Friday, March 19, 2010

Theo Organic Fair Trade Spicy Chile Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao

3oz (84g) bar
Ingredients: Organic fair trade cocoa beans, oft. sugar, oft. cocoa butter, o. pasilla chili powder, o. guajillo chili pepper, o. cayenne chili powder, o. cinnamon, o. orange zest, o. orange oil, o. ground vanilla bean
11g sugar/42g serving (26.2% by wt.)

As I’ve written before, I’m a big fan of Seattle-based Theo, from its tasting room to its creative flavors to its ideals. Thus I tend to pick up any new-to-me Theo bar that fits my low sugar requirement, like this chili-flavored bar with orange and cinnamon background notes. In the last few years I’ve seen a lot of chili and cinnamon chocolate, and I’m assuming the trend has to do with food lovers’ embrace of “traditional” foods--in this case, the way the Maya, Aztecs, and later Spanish conquistadors consumed chocolate.

So how does it taste? It’s a smooth, creamy, mild bar with a nice sugar content that at first just tastes like chocolate. After a second or two the pepper begins to reveal itself slowly, until it reaches a pleasantly medium level of heat: mouth filling, but not the sort you’d only submit to on a dare. What I’m assuming are the pasilla and cayenne provide much of the spice, but there’s an interesting bit of texture from the tiny flakes of guajilla (the only chili ingredient not listed as “powder”). The orange flavor is present only upon reflection and I can’t taste the cinnamon at all, but I suspect they’re both there mainly for balance and complexity, which is why the bar isn’t called “Spicy Chile, Cinnamon, & Orange”. My personal taste would prefer a real hit of cinnamon along with the chili, so I don’t think I’ll go out of my way to buy this bar again (and at $6 it wasn’t cheap either), but the flavor profile was obviously well thought out and for lovers of chile chocolate it’s a very good bar.

Conclusion: Theo’s Spicy Chile 70% Cacao bar is well balanced, with a predominant chili flavor that is complex and neither meek nor overwhelming.

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