Tag Archives: agave and chocolate

Emmy’s Macaroons

If you are looking for an intense coconut chocolate treat that is like no other, Emmy’s Macaroons will sate your craving. These chewy raw organic rounds look fairly unprepossessing; yet, each bite is chock-ful of flavor.

I sampled four different flavors:

Choco Orange had a brightness and slight acidity that played off the dark cacao beautifully,
Choco Chili kicked up the flavor with a perfect amount of heat,
Dark Cacao was pure coconut and chocolate, and
Mocha had a wonderfully balanced blend of coffee and chocolate.

The sweetener here is organic raw agave, which adds only five grams of sugar to each chunky disc.
Emmy’s Macaroons are a healthy snack that really taste great.

Note: If you accidentally came across this site and are not really a chocophile, Emmy’s makes a whole range of cacao-free macaroons.

Advertisements

Righteously Raw Organic Chocolate

I just love it when people are creative. The raw caramel bar from Righteously Raw by EarthSource Organics is a wonderful example of an insanely high cacao content bar (90%) that is actually easy to scarf down. Unlike any other intense raw bar I have tried, it has the added appeal of a chewy center made with dates, lucuma fruit and agave. With seven grams of sugar in each mini bar (there are three to a 2.3 ounce package) you get enough sugar to beautifully balance that heady cacao rush.

The Peruvian Lucuma is a delicately flavored sub-tropical fruit with high levels of calcium, niacin, fiber. It has been an important crop since ancestral times, proven by the many ceramic remains from the Moche and later Inca cultures. In fact, it was once referred to as the Gold of the Incas. Its tasty flavor and aroma are hard to describe or compare to any other. Some say it tastes like caramel custard and others a bit like pumpkin, apricot, or mango. Its texture, unlike most fruits, is dry, quite starchy and with a caramel-like consistency that melts in your mouth. So you can see how inspired it was to add this to a filling.

I would actually love to see this date-lucuma mixture in thin-shelled bonbons. In this manifestation there is a high ratio of chocolate to filling. As the chocolate is such a strong presence, I would enjoy more of that luscious chewy center. Now that I think about it, I would probably buy it by the jar it’s so yummy.

I also tried two mini squares, each .35 ounces. The Divine Mint (82%) has just the right amount of organic peppermint, enough to have an impact, but not so much that it’s overwhelming. Their Pure Dark (83%) let the raw taste come through more assertively.

In my experience, raw chocolate has a tendency to be a bit softer in texture than its heated cousins. I didn’t notice this as much in the Lucuma-filled bar as I did in the mini squares; but, even there the temper was snappy and the chocolate had a nice, light sheen.

Stirs The Soul: Fairly Traded, Raw, Organic Chocolate

If you love raw chocolate you will want to check out Portland Oregon’s Stirs the Soul. Their 82% and 84% chocolates are intensely nutritious and surprisingly gentle on the palate. I even like their motto: Bean to bliss.

Daren Hayes, a culinary school graduate, is the talent behind these treats. His passion for fairly traded, organic, sustainable, and wild-crafted cacao, combined with his choice of in house stone-ground 100% un-roasted Criollo & Trinitario beans infuses his creations with quality. In addition, Daren works in a facility that is nut, tree-nut(except coconut), soy, gluten, egg and dairy free, which makes their chocolate suitable for vegans and people with allergies. If that’s not tempting enough, their lines are gluten free, and offer a low glycemic index.

I sampled three of their products. A sweet little two ounce muslin bag full of chewy, fresh 84% coated dried bananas, figs and currants. I liked this combination of flavors and textures. Raw chocolate always feels super healthy, and a bit more like food than confection; so, I ate these with abandon knowing I was saturating myself with antioxidants.

Their Goji-orange bar, sweetened with raw dates offers up both dark 82% chocolate with chewy goji berries and an undertone of orange that beautifully enhances the whole experience. Gogi berries are known for their high levels of antioxidants, 21 trace minerals, 18 amino acids, and are believed to curb your appetite, promote restful sleep, and create a sense of well being.

Just one rectangle from the 84% plain bar sweetened with coconut palm sugar really satisfied my chocolate craving and offered a great pick-me-up before lunch.

These two bars weigh in at one ounce each, which helps with portion control, and makes them fit a pocket perfectly.

There are a plethora of creative options on their website. The bars are divided into four categories based on which sweetener is used: raw agave, coconut palm sugar, raw honey, and raw dates. I can’t think of any other company offering such an incredible diversity of sweeteners.

In addition to being able to buy these online, you can also find them at a number of co-ops and markets.

