Tag Archives: ginger and chocolate

Seed and Bean Chocolate

The older I get the more I appreciate something different, as long as it’s not different for different’s sake. When it comes to chocolate, that might be a particularly fabulous bean, a new flavor combination, or just a novel take on a classic. So, smoked Cornish sea salt in a 70% bar, or coconut and raspberry intrigue me.

Seed and Bean is based in Britain and devoted to producing an organic, Fair Trade, handmade chocolate range using beans from four areas: the ‎two volcanic islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic.

I sampled five of their dark bars:

70% with Cornish Sea Salt is a very silky chocolate from Nacional cacao enhanced with a hint of smoked salt. It sated my chocolate craving with its lingering briny edge, and micro-crystals of subtle crunch. A truly excellent bar. The more I ate of this delectable bar the more I loved it.

72% Extra Dark from Dominican Trinitario beans is a deep, layered experience of dark fruit flavors in a very smooth, slowly melting bar.

58% Just Ginger is made from the same bean with the addition of spicy ginger. Here, though, the ginger is not crystalized, but powdered. This allows it to fully infiltrate every bite, adding just the right amount of heat and complexity to a sweeter, creamier chocolate.

72% Chili and Lime is fetchingly hot and citrusy. Not scorchingly hot, but hot enough to grab your attention without making you suffer. The beans are Dominican Trinitarios.

66% Coconut and Raspberry uses São Tomé cacao, a touch of virgin coconut oil, raspberries, and raw cane sugar to create an easy-to scarf-down chocolate. The coconut oil adds just a hint of flavor while complementing the raspberries and velvetizing the texture.

Seed and Bean currently offers 18 different bars, including milk and white options. You can order from outside the U.K. by contacting them on their website. (All the companies I have reviewed are linked on the right side of this page.)

The Chocolate Conspiracy

The Chocolate Conspiracy was founded by AJ Wentworth, self proclaimed chocolate alchemist and holistic health counselor. Apparently, during his studies, AJ developed an insatiable love of raw vegan desserts, especially those with raw cacao. While the average American eats 12-16 pounds of chocolate a year, and the Swiss, 22-26 pounds a year, AJ typically consumes an average of 40-50 pounds of chocolate a year. Chloé Doutre-Roussel, the famous chocophile and author, claims she often ate a pound of chocolate a day.

I can certainly agree the more chocolate the merrier, and we all know the connection between ecstasy and cacao. For many, raw chocolate packs a higher euphoric punch. The Chocolate Conspiracy offers a plethora of creative bars to tempt you into the raw realm.

Their current line includes Dark with heirloom cacao beans, heirloom cacao butter, wildflower honey, and wild-crafted vanilla bean, Wild Spice with cayenne pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, and black lava salt, Mint Chip with peppermint essential oil, wild-crafted vanilla bean, and Himalayan pink salt, Maca Bar, and a Goji Bar with gogi berries.

I sampled two, the plain dark, and Wild Ninja with blackberry and ginger. The latter was gently flavored, so if you shy way from a very strong ginger presence you could easily like this. The addition of balsamic vinegar was an inspired touch that gave extra body to this bar. In a way, I found the plain chocolate almost more fruity than the one with berries, which isn’t surprising as it is made from Arriba Nacional beans, known for their fruity profile.

In general, I find most raw chocolate bars are more reminiscent of food than candy. Their texture veers towards the chewy rather than the snappy, and they often have less sugar.

I think there’s a market for all forms of chocolate, from the more traditionally tempered bars to neutraceuticals. AJ is well aware of that and has created an assortment to keep your taste buds, body, mind, and spirit blissed out.

Taza Chocolate: 70% Orange, Ginger & Chipotle

These three new flavors from Taza, the organic stone ground chocolate people, are as different as they could be; yet, each is craveable. (For you dictionary hounds, there is no such word, but I think there should be.)

