Sunday, July 31, 2011

I'm a Winner: Look at These Blondies

I’m a winner!

What did I win? Some of Rachel’s Butterscotch Blondies with Salted Chocolate Glaze in an auction that Lauren hosted to benefit Steve’s efforts to raise money for cancer research.

Alright, so maybe all I had to do was offer to spend a lot of money for some blondies. But I still won. And had this package waiting for me at home.

Cute, isn’t it? Almost as cute as what was inside.

These bars feature well-distributed butterscotch chips , white chocolate chips, and nicely chopped nuts. And fudge-like chocolate glaze atop it, which offers a nice split of chocolate, sugar, and cream, makes them even more decadent. But what about the bars themselves?

Perfect. A hint of saltiness, a caramel flavor throughout, and a dense, chewy texture that gives way to a pleasant dissolving characteristic at the very end. The components of the bar blend together perfectly, and they were worth every penny I paid for them in the auction.

Rachel, do you have plans to open a bakery? I think it would be a great service to the world. You already have packaging.

Have you ever won baked goods in an auction? Were they delicious?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

E. Guittard Ambanja: Dark Chocolate from Madagascar

Even though the E. Guittard Orinoco was a bit too sweet for my tastes, I figured it was worth giving other Guittard bars a chance. Guittard is, after all, a bean-to-bar chocolatier right here in the U.S. On to the Ambanja Bittersweet, a 65% cocoa dark chocolate bar made with Madagascan beans.

No overwhelming aroma is apparent after unwrapping, but there’s a bit of fruitiness.

The fruity taste, which seems to center on banana, doesn’t come through until the end of a dominant bitter, earthy flavor at the beginning. The texture is quite dry, and it seems that this chocolate would be best used in confection, where added cream can compensate for a dry melt…and where a bit of added sugar could cut back on the bitter taste at the beginning.

I supposed I’ll be looking elsewhere for truly superior chocolate when I trek off to San Francisco next month. It will be my mission.

What’s the driest chocolate you’ve ever had?

Friday, July 29, 2011

E. Guittard Orinoco: I'm Going to San Francisco Next Month

After a weekend filled with hot weather baking for Daring Bakers and an epic workout-chocolate tasting combination, this week has brought much planning for a technical workshop I’m managing next month. Good folks involved, which makes my job easier.

Most importantly, we have a good location: San Francisco, an area that is home to many chocolatiers, including E. Guittard. With that, let’s talk about their Orinoco bar, a 38% cocoa pure milk chocolate bar.

The bar has a hint of a caramel aroma, and is quite soft with a very fast melt that isn’t quite perfectly smooth, but isn’t excessively grainy.

The flavor is caramel-centric with a hint of creaminess, and is very sweet – nearly as sweet as white chocolate. It is, in fact, a bit too sweet for me, and perhaps would go well with something tart for contrast. I could imagine this working quite nicely with some limes and salt.

Or, I could look for even more outstanding milk chocolate while in the Bay Area next month.

I just might.

Have you had chocolate that you found to be too sweet? What was it?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Recchiuti: Asphalt Jungle Mix

I’m still not ready to admit that I’m back on the east coast. Let’s keep this west coast feeling going a little longer, yes? Ease back east. Today we’ll move out of the Pacific Northwest, down the coast, and over to San Francisco, home to Recchiuti, a shop that churns out chocolate treats of all types under the leadership of Michael Recchiuti himself. It’s difficult to pick out a treat to admire most – the man makes everything from bars to brownies – but after seeing David Lebovitz wax poetic about the wonders of the Asphalt Jungle Mix, it was obviously time to dig in.

The box is a mix of burnt caramel hazelnuts, burnt caramel almonds, dried cherries, and peanut butter bits – all individually covered in chocolate. Tempting as it was to pour these all into my mouth at once, I was civilized and evaluated them separately.

The burnt caramelized hazelnuts are flavorful and nicely toasted, with a balanced sweet and salty caramel exterior that is coated with a nicely-melting chocolate later. The almonds are similarly exquisite, with a slightly more pronounced vanilla flavor in the chocolate emerging.

