willandmegan

"Stuart rose from the ditch, climbed into his car, and started up the road that led toward the north…. As he peeked ahead into the great land that stretched before him, the way seemed long. But the sky was bright, and he somehow felt he was headed in the right direction." (from Stuart Little by E.B. White)


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New Tree Display edit

Just when William and I thought we had reviewed the entire selection of chocolates offered at our surrounding stores, a brand called New Tree Gourmet Chocolate popped up! This fresh, modern brand focuses on the added flavor attributes of natural extracts to compliment the taste of their chocolate. They also use non-GMO emulsifiers which is positive for those seeking a sweet treat without modified or artificial ingredients. With a line of bars extending from the standard Dark (66% cocoa solids minimum) to a vibrant Ginger, it’s worth noting that New Tree focuses on creating Belgian chocolates with “all-natural” flavors and extracts. This includes a product that “features 2 times more fiber than regular chocolate”.

To avoid both the possibility of being critical or biased we aimed to compare overall experience to the broad spectrum of store bought chocolates vs. artisan small batch chocolate. In this tasting the array of textures were notable as well as how well the chocolate contained naturally infused flavors.

All chocolates were “Belgian Chocolates”, 66% cacao, and weighing in at 2.82 ounces.

New Tree Cherry edit

Cherry Chocolate (Origin: Latin America)

Texture: Tiny granules, truffle

Flavor: Confectionery sugar, graham cracker, this is a straight-up cordial cherry chocolate with a flavor that builds and ends on bright fruity notes.

New Tree Ginger edit

Ginger Chocolate (Origin: Latin America)

Texture: Generous amounts of candied ginger

Flavor: Bright, warm, up-front ginger flavor. Sweetness of cane sugar compliments while ginger climbs to a “nose-clean”. This is a great bar for those who can’t handle intense ginger.

New Tree BlackCurrant edit

Blackcurrant Chocolate (Origin: Latin America)

Texture: Rich, fibrous

Flavor: Tart fruit pulp, minerals, “Smuckers Jelly”, overall fruit taste with bitterness of currants.

New Tree Dark edit

Dark Chocolate (Origin: Dominican Republic and Peru)

Texture: Syrupy

Flavor: Molasses, oats, overall subtle flavors with little complexity.

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Intoxicating – Chocolate tasting with liqueur and whiskey

germ choc arrangement

 

Last Saturday afternoon Megan and I set up a relaxing back porch chocolate tasting. As she labored in the kitchen preparing a cauliflower/curry dish I took out coffee beans, cacao beans and picked up a bottle of Wild Turkey Rare Breed Whiskey.

 

In order to prepare these aesthetically pleasing arrangements we often become manic and focus on color, quality, form factor, lighting etc. We included relevant ingredients such as vanilla, ginger and whiskey. Yes, you heard right. These bars are made using whiskey and egg liqueur. This is our first tasting of chocolate made by an Austrian company called Zotter. Meg managed to pick these up in Germany as they are found in other European countries.

 

Fur Lang edit

 

für langschläfer (50% min cocoa)

 

The name of this bar actually translates to “for late risers” in English. The reason being that is contains coffee beans and whiskey. The overall taste is a classic malt flavor with the inner consistency of truffle creme. It contains subtle hints of oak and bourbon with notes of sweet, honey graham cracker. The lack of coffee flavor and texture was a bit disappointing, but overall this bar was quite satisfying.

 

eiertanz edit

 

Eirtanz (40% min cocoa)

 

The name of this bar translates to “egg dance” in English. Why egg dance? Well this bar is made with egg liqueur and chili. It is creamy and has both the inner appearance and consistency of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. However, the overall quality is higher containing less artificial and more natural certified fair trade ingredients. The initial satisfaction of flavors come from unique cinnamon undertones and overall sweet milk chocolate flavor. The experience increases with intensity as a strong chili kick emerges and remains until the end.

Hasenjagd edit

 

Hasenjagd (46% cocoa)

 

The name of this bar translates to “hare hunting” in English. Does it contain rabbit meat? No! The additional ingredients include apples, carrots, ginger and brandy. This bar transforms the typical smooth chocolate experience to a subtly tangy one. Notes of buckwheat honey can be tasted beneath the zest of light lemon. Small chunks of fibrous fruit pieces (likely dehydrated) creates additional flavors and texture throughout.

 


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SHAKE IT UP – Organic Shamrock Shake Recipe

shamrock presentation edit

On Saturday March 9th we spent the day still basking in the pride of a successful homemade wine tasting from the night before. By one o’clock our hunger brought us to Wegmans for food items, mint leaves and coconuts. After the sadness of realizing organic coffee was $11.00 finally subsided, we decided to pass on that purchase. With the fridge stocked heavily Meg and I brushed off the lack of french press and became excited for the preplanned frozen treat that was in store.

