Tag Archives: stone ground chocolate

Wilkie’s Organic Bean To Bar Chocolate

Apparently, stone ground chocolate can be as smooth as cream. When that lusciously velvety texture meets Criollo beans the result is unique and crave-worthy.

Wilkie’s is an Irish company founded by Shana Wilkie, a woman whose ideology and food savvy conflate to bring you gluten free, dairy free, soy free, nut free, and ethically sourced organic single-origin chocolates. Currently, their beans come from Peru. As those of you who read this site know, I am a huge fan of Criollos, those rare beans comprising only 2% of the world’s cocoa crop. Their sophisticated deep chocolate presence is ridiculously delicious and satisfying.

I sampled both bars and cocoa. The hot chocolate recipe was a bit different from what I usually do, and it worked beautifully. In the bottom of a small pot, you mix their not-too-sweet 64% cocoa with a little hot water. This creates a smooth paste to which you add your milk. Bring it to a boil and enjoy. It produced an excellent cup of cocoa. I also tried it with with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and that was wonderful, too. By using 64% cocoa, they created a drink that was incredibly satisfying for adult palates.

All their bars are 65 grams and divided into 18 appealing little rectangles. They break neatly, allowing you to savor each bite without making a mess.

Each of the five bars I sampled highlighted Wilkie’s ability to alchemize elegant beans with stone grinding to create an ultra smooth texture. Three of them won Great Taste awards for 2013.

Their 89% Amazonas bean bar gave a true window into the bean, as there was just a whisper of sweetness. If you love intense dark chocolate its tobacco-earthiness and lingering edgy finish would sate your cravings completely.

75% Amazonas with Nibs, was punctuated with a light scattering of gently crunchy nibs–just enough for textural interest. Still wildly flavorful, it had a more fruity profile than its 89% cousin and a lighter finish.

Interestingly, in the 75% Amazonas sans nibs it was easier to distinguish raisin and plum presences.

The 64% Amazonas had a distinctly drier finish with an extra lift of sweetness accentuating dark, fruity notes.

Their 75% Tumbes bar was my favorite. The balance of terroir, fruit, silkiness, and a slightly dry, lingering finish was just sublime.


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.

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.

Taza organic chocolate discs: Salt & Pepper, Cinnamon, Coffee

Taza’s organic chocolate discs are earthy, grainy with sugar crystals, and have a high AQ (addiction quotient). There are two 1/4″ thick discs, scored into eight pie-shaped pieces, in each lovely package. The thing about Taza is it’s eminently chewable. Many chocolates lend themselves to slowly melting in your mouth, while Taza’s flavors and textures seem to blend best when chewed. I am simply unable to let a piece melt. The sugar crystals and stone ground beans seem to benefit from a bit more grinding—this time by one’s teeth.

I tried three versions and liked them all. The most unusual combination, Salt & Pepper, was a bit of a surprise. At first, I thought the salt was predominating, but that impression flew away as I bit into a tiny piece of peppercorn. Exciting, different, and tantalizing; each bit made me hanker for another. When a flavor profile keeps changing, and you never know which taste will be next, the element of surprise and unpredictability keep you reaching for another taste. Which will it be now? More salt, more pepper, more chocolate?

The cinnamon is a lovely combination, since the spice is perfectly calibrated: not too subtle, and not in your face. Goldilocks would have no trouble with this, as it’s just right.

The Counter Culture Coffee infused discs were a bit milder than I anticipated, with the coffee a beautiful subtext to the chocolate. Both flavors lingered well. It may sound strange to use this word when referring to a Taza disc, but the the flavors were smooth. Actually, all three discs were well balanced.

If you haven’t tried Taza I would encourage you to. Their products are definitely different from many others I have reviewed, and they satisfy in a unique way. Almost like a food, rather than a sweet.

All three discs may be used for hot chocolate. In that case, the sugar crystals would melt. Since I liked the crunchy texture, I didn’t experiment with making a hot version.