Sunna Raw, Vegan Cookies

Many moons ago, I used to make all sorts of raw, vegan treats. They were delicious and healthy, but usually came out fairly sticky. The first thing I noticed about these dehydrated cookies from Sunna was their lovely unsticky texture. All the ingredients: coconut, almonds, dates, agave, walnuts, cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, and coconut butter are dehydrated at 105 degrees which leaves them chewy, a little crunchy, and full of flavor. Each one weighs in at three ounces, and is considered two portions. As you might imagine, they are nutrient dense and very satisfying. That said, I must admit I had to consciously stop eating after the halfway point as they really mesmerized my taste buds.

I also sampled the same cookie minus the coconut shreds in a peppermint rendition. This was very different, as the mint, added with a deft hand, was perky, bright, and addictive.

You certainly don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to love these nutritious, yummy snacks.

Nicobella Vegan Organic 70% Dark Chocolate Truffles

While Nicobella’s truffles are vegan, it is almost a disservice to say that. They are delicious chocolate bonbons. The fact that they aren’t made with cream or white sugar isn’t their claim to fame, it’s their unique flavor combinations and great texture. Sometimes, when reviewing a vegan alternative, I think what a shame only vegans may read this. I am not talking to you about these as “vegan truffles,” but truffles qua truffles. That’s where their cred lies. If only vegans liked them, they might be thought of as a substitute for the real thing. They are the real thing, just healthier.

Nicobella’s chocolate truffles come in a 2.2 ounce box with six pieces, each a different flavor: Blueberry Almond, Ginger Green Tea, Pumpkin Chai, Pure Cocoa Bliss, Sunflower Banana Butter, and Walnut Flaxseed. All are made with Theo’s organic and Fair Trade organic 70% dark chocolate, and have a very dense, rich, creamy ganache center enrobed in a thin layer of chocolate.

I liked each flavor in its own right, and also in relation to its neighbors. Ginger Green Tea was wonderfully well-balanced; and, while neither spice nor tea predominated, they were each discernible. Pumpkin Chai was also distinguished by its beautifully melding flavors. Walnut Flaxseed had a lovely crunch, and Blueberry Almond was saturated with fruit flavor. Pure Cocoa Bliss was ultra creamy and rich, and Sunflower Banana Butter had a slightly dry undertone from the seeds. All were housed in a user-friendly sliding sleeve box that was visually appealing and fun.

These luscious morsels come to you from Nichole Dandrea, a registered dietitian, yoga instructor, and devotee of wholesome foods. Her mission is to take the traditional chocolate truffle and use alternatives for the cream and sugar that are typically found in ganache fillings. By using raw agave nectar, cane sugar, and brown rice syrup as sweeteners, and coconut oil and cocoa butter to achieve a silky smooth texture, she has created a delicious vegan truffle.

Fine & Raw 76% and 78%

I must confess, I am a bit of a granola head. So, raw chocolate speaks to the old hippie in me who loves natural, unadulterated foods.

My first venture into the raw chocolate world was experimenting with cocoa nib brownie recipes (pulverizing the cocoa nibs makes a big difference).  Later, on a trip to Sedona, Arizona I tasted some raw cocoa products.  I liked them,  but they were more like energy bars than confections.

Taza  chocolate was a bit of an excursion into the raw world, as were Askinosie’s wares from Zingerman’s (see reviews on this site). Neither company makes a chocolate truffle, but I found one at Fine & Raw.  Daniel Sklaar, the mastermind behind these, uses rainforest cocoa powder, virgin coconut oil, raw blue agave nectar, cacao butter, Himalayan sea salt, antioxidants and living enzymes.  Obviously, they are vegan.  The texture is silky smooth, with a thin dark chocolate shell.  The flavor layered with tobacco, earth, coconut, and a hint of salt.  If this floats your boat, they are about $4.00 per truffle, I would suggest you try some.  I enjoyed them, but you have to be open to something different, or love raw chocolate.

Daniel also makes a selection of dark chocolate bars.  I sampled three, all of them well-tempered: The 78% Ecuador, an almost black chocolate had that unmistakable raw taste and atypical, intriguing mouth feel: neither grainy, nor silky.  An acquired taste that either captivates you, or doesn’t.  It has a sister rendition with nibs that was even more intense.  My favorite of these was the 76% Ecuadorian bar infused with dried raspberry.

All I can say is that if you haven’t tried raw chocolate I would recommend starting with the truffles.  All of Fine & Raw’s products are very high quality.  If you’re vegan and want something sweetened with agave this is heaven-sent. For the rest of us it’s a wonderful interlude between more conventional products.