Holiday Chocolates

Holiday Chocolates
Holiday Chocolates -beats cookies any day!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Taza Stone Ground Organic Chocolate - 80%

Taza is a little company in Somerville, MA that makes its own chocolate the old-fashioned way. Stone ground chocolate is a little gritty, but can be enjoyable to chew on if you like the texture. This particular bar of 80% surprised me because I expected a dark-roasted kind of flavor but instead got something really bright and fruity. By that I mean it has a slight tartness to it. The gritty texture is the product of stone-grinding the roasted cacao beans, but it feels like you are eating granulated sugar. I've had this chocolate once before a long time ago and I think I had the same reaction: I like the idea of stone ground chocolate very much, but the reality disappoints. I don't think I like bright, fruity chocolates (although if you've never tried one, try this and you will see what I mean)and I don't know whether that is the result of the type of beans they use or the particular way they roast them. The granulated texture keeps making me think I'm eating raw sugar, which is a bit unsettling. The good thing about Taza, though, is that they are a small, New England company, their products are becoming more and more available, and they sell chocolate-covered cacao nibs! If you've never had nibs, you really must seek these out. They are just cracked pieces of cacao bean covered in chocolate, which adds a bit of sweetness to the otherwise bitter nibs.
If you like chocolate with a lot of texture, try Taza.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Lake Champlain 5 Star Bar - Fruit & Nut

This is a lovely little treasure. Lake Champlain Chocolate is from Burlington, Vermont and they make a decent chocolate bar. Their 5 Star Bars are these 1.9 g. little nuggets of milk and dark chocolate with goodies folded in. The Fruit & Nut bar has "praline, pecans, cherries and dark chocolate". They look like mini chocolate bars but they are three times as thick! They make a great treat when you want your chocolate but are too afraid to buy a large bar for fear of eating it all, like my last Green & Black's fiasco. The down side is they cost about $2.69, which is reasonable for a large bar but a bit appalling for such a little bar. It is thick, but it's not that thick! However, it is a price worth paying for a small treat that will satisfy you without overindulging.
They are sweet and nutty, with a dominant hazlenut taste and some dried cherries and pecans in the background. The nuts and cherries are folded into a soft, almost-but-not-quite truffle-like center and the whole thing is covered in dark chocolate. If you don't like hazlenuts (filberts), stay away from these.
I used to buy these once a week, several years back, when I wanted a treat and had more self-discipline with chocolate than I have now. I think that is when I originally got hooked on the dried cherry and chocolate combo that resulted in the above mentioned fiasco (See Green & Black's Cherry).
They do come in several other flavors, like peanut butter and caramel, so if you're not wild about cherries and hazlenuts, try one of the others. They are a great size to slip into your purse for a long trip when you know you will need something somewhere along the way to lift your spirit!
Living in Vermont, these are easy for me to find. Outside of Vermont, you will most likely only encounter these in a chocolate shop or gourmet food shop. It is not that the quality of the chocolate is that good, it is just that these days anything made in Vermont has made the luxury items list and can only be found in specialty stores! Go figure! It is, however, better than a Hershey bar, so if you find one, buy it.