The dried cherries were actually prepared two ways in this mix: covered in dark chocolate, and covered in dark chocolate as well as cocoa powder. Without the cocoa powder, the coating is just a tiny bit waxy, but the dried cherry inside is juicy and tart. The other preparation – with the cocoa powder – is not at all waxy, and the bitter cocoa powder adds more dimension to the flavor. While the plain chocolate version is nice, the cocoa-powder dusted pieces are nearly perfect.

And about those “peanut butter pearls”? While they, too, are a bit waxy on the outside, I can overlook that to get myself to the creamy milk chocolate covering salty peanut butter mixed with perfectly crisped rice. I’m kind like that.

Here’s the hard part about eating asphalt jungle mix: Figuring out the best combination. Cherry and almond? Cherry and peanut butter? Or just eating it in large handfuls?

I suggest you get some for yourself to investigate. And send me a box while you’re at it.

Have you had any chocolates by Recchiuti? Which ones?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Daring Bakers July 2011: Fresh Frasiers

In case you live in a media vacuum, which is highly unlikely given that the fact that you are reading this post indicates that you almost certainly have internet access, you probably know that it has been hot on the east coast of the U.S. In DC, we’ve been seeing heat indexes that push 120° F. So what to do this weekend, besides bike 50 miles outdoors (and then obviously swim 5000 meters and pool run 5 miles before going to a chocolate tasting)?


Yes, bake during a record-breaking heatwave, because today is the big reveal date for the July Daring Bakers, which involved a challenge from DC’s very own Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes, who was our July Daring Baker’s host; she challenged us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

Before I get into this, I’ll just say that I turned Jana’s recipe upside-down because…I felt like it. I made mini frasiers!

I started out with the chocolate chiffon cake, which I made cupcake size instead of the 8-inch cake size like Jana actually wanted us to make. We’re still cool, right Jana?

Chocolate Chiffon Cake Ingredients

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 large egg yolks

¼ cup water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ½ large egg whites

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Line the bottom of six cavities of a cupcake pan with parchment paper. You can just trace the cavities onto parchment paper and cut them out. Easy, but necessary. Prying chiffon cake out of cupcake cavities is not a fun weekend activity.

Stir together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Add in all but 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar the, and all of the salt. Stir to combine. In a small bow, whisk the oil, egg yolks, water and vanilla. Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Beat the egg whites on medium speed using a whisk attachment until frothy; add cream of tartar and beat on a medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat on a medium-high speed until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks. Scoop about ⅓ of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake cavities.

Bake at 325° F for about 20 minutes; allow to cool. To unmold, run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake from the cavities and remove; peel off parchment paper and slice each cake in half horizontally.

THEN start making some rich pastry cream. This doesn’t involve the oven, but does involve time over a hot stove while triple-digit temperatures lurk outside.

Pastry Cream Ingredients
1/2 cup whole milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/16 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 large egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/8 teaspoon gelatin
1/4 tablespoon water
1/2 cup heavy cream

Pour the milk, vanilla, and salt into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and scald, bringing it to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine Add the eggs to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth. When the milk is ready, gently and slowly while the stand mixer is whisking, pour the heated milk down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture back into the warm pot and continue to cook over a medium heat until the custard is thick, just about to boil and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for ten minutes stirring occasionally.

Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth. Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill.

In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften. Put two inches of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Measure 2 tablespoons of the chilled pastry cream into a small stainless steel bowl that will sit across the sauce pan with the simmering water, without touching the water. Heat the cream until it is 120° F. Add the gelatin and whisk until smooth. Remove from the water bath, and whisk the remaining cold pastry cream in to incorporate in two batches. Finally, whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks; immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula.

Now, we just have to pull together a few more things. First, some ganache balls by mixing an ounce of bittersweet chocolate and an ounce of cream together over low heat, and chill until firm enough to shape into falls. Next, some simple syrup – just heat 3 tablespoons of water and 3 tablespoons of white sugar until the mixture just reaches a boil. And then, pull out about a pint of raspberries.

