Friday, April 28, 2017

Day 5 concludes 'A Zotter a Day' theme week with these innovative chocolates

With over 300 chocolate flavours, I could keep writing about Zotter Chocolate flavours every day for a year, but I do need to get some chocolate work of my own done. So I will conclude my 'A Zotter a Day' theme today and move on to chocolate making, recipe developing and some other chocolate makers next week.

Since I couldn't quite choose a favourite for the final day, today I will mention a few bars that I have enjoyed and really think you should try. I believe I have written about these same bars on the blog once before, but they are just so special and innovative that I want to be sure you haven't missed them.

Zotter's Labooko Milk Chocolate "Dark style" 70%, without sugar


You've likely heard of dark-milk chocolate, a whole new category of milk chocolate that has become very popular in recent years, but Zotter takes this category to a new level with its no-sugar milk chocolate. In fact, no sweetener of any kind has been added to the chocolate, making this an amazing treat for anyone who is trying to consume 100% dark chocolate, but just can't get over the bitterness.

Last week, I told you about East Van Roasters Mad Cashew bar, which takes the edge out of unsweetened chocolate by adding cashew butter and salt. This Zotter chocolate bar does the same thing: it takes the edge off the bitterness of plain chocolate with the addition of milk powder and vanilla. The creaminess softens the bitter cacao taste and creates a savoury, melt-in-your mouth treat.  Now, I am not saying this no-sugar chocolate doesn't take a little time to get used to for people who regularly eat 70% dark chocolate, but for someone who usually consumes 80% to 100% dark chocolate, they may even find the vanilla and milk sweet.

You can find this chocolate bar on the Zotter USA website here.

Mitzi Blue Never-Ending Strawberry, Strawberry & Yoghurt


A few weeks ago, I talked about the new trend in chocolate: chocolate makers are creating naturally bright colours of 'white' chocolate by grinding freeze-dried fruit directly into the chocolate. This adds both colour and strong fruit flavours that can't be beat. Zotter is participating in this trend (who knows, perhaps they started it?) with strawberry-chocolate combinations. My favourite though, is Zotter's Mitzi Blue disc, or wheel, which has a strawberry-yogurt flavour. And yes, I know there is a spelling difference between Austrian-based Zotter Chocolate and myself because, well, we spell yogurt differently here.


The reason why I like this even more than Zotter's strawberry Labooko bars is because the disc is so beautiful. It is the perfect way to treat yourself or someone else to chocolate. The design and package size makes it perfect for gifting. In addition, kids love it to. And the yogurt flavour is so distinct - from yogurt powder added to the chocolate ingredients -  that it tastes just like the flavour of strawberry yogurt (and you are less likely to drip this on your shirt at work).

Find out more on the Zotter USA website here about the Never-ending strawberry chocolate or any of the Mitzi Blue chocolates would make lovely gifts. I can't wait to try the Mango-blueberry or the beautiful Sky of Love chocolate disc.

And that ends the week folks! Stay tunes next week because I have a couple of recipes to share for chocolate cakes and chocolate-covered sponge-toffee. And I have a few articles on chocolate making equipment and great reads on bean-to-bar chocolate in the works, as well as some Canadian chocolate maker reviews.

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Please note that although I wrote about Zotter for an entire week, I was not paid or compensated in any way to write this post. I paid for my chocolate (it was a birthday gift from me...to me :-)) and simply chose to tell you about it. I just like to tell you all about fun and tasty chocolate creations! Thanks to Zotter for making such great chocolate.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Day 4: Zotter Chocolate 'Challenge'; Panama or Belize cacao, Madagascar or Colombia?

Today we are continuing this week's theme of 'A Zotter a Day' with two Zotter products instead of one. I have decided to cover both because they are a part of a 'challenge' Zotter has put to its customers to try to identify different origin chocolates without labelling them directly.

Depending on the cacao used to make the chocolate,
each chocolate will have its own unique 'shade'.
This is one hint in Zotter's Challenge chocolate bars.


