Tag Archives: dark chocolate

More evidence for the health benefits of dark chocolate.

The following link from Forbes magazine details the latest research on chocolate’s benefits to mind and body.


Sunbiotics Raw Probiotic Chocolate

If you want more probiotics in your diet this is one super healthy delicious way to get them. Because it is a raw bar you can be sure the probiotics have not been compromised by heat. There are 10 billion probiotics in each organic bar, four different strains (L. acidophilus, B. bifidum, B. lactic, and B. longum), with raw Yacon root added as a prebiotic. I love that there are 8 grams of fiber, only 7 grams of sugar, and “100% of your RDA for love” in each 31 gram bar.

If you are not used to ingesting probiotics, you may want to eat half a bar the first time, as they can have a laxative effect.

Raw chocolate is extremely satisfying, and this bar sates my chocolate cravings within a few bites.

Askinosie: Happy Hemp CollaBARation bar

For the sixth bar in Askinosie’s CollaBARation series they partnered with Tara Miko, founder of Happy Hemp. After searching for a “super food” to complement their fruity Tanzanian chocolate, they found the perfect match in Happy Hemp’s toasted hemp seeds. Hemp is known for its nutritional powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, all 20 amino acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and protein. It also boasts the perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 Linoleic Acid and Omega-3 Linoleic Acid bolstering cardio-vascular health and strengthening the immune system.

With all those benefits, you might begin to wonder how this bar tastes. Fear not, like other Askinosie chocolates it’s delicious. One look at its beautifully tempered, shiny, alphabet embossed surface and hemp encrusted underside whets my appetite. Those crunchy, toasted seeds popping on my tongue go fantastically with the just-sweet-enough, creamy dark chocolate. Shawn is right when he says the “nutty flavor of toasted hemp seeds meets the sweet berry notes of our velvety Tanzania dark chocolate–we think it’s the perfect munchie!”

If, like me, you love gustatory surprises and go for the crunch in life, this bar will delight you. If you think of chocolate as a food group rather than a dessert, it would make a perfect companion for work, car trips, hikes, and afternoon dips in blood sugar with their typical feelings of fatigue and poor concentration. At the same time, it tastes like a treat and has only 11 grams of sugar in half a bar (42.5 grams).

I love the collaborative approach Shawn has taken with this series of partnerships. It’s friendly, mutually beneficial, and creative. As someone who has been involved with food co-ops for almost 40 years, that mind-set of working together to produce something unique and delicious speaks to my inner hippie. What thrills me is how so many of those 1960s ideals have been making their way into current business models by focusing on fairness (they pay their cacao farmers higher than fair trade prices), sustainability, and community. Kudos to Shawn and everyone else who is working to create a better paradigm for us all.

Sunfood Organic Cacao Powder & Nibs

We all know that cacao powder makes great hot chocolate, brownies and cakes, while nibs add intensity and crunch to barks, smoothies, and trail mix. But, what about grinding those nibs into a vinaigrette or graham cracker crust, or infusing your favorite chili with cacao powder? Many savory dishes can be intensified with extra layers of flavor and complexity when you add either nibs or cacao powder; especially, savory ones.

By now, almost everyone knows chocolate is a superfood, especially in its raw state. The iron levels in these two products from Sunfoods are through the roof. They will improve your hemoglobin, muscle function, brain health, sleep, regulate body temperature, synthesize essential neurotransmitters, keep iron deficient anemia at bay, stave off fatigue, and strengthen your immune system.

The prodigious amounts of magnesium in these nibs and cacao powder will put you in league with the 10% of Americans who are not deficient in this vital mineral. Symptoms of low levels can include leg cramps, migraines, fatigue, loss of appetite, depression, or high blood pressure. Magnesium is a wonderful mood stabilizer and has been known to calm anxiety.

So, if you needed more reasons to eat those crunchy nibs or add an extra cup of hot cocoa to your diet, now you have them.

It is easy to think all nibs are pretty much the same, but some are actually bitter and others leave an acidic aftertaste. Sunfood’s nibs give you a super crunchy texture while having well rounded flavor and a smooth, gentle finish. Their cocoa powder is made with Arriba Nacional Fino de Aroma beans which are neither hybridized nor genetically modified. If you are a regular reader of this site, you are familiar with these fairly famous beans and their delicious fruity notes and intoxicating aroma.

If you love to cook, bake, or just make smoothies, these two products will greatly enhance your baked goods, entrees and drinks.

Arrowhead Chocolates

Are you someone who loves a classic box of bonbons but would welcome some new flavors? If so, Arrowhead Chocolates out of Oregon has your number. Their lovely assortment of creams, toffee and caramels has an old-fashioned feel, but plenty of modern culinary influences.

