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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Orange you glad we did another chocolate tasting?

On Friday September 14th we decided to challenge our taste buds and indulge in another chocolate tasting. Upon selecting a consistent theme for flavor and style, orange stood out as an incorporated element that could easily improve or blanket the superior quality of a well made bar. With a similar approach to our previous mint chocolate engagement we started by selecting a high quality assortment from the local natural foods store. USDA Organic, Fair Trade  and a cocoa content of 60-70%were also a concern as we support the proper care for international workers, the ingredients found in high quality products and ultimately the origin of cacao beans.

We discussed some factors before hearing that satisfying snap of a well tempered chocolate bar. How would each company represent an ideal level of orange. With chocolate already existing as a perfect combination of naturally sweet and bitter flavors would the inclusion of citrus and tang be obtrusive. Would the flavor profiles emerge as subtle or harsh? Orange is used for its abundant vitamin c content, zesty flavored peel and sweet satiating juice. Will it succeed within the finely crafted bars of origins ranging from Latin America to Africa?

So what is a chocolate tasting without results? Here is a conclusive series of notes for each brand broken up by TEXTURE, FLAVOR and OVERALL EXPERIENCE.

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Alter Eco – Dark Twist, crystallized orange peel VIBRANT AND TANGY

Texture: Well tempered snap, quickly melts, smooth, chunks of crystallized peel throughout, peel similar to consistency of raisins

Flavor: Primary flavor mild citrus with undertone of bitter nut oil. Vibrant warm secondary flavors, bright clear “Sunny D” punch,

Overall: This bar contains the complexity of odd textured orange peel that leaves a raisin like feel in the mouth. It’s bright bold sweetness is enjoyable, but to us it seemed that too much was going on and it obstructed many of the flavor characteristics of the raw chocolate.

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Theo – Orange, DARK CHOCOLATE

Texture: Light/airy seeming, matte finish, sharp snap, well tempered

Flavor: Mild tang, slight bitterness, hint of citrus, secondary flavors intensify, flavors dissipate quickly

Overall: The composition and structure of this bar screams quality chocolate while the flavor experience says basic. In the initial moments expect very little flavor with the primary being standard dark chocolate. Citrus can be detected, but ultimately only intensifies in the final seconds of consumption.

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Equal Exchange – Orange Dark Chocolate

Texture: Oily, softer snap, dense, smooth, slow melting rate

Flavor: Essence of fruit from start to finish, balance of oils and added ingredients with natural chocolate flavor, undertones of vanilla

Overall: The simplicity and quality of this bar allowed for the pairing of orange and chocolate flavors to shine. A consistent fresh fruitiness with less elements of tang seemed to make the whole tasting experience enjoyable.


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A Tuesday “Engage-mint” (Chocolate Tasting For Two)

Yesterday night (August 28, 2012) Meg and I extracted our stash of heavenly cocoa from the fridge in a long awaited mint chocolate tasting event. After allowing the three bars to reach an adequate temperature (room-temp, ideally) we splayed them out on the table and took note of packaging graphics, appearance and any major notable variables. Before our tasting took place, Megan very intentionally selected three quality brands with as many of the same constant variables as possible. These variables include: 60-70% cocoa content, organic, fair trade, dark – high levels of flavonoids/cocoa liqueur, and containing mint as a contributing primary flavor.

In a manic, but connoisseur-like approach we carried out a series of consistent tasting techniques throughout the event. We started by taking note of the wrapping quality and appearance. Then we proceeded to observe the dimensions and finish of the chocolate bar. Is the piece matte or shiny? Does it break with a snap or feel more pliable? Is it somewhat resistant to body heat or does it melt like the wicked witch of the west?

Using our fingers we increased the temperature of each segment, releasing aromas and flavor qualities for ten seconds. Then we transferred the chunks to the surface of our tongues to be shifted at mouth temp for another ten seconds. The final flavors were released as we started to chew, exposing a variety of decadent, rich, bitter tones coupled with moments of salivation. Water was used as a palette cleansing device after the completion of every brand.

So what is a chocolate tasting without results? Here is a conclusive series of notes for each brand broken up by TEXTURE, FLAVOR and OVERALL EXPERIENCE.

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Divine – Mint Dark Chocolate

Texture: Hard, snaps, high concentration of crystallized chunks distributed throughout, medium matte, low sheen

Flavor: Subtle (almost unnoticeable) mint, zest, earth

Overall: While this brand excels in crunchy texture and mouth feel, it severely lacks in overall and lasting flavor

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Green & Black’s – Dark Chocolate infused with peppermint oil for an intense mint taste

Texture: Soft, smooth, creamy, pliable, less snap, medium sheen, low matte

Flavor: Mint, sweet, clean mouth feel

Overall: Clean mouth feel, lasting flavor of mint from start to finish, quality in packaging and taste is evident

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Alter Eco – Dark Mint, cool crispy mint BOLD AND BRISK

Texture: Fine mint crystals, grit/sand feel, less snap (and subsequently more pliable)

Flavor: Subtle, permeating mint, high level of sweetness

Overall: Best overall mint experience, this bar successfully accomplishes what both other bars separately could not: A combination of finely distributed mint flavor in both bar and crystallized chunks, texture and creamy mouth feel from start to finish.

Grab yourselves some of these and try!

Let us know if you have different brand/bar recommendations…