Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Byrne & Carlson: Chipotle Sea Salt Bar

I messed up again! I'm late to blog (no excuse) but also I had a nice picture of this bar with the pretty paper sleeve from Byrne & Carlson still on, but I somehow deleted it, and the actual paper sleeve, which I had saved just in case this happened, got lost while I was moving things out of my dorm room. So all I have is this picture that I didn't take -- but it does convey, I think, the salt patterns that I will address below.

Byrne & Carlson: Chipotle Sea Salt Bar
Cocoa content: 74%
Notable ingredients: chipotle, Welsh sea salt
Origin: Venezuela

My dear cousin gave this to me on Passover -- she got it in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where Byrne & Carlson is located. The company makes all of their products by hand at the shop, and sometimes they use ingredients from local sources -- like the mint from their garden in the Violet bar. This particular bar is spiced very subtly with chipotle and then sprinkled with large crystals of sea salt.

The chipotle was done well, I think -- it was just very slightly smoky, and it didn't have the strangely dry after-taste that that pepper can sometimes leave. It wasn't spicy at all -- which works here, because spice and salt would just overwhelm the high quality Venezuelan chocolate, which was very good but not especially bold.

I didn't like the way the bar was salted. The sprinkling on the under-side of the bar looks pretty, but it suffered from uneven distribution. Some bites were not very salty at all -- just smooth and subtly smoky. But some bites contained a cluster of the strong Welsh sea salt, which totally obliterated the taste of the chocolate -- not to mention the chipotle, which was entirely overwhelmed by the strength of the salt. This bar might have worked better with smaller, better integrated crystals.

Next week (if I make it to next week) -- a new-age bar with questionable Kosher-ness. This gets a B-.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Francois Pralus: Equateur

I regret that I haven't blogged in over a month. The truth is, I'm graduating from college in two short weeks, and between securing an apartment rental and tying up some end-of-semester loose ends, I've fallen behind on all kinds of things. Plus, I've been battling a really annoying cold for the past week, and I've had quite an appetite for soup but little else. Chocolate helps in times of laughter and song, and in times of heartache and sorrow -- but not really so much in times of congestion and post-nasal drip.

Francois Pralus: Equateur
Cocoa content: 75%
Notable ingredients: n/a
Origin: Ecuador

Michael got me this chocolate bar at the Murray's cheese kiosk in Grand Central Marketplace several weeks ago. Francois Pralus has appeared on this blog once before. He makes a bar from Indonesian cocoa beans ("Djakarta") which I found to be pretty delicious and well-made. Emphasis on the well-made -- these bars are extremely snappy, texturally consistent, and overall very well balanced. Equateur has a great cocoa content and just the right amount of added sugar. Like most serious single origin bars though, it's a little bit un-fun.

The new neighborhood I'm moving to has plenty of great chocolate, so I hope to find many more bars to write about. I'm just about 10 blocks away from my favorite chocolate store in New York, so the only obstacle will be time and money. These bars are expensive. Luckily, I'm well prepared for the next several weeks. I've got two beautiful, salty bars from New Hampshire, and one bar with a heretofore unseen mix-in. Let's hope I find some time to write.

This bar gets a B.