The ginger is not especially spicy, so if you love ginger’s sweetness, but not its heat, this is for you. The discs, two to a package, are enhanced with organic powdered ginger, not the crystallized variety, which is a bit unusual. I sample a lot of chocolate, and I can’t think of any other ginger-chocolate combo that uses the powdered root. You get a hint, rather than a hit, of spice. An interesting choice that definitely compliments Taza’s sugar crystal crunch.

The orange variety is enhanced with organic orange oil. It has a lovely, subtle fragrance and a vibrant orange flavor. The lingering acidity adds a nice tang to the rich chocolate.

My favorite of the trio was the Chipotle. Maybe it’s all my Mayan chocolate associations of spice, heat, and stone ground chocolate, but this one is just superb. The subtle fire from the organic Chipotle chili powder really ratchets up the 70% chocolate with bursts of smokey warmth.

As you may imagine, when I sit to write a review amidst an assortment of chocolates, I am constantly breathing in their scent; and, frankly, they are all pretty seductive. Taza’s unique aroma entices with its own heady blend of sugar and fermentation. That may not sound particularly inviting, but if you read their explanation of this process I think you will appreciate just how much time and care goes into this rustic chocolate (http://www.tazachocolate.com/OurProcess/Fermentation_&_Drying).

As always, I enjoy the lovely 3″ discs in each package. Each is scored into eight little perfectly portioned triangles, which are fun to break apart. I can’t vouch for their portion control, as I find Taza’s crunchy, satisfying chocolate hard to resist.

Hedonist Artisan Chocolates

I must confess, Hedonist Artisan Chocolates had me at hello. Their Spice Truffle collection was like taking a space ship to a chocolate galaxy, far, far away. All five flavors beguiled with their names and seduced with their flavors. Each was enrobed in a delicious dark chocolate shell, neither too thin nor too thick.
Lemon Pepper was redolent of lemon, which can be tricky with dark chocolate, so the truffle was made with white chocolate and spiked with pepper. The tang of citrus and the pungency of pepper went remarkably well against the dark chocolate couverture.
Coconut Curry, also made with white chocolate and sun-colored, presumably from some turmeric in the mix, was a revelation. Chewy, spicy, complex, and creamy, quite a chocolate trip.
The dark ganache-filled Orange Chipotle packed some heat, but not too much. Smoky chipotle peppers catalyzed the creamy texture into its own little endorphin reverie.
Raspberry Wasabi felt tame, by comparison. What was particularly fetching about this cocoa dusted truffle was the balance of raspberry with a touch of wasabi. First one flavor would predominate, then the next; utterly sublime.
Peanut Butter Cayenne was another wild ride. Wow! This was one fantastically intense experience. I wouldn’t want a whole box of them, but in this creative selection they were perfectly appropriate and challenging.
If you are like me, and welcome opportunities to try inspired combinations of flavors and textures, these truffles really deliver.

I also sampled their Classic Truffles, the perfect accompaniment for the Spice Truffle box. After the Cayenne I was ready for a Milk Truffle and it definitely calmed my taste buds. I have come to love hazelnuts in dark chocolate and their Hazelnut Truffle was an excellent, creamy concoction with crunchy roasted nuts on top. Bittersweet was a super dark ganache with just the right amount of sugar, while Espresso’s mocha profile was earthy and multi-layered. The Mint Truffle tasted fresh and gentle, a welcome change from some Altoid-like mint chocolates out there.

The packaging is simple and elegant. Dark brown boxes set off with with either pink or leaf green raffia.

In addition to truffles, Hedonist Chocolates also makes barks. I sampled one with ginger and pistachios. This was a keeper. Dark chocolate, roasted pistachios, a hint of salt, vanilla, and remarkably fresh, chewy crystalized ginger all came together to party. Luckily, I was a guest.

While I didn’t try these, I thought I’d mention them: Pecan/Cranberry, and Milk Chocolate/Sesame barks; and, a fruit and nut collection designed in a unique way: little chocolate domes with open tops revealing nuts and fruit.