February 16, 2008

Marshmallow, Peanut Butter & Single Origin Chocolates for any budget

chocolatetiers-200802-a.jpgThe February issue of Food & Wine magazine has a great little feature on chocolate tier. The piece takes three types of candies - marshmallow chocolates, peanut butter chocolates, and single origin chocolate - and recommends "high" and "low" choices, depending on your budget.

Here's a Candy Snob overview:

Marshmallow Chocolates:

  • High: Pierre Marcolini - light, airy marshmallows...high-quality dark chocolate...top shelf stuff. Check out marcolini chocolatier.com.

  • Low: Sanborn's Candies' chewy marshmallows are coated with milk chocolate. Go to sanbornscandies.com.
  • Peanut Butter Chocolates:

  • High: Vosges finishes its organic peanut butter-filled chocolates with sea salt, which we loved, when we tried it, by the way. Go to vosgeschocolate.com.

  • Low: We're not huge fans of peanut butter and white chocolate, but Cream-Nut clusters provide smooth texture and solid flavor for the money. Get them at koeze.com.
  • Single-Origin Chocolates:

  • High: Hotel Chocolat's "Purist" line...c'mon, its made with beans from its farm in St. Lucia. Buy them at Hotel Chocolat.
  • Low: Hershey's Cacao Reserve line, which Candy Snob reviewed here, includes four single-origin milk and dark-chocolate options. Go to the Cacao website.
  • Subscribe to Food & Wine

    Bob Wallace at Permalink | social bookmarking

    February 15, 2008

    Review: Lake Champlain Organic Sea Salt & Almonds Milk Chocolate Bar

    We're pretty excited about this bar - it is truly excellent. It has relatively high cocoa-content for milk chocolate (38%), plus roasted organic almonds and gray sea salt. Yes, we said sea salt. So imagine a killer piece of milk chocolate, stimulating your palate with its creaminess and chocolate flavor, melting nicely in your mouth giving you plenty of time to enjoy it.

    Now...imagine during that melting time, you get intermittently surprises by a salty flavor. Not salty like table salt, but subtle saltiness that makes your taste buds feel like they're at a killer party where you have the perfect mix of friends, music, food and drink. Then...when the party is dying down, you get a little extra bonus in the crunchy almond bits. That's about how you feel eating this piece of chocolate.

    The milk chocolate, like its plain sibling, has just the right amount of cocoa butter, so its still a strong chocolate taste. We were split in the chocolate category, I loved the chocolate but my lovely wife didn't like it as much as the plain milk chocolate bar - which is interesting because this bar has more cocoa content and she is a dark chocolate person. But we wholeheartedly agreed on the savory notes from the sea salt and the slight crunch from the almonds. The salt stimulates your taste buds and amplifies all the other flavors in the bar.

    I could eat this chocolate until I got sick. And like all Lake Champlain Organic Chocolates, these are all-natural, Kosher, gluten free, and 100% Organic Chocolate certified by QAI.

    Check out Lake Champlain's Organic Chocolates here.

    Free Lake Champlain Chocolates with Purchase

    Bob Wallace at Permalink | social bookmarking

    TCHO - Next Gen Chocolate

    We're seeing a lot of buzz around TCHO. Candy Snob covered them a week ago (WIRED Magazine Cofounder Becomes Chocolatier), and now they showed up at Springwise.

    Here are some new tidbits we picked up from the article:

    • TCHO is one of only a few major chocolate manufacturers in the United States.

    • Whereas many companies that work with chocolate today simply re-melt the heavenly stuff, TCHO has built a factory capable of producing 4,000 metric tons of its own chocolate per year.

    • TCHO is planning a tasting room "as gracious as a European Grand Cafe and a remarkable space in which to experience TCHO's chocolates and drinks."

    • TCHO has recycled and refurbished legacy chocolate equipment with the latest process control, information and communications systems.

    Visit TCHO.com

    Bob Wallace at Permalink | social bookmarking

    February 11, 2008

    Hotel Chocolat taking Valentine's orders up to 5pm on Feb 13th

    hc.gifFor all those well heeled and fashionably late this Valentine's - Hotel Chocolate is offering order processing all the way up to 5pm on Wednesday, February 13th! As we all know you only miss Valentine's once - don't let your busy schedule hurt your ability to get your special someone a real luxury treat.

    Here are some specific ideas:
    - Catwalk Valentine's Chocolates
    - Pink Champagne Truffles
    - Large Dipping Adventure
    - Secrets & Desires - A sensual voyage of discovery
    - Catwalk Valentine's Chocolates & Prosecco

    Looking for other ideas? Check out Candy Snob's Valentine's Gift Guide.

    Bob Wallace at Permalink | social bookmarking

    February 8, 2008

    Review: Lake Champlain Organic Milk Chocolate Bar

    Lake Champlain's Organic Chocolates are frankly some of the best we've tried. They are certainly worthy of carrying the Lake Champlain moniker. They are all-natural, Kosher, gluten free, and 100% Organic Chocolate certified by QAI.

    The Milk Chocolate Bar, which has 34% cocoa content, is extremely smooth with incredible mouth-feel. You can tell that there isn't an overabundance of cocoa butter, its creamy but still tastes very much like chocolate. The flavor is so creamy and smooth, you pick up caramel notes, which is quite enjoyable.

