Blanxart – Chocolate Negro

The Blanxart dark chocolate bar is 62% cocoa (according to the list of ingredients). Blanxart is a Spanish chocolatier which calls Barcelona home. It’s not entirely clear from their website where they get their cocoa beans, though they do reference Ghana and the Dominican Republic.

The aroma of the chocolate is flowery and mellow, with caramel/vanilla undertones. Essentially, it smells sweet.

The first flavor is citrusy, but it immediately changes over to a more robust caramel flavor as it begins to melt (though towards the end I noticed that a fruity essence returned). Overall good flavor, though not especially creamy and didn’t melt very smoothly in my mouth. I did miss the bitterness of cocoa, so I could have gone for a little less sugar (but it’s 62%..).

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Published in: on May 12, 2010 at 5:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Lover’s bar (85%)

I love Trader Joe’s…. they really know how to make yummy chocolate things, from the mint UFO’s to chocolate covered -fruit/pretzels/nuts (the black cocoa dusted chocolate almonds are a personal favorite.. but that’s another story). I was intrigued by the appearance of a dark 85%, single origin bar in the candy aisle. The cacao is from the Tumaco Region of Colombia.

The aroma of the chocolate is vanilla and strawberries, almost like strawberry shortcake or something!

The first burst of flavor I got was banana, though it was very short-lived. As it began to melt, it developed more berry-like flavors which became an earthy cacao flavor. The box does describe it as “smooth & fruity” and I’d say that was right –  it did melt pretty smoothly, though wasn’t particularly creamy.

Published in: on April 16, 2010 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Chuao – Todasana 74%

This bar was made from purely Venezuelan cacao (grown in the village of Todasana, hence the name). I believe I have reviewed Chuao before, but if you’re interested in learning more about them and their mission – organized by the Aguasanta Growth Initiative – check out their website.

The aroma was at first of a sweet caramel, which gave way to fruitier undertones.

The first flavor I detected was banana. The banana flavor remained in the forefront for the entire process, but as it melted other tropical fruitiness came out. The fruitiness prevented bitterness while not being too sweet – a good transition bar for anyone afraid to try really dark chocolate.

Published in: on March 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Chocolove – 70% dark, Dominican Republic

This Chocolove bar is from their Chocolatour collection. According to the wrapper, the beans are all of the Trinitario variety and were grown in the Dominican Republic. I like the style of the wrapper, emphasizing that different types of cocoa beans are like the different types of grapes used to make wine: the year and location of growth influence the flavors of the chocolate.

Chocolove - Chocolatour 70%, Dominican Republic

The aroma is very flowery, like roses and tulips (though the wrapper describes it as similar to a glass of wine, which I didn’t really get..).

At first, the chocolate has a slightly bitter smoky flavor, but quickly melts into a tangy fruity flavor like passionfruit and citrus. It has a dry finish, similar to the feeling of a white wine. It has a smooth texture as it melts.

Published in: on March 8, 2010 at 2:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Chocolate in Science – About Antioxidants

Not too long ago I posted about a research article describing how the chemicals in chocolate can help prevent cells from dying. I came across an article published last month detailing the antioxidant content of dark chocolate and cocoa, explaining what the antioxidants were and how much is absorbed by the body.

The review paper is called “Theobroma cacao L., the Food of the Gods: A scientific approach beyond myths and claims” (M. Rusconi and A. Conti, Pharmac. Res. 2010 (61): 5-13) and discusses a few interesting points I wanted to share.

The amount of antioxidants, or polyphenols, in a dark chocolate bar varies greatly between manufacturers. In fact, beans from different countries can have different levels of polyphenols, then, depending on the fermentation, roasting and manufacturing processes, the amounts are further varied. A typical dark chocolate bar (greater than 35% cacao) can have anywhere from 0.3 – 2.5 g of antioxidants per 100 g of chocolate. That’s a pretty big range, and unfortunately there’s really no way to tell unless you analyze the chocolate in a lab, and most chocolate makers don’t do that. So, while a higher percentage of chocolate most likely contains more antioxidants, it’s not always certain.

The majority of antioxidants in chocolate are called catechins (same ones as found in green tea..) or are groups of two catechins (or dimers, called procyanidin).  When you eat chocolate, the dimers can break in half in your stomach, which makes it easier for them to be absorbed into your bloodstream in the intestines. It also doesn’t seem to matter if you eat chocolate or drink cocoa – the catechins are still found in your bloodstream relatively quickly after eating. This contradicts an older study that said the presence of milk prevents the absorption of catechins, though they are not sure why. I guess this is still something open to debate and study.

