Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Breakfast anyone?

Seeing as I was tasting a Ritter Sport milk chocolate bar earlier this week, I thought it might be a good idea to try another Ritter Sport bar today.  And I am certain that I have never tried it before:  Ritter Sport White Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts

The front of the package says "with crunchy roasted whole hazelnuts" but really the crunch comes from crispy rice pieces. These pieces make the bottom of the chocolate bar look a little funky if you open it bottom-side up (see below for the pic...yikes) but they add a nice crunchy texture to the chocolate.

When I looked at the package, my first thought was: "This is breakfast!" since my usual breakfast is a rice cake with pure hazelnut butter, accompanied by a dark-roast coffee with cream.  The ingredients for this chocolate bar include everything but the coffee: 9% cream powder, 23% hazelnuts, rice.... However, once I tasted it, I realized it was a bit too sweet for breakfast. And after a few pieces I have a sugar high (it is not even 9:00 a.m. yet!).

Although it is quite sweet, it is very good.  I love the crunch and the hazelnuts.  Although for me, I would prefer the same hazelnuts and rice pieces in a 70% dark chocolate bar made from single origin cacao beans.  But for you white chocolate lovers out there who are not as picky, I highly recommend trying this chocolate bar.

Here are the package details, followed by links to other Ritter Sport product reviews:

Ritter Sport White Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts, 100 g
Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG (Germany)
Ingredients: sugar, hazelnuts, cocoa butter, cream powder (9%), skimmed milk powder, whey powder (milk), lactose (milk), rice flour, soy lecithin, salt, flavour (natural), barley malt.  May contain traces of peanuts, other nuts and wheat.

Read about Ritter Sport 71% dark chocolate:

Read about Ritter Sport Milk Chocolate:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lunch-bag friendly milk chocolate, portion-controlled and just right for that afternoon sweet-treat

I love finding quality milk chocolate that is packaged in a small size , just right to maintain portion control. I actually prefer to eat milk chocolate in smaller sizes (and dark chocolate in unlimited sizes)!, because the sugar content is high in milk chocolate, as is the saturated fat. Also, the sweeter the chocolate, the more my mouth waters for more. So the smaller the milk chocolate bar, the better.

Today I am tasting and comparing two chocolate bars for you milk-chocoholics out there: Green & Black's Organic Milk Chocolate in the little 35g bar and Ritter Sport's Fine Milk Chocolate in the "mini" sized 16.7g package. Both are widely available and easy to find in grocery stores, health food stores and pharmacies.

After tasting each one, I will say this:  if you like your milk chocolate to be a little on the bitter side, and full of smokey and musty flavour common to organic chocolate, then you will prefer the Green & Black's.  If you like your milk chocolate to melt in your mouth and have a creamier buttery taste, then you will like the Ritter Sport. Although be warned: the buttery flavour in the Ritter Sport is a result of the addition of butterfat. So if you prefer your chocolate ingredients to be pure and organic, then go for the Green & Black's. 

Both are a tasty treat and perfect to pack in your lunch bag for that afternoon pick-me-up on a dreary day at the office.

Read about other perfectly portioned milk chocolate and chocolate snack bars:

Here are the package details from the two chocolate bars that I tasted today:

Green & Black's Milk, 34% cocoa, 35g
Green & Black's Ltd. (London, England)
Ingredients: Organic raw cane sugar, organic whole milk powder (27%), organic cocoa mass, organic coca butter, soya lecithin, organic vanilla extract.

Ritter Sport Fine Milk Chocolate, 35 cocoa, 0.6oz (16.7g)
Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG (Waldenbuch, Germany)
Ingredients: sugar, cocoa butter, cream, chocolate liquor, skim milk, whey (milk), lactose (milk), butterfat, soy lecithin (emulsifier), natural vanilla.  May contain traces of wheat, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts and other nuts.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Vosges: The Final Chapter (and the strangest....mushrooms and chocolate!)

I promise, this is the end of my string of Vosges Haut Chocolat blog posts (well, for least until they come up with a new flavour).  If you have ever tried a Vosges chocolate bar, you will know that they usually have unique flavours.  And the last one from my Vosges stash of bars is the most unique of all.  It is called the "Enchanted Mushroom" chocolate bar with Reishi mushrooms and walnuts in dark chocolate. Yup, you heard me. Mushrooms. And chocolate. Together.

I have been saving this strange chocolate bar since late Spring, when I bought a huge number of Vosges chocolate bars. I wish I could say that I saved it for a special occasion, but really I was just avoiding it. I am usually willing to taste any flavour of chocolate and as weird as it seems, I was actually enthusiastic about trying chocolate with mushrooms when I purchased the bar.  However, the more pregnant I became, the less enthusiastic I was to taste anything out of the ordinary.  My stomach was just not able to handle a variety of flavours during this last pregnancy. But now I am no longer pregnant, so I thought it was time to tackle this freaky-flavoured chocolate bar.