This cool line of chocolates by Zotter is in its Labooko collection of bars: the Contests. These are two-packs of chocolate bars, made from two different 'flavours' of chocolate. For instance, the Madagascar 75% versus the Columbia 75% pack offers one bar made from Madagascar origin cocoa beans and one bar from Columbia-origin cocoa beans, each with 75% cocoa solids for a good comparison of the natural origin flavours. The catch in these tasting 'contest' packs is that Zotter does not reveal to customers which bar is which. The package simply contains two chocolate bars, one on the right side and one on the left, unlabelled. And there is no secret answer anywhere on the package, nor on the Zotter website. Yikes, right? So let's take a closer look at some of the packs to see if we can 'win' the contest through taste.

Madagascar versus Colombia 75% dark chocolate challenge



Madagascar 75% vs Colombia 75% 'contest' chocolate bar set - for those who are not familiar with the taste of most Madagascar origin chocolate, this might be a difficult challenge. But if you've been around the chocolate block a few times, you'll instantly recognize it. If not from the lighter and slightly reddish colour, then from the fruitier and acidic taste.

The Colombia chocolate bar, which I am sure was on the right side of my package, was darker in colour (although not extremely dark). It offered deep roast flavours, earthy and some spice, with just a touch of fruit on the finish.  The aroma was sweet vanilla and spice.

This was an excellent pairing of chocolate origins. They were different enough to highlight the affects of origin on chocolate flavour.

You can also purchase just the Madagascar chocolate bar online here. And the Colombia 75% chocolate bar can be purchased on it's own as well here.

Panama Versus Belize 72% dark chocolate challenge


The Panama & Belize 'contest' is a bit more difficult. I actually wondered if the same two chocolate bars had been put in the package by mistake. https://www.zotterusa.com/labooko-pure-chocolate/301-contest-belize-72-panama-72.html

The one tucked into the left side of the package was very delicate, it is creamy and also has the taste of cream, perhaps fruity with some orange blossom, citrus and something I can't quite articulate.

The right-side bar has a roast taste, a little richer or more bitter in cocoa flavour, some fruitiness, and a little spice and definitely some floral flavours.

I had hoped the Zotter website would tell us some flavour notes on each chocolate, but it did not give away any secrets. This drove me a little bit crazy. I think the intention is to have the customer also buy each flavour in its individual packages, such as the Belize 72% (find it by clicking here). However, the Panama only comes in a milk chocolate so you won't be able to compare there, but if you can purchase the Belize and get that figured out, it may be an easy solution.

Since I didn't purchase the Belize bar on its own, I will have to keep guessing for now.

If you are interested in tasting packs like these, but want to know which bar is which, try Sirene Chocolate's duo packs. The Madagascar vs Ecuador really highlights the difference between two origin chocolates, much like Zotter's Madagascar & Colombia package.

I haven't decided which Zotter to feature tomorrow, on the final day of this 'A Zotter a Day' theme week, but I will after some more extensive tasting :-). Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Read the rest of the week....
Day 1: Zotter's Labooko Sheep's Milk Chocolate - great for people who are avoiding cow's milk
Day 2: Zotter's Mitzi Blue 'Dark Secrets' disc - perfect for gifting to a dark chocolate lover
Day 3: Zotter's Labooko Bolivia 90% - a great chocolate for vegans, Paleo diet followers and anyone who loves very bitter chocolate
Day 4: The Zotter Chocolate Challenge packs, Madagascar versus Colombia origin chocolate & Belize versus Panama origin chocolate

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Day 3: Let's go darker with Zotter's Bolivia 90% chocolate bar


Have you been trying to get closer and closer to that taste of pure cacao by going deep into the dark? Dark chocolate, I mean. I recall the times when I would push myself to try (and learn to like) very dark chocolates. And that meant working my way up from 70% dark, to 80% dark, then on to 90% and 100%. And sometimes, just a little sugar is needed. Zotter's Labooko Bolivia 90% bar might just be the thing for you.

The taste is close to lightly sweetened cocoa powder. The aroma is the same. In fact, as I write this post, the open chocolate bar package is right under my nose and it is the same smell as when I opened a tin of baking cocoa powder yesterday.