Items you will need:

dye. flavor. ice cream

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Organic Almond Milk
  • 1 cup Organic Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoonNatural Mint Extract
  • Tru Whip Natural Whipped Topping (optional)
  • 4 drops Green Food Coloring (optional)
  • Alter Eco Mint Chocolate Bar (optional)
  • Mint Leaf Garnish (optional)
  • Organic Cane Sugar (optional for rim of glass)

Directions:

1- Prepare rim of glass ahead of time by dipping in water and then in a bowl of green colored sugar. Wait for milkshake.

2- Mix ice cream, milk, extract, and green food coloring in blender. (1/2 a bar of Alter Ego Dark Mint Chocolate for delicious, crunchy affect).  Mix until creamy.

3- Pour into glass carefully to avoid ruining the rim

4-Place a few dollops of whip cream in the center.

5-Shave off a fair amount of Alter Ego Dark Mint Chocolate on top of the whip cream.

6-Add mint leaf for garnish.

alter eco mint display edit

Cheers,

willandmegan


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Tocoti Micro-Batch Chocolate Tasting

tocoti display watermark

On Valentine’s Day, Meg and I stopped into Joe Bean Coffee Roasters for their S’more special. The marshmallows and gram crackers were provided by a local company and made with natural ingredients .  Also, the dining arrangement included chocolate by Tocoti! We were intrigued by the packaging, excited they were a new and local chocolate roaster, and happy to hear they are small-batch artisan roasters. Several days later Meg put in an order and it was delivered to our door!

Single Origin Tocoti Chocolates.

Walworth, NY.

Tocoti Website

Dominican Republic 79% Cocao

dominican republic edit

Meg: Freeze-pop juice, pineapple

Will: Spicy wood oil aroma, dried raspberry, almonds, minerals, dried dates

Wild Bolivian “Jungle Love” 77% Cocao

jungle love edit

Meg:Peanuts

Will: black pepper corn, wheat, oats, bread

Venezuelan 74% Cacao

venezuelan edit

Meg:Pepperoni pizza, sandalwood, coriander

Will: Floral, pollen aroma, marshmallow, caramelized sugar, wild flowers

Taste Preference Rating:

  1. Dominican Republic
  2. Venezuelan
  3. Bolivian

P1040053

Enjoy! willandmegan


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Dandelion Small – Batch Chocolate Tasting

Yesterday afternoon we both had the pleasure of sampling three wonderful chocolate bars from Dandelion Small-Batch Chocolate. They are a new factory located in the Mission District of San Francisco and took honors as a Good Food Award finalist for 2012. As a fresh business with an awesome bean-to-bar approach, they won our taste buds over in the past and we couldn’t pass up a side by side sampling.

dandelion bundle edit

Our first observation upon splaying out the bars was evidence of lustrous and elegant wrapping. The appearance of delicate gold-foil like designs create the impression of an antique gift. The next examination we made was based on a clear presentation of cacao origin. Included as a part of the packaging text was also a note of recognizable flavor characteristics made by the roasters from Dandelion. Personalized initials on the back side really emphasized the sense of Small – Batch as it erased the possibility of mass production. In this we concluded that comparatively it felt more intimate to be tasting chocolate from a young company with smaller output vs. an international company such as Lindt, Godiva who mass produce their “chocolate”.

3 bar series edit

dandelion vertical edit

dandelion package edit

dandelion bar edit

So, let’s talk taste! While Will & I definitely have very different interpretations of the chocolate during our tasting experience, I will share them all. (Note that mine are probably less refined and slightly more obnoxious) 🙂

Rio Caribe-

Aromatics-cane, oats, mud

Flavor-pine needles, smoke, s’mores, cedar, woodoil, bread

Elvesia-

Aromatics-soil

Flavor-fruit punch, sour patch kids, cheap wine coolers, plum, raisan, tangy finish

Ambanja-

Aromatics-N/A

Flavor-malts, beer, dates, fig

These, honestly, were the most incredible chocolates we have ever had. The intense spectrum of flavors challenged our ability to define taste using specific raw foods we had experienced. We were sad to see them slowly (not really) disappear. So, grab some online. It’s WORTH IT!

http://www.dandelionchocolate.com/store/

 

 


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Give Thanks for Chocolate – Cranberry Chocolate Tasting

Happy Thanksgiving chocolatiers, bloggers and consumers of delicious eats. Yesterday evening Megan and I ventured out into the city of Rochester for an ode to Thanksgiving chocolate tasting.

Shortly after 5pm we strolled into a quaint wine bar by the name of Veritas. Both decked out in our Columbia winter jackets, I carried a plastic bag with mystery goodies and Meg carried her satchel like purse filled with writing utensils and remnants of church notes. Before unwrapping the three trusted brands (all featuring cranberries as an ingredient throughout) we both picked out a glass of wine suited to our personal taste: A hard meaty tasting red for Meg and a floral oily tasting white for myself. Shortly after sipping and conversing about the bars atmosphere I pulled out an awkward arrangement of organic cranberries and spread them across the table top. The results from the image above demonstrate how playing still-life paparazzi in a public wine bar can feel a bit odd.

