Monthly Archives: January 2007

Two takes on chocolate & curry

Naga_bar

Spicy chocolate bars seem to be all the rage right now — although usually the heat comes from some kind of hot pepper.  There is a group of chocolate bar makers that is branching out and trying something a little different though — curry. 

Now I do like my chocolate dark and with a nice bitter edge, but spicy?  I’m not so sure.  I thought I’d give two of my favoritie chocolate makers a shot though.  First up — the Naga Exotic Candy Bar from Vosges.  This bar uses a dark milk chocolate base (40%) and combines it with sweet Indian curry and coconut flakes.  While the overwhelming flavor is the spices — which are nice and earthy and only pack a small amount of heat — the chocolate still does come through and it leaves you with a chocolate after taste.  I’m not sure that I would get it again, but it was definitely worth trying once.

Coconut_curry

Next up was the Phinney 3400 Coconut Curry bar.  Now I am a *huge* fan of Theo and 3400 Phinney chocolate bars and I wanted to love this one.  The texture was there — it was a beautiful bar — but it was just too spicy for my liking.  The heat and flavor of cumin (I believe) totally overpowered the chocolate.  While the aftertast is somewhat sweet, the flavor of the spices lingers.  If you love curry powder and heat — this bar is for you. 

Both of these chocolate bar makers have some other excellent products (Vosges makes the outstanding Barcelona Bar and 3400 Phinney makes a wonderful Nib Brittle bar and Bread & Chocolate bar), so I guess this just wasn’t the flavor combo for me.

New Tree Chocolate Bars

New_tree

New Tree is a chocolate company from Belgium that markets their bars as somewhat of a health food.  Recently I’ve tried 2 of their bars — Forgiveness and Cocoon.

Forgiveness (Harmonizing) — This is a dark chocolate bar (73%) that contains "natural lemon flavor" as well as "cactus extract" which is supposed to "reduce the intake of fats" according to the label.  I was disappointed upon opening the inner foil packet to see that the bar was covered in bloom and wasn’t glossy at all.  Upon taking a taste, I felt that the dark chocolate was somewhat brittle rather than creamy and instead of a nice bite it kind of crumbled in my mouth.  There was a subtle lemon flavor — although it tasted more spicy than citrusy. 

Cocoon (Comfort) — Here is a bar from their milk chocolate line which contains "natural cinnamon flavor" as well as "soy germ extract".  The package says that "Soy isoflavones are known to help with hormonal balance and calcium retention" and that one bar has "the recommended daily dose of isoflavones."  I have to say that I liked this bar much better than the Forgiveness bar.  The chocolate is very milky and fruity and the cinnamon flavor is a nice addition.  The bar was shiny and well tempered and while it was smoother, I did feel that it left my mouth feeling a bit dry.  I also found it odd that they used vanillin (an artificial flavor) rather than vanilla — especially when their website goes on and on about their chocolate being all natural — hmmmm.

I might try another one of their milk chocolate bars in the future — "Rejoice" looks interesting — but I think I’ll steer clear of their other dark chocolate bars.

Newman’s Own Peanut Butter Cups

Newmans_own_pb_cups

I picked these up at the same time that I picked up the Peppermint Cups, and while I’m not the peanut butter fan in the household — I did like these.

The chocolate appears to be the same as for the Peppermint Cups — dark, but sweet and very smooth.  The peanut butter filling was much smoother and softer here though.  I’m not a big fan of the grainy greasy peanut butter filling in Resses PB Cups and I was very happy to see that these were completely different.  They didn’t feel greasy at all — the filling was more light and smooth than anything and tasted like actual peanuts.  The one thing I would say is that it could have used a hit of salt to offset the sweetness (there is salt in these, but I wanted a touch more).

While I’m still not a huge peanut butter fan — I would recommend these and would eat them again. 

Coffee Crisp

Coffee_crisp

I am a coffee lover — seriously.  So I was pretty sure that the Coffee Crisp wouldn’t measure up for me.  And while I didn’t think there was a lot of coffee flavor in this bar, I really liked it. 

My first thought when I bit into the bar was that it reminded me of a KitKat, only larger.  Now It’s not like the Big KitKat — which I abhor.  (Why?  It breaks apart and there’s too much waxy chocolate in relation to the inside.  Ugh!)  Instead it has a thinner layer of chocolate and very nice crispy layers of wafer and coffee creme.  Now, it is a mass market bar and as you would expect it’s quite sweet.  I have to say though that I would eat this again — it’s tasty and I like the subtle coffee flavor.

