too candy-ish, but also not fresh-tasting or sour--then the crunch of a few granules, then the prickle of black pepper. I could've done without the granules, even for the texture they add, but there aren't many and the flavor they contribute is fine. I like the black pepper, a spice I don't find often in chocolate, which here is both distinctly perceivable and not too strong. The chocolate, while mild and sweet, is well balanced with the mild flavorings--greater sourness or bitterness or what have you would create a totally different flavor profile with this particular lemon and pepper, and in this bar it works.

Conclusion: Cachet Lemon & Pepper isn't the highest quality of anything, but it's provides a perfectly functional and mild version of an uncommon flavoring in chocolate.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Cachet Blackberry & Ginger


3.5oz (100g) bar
Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, blackberry granules (inulin, blackberry flavoring, blackberry powder), cocoa butter, butter oil, ginger granules (inulin, ginger flavoring, natural flavorings), soy lecithin
14g sugar/38g serving (36.8% by wt.)

Corporate Info: (Copied from 2/23/13) Cachet is a subsidiary of Kim's Chocolates, a Belgian company founded in 1987 that makes bars and confections under the Cachet name as well as a line called KC Chocolatier. I'm not sure what the difference is in terms of branding, other than that Cachet is "available in supermarkets and at many confectioners," while KC Chocolatier is in "specialist chocolate shops, delicatessens, Duty Free shops and on board aeroplanes." Cachet offers a fairly large assortment (click through to see groupings), including a few sugar-free varieties, though I notice that no ingredients are listed on the site.

Today's Bar: Blackberry & Ginger, one of Cachet's "fruit tablets," in 57% cacao.

Appearance: Medium brown with pale flecks beneath the surface.

Smell: Fake-fruity, sweet and candy-like berry rather than fresh or tart or dried. Chocolate is mild under the fruit scent.

Taste: Too-sweet berry perfume, then the crunch of the "granules," then a sweet, slightly chalky, but generally pleasant very mild chocolate. I'm not getting ginger almost at all, though since I'm looking for it I think I can pull it out just a touch. I've decided I don't like "granules"--this isn't recognizable dried berry, or candied ginger, or hard candies flavored with either, it's some sort of unholy creation that's supposed to taste like them, and it only does in a broad, not-real-food sense. Ugh, and now I taste lingering "natural flavoring blackberry type" (the actual text in the listed ingredients)...blech. A letdown after last week.

Conclusion: Cachet Blackberry & Ginger is redolent of fake berry, with the odd texture of industrial "granules." I don't like it.