Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cowgirl Chocolates: Spicy Dark Huckleberry

I'm back. This time, I have a job (thus the lag in posts.) But I also have a bounty of chocolate to get through, and this being Summer (now officially,) it's all sitting in my fridge, getting chalky. So I'm determined to return to a regular blogging schedule so as to minimize the time that these beauties -- the identities of which I'll reveal in due time -- spend withering away in the icebox. This one came from Eli's of Manhattan, which has an excellent, albeit exclusively high-end, selection of bars.

Cowgirl Chocolates: Spicy Dark Huckleberry
Cocoa content: 55%
Notable ingredients: whole huckleberries; cayenne pepper
Origin: n/a

First things first: what are huckleberries? I know, so I am just playing dumb, but some of you probably haven't met this forward fruit. It's kind of like a cross between a blueberry and a currant -- and here they're left whole, dried, and encased in semi-sweet chocolate. It could almost be too strong a flavor for a chocolate like this, but it's balanced by a remarkably spicy yet well-blended dose of powdered cayenne pepper -- two bold flavors make for a surprisingly pleasant taste -- pleasant, but kind of overwrought. Like an iPad.

One thing that disappointed me was this: an excess of weird ingredients. This is something I've been thinking about a lot recently, which I'll elaborate on in a later post. Cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, high fructose corn syrup, vegetable oil. What are these things doing in chocolate? In short, emulsifying, dumbing-down, and cheapening -- they make the bar more palatable and smooth, and they save money and cut corners. In my mind there's nothing wrong with these techniques as long as the flavor doesn't suffer -- but still, there's an interesting conversation to be had about sincere, old-fashioned chocolate making, and the virtues of whole foods. We'll have it.

That's all for now. Next time, a riveting behind-the-scenes look at one of this city's own chocolate factories. B+.