Part of the reason why I was avoiding this chocolate bar was because I thought the texture of the mushrooms might gross me out, but in fact it is made with mushroom powder. So there were no chewy chunks of mushrooms, just a hint of flavour.  In fact, I couldn't really taste much of the mushroom flavour, or the "slightly musty scent, reminiscent of wet soil" as mentioned on the tasting guide on the back of the package. However, the texture and taste are not bad.

I'm not entirely sure of the inspiration for the "Enchanted Mushroom" bar, although the back of the package mentions how cacao and mushrooms are two of the world's healthiest foods. According to some, Reishi mushrooms have healing powers that can: "boost your immune system, fight cancer, ward off heart disease, calm your nerves and relieve both allergies and inflammation" (source: So perhaps Vosges' goal for this chocolate was to keep us healthy while we indulge.

The walnuts in this chocolate bar are just miniscule pieces, so there are no large chunks of walnuts. If you are like me, you may find that walnuts can sometimes be the grossest nut to eat and yet, at other times, they can taste wonderful.  I am always teetering on the edge of like/dislike when it comes to walnuts. This chocolate is certainly more enjoyable because the walnut pieces are so small.

Overall though, the chocolate is tasty, but not overwhelmingly unique-tasting. I throw this one into my it-was-a-good-experience-to-try-it category.  If you are curious about it, here is the direct link to buy it online:

So now that I've tasted the last of my Vosges chocolate bar stash, I may experience withdrawals from a lack of unique flavour experiences that Vosges has given me, like their Bacon + Chocolate bars, Lemon and Peppercorn bar or their Red Fire Bar.  However, after checking out their website again, I can see that there are many more new flavours that I still have not tried, but maybe I'll wait until 2012 before I order them...

As always, here are the package details from the chocolate that I tasted today:

Vosges Haut Chocolat "Organic Enchanted Mushroom" Dark Chocolate, 66% cacao, 3oz (85g)
Vosges IP, LLC (Chicago, IL, USA)
Ingredients: *Dark chocolate (*cocoa mass, *sugar, *cocoa butter, *reduced fat cocoa powder), 6% *Reishi mushroom powder, 6% *ealnuts.  Chocolate bar contains: 55% cocoa solids minimum. *Organic ingredients.  Contains: Walnuts.  Manufactured in a facility that handles tree nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, milk, eggs, wheat, shelfish and soya.  Gluten-free.  Certified organic by Oregon Tilth.

Monday, October 17, 2011

White chocolate, peppercorns and lemons...Vosges introduces us to the Amalfi Coast through chocolate

Today I tasted the second-last chocolate bar in my Vosges chocolate stash. It is called the "Amalfi Bar", which is a white chocolate bar with lemon zest and pink peppercorns. I have always liked lemon-flavoured dark chocolate, but have never had the opportunity to try lemon-flavoured white chocolate until now.

Truthfully, the white chocolate was very good (with a whopping 36% cocoa butter, how could it not be?), but I found the lemon flavour a little strong. The peppercorns added a nice crunch and were not so peppery as to make you sneeze.

Although I was not excited about the strong lemon flavour, my three-year old daughter was. I'm glad she liked it, because it is made of natural ingredients and is much healthier than commercial chocolate treats she might otherwise choose. But still, white chocolate with lemon and peppercorns was an odd choice for a three-year old.

While my daughter ate the rest of my chocolate bar, I was asking myself: What on earth does "Amalfi" mean?  I had the vaguest notion that I'd heard that name before. Then I realized that the answer is on the back of the package. It said: "The Amalfi coast of southwest Italy inspired the bright citrus notes in this chocolate bar, where winding roads are draped by the heady scent of lemon trees."  Apparently, the Amalfi Coast is a known cultivator of lemons, according to Wikipedia, as well as limoncello liqueur (now that would be great with chocolate!). As I researched the Amalfi Coast, I found this picture,

Source: Wikipedia,

and I made a mental note to myself to go to the Amalfi Coast someday soon. I somehow missed this gorgeous place on my last (and only) trip to Italy.  I think Vosges has hit the mark here with their "Travel the World Through Chocolate" concept, since they have successfully introduced me to a place that I had no knowledge of before, but now want to visit.