    If you're a milk chocolate fan, you're not going to find too many chocolates that are much better than this. And for the occasional milk chocolate eaters, or even the dark chocolate only folks out there, there is plenty to enjoy in this bar.

    Check out Lake Champlain's Organic Chocolates here.

    Free Lake Champlain Chocolates with Purchase

    Bob Wallace at Permalink | social bookmarking

    February 7, 2008

    WIRED Magazine Cofounder Becomes Chocolatier

    Louis Rossetto, the innovator who launched WIRED 15 years ago, is not applying that creativity to chocolate by launching Tcho. The startup aims to do for cacao beans what Starbucks did for coffee.

    To them, chocolate isn't just a processed food; it's an agricultural product with its own terroir. It starts at the pod: The company plans to help farmers in Africa and Latin America apply more-scientific techniques to growing and fermenting.

    Tcho's San Francisco factory crafts beans into chocolate that is labeled with the cacao varietal, origin, and a whole new lexicon. (sounds like wine...hmmm...that's what we've been talking about too!)

    Check out the Tcho website

    Check out WIRED magazine

    From WIRED
    Photo: Todd Tankersley

    Bob Wallace at Permalink | social bookmarking

    January 24, 2008

    Terrapass chocolate - a climate change confection

    MA-based chocolate maker, Bloomsberry, has teamed up with TerraPass, a green energy broker, to offer these "Climate Change Chocolate" bars. The wrappers have printed on them 15 tips to reduce your carbon footprint on the world, and in addition have included in their sale price, enough carbon energy credits from TerraPass to offset your carbon footprint for one day.

    I don't know much about this carbon offset thing, but does this mean that if we eat a few truckloads of these chocolates that we'll fix the global warming problem? Is this secretly what Al Gore has done to cause the doubling of his girth?

    We've seen these bars prominently located near the checkout at our local Whole Foods...so be on the lookout for a Candy Snob review.

    These aren't the only socially conscious confection out there. WIRED magazine cofounder Louis Rossetto and some partners have just launched TCHO dark chocolate, which takes the fair trade idea to a whole new level. We'll be covering TCHO in much more detail soon.

    You can read more about the global warming confection at the TerraPass website.

    From Strange New Products

    Bob Wallace at Permalink | social bookmarking

    January 23, 2008

    Chocolate Popcorn Bar - Dale & Thomas

    Chocolate over popcorn...not a new idea, right? Wrong! Popcorn gourmands, Dale and Thomas, have taken the whole idea and added their signature twist with the Chocolate Popcorn Bar. They actually make the popcorn the filling of a piece of candy, rather than simply putting the chocolate on the outside of the popcorn. They take their famous caramel popcorn and cover it in imported Belgian dark chocolate - brilliant! The Chocolate Popcorn Bar is a hefty 1/4-pound bar made into nine individual bite-sized, crunch-a-rific pieces.

    Don't mistake the Chocolate Popcorn Bar with the Dale & Thomas Pop Bar, which Candy Snob covered on Jan 6, 2008.

    Dale and Thomas Popcorn

    Bob Wallace at Permalink | social bookmarking

    January 7, 2008

    Eat Sheet: Chocolate

    This past December 11, Sophia Banay wrote a good article in Portfolio helping to lay out the basics of high end chocolate, and how you can take part in the trend.

    Some of the important nuggets of advice for any aspiring chocolate aficionado.

    The Basics About Chocolate - Chocolate's three main forms—dark (less sugar and milk), milk (much lower level of cacao), and white (mostly cocoa butter, no cocoa solids).

    The Big Number for Chocolate Snobs
    - The percentage of cacao in the bar - typically shown on the wrapper. 70% is the current level level of choice for the trend-setters.

    The Big Kahuna of Beans - There are 3 kinds of commercial cacao beans - Criollo, Forastero, and Trinitario. Criollo is the big dog, because they make a light, aromatic, nutty, caramel-colored chocolate. They sell for up to $15,000 a metric ton!

    Buy Nonfumigated, not Organic - "Organic" chocolate is a gimmick, it may not have been sprayed by pesticides, but they have been sprayed with methyl bromide to remove insects and dirt.

    The Singles Scene
    - Single-bean chocolate bars are all the rage. The trend started when small farms, especially those in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and parts of Venezuela, started producing exclusive-derivation bean shipments, meaning the beans all come from a small grove of identical trees within a certain area.

    It'll Keep - Chocolate can be stored for well over a year, provided the spot is cool and dry and the temperature is constant.

    When to Eat It - Eat your chocolate, especially the good stuf, at room temperature: too cold and it’s waxy; too hot and it melts.

    Read the whole article.

    Subscribe to Conde' Nast Portfolio

    Bob Wallace at Permalink | social bookmarking

    January 6, 2008

    Dale & Thomas Pop Bar

    Pop Bars from Dale & Thomas Popcorn takes milk chocolate and use it to cover their specially formulated popping candy (can you say Pop Rocks?). Urban legends of Mikey (the Life Cereal kid) choking aside...these sound like a really good time.

    $10.95 for a set of 3 at PopStop

    Original heads up from Food & Wine. Subscribe

    Dale and Thomas Popcorn

    Bob Wallace at Permalink | social bookmarking

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