Friday, December 24, 2010

Askinosie: San Jose Del Tambo

Doesn't that guy on the Askinosie bar look kind of like George W. Bush? My mom brought this bar back for me from Boston -- I think she got it at Formaggio, on Huron Ave. in Cambridge. I've seen these bars around before but I've never had one because they're pretty expensive. Thanks Mom!

Askinosie: San Jose Del Tambo
Cocoa content: 70%
Notable ingredients: n/a
Origin: Ecuador

I think Askinosie copied my blog. Look at the wrapper: categories for Bean, Origin, Variety, Cocoa, Process, and Choc-o-lot #. They basically stole my idea of summing up chocolate bars in a few simple categories, and went crazy with it. Honestly, who is going to recognize the names of different beans and bean varietals when they're shopping for chocolate bars? And who cares about the choc-o-lot #? What is that? Mine is just stamped with 05 06 10, which I assume is a date. But what am I supposed to make of that?

I wish I could dock points for this excess, but I can't: this bar was too delicious. It had a perfect snap, great consistency, and a sweet, roasted coffee flavor -- not at all acidic. This is one of the better South American single-origin bars that I've tried.

Another thing: it comes in this adorable little bag. I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but the wrapper is actually a narrow little brown paper bag, folded over at the top and tied shut with twine. The front is stamped with bar-specific statistics and the back is printed with a little note from the founder, Shawn Askinosie -- oh, ok, so reading this now I see that the picture on the front is of the farmer. No kidding! So it's not George W. Bush.

This was a great bar and I can't wait to eat another Askinosie bar. Next up, if I can find it in New York: the Malted Moo Moo bar. Yum. B+.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cold Stone Creamery: Peanut Butter Cup Perfection

May I say: Lol. May I say lol because Cold Stone Creamery's Peanut Butter Cup Perfection bar represents the Cold Stone concept come full-circle: they use candy in their ice cream, and then they adapt their popular ice cream creations to candy form -- what's next? Will Cold Stone eat itself, and use its own ice cream-turned-candy creations as mix-ins into new ice cream creations? Is that too meta for Cold Stone? First things first:

Cold Stone Creamery: Peanut Butter Cup Perfection
Cocoa content: unlisted (guess: 30%)
Notable ingredients: "filling" (vaguely peanut butter-like substance)
Origin: please!

This was actually a truly disgusting bar. I don't know why. I'll be the first to admit that Cold Stone Creamery is not bad! I know, I know, the ice cream is mediocre -- but even mediocre ice cream tastes awesome if you grind an entire Butterfinger into it. Anyone who says otherwise is lying! I've never had the Peanut Butter Cup Perfection, but I'm guessing it's delicious. Peanut Butter tends to turn everything it touches into gold.

Not this bar -- but then again, we can't really call this peanut butter. Peanuts aren't even mentioned until the 6th item in the ingredient list under "filling," and even then it's "artificial peanut flavor." Well, something went horribly wrong with this artificial peanut filling, because it tastes like blue cheese legit. It's disgusting. It's unspeakable.

Or maybe the problem is with the chocolate? It's made by Turin -- a self-proclaimed "master chocolatier" -- a company that's been around for almost a century. I'm pretty sure the chocolate is at best tasteless, and possibly kind of stale and chewy, too. Really, the disgusting filling distracted me from the chocolate. So, Cold Stone -- stick to what you do best. Keep combining good candy with bad ice cream, and leave the bad candy out of it.

As a fan of Cold Stone I'm sorry to say -- this bar gets a D.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ritter Sport: Yogurt

I got this bar -- one of the last Ritter Sport bars that I haven't tried -- from my friend Mia. I was curious about the consistency of the yogurt because I figured it would just spill out if I snapped off a piece of the bar -- the little squares on Ritter bars aren't capsules like that Lindt yogurt bar I once had. As it turned out, the yogurt magically stayed in place, and my time with this bar has been a festival of creaminess.

Ritter Sport: Yogurt
Cocoa content: 55%
Notable ingredients: yogurt
Origin: n/a

So on Ritter Sport's website, the yogurt in this bar is described as 45% skimmed milk yogurt. I don't know how much yogurt is typically skimmed, but this yogurt was pretty solid and dry, almost more like an almond paste or crumbly white chocolate. But still -- it was exceedingly creamy. And whereas that last yogurt bar was a little too sweet, this was the kind of yogurt I like -- tangy and a little sour.

The way it blended with the chocolate was really delicious. Both the chocolate and the yogurt retained their sweet and milky notes while melting together, and the sharpness of the yogurt was kind of tempered by the chocolate. I only had an issue with the way the bar broke apart -- because of the consistency of the yogurt, the pieces sort of tore softly rather than snapped -- which undermines Ritter Sport's slogan for this bar: "Why spoon when you can snap?"

But overall it was interesting and creamy and good. I wonder if I should have refrigerated it? A-.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

NibMor: Crispy

My local Eden Gourmet recently began selling NibMor chocolates, so I picked one up when I was home for Thanksgiving break. The name is kind of misleading -- there are no nibs (bits of roasted cocoa bean) in this chocolate. There may never have been nibs in the processing of this chocolate, because I don't think the cocoa beans were ever roasted. And that, readers, was a huge mistake on NibMor's part. Because this bar was nasty.

NibMor: Crispy
Cocoa content: 65%
Notable ingredients: crispy brown rice; agave nectar
Origin: n/a

NibMor is a couple of women in Huntington, on Long Island, making nasty chocolate bars and leaving out all the good ingredients that make chocolate palatable. Vegan. Dairy Free. Gluten Free. Non-GMO. No Refined Sugar. Kosher. Recyclable. I don't even know how a chocolate bar can be recyclable. Was I not supposed to eat it? Anyway, I'm going to make a list of things I hate about this bar.

1. Raw: The package has all sorts of labels and certifications on it. It's Raw (of course,) it's Certified Vegan, it's USDA Organic. Here's what I don't get -- vegans, ok, I understand that they have to eat chocolate too. Some of their chocolate is ok. Most of it isn't -- whatever! They're doing the best they can! But Raw foodists? Isn't the Raw food movement primarily concerned with maintaining the natural nutrients and antioxidants in food? I know what they say about a little chocolate every day being good for your heart or something, but let's be honest -- chocolate is an indulgence! There are no important nutrients to maintain here, really. Is it worth ruining what could have been a perfectly good chocolate bar just to save some antioxidants?

2. Agave Nectar: Agave is what vegans use instead of honey, because honey comes from bees. Agave is nice to drizzle on yogurt. But last time I checked, sugar is ok for vegans. Sugar actually comes from a plant! And it's the only sweetener that really works with chocolate for consistency reasons. So why couldn't NibMor use sugar? Of course they're concerned with refined ingredients, but plenty of chocolate is made with unrefined cane sugar. Is this flashy, unnecessary nod to veganism worth the gummy, crumbly consistency?

3. Consistency: Combine raw chocolate and agave nectar, and you've achieved the consistency of a Power Bar. NibMor doesn't break along even lines, it has no snap to speak of, and eating it involves a lot of chewing and no melting. Creaminess is sacrificed for cold processing. This was a sticky, lifeless mess.

4. Brown Rice: This is just ridiculous. If you're staying away from refined grains -- if you're staying away from refined anything -- just forget about chocolate. Everything that is good about chocolate is going to offend your diet.

That's that. Next week I will enjoy a chocolate bar rife with refined sugar and literally filled with dairy. This bar gets a D.