Sunday, June 29, 2008

Chocolate - Round 1

It's been nearly a month of studying with chocolate. Time for my first round of reviews.

Veritas True Flats - Cacao Nibs (54% cacao)

I've never been fully won over by cocoa nibs, but this bar might be an exception. It's a visually beautiful bar with cocoa nibs liberally sprinkled on top of a snappy flat of dark chocolate. The bitterness of the nibs goes well with the chocolate and I enjoyed the darkly nutty combination. I still don't love cocoa nibs on their own, and have yet to meet a baked good where cocoa nibs enhance the pastry, but this is a bar I would consider buying.

Vosges - Mo's Bacon Bar (41% cacao)

Hello, bacon! We tasted this bar in a group setting and the group was sharply divided over this bar. I adored it, others abhorred it. We all agreed it's an unusual bar. It's probably not surprising that I like this bar since I've long been a fan of bacon and maple syrup, another sweet bacon combination. What I love about this bar is the addition of salt to the milk chocolate itself. With each bite a little sweet and a little savory hit the palate. The bacon flavor is ever-present and distinctly meaty. As I sit here writing I find myself wanting another taste.

Dragoba Organic Chocolate - Lavender Blueberry (59% cacao)

I did not expect to like to this bar. Despite being a bar of the dark chocolate variety, the name conjured up something that sounded too sweet to me. Lavender I've always thought better suited to soaps than dessert, so it was with decidedly low expectations that I sampled this bar. I was very pleasantly surprised. The lavender does not dominate the bar as I had feared, and the blueberries are surprisingly nice - not cloying, and they add a little texture to the bar. It's a happy moment when I find myself so wrong in my assumptions. I'm not sure I'd buy this again, but it's certainly a pleasant bar.

Ghirardelli - Intense Dark Espresso Escape (60% cacao)

It was a very sleepy Saturday morning and I was in class for the day. I'd packed this bar thinking it would make good afternoon snack. And then I decided it might be appropriate as a morning snack because my coffee had done nothing for me, and the bar did say, "with finely ground espresso beans." Somewhere around 11 a.m. I had my first square, daring, willing hoping that the bar would do something to my sleepy brain and trick me into thinking I was alert. That didn't happen. Apparently I need more caffeine than this bar supplies, but on the plus side, the act trying to eat discreetly in class was enough to get my brain out of its stupor.

Vintage Plantations - 2006 Harvest, Dark with Roasted Salted Peanuts (75% cacao)

I really hated my first taste of this bar. It's very dark, but on my second square, I realized that while the chocolate was very dark, it really isn't bitter. It also doesn't resemble what my taste buds expect when they think "chocolate" because it has so little sugar in it. I like peanuts, I like chocolate, and I'm trying to keep an open mind about this bar, but I have to say that I don't particularly care for it. Maybe 2006 wasn't a great year? Maybe my palate just isn't up for this challenge.


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