The Coffee Crisp bar is from Nestle of Canada and I’ve only seen it at one shop — a little candy store in a town about 30 minutes from where I live.  However, there have been people petitioning to get Nestle to sell the bar in the US and low and behold — it looks like they are going to do just that!  Power to the people!

Newman’s Own Peppermint Cups

Neumans_own_peppermint_cups

I’ve been on a quest for the perfect chocolate/mint combo for a while now, so when I saw the Newman’s Own Peppermint Cups at my local grocery store, I though I’d give them a try.  As you can see, you get three little cups in a package — they are each smaller than a Reeses pb cup and are well packaged in a little plastic holder.  My cups arrived in good shape — and well not glossy and all that beautiful, they weren’t losing their filling — although there was a bit of bloom or something (those little white spots you see in the photo) on the middle cup.

Now these are called Dark Chocolate, but the first ingredient is suger and I felt that they were quite sweet.  However, the chocolate is nice and smooth.  And it’s also organic if you like that sort of thing. 

The filling was somewhat quite solid and grainy — nicely proportioned to the chocolate.  It was minty, although it gave off a buttery impression even more than a minty one for me.  I think it has something to do with the added salt.  And while it wasn’t bad — it just wasn’t the mint flavor I was looking for. 

Don’t get me wrong — these are very good and I like that they are easy to find.  If I needed a chocolate/mint fix I would buy them again.  They just wouldn’t be my first choice.

Lake Champlain – Dark chocolate with Almonds

Lake_champlain_d_w_al

I’ve been jonesing for a good chocolate/almonds bar and when Pete told me that he came across a Lake Champlain Dark Chocolate with Almond bar, I had him pick it up for me.

As you can see, it’s a very pretty bar!  Well tempered so that it is glossy and snaps beautifully.  It’s a little bit thicker than I like (the Theo Bars were the perfect thickness), but I suppose that’s a minor complaint.

The chocolate is only 54% cocoa content, so it was quite sweet.  Anything darker probably would have completely overpowered the almonds, so I guess it was a decent choice.  And speaking of almonds — they were chopped into little bits.  Too little if you ask me — and I didn’t find them all that flavorful.  I think that if they were roasted a bit more and some salt was added this would have improved the taste.  As it was, I felt the bar was more sweet and chocolaty than anything.

As a chocolate bar, it was good — smooth Belgian chocolate without any discernable flavors.  The mouthfeel was a bit buttery — very thick and almost a bit greasy or waxy (not in a bad way though!)

All in all I would say that it was a 7 — really good, but not what I’m looking for in a chocolate/almond combo.  You can purchase the Lake Champlain bars at Whole Foods and other locations (mine was purchased at Hannah’s Bretzel in Chicago) as well as online through their website.

Toblerone — Milk, Dark & White Chocolate

Toblerone_2

The Toblerone — what can I say about this bar?  I’m sure you have tried one.  The delicious combination of smooth milk chocolate, almonds and honey is rather unique and very enjoyable in my opinion.  I especially like the easy to break off pieces and the delightful chewiness of the honey bits.

Toblerone_3_kinds

So when I came upon the dark and white versions of this classic, I had to give them a try.  It turns out that while I wasn’t familiar with these two additional varieties, they have been around as long as I have!  (Well, the dark has been around longer than me, first appearing in 1969.)

I have to say that the white and dark weren’t as good as the original.  While the chocolate in both of them were smooth, mild flavored and nicely tempered, they didn’t play as well with the unique honey/almond flavor.  The white was too sweet and close in taste to the honey and the dark completely overpowered it.  I’ll stick with the traditional milk chocolate variety when I need my Toblerone fix.

Overall I would give the Toblerone brand a 7 out of 10.  I’ll definitley be eating more of the Toblerone classic in the future!

Toblerone is now owned by Kraft and is widely available.  I think I bought my most recent bar at Target.

(Photos were taken from the Toblerone and Kraft confectionery websites as I had eaten my bars a while back and had nothing to photograph!  Check out the Toblerone website for more info and history on this bar.)

Welcome to the Chocolate Blog!

Hi! Welcome to the chocolate blog! I’ve become obsessed with chocolate and chocolate bars over the past year and I’ve decided to create this blog to chronicle my journey as I eat my way through drawers full of chocolate. Stay tuned — I’ll be moving all of the chocolate related posts from my personal blog (www.boogaj.com) to this space. I’ll also be reviewing tons of chocolate bars — I have a backlog to report on right now.

Thanks for stopping by — and please come back for more fun!