While each tasting we do aims to be both conclusive and consistent, this time around one of the bars was milk chocolate and the other two were dark. To be honest the list of ingredients we found didn’t seem very compliant to previous standards as well. However, what can be said that is true is the fact that we agreed with flavors and ratings across the board.

1.) DAGOBA (beaucoup berries) – rich dark chocolate, cranberries, cherries & vanilla [74% cacao dark chocolate]

2.) Dan’s Chocolates (Trail Hound) – CRANBERRIES, RAISINS, HAZELNUTS [Milk]

3.) endangered species Chocolate – natural DARK CHOCOLATE WITH CRANBERRIES & ALMONDS [72% cocoa]

Our Top Pick

1. DAGOBA

-> The texture of this bar can be described as the grainy, pulpiness of the cranberries and cherries within it. For a dark bar it is moderately             creamy, but not overwhelming. Some crystallized granules are dispersed throughout.

This bar is bright in flavor with a smooth balance of bitterness and sweetness. Fruit, mild citrus and an overtone of beets can be tasted. The combination of flavors and texture remind Megan of “Fruit by the Foot”.

The aromas are similar to mild caramel and a sweet Belgian ale.

Our Second Pick

2.) endangered species

-> The textures of this bar is characterized by a variety of nut edges, granules and gooey cranberries.

     While we were hoping the cranberry flavor would act as a primary contributor it seems the majority is overpowered by almond. There are              some simple earthy flavors and undertones of coffee as well.

     This bar seems more aromatic. Described like brownies and a hint of leather.

Our Third Pick

3.) Dan’s

-> It should be noted the Dan’s bars are smaller more “fun size”. The texture is characterized by semi-crunchy nuts and fine granules.

     Flavors that stand out are syrup from the crystallized raisins, taffy, creaminess and undertones of cotton candy.

     Much like the taste, aroma is artificial smelling: Between descriptions of holiday fruitcake, the corn syrup they use to make cordial cherries and some questionable tropical fruit drink.

While our previous two choices had a smooth finish or little aftertaste this bar leaves an oily mouth feel. Remaining molasses-like taste, dryness you would experience from consuming too many Christmas cookies or pure frosting.


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Cacao and Coffee – Who Can Boast About Their Roast?

Through the end of summer and into the fall, Meg and I have taken on many late night tastings. Our most recent being a selection of five chocolate bars infused with coffee. Now that we are wrapped up in full time work schedules and grad school, these cute adventures don’t occur so regularly. With a whole slew of costuming and wine making ideas the ol’ taste buds have surely taken a back seat. In fact, I had obtained these little chocolate wonders two weeks before Meg and I ever got around to consuming them. The addictive qualities of cacao for myself is similar to kryptonite for superman. I spent many a night glaring at those 5 bars like a psychiatric patient reasoning with himself.

Much like previous tastings we chose a high quality organic/fairtrade selection. Apparently, the pairing of coffee and cacao is in high demand. America has the desire for a bittersweet kick of caffeine (in bar form). This tasting differed from the previous in that we carried out a blind portion to ensure no biased opinions based on brand, appearance, 1st impressions etc. It was a success!

Below are our results. Each bar/brand is rated 15. 1 being the best and 5 being the worst.

# 1: Equal Exchange Espresso Bean (55% Cacao)

  • Details / florals, tiny crystallized texture, successfully incorporates the coffee through balanced texture and flavor. Rich taste from start to finish.

# 2: endangered species natural DARK CHOCOLATE WITH ESPRESSO BEANS (72% Cocoa)

  • Details / aroma is similar to cheap Easter chocolate, coconut undertones, moist, chocolate cake overtones, fresh flavors in textured beans.

# 3: Salazon Chocolate Co.Organic Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt & Crushed Organic Coffee (57% Dark Chocolate)

  • Details / salt, butterscotch, liqu0r richness, no coffee chunks or texture, consistency similar to truffle with the sweet flavors of toffee and molasses. Very little evidence of coffee. Unique landscape image on bar.

# 4: medecasse CHOCOLATEarabica coffee (44% cocoa) with arabica coffee nibs

  • Details / brown sugar and caramel flavors, textured pieces are rough, dry and stale tasting. Milkiness is evident through creamy consistency. Outer appearance looks crackled, mulch like etc.

# 5 – Green & Black’s OrganicEspresso Dark Chocolate infused with fine Arabica coffee beans (70% Cocoa Content)

  • Details / aroma of old diner coffee, burnt Keureg scent, campfire, smoky, stale cigarette, pine, lasting dryness. Overbearing flavors hide existence of cocoa.