Sunday, January 30, 2011

Endangered Species: Dark w/ Cacao Nibs

Endangered Species is a chocolate company that donates a high percentage of profits to habitat conservation initiatives and is involved with some other wildlife support projects. Each bar they make is associated with an animal (I've previously blogged about the spider monkey bar, which contains goji berries, pecans, and maca.) That last Endangered Species bar was delicious, and since 72% cocoa bars basically never fail, I decided to give this one a try, too. I bought it at the health food store in Bronxville, NY.

Endangered Species: Dark w/ Cacao Nibs
Cocoa content: 72%
Notable ingredients: cocoa nibs
Origin: n/a

Animals + chocolate: I can't really think of a more compelling combination -- so what better a time to learn about animals than when you're eating chocolate? I'm not crazy about bats, but then again, according to this wrapper, "bats may be the most misunderstood animals in the United States." Basically, people think bats are spooky and erratic but really they're just these incredibly unique, vision-impaired flying mammals who snack on insects and suffer from habitat destruction, hibernation disturbance, and -- get this -- direct killing! Who goes around killing bats? Who does that!

I don't know what if anything bats have to do with cocoa nibs, but this was a particularly good nib bar. Nibs are the dry-roasted bits of the cocoa bean -- that is, before it's processed and blended with cocoa butter and other fats and oils. Nibs can sometimes be too big (and thus disruptive of the bar's overall texture) or too conservatively distributed. In this bar, the nibs were small, crunchy, and plentiful, and they had a nice roasted flavor. The bar melted nicely around them and snapped cleanly and easily despite them.

Overall this bar was great, and I feel proud to have helped the disadvantaged little bat in a small way. A-.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lindt: Pistachio

I bought this bar at an A&P in Bronxville. I'm not really that into pistachios, and I was skeptical of how they'd pair with chocolate. I like the combination of pistachio and vanilla -- in my hometown, there is this great ice cream parlor called Rancatore's and they have a flavor called Kulfi which is basically an Indian-inspired blend of vanilla ice cream, pistachio, and some spices -- cardamom and nutmeg, I would guess. It's delicious. My purchase of this bar was inspired by my love of that ice cream flavor.

Lindt: Pistachio
Cocoa content: unlisted (guess: 33%)
Notable ingredients: pistachio nuts; almonds
Origin: n/a

The "filled" Lindt bars consist of little chocolate pods with some sort of creamy filling, joined together at the edges. These pieces, each about the size of a bullet, contained a single pistachio nut suspended in a vaguely almond-flavored cream filling. Having been surrounded by cream since however long ago this bar was manufactured, the pistachio nut itself was a little bit soft. It lost its signature saltiness and distinct flavor. Pistachios are never rock hard, but this one was softened to the point that even its crunchiness amidst a pocket of cream was compromised.

It's still kind of good, though. Lindt bars are truly never bad. The milk chocolate especially is so creamy and sweet and melty that it will complement whatever it encases. The fact that the nut had lost much of its distinctiveness and texture made the bar less successful but not actually less palatable. The only real complaint I have about these filled Lindt bars is that the pods are too big to eat in one bite and too messy to bite in half. This bar tasted pretty good regardless.

Next week I'll hopefully have made it beyond the A&P for my chocolate shopping. This one gets a B.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hachez: Cocoa D'Arriba 77% Longs

My mom brought this elegant thing home from Eden Gourmet, and we quibbled over whether it fit the requirements of my blog. The truth is, I'm here to blog about chocolate bars and lord knows I don't blog about chocolate truffles, candies, or bonbons -- let alone tubes, mom! But since I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I decided to eat this slender treasure, and I am here today to tell its tale.

Hachez: Cocoa D'Arriba 77% Longs
Cocoa content: 77%
Notable ingredients: n/a
Origin: Ecuador

The bar is about 8 inches long and half an inch across, and it's segmented into little inch-long pieces, which break off with impressive snap. The chocolate itself is decent but not all that interesting: South American chocolates usually avoid the unpleasant acidic notes that you find in African single origins, but this bar seems to have sacrificed layers of flavor for a smooth finish. It tasted clean and satisfyingly melty, but the taste was no more interesting or distinctive than your average blended bar.

And -- I still have issues with the shape. This bar apparently belongs to a family of Hachez bars called Longs. Doesn't that seem like an arbitrary shape for chocolates? It's pretty -- sort of -- but it also breaks easily in your shopping bag and actually contains only about 1 1/3 oz. of chocolate. This bar can appear on the blog (you're welcome, you're welcome) but I'm thrilled with neither the chocolate nor the length of it.

Next week, back to New York, back to quality chocolate shopping. This bar gets a B.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Komforte Chockolates: Ramen Noodle

Well I told you I'd be back to discuss this, the eighth wonder of the world, the Ramen Noodle chocolate bar. Pork fat and dark chocolate: two unspeakably delicious things, and yet never the twain shall meet. Or so you thought! And, if you indeed thought that, it turns out you were right -- the "ramen" in this chocolate bar consists of a couple of mildly crunchy, dehydrated wheat noodles, unenthusiastically snaking their way throughout the hefty chocolate. No pork fat to speak of, and thus, to my mind, no pleasure.

Komforte Chockolates: Ramen Noodle
Cocoa content: 53%
Notable ingredients: noodles; soy sauce
Origin: n/a

Texture does not a ramen experience make. And even if that it did make, that it doesn't achieve here: the embedded noodles were too tired and stale to have retained any real crispiness. Plus, they were few and far between. In one large square of the bar, I encountered only about two noodles.

The chocolate was not nearly as good as the milk chocolate in the last Komforte bar I had, with French Toast. What kind of cocoa percentage is 53%? It's about 20 points above the normal cocoa content for milk chocolate, and just under 20 points below that elusive dark chocolate jackpot of 72%. What were they aiming for? Blandness aside, the consistency of the chocolate was chewy and dried-out. Maybe this bar took a long trip before it arrived at my doorstep among other, less curious Hanukkah gifts (thanks to Michael!) but still -- age doesn't explain the totally lackluster consistency.

Ramen, chocolate -- neither were represented fairly here. I want to boost this bar's score for creativity points, but the truth is, Komforte brought nothing interesting about ramen to the table here: no extra salt, no weird porky modification -- even the noodles sucked. Sadly, this bar gets a C.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Galler: Biscuit

My dear cousin bought this bar for me at The Chocolate Library on St. Marks near Avenue A. The store just opened less than a month ago, and it's largely disappointing -- there's a much bigger variety at the Food Emporium chocolate shop on the Upper East Side, and even at most big upscale grocery stores. But this was a nice little find:

Galler: Biscuit
Cocoa content: 60%
Notable ingredients: biscuit
Origin: n/a

This will be a brief entry because this was a brief bar -- and because on this, the first day of 2011, I am dead tired and just want to watch re-runs of the Jersey Shore. The bar was divided into four thick segments -- inside, there was one layer of "biscuit," which in American candy bars is usually called wafer, and one layer of a sort of hazelnut paste. It was nutty and had a nice roasted taste -- a little coffee-ish, and not at all too sweet. My only complaint would be that I was hoping to encounter a more buttery, flaky biscuit within.

Hopefully the new year will be buttery and flaky enough to make up for my disappointment. This bar gets a B.