Erica, and her parents, Wendy and Bruce, left their respective fields in art, biology, math, education, and counseling to found Arrowhead chocolates. Frankly, I can see how all those skills would be useful in the chocolate trade.

I sampled almost 20 of their confections. The stand-outs were:

Hazelnut toffee in dark chocolate, was a super crisp rendition teeming with nuts and butter, but not too sweet.

Alder smoked caramel, adorned with Alder smoked sea salt, was divine. Chewy, and elevated to caramel heaven with those twin shots of smokiness. The Caramel with Bali sea salt in dark couverture was also delicious, as was Lime caramel with habanero sea salt.

If you love cream centers, they offer a plethora of choices: Oregon raspberry, Columbia River Gorge cherry, Chocolate Vanilla, Lemon cream, Organic Oregon blueberry, Peanut Butter, Orange cream, Vanilla bean, Huckleberry, Masala chai, Espresso, and a lovely two-layered Tiramisu. Each silky center was a lovely vehicle for all those fresh flavors.

Coconut was enhanced with coconut milk, which actually makes it a bit lighter than those made with heavy cream.

I enjoyed the quality and balance of intense and subtle flavors in this assortment.

Ritual Chocolate 75%

Eating dark chocolate has been a daily ritual in my life for as long as I can remember, so the name, Ritual Chocolate, and its intention to make a ritual of eating this fine product, immediately resonated with me. After all, it is the rituals in our lives that keep us centered. Chocolate has always been one of my go-to grounding techniques as it reliably reminds me of sensuality, complexity, and unalloyed hedonistic joy. Of course, not all chocolates are capable of inspiring such reveries, but Ritual Chocolate’s 2009 Vintage Trinitario is up for the task. One bite and you are transported to the essence of Costa Rican beans carefully roasted, winnowed, and conched for several days to produce one of the most sublime textures to grace your lips.

This snappily tempered, glossy bar, with its juxtaposition of earthy and dark berry notes, beguiled me with its lingering, slightly dry finish. The texture has that lovely, almost chewy quality I find so much more like food and less like candy. Even using that word seems heretical when speaking of such an echt product. You can taste the careful attention to detail, sustainability, and quality in every incredibly satisfying bite.

If you are a real aficionado of vintage chocolate, sample this bar. With its pure, short ingredient list of cacao beans and sugar, Ritual Chocolate has captured the essence of Costa Rican Trinitario from the Guapiles region.

Equal Exchange Organic Chocolate Caramel Crunch (55%) & Ecuador (65%)

Once upon a time very few people knew what Fair Trade was. Now that companies like Equal Exchange are more ubiquitous, the concept is gaining traction. More people want to know their food dollars are being fairly distributed to the folks who actually grow things. Founded in 1986, Equal Exchange’s worker-owned company is one of the leaders in this movement.

These two chocolate bars are very different. The 65% Ecuadorian is crisply tempered, incredibly rich, dark, and satisfying. Even though it is only 65%, its leathery undertones, hint of soil, and plummy notes make it a complex experience. I love their use of ground vanilla beans as it rounds out the flavor beautifully.

The 55% Chocolate Caramel Crunch With Sea Salt is wildly crispy. There’s the temper of the chocolate, the little bits of caramel crunchies generously scattered about, and a hint of sea salt to cut the sweetness. If you’re one of those people who lives for texture, this is the bar for you.

Pralus Caracas 75%

This is embarrassing. I almost finished the whole bar of Pralus’ excellent chocolate before telling you about it. The danger in that is I won’t have a recent taste experience to share. Luckily, I caught myself before devouring the last third.

François Pralus is a legend in the chocolate world. As he says, “I make everything myself instead of buying ready made ingredients from specialized manufacturers.” This is a man with a mission. He recently opened his own plantation in Madagascar where he grows beans he hand selects from all over the world. This Caracas bar is a Trinitario variety. Trinitario beans are a hybrid between the awe-inspiring Criollo and the common Forastero (the one used for almost 90% of the world’s cocoa).

Using a unique method to get an idea of the flavors in each bean, François concocts a sort of tea with the cacao in water, sweetens it lightly and lets it settle. Tasting this tea gives him a precise idea of the flavors before starting production.

In this case, the flavors are incredibly aromatic, slightly fruity, fresh, and earthy (but not tasting of soil). Caracas is at once sophisticated, subtle, and complex. Unlike many chocolates on the market today that offer creaminess above flavor, this has just the right amount of cocoa butter to produce a sublime texture without being unctuous.

Beautifully tempered, scored into bite-sized squares with one larger logo section, and remarkably easy to eat at 75% intensity, this is a great chocolate experience.

Now that you’re tempted, you might like to read my 2008 review of Pralus’ Pyramide selection of ten bars: https://chocolateratings.wordpress.com/2008/08/12/pralus-pyramide-des-10-saveurs-45-and-75/