Tag Archives: Organic Chocolates

Solstice Chocolate

Scott Query’s Solstice Chocolate in Salt Lake City, Utah, is one of the newest kids on the bean to bar block. His five all organic bars make a handsome present in their brown paper envelopes with wonderful wire closures enabling you to keep your chocolate neat and fresh. Each 2.5 ounce bar is divided into 8 squares and has an attractive stylized sun stamped in the middle. They are beautifully tempered to a shiny, crisp, audible snap. The 70% bars hail from four different provenances: Sambirano from Madagascar, San Martin from Peru, Amazonas from Venezuela, Palos Blancos from Bolivia, and a blend called Wasatch.

There are three levels of color to this chocolate flight. The lightest are from Peru and Madagascar. The darkest is from Bolivia, and the two medium ones are from Venezuela and Wasatch.

The Bolivian bar is just fabulous: thickly textured, full of dark fruit flavors, with a nice slightly dry medium finish.

The Venezuelan bar has a touch of leather, that same slightly dry finish, and a hint of citrus.

Wasatch had a more complex texture, almost chewy, that was wonderfully different, though still very refined. It, too had a slightly dry finish.

The Peruvian was a bit creamier, with a heady combination of flavors from lychee to banana, and an elegant, lingering finish.

Madagascar was velvety, a bit less complex, but very appealing in its gentler flavor profile and more subtle finish.

All five bars are incredibly satisfying. One square is a complete chocolate experience unto itself, and the slightly dry finish most of them sport is like a big period at the end of your chocolate sentence.

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Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate from Ecuador and The Dominican Republic; Organic and Fair Trade

If you are looking to sate your chocolate cravings with single origin bars, Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate has a few you will love. Adam Dick and Dustin Taylor who previously used their talents making furniture and building boats, bring that same attention to detail to their bean to bar chocolates.

Everything is made in their small factory in Arcata, California, with only two ingredients: organic cacao and organic cane sugar. They don’t add vanilla or cocoa butter, so the unique flavor of each bean comes through.

Their attention to detail is obvious from your first look at the bar. A beautiful fleur-de-lis inspired pattern greets you, along with a heady chocolate scent. The outer wrapping is adorned with a black and white sketch of the wooden frame of a boat’s hull, while the inner gold foil keeps everything fresh. The chocolate is tempered to a perfect glossy snap. Unlike other stone ground bars, theirs has a smooth, creamy texture that doesn’t miss the addition of cocoa butter.

I was immediately smitten with their 70% Ecuadorian bar. Its rich, complex, slightly acid notes, enhanced with soft, rounded fruit flavors, and nuances of soil conspire to make this a super-satisfying chocolate that will never bore you. I had to stop myself from eating it on auto-pilot it was so addictive.

Their 74% Dominican Republic bar is dark and in your face. Its quintessentially mature flavor profile: astringent, with slightly sharp citrus notes, a hit of tobacco, and dried plum, will make dark chocolate lovers swoon.

The 74% Dominican bar with Fleur de Sel is a little startling. Salty notes heighten a very intense chocolate. Perfect for those of you who love taking things up a few notches. I found it held my interest with its bold, take no prisoners attitude.

In short, these are all sophisticated, beautiful, and supremely satisfying bars from two creative souls. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Snake and Butterfly Organic Maple Syrup and Bacon Brittle Bar & Organic Salted Bourbon Caramels

For most of my adult life I have leaned towards vegetarianism. I honestly can’t remember when I last had a piece of bacon, it may have been decades ago. So, do I have the cred to even review this bar? You bet. If it makes me swoon, imagine what it will do to a real die-hard bacon fan.

Elvis is probably spinning in his grave with envy as I write about this mostly organic, super rich 1.75 ounce dark bar. Its abundance of crunchy maple, bacon toffee means every bite comes at you from all directions at once: salty, sweet, smokey, chocolatey, crispy, and smooth. On reflection, it’s the smokiness of the slightly salty bacon with just-sweet-enough maple syrup that sends this into confectionary delirium. Yummsville, as my father used to say.