As with other Zotter chocolates, the texture is purely delicate and super smooth. The chocolate is mild in its flavours, but a little dried apricot caught my attention, and flavours of intense espresso. There may be a little nuttiness on the finish. There is also a pinch of salt in the ingredients list, but I do not taste it. Some chocolate makers believe it brings out the flavours of the bean. Zotter Chocolate seems to include salt in many of their chocolates, although it is never detectable in the taste.

As far as 90% dark chocolates go, I like this one. It is also a great stepping stone chocolate as you work your way to tasting 100% dark chocolate. Buy it online from Zotter U.S.A. at: https://www.zotterusa.com/labooko-pure-chocolate/73-bolivia-90.html.

Tomorrow we will look at Zotter Chocolate's 'contests'. But what is the prize? Find out on Day Four of 'A Zotter a Day...' theme week here on The Ultimate Chocolate Blog.

Read the rest of the week....
Day 1: Zotter's Labooko Sheep's Milk Chocolate - great for people who are avoiding cow's milk
Day 2: Zotter's Mitzi Blue 'Dark Secrets' disc - perfect for gifting to a dark chocolate lover
Day 3: Zotter's Labooko Bolivia 90% - a great chocolate for vegans, Paleo diet followers and anyone who loves very bitter chocolate

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Day 2: Zotter Chocolate's Mitzi Blue has Dark Secrets


On Day 2 of my 'A Zotter a Day Keeps the Doctor Away' theme week, I am focusing on something a little darker than yesterday's post about Zotter's Sheep's Milk Chocolate. Zotter's Mitzi Blue line of chocolates are a work of art. Each and every bar, or should I say 'wheel' is beautifully crafted, and holds a 'Mini-Mitzi', a small wheel of a different flavour of chocolate in the centre. I have tasted Zotter's beautiful Crispy Caramel Mitzi Blue chocolate and the Strawberry Yogurt Mitzi Blue chocolate bar. These were both flavourful and beautiful, and because of that were perfect for gifting. But I was most excited to buy a Mitzi Blue that falls within my first chocolate love: dark chocolate.

The Dark Secrets Mitzi Blue chocolate disc is made of 70% dark chocolate, crafted from a blend of South American beans (although it tastes most similar to Zotter's Peruvian chocolate bars). And the 'Mini-Mitzi' in the centre is also made of a blend, but in 80% dark chocolate. This is perfect for someone like me who waffles between 70% dark and 100% dark on a daily basis.

The 70% dark chocolate had a very sweet flavour profile. It was delicate and super smooth. I find Zotter has a tendency to make very fine, delicate-like chocolate. It truly melted in the mouth, and had a lovely chocolate flavour, with a perfect balance of bitter cocoa and just the slightest touch of floral and fruit flavours, although neither one standing out. The small amount of salt in the ingredient list was not at all noticeable.




If you prefer bold cocoa flavours, like a strongly citrusy Madagascar chocolate, or a smoky origin chocolate, this may not be for you. But if you like a balanced, bitter-free chocolate that is low in acidity, then this might be your jam. And it also makes a perfect gift for a dark chocolate lover - a step-up from Lindt and Godiva, and on par with craft chocolate brands. And it's chocolate beauty and the story behind it (you'll find out the story of the 'wheel' once you open the package), can't be beat.

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Buy Zotter Chocolates in the USA online at: https://www.zotterusa.com/14-mitzi-blue. You can also buy some of Zotter's chocolate from Miss Choco online out of Montreal at: http://www.misschoco.ca/international/. Google 'Zotter' to buy online near you in other parts of the world.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Zotter a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

For anyone who knows about Austrian-based Zotter Chocolate, you'll know that Zotter is taking over the bean-to-bar chocolate world with its over 300 flavours (or is it now over 400?) of chocolate bars. And truthfully, I haven't found a Zotter chocolate bar yet that I don't like.

So recently, when I was deciding what to buy myself for my birthday, I settled on ordering a large variety of Zotter chocolate bars, including a few that I have tasted before, and a few that I haven't yet sunk my teeth into. But in order to write about all of these Zotter bars on this blog, I realized that I would have to write about one every day for a week or more. Otherwise, the article would be too long for anyone to read. So this week, I plan to tell you about one Zotter chocolate bar a day. There may be a few other chocolate makers and recipes thrown into the mix, but certainly a Zotter a Day must keep the doctor away (or at least keeps 'unhappiness at bay').

