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Monday, November 4, 2019

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Chocolate of the Day: 

Tony's Chocolonely
Milk Chocolate (bar)
Good +
Weight: .88 oz. (25 g.) / 1.76 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 135 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $ Missing information
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #10 of Chocolate and Africa Theme Week.

Cacao is often grown by subsistence farmers in distant lands, making oversight in labor practices challenging.

Unfortunate consequences of this geographic schism can be poor labor conditions, low pay, and forms of slavery—conditions some chocolate makers are trying to address.

Today's Milk Chocolate (bar) was from Tony's Chocolonely (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). This company has pledged to work to help eliminate slavery (in the cacao supply chain going back to farms in Africa) by making 100% slave free chocolate.

This thick 32% cacao milk chocolate bar was a creamy, high-end milk chocolate experience.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

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Chocolate of the Day: 

Domori srl
Trinitario 70% Tanzania Dark Chocolate bar
Good +
Weight: .44 oz. (12.5 g.) / .88 oz. (25 g.) in total bar
Calories: 137 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $4.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere (online order)

Welcome to Day #9 of Chocolate and Africa Theme Week.

Today's Trinitario 70% Tanzania Dark Chocolate bar was from Domori srl (None, Italy), made with cacao grown in the Morogoro region of Tanzania in Africa.

This thin 4-square bar had a wild aromatic profile: earthen jars, marinated dried fruit/raisins, grapes/sweet and sour fruit fermenting in oak casks, a cute but slightly gamey lion cub,* and a slight bitter(s) note.

The melt and texture were very civilized: smooth, creamy and uniform. They were the tamest part of this bar.

The flavor was complex and interesting with some of the some earth and fermented fruit notes described in the aroma. (However, there was no touch of lion or bitterness.) And the finish was lingering, but fairly clean.

As wild as this bar sounds, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Bean to bar chocolates are becoming more uniform in flavor in recent years, thanks to fermentation training and expertise; decisions about what is "good" cacao; and farmers getting more support and a fair price for their cacao which may, in turn, enable efforts to produce better quality cacao.

This evolution has, arguably, produced better chocolate, or at least fewer bars with off flavors, which is good. But, there are also more bars with tamed down and uniform flavor profiles that are almost dull. I miss the Wild West sometimes.

*Yes, lions are a cheap way to get your attention, aren't they? Fortunately, Tanzania (while having to take strong measures to protect elephants (like the one pictured on the packaging for this bar)) has one of the healthier populations of wild lions remaining in Africa. Lion cubs are adorable and a privilege to hold when they're young (in a zoo or approved facility, not out in the wild). Like many wild animals, they can have a faint gamey or pungent aroma, especially if they've been in an enclosed area around adults. 

Note: This chocolate was recently expired (2019) when I wrote this review (2019). Generally, bars, if stored properly, have a reasonably long shelf life. However, I believe it is unfair the maker if I write a review of an expired bar without disclosing this information.


Saturday, November 2, 2019

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Chocolate of the Day:

Moka Origins
Dark - Gola Rainforest, Sierra Leone 85% (bar)
Good
Weight: 1.2 oz. (33.9 g.) / 2.4 oz. (67.9 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories (per label) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $11.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Day #8 of Chocolate and Africa Theme Week.

Today's Dark Gola Rainforest, Sierra Leone 85% (bar) was made by Moka Origins (Honesdale, PA).

This bold, ultra-dark chocolate had a smooth, even texture and melt—and flickers of earth, smoke and deep, opaque chocolate flavor. Think roasted nuts over fire that includes fennel* and licorice kindling.

*I happen to like fennel, so this is not necessarily a criticism. Even the dried wood/sticks from the fennel plant (the whole plant is edible) retain a polite fennel/black licorice aroma, with a touch of light vanilla and maple.

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Chocolate of the Day: 

Chocolat Bonnat
Cote d'Ivorie - Chocolat Noir 75% Cocoa (bar)
Good +++
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 242.42 calories in 40 g. of bar
Cost: $8.95 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com (online order)*

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Africa Theme Week.

Today's Cote d'Ivorie 75% Cocoa Dark Chocolate, gluten free bar, was from Chocolat Bonnat (Voiron, France).

Most of world's cacao used to make chocolate comes from Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivorie) and Ghana. And yet today's bar was/is one of the few (branded) single origin Ivory Coast chocolate bars to be found.

The smooth chocolate had true deep dark, uniform chocolate flavor with a hint of dairy/cream (there was no added dairy product in this bar) and very faint, fleeting green/coconut note. It had a creamy melt and texture** and was not too sweet (thank you).

*Note: This bar is currently sold out on Chocosphere.com

**Ingredients: cocoa beans, cocoa butter and sugar. Chocolat Bonnat bars are known for their creamy texture, achieved through technique and with added cocoa butter.





Thursday, October 31, 2019

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Chocolate of the Day: 

Mirzam Chocolate Makers
Madagascar 72% Dark Chocolate (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.236 oz. (35 g.) / 2.47 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 186 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $12.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Missing information

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Africa Theme Week, and Happy Halloween to all who celebrate this holiday.