Nice spread, isn’t it? To make sense of it, take one piece of a mini-cake. Brush with simple syrup and evenly space three raspberries atop the cake.

Pipe pastry cream in between the raspberries. Make sure it looks pretty.

Make it look pretty enough to slap the other half of the mini cake on top. Brush that layer with simple syrup, pipe pastry cream atop the whole assembly, and then top it with a ganache ball.

The end result is beautiful. And delicious. Even if it’s not quite what Jana wanted us to do.

If you’re upset, Jana, I’ll make up for it by giving you one of these. But really, aren’t they just the cutest?

When was the last time you turned a recipe upside-down?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Christopher Elbow No17: Dark Chocolate with Salt and Macadamia Nuts

The folks working with Christopher Elbow are clearly prepared to indulge those of us who want to use chocolate to relive recent trips to Hawaii. Not only do they make a nice coconut bar, but their No17 bar offers roasted macadamia nuts and Hawaiian red sea salt in a 63% cocoa dark chocolate base.

It’s like they have me pegged. My salt and chocolate obsession is no secret, and macadamia nuts…particularly well-roasted macadamia nuts with a soft texture. Just like those in this bar.

The nuts aren’t quite as well chopped as I normally prefer – I generally dislike bars with mix-ins so large that the bites aren’t uniform – but because the nuts are soft, the bar was nicely blended. Unsurprisingly, with this ratio of nuts to chocolate, the bar had a nutty aroma.

It was apparent immediately that some of the fat from the macadamia nuts resulted in a softer chocolate, and it was also immediately apparent that the salt was well-distributed and concentrated enough to cut through any bitterness of the chocolate. The salt, in fact, was perhaps a bit overwhelming, to the point that the experience was similar to eating a blend of pure cocoa butter and salt.

Which, frankly, sounds kind of delicious. But it’s not chocolate, and I’d like to see more evident chocolate flavor in this bar to declare it to be a top-notch salt and chocolate bar.

Would you eat pure cocoa butter and salt blended together? Or am I the only one?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Christopher Elbow No16: Dark Chocolate and Coconut

Even with chocolate tasting events back here in DC, I’m still not totally cool with the fact that I’m not in Hawaii with access to amazing pineapple and kelp.

Shut up. Kelp is amazing.

I also miss the coconut in anything and everything. Fortunately, I have access to Christopher Elbow’s Bar No. 16: a bar of 63% dark chocolate with toasted coconut.

The cocoanut is nicely toasted, such that the flavor emerges well, and is quite crispy and well distributed. A soggy, disgusting Mounds Bar would run away from this beauty in embarrassment.

The bar itself has an smoky aroma with a hint of red fruit, and is soft with a smooth, slow melt.

In addition to the immediate coconut flavor, some nutty flavors and a faint coffee flavor emerge. The balance between the coconut and chocolate flavors is outstanding, and the contrast of the crunchy coconut and smooth chocolate is also pleasing. It’s a wonderful bar to snack on, but not terribly complex. If you like coconut – good, unsweetened coconut – you’ll like this bar.

Especially if you are pining for Hawaiian cuisine.

Do you like chocolate and coconut together?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Biagio Sample Day: Chocolate is Especially Good after a Six Hour Workout

Yesterday was a great day. Look at this sign that greeted guests at Biagio.

Don’t have to tell me twice. Especially not after the epic “Day of 5s” with Beth, which involved biking 50 miles, swimming 5000 meters, and running 5 miles (in the pool). In one day.

You might wonder what the point of this was. In fact, Alex, a very helpful member of the Biagio team, asked us that very question. Were we training? Not really. Here’s how this whole thing happened.

Beth: Want to swim this weekend?

Me: I was thinking of a long bike followed by a long swim on Saturday.

Beth: How about a 50 mile bike and a 5000 meter swim?

My brain: Crap. I was thinking more like 30 miles on the bike and 3500 meters in the pool.

Me: Yes! Awesome.

Beth: OK. And I’m bringing a super-fast friend on the bike. We are going to do hills.

My brain: This is going to suck.

Me: Sure thing. Hey, how about we also do 5 miles of pool running?

Beth: Why? Because pain is awesome?