If you are curious about tasting lemon-flavoured white chocolate with pink peppercorns, check out the package details and the link to Vosges' website below to learn how you can get your hands on this Italian-inspired chocolate bar:

Vosges Haut Chocolat "Amalfi Bar", 3oz (85g)
Vosges IP, LLC (Chicago, IL, USA)
Ingredients: White chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, soy lecithin - an emulsifier, vanilla), pink peppercorns, lemon zest, lemon oil.  White chocolate contains: 18% milk solids minimum.  Contains allergens: Milk, soy. Manufactured in a facility that handles tree nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, milk, eggs, wheat, shellfish and soya.  Gluten-free.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

(Real Raspberries + Real Chocolate) x Real Intensity = REAL TASTE

Today I am tasting something that I believe is extraordinary: dark chocolate covered freeze-dried raspberries. We've all tried the common as apple pie, you-see-them-every-where-you-go chocolate-covered stuff, like chocolate-covered almonds, peanuts, espresso beans, cranberries, cherries and blueberries.  But chocolate-covered raspberries are unusual. Although I normally prefer to eat chocolate bars, I can never resist a good chocolate/raspberry combination, so when I saw these at a local cafe, I just had to have them. They are called Dufflet Dark Chocolate Morsels and are sold in a 180 gram (6 oz) box.  I paid $7.95 for them, but I have a feeling that prices vary depending where you buy them.

One of the reasons I bought this product was because the ingredients were natural (i.e. no artificial flavours or colours, hydrogenated oils or modified corn starch, etc.), and the raspberries did not have added sugar or oils. Often fruit that is covered in chocolate, like cherries, blueberries and cranberries, have added sugar and oils. So this was an unusual find.

As for overall taste, the morsels are very bitter.  Since the chocolate is bitter-sweet and the raspberries are unsweetened, the flavour is quite intense.  However, this is not a bad thing.  I like bitter-flavoured chocolate treats.  It makes me feel less guilty about indulging. Plus I just like the taste of bitter chocolate and rich-yet-bitter desserts.  Also, the flavour is very real; just raspberries, dark chocolate and nothing else. I believe that real flavour is the best flavour.

The only down-side (for people who have problems with their teeth) is that the seeds may bother you.  However, seeds are the best way to tell that a raspberry-flavoured chocolate is made with real raspberries. The only other criticism I can offer is that I wish they would have put the percentage (%) of cocoa solids on the package. It's always a "nice-to-know" for people who are picky about the type of chocolate they eat.

Cool thing: these chocolate covered raspberries taste very similar to the Raspberry Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake that I make, so just for fun, I decorated a cake with the Dufflet raspberry chocolate morsels.

Below are the package details, if you are interested in Dufflet and its chocolate morsels. Dufflet has cafe's in Toronto, but check out their website's "Where to Buy" page for a list of online retailers.

Dufflet Small Indulgences Pure & Sweet Dark Chocolate Morsels (raspberries), 180g (6.0oz)
Dufflet Small Indulgences Inc. (Toronto, Canada)
Product of Canada
Ingredients: Belgian Dark Chocolate (unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, natural flavour) freeze dried raspberries. May contain traces of peanuts and/or other nuts.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Not sure how good your chocolate taste buds are?

Are you a beginner chocolate-taster?  Want a good chocolate-tasting tip to get you started?

If you want to learn the difference between fine chocolate that uses real ingredients and commercial chocolate that uses not-so-real ingredients, go out and buy four different chocolate bars with the same percentage (%) of cocoa solids.  For instance, buy four chocolate bars made by different manufacturers, but be sure that they all have 70% cocoa solids. Buy two that have artificial flavouring, one with real vanilla extract and one with ground vanilla beans.  The chocolate bars should have no flavours other than real or artificial “vanilla” (i.e. no raspberry, coffee or other flavour). Then break two or three pieces off of each bar and taste them.  Start with the chocolate containing artificial flavours, and then move to the chocolate with vanilla extract and finally, taste the stuff with real vanilla.  You will very quickly learn the difference between artificial flavouring and real vanilla just by taste.
A great way to do this with white chocolate is to taste Chipits white chocolate chips from the grocery store, and compare them to a Green & Blacks white chocolate bar with organic ingredients and real vanilla.  Then tell me which one you will buy again...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Spice Up Your Chocolate Life...Aztec-Style!

Do you want to try one of the best spicy chocolate bars on the market? I have tried a lot of spicy chocolate bars in my years of chocolate tasting (and I do mean a LOT) and today I want to share with you my absolute favourite.  It is the Nirvana Organic Chocolate (72%) Spicy Aztec Bar; this morning I am tasting it again (yes, I have tasted this one before...many, many times).