Day 1:  Zotter Chocolate's Labooko 'Sheep's Milk' chocolate with 55% cocoa solids


I LOVE this chocolate. And I am not the only one. I've shared it and my friends seem to like it to. I really like that it has 55% cocoa solids, and that the sheep's milk is quite mild in comparison to goat's milk chocolate. I find with goat's milk chocolate, it tends to taste just like goat cheese. That's great, if you want to taste goat cheese in dark brown form. But for me, I prefer the only-slightly-savoury taste of Zotter's Sheep's Milk chocolate, and it doesn't remind me of cheese while I am eating it.

The chocolate is also very creamy, smooth and has a delicate taste and texture. This truly is fine chocolate. The vanilla and pinch of salt listed in the ingredients are very much at the back of the chocolate flavour, and seem to be just the right amount so as not the negatively influence the flavour.



So overall, I think this chocolate would be perfect for anyone with a cow's milk intolerance (See? If you have a cow's milk intolerance, this Zotter Chocolate each day would keep the doctor away!)

Which chocolate shall tomorrow bring? Stay tuned to find out!

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You can order Zotter Chocolate from anywhere in the world through Zotter USA (I ordered mine from their American headquarters in Florida) and the original Zotter Austria website, or Google Zotter Chocolate to find a retailer near you.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

East Van Roasters Offers a Different Approach to Unsweetened Chocolate


Have you been trying to eat 100% dark chocolate, but just can't get used to it? East Van Roasters has the solution for you.

When Shelley Bolton, Managing Director & Chocolate Maker at East Van Roasters in Vancouver, first handed me a piece of this innovative chocolate bar last Fall, I was impressed with the ingenuity. Shelley told me that many customers were looking for unsweetened chocolate, for required dietary reasons or as part of a plan to reduce sugar and be healthier. But some customers found 100% dark chocolate too bitter and acidic to enjoy. Shelley resolved this by adding cashews to the chocolate, to be refined directly in, in the same way that hazelnut butter might be included in chocolate to create a Gianduja.  Not only does this soften the texture of the chocolate and make it a bit creamier, but it takes the bitter edge off of the chocolate, making it palatable.


I've been curious about this extra dark cashew bar and thinking a lot about the conversation with Shelley. So I purchased East Van Roaster's Mad Cashew bar online from La Tablette de Miss Choco, in order to spend some time experiencing the taste and comparing it to other 100% dark chocolate bars. Once in hand, I found it quite tart from the taste of the Madagascar bean, but the bean's natural flavours also shine through with some citrus and berry flavours. The added salt gives the bar a savoury taste. I generally am not a fan of 100% dark chocolate made from Madagascar beans. Although wonderfully fruity when lightly sweetened, I find them too acidic to be palatable in 100% dark chocolate form. But Shelley's addition of the cashew paste, and a hint of salt, has not only made this chocolate palatable, but also enjoyable.

I did compare it to other 100% bars on hand, and found that Shelley's idea was quite genius - cashew butter does take the edge off of 100% dark chocolate. And it also adds a little protein, making this dark chocolate the perfect breakfast, lunch or anytime snack.

East Van Roasters has a store front location in Vancouver. Visit the website for more details:
http://eastvanroasters.com/ . And as I mentioned above, you can purchase the Mad Cashew Bar online from La Tablette de Miss Choco at: http://www.misschoco.ca/marques/.

Looking for other 100% dark chocolates that take the 'bite' out of the bitter?

Another bar that takes the harsh bite out of unsweetened chocolate is Zotter's Labooko dark-milk with 70% cocoa solids. There is no sugar or sweetener of any kind added, but the remaining 30% consists of milk and a touch of vanilla. This chocolate bar - although like East Van Roasters is also without sugar - sits on the sweeter side of the unsweetened chocolate spectrum.

Soma's Arcana chocolate bar is made from a blend of beans, designed to balance both the acidity and bitterness of 100% dark chocolate. Learn more here.