My brain: Basically, yes.

Me: Because then we do 5 of everything! Day of 5s!

Beth: OK! I’m in. See you in Georgetown at 6 am on the bike.

My brain: I hate my life.

Me: See you then!

In the end, we did it. And then we tried some chocolate. One that we both enjoyed was this Christopher Elbow White Nib Bar, which was creamy and offered not-too-bitter nibs that offset the sweet white chocolate to offer a balanced bar.

We checked out two John&Kira’s bars, which was exciting for me because I was very interested in their work involving use of urban gardens to grow ingredients for their bars. Their Rosemary Orange Urban Garden bar was immediately heavy on the rosemary and offered some orange flavor at the end. Though the bar was high quality, Beth and I both deemed it to be “strange.”

The John&Kira’s Mighty Mint Urban Garden bar, on the other hand, offered a nice strong flavor of real spearmint that balanced nicely with the dark chocolate.

I picked up that bar, as well as the Elbow White Nib bar, and a few other items from sample day.

My haul included the Pralus San Tome, which Beth picked out as a creamy bar that tasted like an earthy hot chocolate, and the Domori Teyuna, a sweet and creamy 70% cocoa bar made from Columbian beans.

Of course, I’ll be reviewing all the bars I purchased. But first, I need to go, uh, stretch. My legs are unhappy with me.

Have you ever gone to a chocolate tasting after a long workout? Did you eat everything in sight?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fresco 214: Pick Your Roast, Pick Your Conche

Despite my disappointment with Moonstruck’s bars – I mean, come on, you screwed up Venezuelan chocolate, that is unacceptable – let’s not brush off all the Pacific Northwest chocolatiers. Some could be quite good. Some really care for their beans. Some, such as Fresco, out of Lynden, WA, care so much about the treatment of their beans that they specify the roasting and conching behind each bar they make on the package?

Neat concept, isn’t it? I first came upon Fresco’s creations at a sample day at Biagio, and was immediately interested in how different roasting and conching profiles affected chocolate. I started out with the 214 bar, which is made from Madagascan beans with a light roast and a medium conche.

The aroma is strong, with clear notes of red fruits and floral.

A citrus flavor is immediately apparent, with lemon being the most prominent, with coffee emerging later and both flavors giving way to cranberry with hints of cherry. The taste is a bit sour, but some added sugar makes this palatable. A slow, buttery melt makes this intense, complex flavor linger, and I very much enjoyed this bar.

Now I must find other Fresco bars to compare the different roasting and conching profiles. It’s all in the name of research.

Have you had a chocolate bar that specified roast or conche types before? Who made it?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Moonstruck: 39% Cocoa Venezuelan Milk

Since I (usually) adore Venezuelan-origin chocolate, I picked up a Moonstruck 39% cocoa milk chocolate Venezuelan bar to go along with the dark chocolate one that left me disappointed – of course, before I knew that it would do so. Would the milk chocolate version prove to be higher quality?

The bar had fairly pleasing banana and caramel notes in the aroma; but any hope I had of an enjoyable bar disappeared when I put a piece in my mouth and found a dry, grainy texture that is entirely unacceptable for a milk chocolate. We’re talking sub-Hershey texture here, folks.

The taste was at least a bit redeeming, though there was no dairy flavor. I found this odd, but instead tried to look past the major texture deficiency and appreciate the banana flavor accented by notes of peach and some subtle citrus. The blend of flavors is interesting, but the chocolate is far too dry to make them enjoyable.

Really, Moonstruck? Dry milk chocolate? This is what you’re selling for $3.75/ounce? I’m not OK with that.

What chocolate do you think is most overpriced for what you get?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Moonstruck: 74% Cocoa Venezuelan Dark

As sad as it was to be leaving Hawaii yesterday, it’s not like the rest of the United States is all that bad. There are some really great places all over the country. I’m not quite ready to admit that I’m going all the way back to the east coast yet, so let’s ease ourselves back into mainland mode by starting off with some chocolate made on the west coast. Moonstruck, based in Portland, Oregon, put out this 74% cocoa bar made from Venezuelan beans.