Instead of pumpkins, witches and ghosts, this year we visited colorful orange and black butterflies and birds at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. (The museum also included cacao in their rainforest habitat exhibit). 

Cacao often enables one to enjoy virtual travel. So true, even more with today's chocolate.

Today's Madagascar 72% Dark Chocolate (bar) was made from bean to bar by Mirzam Chocolate Makers / Kakaw Manufacturing (in Dubai, U.A.E.). Mirzam's line of chocolate (bars) and flavor inclusions are inspired by ancient Arab seafaring trade routes that resulted in the exchange of an impressive array of goods, foods, spices and currencies from many different ports and origins.

This beautifully designed Mirzam African single origin bar was great for dark chocolate lovers who wanted to aim high, and forgo chocolate tricks or inferior treats. This three-ingredient* chocolate was crafted using Criollo and Amelonado** varieties/strains of cacao grown in Madagascar.

The bar had lovely notes of rich chocolate mousse, light fruit (faint tangerine to light red berry) and brown sugar, with no off taste. It had a fairly clean finish with a barely detectable hint of green tea astringency toward the end.

Mirzam (maker's) tasting notes: caramel, chocolate, citrus, smokey; low in bitterness.

*Ingredients: cocoa beans, unrefined cane sugar, cocoa butter. This chocolate was described as gluten free and vegan-friendly.

**Amelonado is a widely planted type of cacao in West Africa. Theobroma cacao varieties originated in the Americas and were brought to (and planted in) Africa approximately 200 years ago. However, cacao may have been sampled by certain residents before then. 

At least some Dutch and other European citizens and church members/clergy traveling or living in Africa would likely have known about cacao or drinking chocolate many years before then. 

Christopher Columbus is said to have brought back cacao beans to Europe after his fourth voyage (by 1504). Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes, brought more cacao beans back a few decades later. 

However, it took a very long time for demand for drinking chocolate/cacao to pick up. E.g., there is evidence that it wasn't until 1606 when cacao was formally introduced in Italy; and more people began to drink chocolate across Europe by the mid 1600s, around the same time that coffee and tea became more popular. 






Wednesday, October 30, 2019

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Chocolate of the Day: 

Chapon Chocolatier
Tanzanie Kamili (small bar)
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: .176 oz. (5 g.) / 6.35 oz. (180 g.) in total package of 36 small bars
Calories: 27.7 calories in 1 small bar
Cost: $N/A - part of larger collection of 36 bars ($45.00 set)
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Africa Theme Week.

Today's Tanzanie Kamili* miniature chocolate bar was part of a larger collection of small, individually-wrapped single origin bars from Chapon Chocolatier (Chelles, France).

This beautifully designed and packaged set contained 36 bars (3 each from 12 different origins).

This Tanzanie (Tanzania) bar had bright (mango, red fruit) fruit, true chocolate, and roasted aroma and flavor notes. The melt and texture were smooth. One should savor this little bar (try not eat it in one bite) to fully appreciate it.

*Kokoa Kamili means "exactly" in Swahili. The "Kamili" in the Tanzanie Kamili title of today's chocolate is Kokoa Kamili, a privately-owned fermentary and organization in the Morogoro region of Tanzania that works with hundreds of cocoa producers/farmers. 

By helping farmers and enabling improved fermentation quality and training, Kokoa Kamili has helped raise awareness about East African cacao from Tanzanie (Tanzania) with chocolate makers globally, and has led to many wonderful single origin Tanzania chocolate (bars) from different makers (and subsequently chocolatiers) as a result.





Tuesday, October 29, 2019

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Chocolate of the Day: 

Chapon Chocolatier
Madagascar Millot
Good +++
Weight: .176 oz. (5 g.) in 1 small piece/bar/ 6.35 oz. (180 g.) in total collection of 36 bars
Calories: 27.7 calories in 1 small piece/bar
Cost: $45.00 for 1 set of 36 small bars
Purchased from: Chocolate Covered, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Africa Theme Week.

Today's Madagascar Millot* chocolate was from Chapon Chocolatier (Chelles, France).

Bravo Chapon. This was a beautifully packaged collection of single origin chocolates. An array of tiny individually-wrapped bars were displayed like a deck of exquisitely small collectible chocolate playing cards, or an exotic, miniature chocolate tarot deck.

Each bar's label was a work of art—a miniature version of a full-sized Chapon origin bar. This collection would make a dream-come-true gift for art and chocolate lovers.

A menu inside conveyed which flavors might be expected from each bar in the collection

Today's Madagascar Millot chocolate had a tasty, outsized aroma and flavor. The first whiff transmitted an exotic sweet scent of molasses, maca, maple syrup and coconut palm sugar notes all blended seamlessly together and inhabiting a rich, complex dark chocolate.

The relatively bright and bold chocolate flavor blossomed into a rich citrus/red fruit/plum bouquet.

This was a very nice, satisfying petite Madagascar Millot* bar.

*Millot Plantation(s) in Ambanja, Madagascar, was established in 1904 and produces cacao, spices and essential oils. Millot is a leading producer of organic cacao in Madagascar as well. (According to online sources, French chocolate maker Valrhona has had a partnership with Millot Plantation for 20 years.)


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