Try different origin bars! If you find one 100% chocolate too bitter or acidic, taste a different one made from beans of another origin. I have been experimenting with different beans to make 100% dark chocolate, and I have found that the palatability is completely dependent on the bean. For instance, the sweet Honduras bean that I use has nearly no acidity, and so a 100% chocolate made from those beans is easy to eat, compared to unsweetened chocolate made from beans that have more acidity. I also found an organic Philippine cocoa bean , which was perfect in an unsweetened chocolate and excellent for tasting. But truly it is all about your taste buds, and what is right for you. So get tasting!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Brighten Up Your Easter Treats with the Best Trend in Chocolate: Natural Food Colouring

The coolest trend in bean-to-bar chocolate is happening RIGHT NOW, and it is perfect for this Easter season: coloured chocolate. This trend started building in the last few years and really exploded in the end of 2016. And I don't mean the use the artificial food colouring of our past, I am talking about natural fruits, teas and even vegetables to colour chocolate bars in the most natural way. Chocolate makers are freeze-drying fruits and veggies to add both colour and flavour to their white chocolate.

https://www.zotterusa.com/Zotter, an Austrian chocolate maker, has been coming on strong with its pink-coloured white chocolate combinations. For Easter, you can buy a perfect strawberry caramel combo pack from Zotter, called 'Hiding & Seeking'. On the left side of the package is a pretty and delicious strawberry white chocolate bar, coloured only with dried strawberries, but also flavoured with a little lemon powder that adds a perfect sweet tartness to the chocolate. I love this chocolate bar!

On the right side of the package is a caramel bar, which gets its beautiful natural caramel colour (and flavour) when Zotter caramelizes the milk sugars. The package overall, with its Easter bunny & Spring flower images drawn on the front, is a perfect gift for any kind of sweet-lover this Easter (whether a chocolate-lover or not).


Zottter also makes a amazing Strawberry Yogurt white chocolate bar, called Never-Ending Strawberry. It is a part of their very artistic Mitzi Blue line of chocolate wheels, and not only is wonderful to taste (it tastes just like strawberry yogurt), but it is wonderful to look at too. It also offers a cool taste sensation with a mini wheel of a slightly different taste and shade in the centre. This is a perfect gift for anyone who loves strawberry at any time of the year.

Zotter also sells a raspberry bar in its Labooko line. It is mildly sweet, and strong in raspberry flavour. It truly is delicious and like the strawberry bar, it pairs nicely with white wine. You can see in the picture below that Zotter's has a light pink colour, in comparison to Soma Chocolate Maker's raspberry bar, which has a deeper shade of raspberry colour.


Soma's new beautiful Raspberry Bar, which has only sugar, raspberries and cocoa butter as the ingredients, also has NO food colouring or flavouring. Yet it's bold, dark colour instantly tells you that you are in for an experience. It is so rich in raspberry flavour that it is almost shocking - definitely in a good way! Because it is so bold, and has no milk content, it pairs nicely with red wine. Believe me when I say that Soma's raspberry chocolate bar is a must-try.

In addition to the pink chocolates for Easter, Soma has launched yellow Mango Chili Bar that looks amazing! I tried to get my hands on one for Easter, but they were sold out. Keep your eye on this link, and perhaps we'll see them back in the near future. They also make a gorgeous Mango pod, but you have to be in Toronto to be able to pick one up.
Picture by Soma Chocolate Maker
Reference: Somachocolate.com
 

Quebec-based Chaleur B Chocolat is making green chocolate, coloured only by Matcha tea. This is a very creamy bar thanks to its high cocoa butter content. I wasn't sure I was going to like it, but then I ate every last piece. It surprised me with its creamy goodness. Learn more about it or buy online by clicking this link.

For more matcha bars, you just need to search #matchachocolate on Instagram for a whole slew of pictures of green chocolate.

There are a few other chocolate makers currently experimenting with freeze dried strawberries, matcha, dried beets and all sorts of other fruit and vegetables to create new shades of chocolate.

Sirene Chocolate just launched a caramelized white chocolate bar, which looks delicious. Learn more and find a retailer near you at: http://sirenechocolate.com/.

I know there are a few other pink strawberry bars floating around social media, in addition to some beet-based chocolate bars, and Zotter's currant bar. If you remember another chocolate maker who is participating in this trend, please share in the Comments below! Let's help promote these all-natural shades of chocolate!