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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chocolate Reviews

It's the time of year when the Bay Area is enjoying the most glorious sunny weather and the rest of country is starting to feel the chill. While I love Indian Summer, I also look forward to all the wonderful chocolate that reappears right around now. I'm off to judge some chocolate tomorrow for the Good Food Awards, so I figured I better clear the decks today. Here's a rundown of the chocolate in my stash at the moment. 

Manoa Chocolate is a bean to bar producer, crafting bars from chocolate grown in Hawaii and from Peru. Thanks to a good friend ( aren't friends who give you chocolate the best?) I got to try three bars. They are all unadulterated, made from only cocoa nibs, sugar and cocoa butter. I'm very impressed by the bars balance of sweetness and extremely creamy texture. They are well worth seeking out

The 66% goat milk from Peru has a definite "goat's milk" flavor. I like it, but you have to like goat's milk. The chocolate has a toasty character. 

The 60% dark milk from Waiahole, Hawaii bar is sweet, with a smoky flavor and a dry finish. I really like it a lot. 

The 72% Hamakua, Hawaiian crown is very unusual. I get bitter orange, and a lovely smoothness. Very intense. 

Askinosie is a chocolate maker with a social mission. I think their chocolate is good, but it's not my ideal. I prefer creamier texture and better balance of flavors and sweetness. 

The Dark Milk with Sea Salt has a very mild saltiness, almost not perceptible, it's also very floral. It's a little bit crumbly, not quite as smooth as I prefer. 

The 70% dark chocolate San Jose Del Tambo Equador has a very tannic dry profile with both floral and tobacco notes.

The 72% Tenende, Tanzania Dark Chocolate Bar is actually very mild, and has some notes of red fruit. 

I am always curious to try chocolate from Vosges. I greatly admire the creativity of the Katrina Markoff the founder and chocolatier. But I don't always love her chocolate. Sometimes it works other times, it just doesn't. Vosges is definitely not in the "unadulterated" category, their chocolates often feature edgy flavor combinations (and brilliant marketing). 

The Wild Ophelia line has eight different flavored bars. They are priced competitively and available widely from retailers including at Whole Foods. 

The milk chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana bar was my favorite. It has a tiny bit of salty crunch and the peanut butter and banana flavors really complement the sweet milky chocolate. It tastes like snack time in preschool, and I mean that in a good way.

The Sweet Cherry Pecan milk chocolate bar is definitely a bar I would enjoy again. It has lovely caramel notes and the faint chew of dried cherry. Not much pecan really. 

The New Orleans dark chocolate chili bar is pretty good, if you like fruity chili in your chocolate I guess. A little of this goes a long way. The heat packs a punch. 

The Southern Hibiscus peach milk chocolate bar is a little odd, it has the crunch of perhaps dried peaches? It's a bit sour from the fruit, but overly sweet at the same time. 

Least successful for me anyway is the Beef Jerky milk chocolate bar. It's very smoky and salty and has an "I dare you" novelty appeal but it's not something I'd want to eat again. 

Vosges also has an exotic line of bars. 

The Crispy Carrot bar is really fun. The sweetness of the carrots plays off the creamy milk chocolate nicely. The crunchy carrots will stick in your teeth though! The orange flavor is light, the carrots are more pronounced. Surprisingly good. 

The Red Fire Caramel bar is filled with creamy caramel with spicy chiles and cinnamon. It's pretty good, but rather  sweet for a 62% bar. Definitely for caramel lovers only.

The Smoked Banana Caramel bar is frankly terrible. It is another filled bar, but the smoked banana caramel has an over ripe banana flavor and is sickly sweet. I can't imagine how anyone would like this one. 

Disclaimer: These bars were samples or gifts. I was not paid to review any of them and my opinions are my own.