As a long-time devotee to Venezuelan chocolate, with El Rey being my first introduction to such wonderful treats, my ears always perk up when I hear it mentioned, as Venezuelan beans are regarded as some of the best in the world. I was hopeful that Moonstruck had handled the beans well, and unwrapped the bar to find a faint aroma of citrus and cherry.

The bar started off with a dry melt that developed into something grainy and never recovered. The texture was so off-putting that it was nearly impossible to appreciate the flavors, but I did not some cherry, a little bit of citrus, and a tiny bit of coffee, with some banana developing near the end. None of these flavors are strong, and the bar lacks intensity.

Disappointment all around, especially given the Venezuelan origin touted. Definitely the lowest-quality Venezuelan bar I’ve ever had.

Have you have Venezuelan-origin chocolate that was sub-par? Who made it?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waialua Estate: 70% Single Origin Hawaiian Chocolate

As I’d mentioned in yesterday’s little recap of that wonderful open water race, we got Hawaiian chocolate by Waialua at the finish line. But I didn’t talk about how cool that chocolate was. Single origin chocolate made by Derek Lanter himself.

This guy is pretty cool. We chatted about Hawaiian cocoa, various Hawaiian-based chocolate makers, and characteristics about beans from various regions throughout the world. He knows his stuff. Really.

And how does he do making chocolate? I scored an extra bar to facilitate a thorough review of this 70% cocoa chocolate made exclusively with beans grown on the north shore of Oahu, just miles from the swim race.

The bar has aromas of cherry, banana and coffee. Complex.

The flavor develops a bit slowly, and mirrors the aroma – the banana develops first, there is then a hint of coffee-centric bitterness, and then some mild woodiness. There is a bit of sugar added, which allows the chocolate to remain somewhat assertive without being overwhelming. The melt is generally buttery, but there is a bit of grain in the middle, though it’s not severe.

Overall, a nice bar from Hawaii; the graininess is really the only drawback. It’s a nice mild chocolate that still allows complexity to shine.

If only Hawaiian chocolate were more widely available on the mainland. And if only it were handed to me each time I completed a swim workout.

Have you ever talked shop with a chocolate maker? What did you discuss?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Best Race Ever: Cholo's Waimea Bay Swim, With Chocolate

I bet after those seven reviews of Madre’s delicious bars made in Hawaii, you got sick of reading about how much fun I was having over on Oahu.

I bet you would hate to see what the view from my hotel room balcony is like.

Too bad.

And I bet you don’t want to read about my trip anymore. Again, too bad. I still have one more day here, so let’s talk about the best race ever. Now, I originally thought that the Hot Chocolate 15k slated for December 3 was made for me. Then I found Cholo’s Waimea Bay Swim – a 1.2 mile ocean swim off the north shore of Oahu that happened to be taking place during my trip here. Incredible Marsea joined me and served as my clutch pit crew.

This involved taking pictures of my badass race number.

Now, while the 36 minutes that I spent in the Pacific just off the shore of Oahu were great, that’s not why this race was made for me.

It’s because this Waialua Estate chocolate was handed out at the end.

It tastes a lot better than salt water. A more detailed review is forthcoming from the mainland tomorrow, where I will have nothing but Hawaiian chocolate left to bring my mind back to the wonderful land of Oahu.

What's the best thing you've ever been handed at the end of a race?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Madre Chocolate: Pink Peppercorn and Smoked Salt

Today is one of my last days here in Hawaii. I’m growing sad about this, even more so as I finally realized that tomorrow is my last day here. To add to this sad state of affairs, I only have one more Madre Chocolate bar to discuss here: the Pink Peppercorn with Smoked Salt.

This bar, like the Passion Fruit bar, is an all-Hawaiian affair. Hamakua coast beans. Pink peppercorn from the big island. Even the smoked sea salt is from Hawaii.

Though the peppercorns are visually evident from the front of the bar, they are even more apparent from the back. It is therefore not too surprising that a peppery aroma emerges from the bar; some fruitiness – specifically a raisin-like aroma – comes forth as well.