Chocolate is the third greatest source of antioxidants in the American diet, after fruits and vegetables! However, I highly doubt people will start saying “A chocolate bar a day keeps the doctor away.” It can certainly help increase your antioxidant intake, but the typical chocolate bar is also a great source of fat and sugar. That doesn’t really stop me from eating a lot of it, though 🙂

Published in: on February 25, 2010 at 11:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Michel Cluizel – Grand Noir 85%

Michel Cluizel is a famed French chocolatier, making chocolate since 1948! He has perfected the art of using a minimum number of all natural ingredients to produce rich, smooth chocolate. (reportedly, the cacao beans are ground to particles smaller than 18 micron = 0.018 mm – very small!)

The chocolate has a very sweet and flowery aroma. At first, the flavor is sweet also, but quickly melts into a rich cocoa bitterness. It has an earthy mellowness to it – it’s not bitter in an acrid way, but is satisfying. It has an incredibly smooth texture that belies its 85% cacao content (and lack of soy lecithin as an emulsifier) but can only be credited to the 18 micron particles. mmmmmmm

Published in: on February 9, 2010 at 6:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Kakao Chocolate – Extra Dark 72% Chocolate Bark with Organic Candied Ginger

Kakao Chocolate is a must visit chocolaterie and cafe if you are ever in St. Louis. If not, check out their website for a sampling of their tasty chocolates and other treats. I was very excited to visit for the first time and get my hands on some of their yummy bark. Since I have a penchant for dark chocolate, but am still trying to understand the flavors in pure chocolate, I chose the simplest chocolate bark –  a 72% dark blend of three types of chocolate (which I am not sure is top secret or not, so perhaps I’ll keep that info to myself) and has a sprinkling of candied ginger pieces.

The chocolate itself has a warm chocolatey aroma with subtle fruity smells. It melts smoothly and at first has that slight bitterness we expect from dark chocolate. It mellows as it continues to melt and has maybe raspberry undertones.

It has a slight different experience when eaten together with a piece of candied ginger. The bittery spice of the ginger is not too overpowering, but does mask any bitterness in the chocolate, leaving a pleasant sensation in your mouth. I have decided I need to learn how to make candied ginger… it is so delicious! I think I would actually pick off all the pieces and eat them plain if the texture of them with the chocolate didn’t play off eachother so nicely!

Published in: on January 18, 2010 at 11:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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Pacari – 72% Cacao Los Rios

The third bar in the Arriba Nacional trio is the 72% “cacao los rios.” Of the previous two, this is my favorite. I have a thing for chocolate with >70% cocoa content!!

I have noticed that these bars are very simply molded – no frilly shapes or inprints, just a block of rectangles. I kind of like that (after all, I’m going to eat it rather quickly..).

The aroma of the 72% is sweet and fruity – definitely makes me think citrus. At first, I get a strong cocoa flavor but as it melts citrus and flowery flavors become apparent. According to the tasting notes at their website, a finish of coffee can be tasted, though I must admit I don’t really get that at the end. The finish to me maintained a fresh feeling that was more flowery than roasted.

 

Published in: on October 29, 2009 at 3:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Pacari – 60% Cacao Esmeraldas

So I recently celebrated my birthday, and a good friend who appreciates my passion for chocolate sent me a collection of Pacari Ecuadorian chocolate. Pacari means nature in a native Ecuadorian language, and the company tries to be true to their name by producing all-natural (and organic) and local chocolate. Therefore, they use a cocoa bean native to Ecuador: arriba national. I randomly decided to start with the 60% cacao… you’ll see the rest of them popping up in my reviews over the next few weeks!

The aroma of the chocolate is slightly sweet and fruity. The flavor is very earthy and almost savory (not sweet). As it melts, slight banana-ish flavors appear. It has a very smooth and creamy texture as it melts.

Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 3:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Chocolove – 77% Extra Strong

Chocolove is the cute chocolate that comes in the wrapper that looks like an envelope (and it has a love poem inside). It is made in Colorado with Belgian chocolate and in the Belgian tradition, and at 77% cocoa, I’m curious to give this bar a taste.

It’s aroma isn’t overwhelmingly strong. Vanilla is not one of the listed ingredients, but the chocolate does smell faintly of vanilla and other sweet spices. Once you bite into it, however, it is an intense cocoa flavor. It is initially a warm, woodsy flavor that melts with a hint of cherry. It melts rather quickly and smoothly for such a high cocoa content bar, but I guess that is the cocoa butter at work.

Published in: on July 7, 2009 at 1:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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