I also tried their Salted Bourbon Caramels, a sweet reverie of soft caramel in a thick dark chocolate shell. The caramel’s subtle pear flavor intrigued me, and took everything up a few notches.

If you are looking for innovative chocolates this is one shop to watch.

Shaman Organic Chocolates

 

Somewhere, in the mini-processing plant that is my brain, chocolate is roughly divided into two categories: refined and earthy.  I enjoy both, as each has its merits.  The sublime snap, gloss, and multifarious levels of taste in a high end bar is an epicurean delight, while the raw, less refined experience of a more basic bar can take me back to the soil.  It’s like comparing Stravinsky to the Stones, a bit absurd. Sometimes, you want one and other times only the other will do.

Shaman chocolates falls in the second category.  The company was created by Brant Secunda, shaman and ceremonial leader in the Huichol Indians of Mexico in the Sierra Madre mountains.  100% of the profits are donated to the tribe, which helps keep their traditions alive.  In addition to being organic, this is also a Fair Trade product.

I sampled five of their bars.  All had an earthy, almost chewy chocolate texture. The 82% bar was my favorite.  It didn’t have much sugar, only one gram, but it wasn’t bitter. The 60% bar had 15 grams of sugar which masked the intense taste of the beans, something I found appealing in the 82% bar. The 60% with Green Tea and Ginger was my least favorite of the bunch.  Their 60% bar with Acai, Lemon and range was full of  little crunchy bits and the flavor was citrusy without being overpowering.  My second favorite was the 37% organic Milk with Macadamia Nuts and Pink Sea Salt.  I often eschew milk chocolate  because the  milk is not organic (who needs extra growth hormones and antibiotics in their diet?), but, here, it is. The buttery macadamia nuts married well with the hint of salt.   

They make two other dark bars, one with raspberries, and the other with hazelnuts, a milk bar with coconut, and a plain 37% milk.

Theo Organic Chocolates: Nicobella, Caramel Collection, Big Daddy

It’s always fun when life hands you a great surprise.  I certainly didn’t expect to find chocolate ecstasy when I bit into one of the dark chocolate Marshmallow Big Daddy squares from Theo Chocolates, but I did. Those chunky organic confections are like an adult smores. Incredibly delicious marshmallow and caramel, on top of a home-made graham cracker enrobed in dark chocolate.  Not overly sweet, chewy, crunchy, caramelly textures play against dark chocolate, producing something quite addictive (don’t say I didn’t warn you).   Usually, I thoughtfully chomp away, taking breaks for writing, but I actually scarfed one of these little beauties down before my fingers hit the keys. Each bite was a mini-revelation, and different from the last. What would I experience next? The perfect graham cracker? The lovely marshmallow? The fabulous dark chocolate? The luscious caramel?  Before I frittered my time away in a chocolate conundrum I was deliriously biting into all four flavors and textures at once.  I have only one tiny wish: these come in a box of three, one coated in milk chocolate and two in dark. I would have liked them all to be enrobed in dark chocolate.

 

Next, I opened the small box of Nicobella Vegan Truffles.  Inside, were six rectangular pieces covered in dark, organic, Fair Trade chocolate.  Their flavors: walnut flaxseed crunch, sunflower banana butter, pumpkin chai, blueberry almond, ginger green tea, and pure cocoa bliss.  I must confess, though these are very high quality chocolate, I wasn’t as fond of them as I was of the Big Daddy.  The pumpkin chai was my favorite as it was novel, balanced, and well spiced.  

 

The Caramel Collection is a haute chocolate experience.  There are six renditions: Lavender Jalapeno which was so well done that the jalapeno didn’t overpower the lavender and the lavender added just the right amount of floral notes;  Vanilla, normally a bland choice, was deeply infused with Madagascar vanilla and just delicious; Orange-Thyme, subtle and satisfying; Sage, a bit chewier caramel ( I prefer that) with enough herbal flavor to make it provocative; Cardamom, perfectly infused with one of my favorite flavors (this is a very tricky spice as just a little too  much can be bitter); and lightly infused Earl Grey, beautifully decorated with a chocolate paisley design.  All the caramels are exquisitely fresh, as was every Theo chocolate I tried.