The pepper taste is immediately apparent, and is nicely muted just a bit by the coolness of a minty flavor from the chocolate. The salt, which doesn’t come through until a bit later, is well-incorporated throughout the chocolate, while the peppercorn is more coarsely ground, which is a bit difficult to reconcile with the very buttery melt of the chocolate. Though the peppercorn intrudes on the texture and flavor of the chocolate a bit, there are some other chocolate flavors apparent – notably raisins and some lemon-centric citrus. I personally found the pepper to be a bit overwhelming, but the base chocolate was clearly well cared for.

Now, if you are like me and appreciate well-cared for chocolate like that made by the folks at Madre, you can check out their kickstarter campaign to support them. Neat, isn't it?

Have you had salt or pepper from Hawaii before? In chocolate? And how sad is it that I have to leave Hawaii?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Madre Chocolate: Chipotle Allspice

Oh yes, another beautiful day here in Hawaii. And another beautiful bar from Madre Chocolate to review. This time, it’s a spicy number. A Chipotle Allspice bar made with 70% cocoa Dominican chocolate.

With the signature Madre Chocolate molding, this bar offers intense chipotle and xocoxochitl, or allspice in the Aztec language of Nahuatl. It also offers a spicy aroma accented with cinnamon and a hint of ginger, along with a bit of a floral note.

The very firm chocolate has a slow, buttery melt, with a cinnamon note emerging early on and the heat from the chipotle building later. Finally, a bit of citrus flavor comes forth from the chocolate, with some coffee flavor accompanying the lasting chipotle flavor. The bar is quite spicy, though the allspice, which obviously adds complexity, cuts back on this until the very end when the chipotle flavor stands alone. The heat is a bit intense at the end for my personal liking, but I do enjoy the addition of the allspice to make this bar more than a mix of cocoa butter and pepper.

How long do you think the heat from a spicy chocolate bar should linger?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Madre Chocolate: Popped Amaranth

Hawaii is awesome. Have I mentioned this? Are you tired of me saying this? Probably. In any case, I hope you aren’t tired of reading about the bars that Madre Chocolate sent me, because I’ve got some more of these bars to discuss. Including a very intriguing Popped Amaranth Dark Chocolate bar.

This bar – it’s practically health food. The packaging notes that Amaranth, a grain I was certainly unfamiliar with, packs eight essential amino acids. Eight! Maybe I should pack some of these bars for my long cycling expeditions to assist with muscle repair.

This amaranth is visible in the back of the bar, and made me want to dig in, especially after I caught a whiff of the delightful fruity and citrus aromas.

Like the Hibiscus Dark Chocolate bar, this bar has a slower, more buttery melt, but this melt intriguingly trends a bit creamy later. The flavor is also complex, with an earthy flavor that develops into an incredible mix of rich coffee, cream, and caramel. The sesame-like flavor of the amaranth is most notable in the end, and the small bits of well-dispersed amaranth itself adds a crunchy texture to nicely contrast with the smooth chocolate.

This intense bar is very different. And very nice. Very, very nice.

Now to figure out how to incorporate amaranth into brownies.

Have you eaten amaranth before?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Madre Chocolate: Hibiscus

While I’m still in Hawaii (yep, be jealous), one of the bars that Madre Chocolate sent me reminds me of home. Of DC. But why?

Because this Hibiscus bar is made from beans from the Upala region in Costa Rica, the source for the beans that nearby Potomac Chocolate uses for their bars.

The packaging for this 70% cocoa bar discusses not only the bean origin, but hibiscus as well, noting that it is traditionally used in a Mexican drink called “Jamaica.”

The bar, unsurprisingly, has a floral aroma, and while the other Madre Bars I reviewed had creamy melts, the melt for this bar seamed to be more buttery and a bit slower.

The flavor is tangy, with a blend of floral and citrus; the chocolate also offers a hint of cherry such that the overall effect is fruity. I found it to be a bit sour, and thought that it could use a tad more sugar, but it’s not excessively sour, nor at all bitter. The overall effect is a nice blend of floral flavor with a complexly-flavored chocolate.

Have you ever eaten anything with hibiscus?