This chocolate is very spicy and has a little bit of crunch. Although it has 72% cocoa solids, it is not too bitter.  Some chocolate bars are all spice, but no sweetness and no chocolate flavour, which just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. This one includes nutmeg and cinnamon, which are a nice complement to the chili pepper.  Overall, the Nirvana Spicy Aztec bar balances chocolate flavour perfectly with firey spice and a hint of nuttiness. (Hmmm...a description of me or of the chocolate?)

The chocolate is not smooth, but that is okay because the spices are causing it to be a bit crumbly, which is masked by the crunchy texture of the almonds. The overall texture is quite nice.

Other things I like about this chocolate bar:  It is made of organic ingredients and it is a full 100 grams, not a fooler like some of those 85 gram bars that are stretched thin to look like a 100 gram bar. What's more, this chocolate bar would make a great hot chocolate.  Just break up half the bar and put it in a mug, cover with 3/4 cup of milk, then microwave on half power for 1 minute and stir well.  There will be almonds bits in the bottom, but what is wrong with a little bonus snack when you finish your hot chocolate?

If you are interested in this chocolate bar, here are all the package details:

Nirvana Organic Chocolate 72% Dark Spicy Aztec Bar
Made in Belgium for Belgium's Best Chocolates, Inc., Wellesley, MA (USA)
Ingredients: Organic cocoa mass, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, organic almonds, organic cinnamon, organic nutmeg, organic chili pepper, organic vanilla powder.  May contain traces of nuts and peanuts. Made in a facility that processes peanuts and tree nuts.  Suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

I have also tried Nirvana's chocolate truffle collection.  See what I thought at:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lindt Swiss Dark Chocolate for all your Home Baking and Eating Needs

I was at Winner's the other day and decided to check out their chocolate section.  I had it in my head that they had a large chocolate and gourmet food section, but was surprised to see that the chocolate inventory was limited, as was the gourmet food.  Then I remembered that I had been thinking about HomeSense and their vast supply of gourmet food and chocolate.  Besides, what was I doing looking for chocolate and food at a clothing store anyway?

So, being in a city with no time left to buy chocolate before I headed back to the country,  I bought what Winner's was selling, which was Lindt Swiss Dark Chocolate bars. I bought the large 300 gram gold packaged chocolate bar and the silver 100 gram bar.  The ingredients are almost the same (see below for these details), but the gold package lists "vanilla" and the silver package lists "flavour" instead of vanilla.  It has been my experience that when a chocolate package lists just "flavour" in the ingredients list, that usually means artificial flavour.  However, there seems to be no difference in this chocolate and I do not taste artificial flavouring in either chocolate bar.

Upon tasting it, I can see that these two bars are made from the same chocolate composition and likely manufactured in the same facility (unlike the gold package, the silver package does not specify where or by whom it is manufactured, just which division of Lindt & Sprumgli imported it).  The % of cocoa solids is also not listed, but it is definitely on the sweet side, although not sickeningly sweet like some dark chocolate in that range.  However not an ideal chocolate for a tasting party, it would be excellent for desserts.  You could melt down the 100 gram bar with 1/4 cup of cream to make a beautiful dark chocolate glaze for a cake or a sauce for ice cream, or you could use the 300 gram bar for a cheesecake or mousse recipe. Or, if you like sweet dark chocolate, you could just eat it. But if that is your reason, it would be best to buy the 100 gram chocolate bar, or you may just eat too much!

So my questions for Lindt are: why do the packages need to be different colours? Would it not be easier for consumers to know that this is the same product, just in a different size format?  Also, why does the ingredients list on one bar say "flavour" and the other "vanilla"? Hmmm....I think that is strange. And, shouldn't we save a little money when we buy the larger size?  I paid $1.99 for the 100 gram bar and $5.99 for the 300 gram bar, so in fact, I paid $0.02 more by purchasing the larger package.  I think I should get a deal when I buy a larger size of the same product. Perhaps Lindt & Sprungli Canada (or Switzerland) can consider these questions for future packaging and retail sales improvements.

Overall, the price is still fairly reasonable for quality baking chocolate for all your home baking needs, and the chocolate is smooth and tasty for a sweet treat in the morning, afternoon or whenever you get the urge to eat chocolate. 

Here are the details from the packages of both of these chocolate bars:

Chocolat Lindt Swiss Dark Chocolate, 100 g (silver package)
Imported by Lindt & Sprungli (Canada) Inc.
Ingredients: sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, flavour.  May contain traces of peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds and milk.

Chocolat Lindt Swiss Dark Chocolate, 300 g (gold package)
Imported by Lindt & Sprungli (Canada) Inc., Manufactured by Lindt & Sprungli AG (Switzerland)
Ingredients: sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, vanilla.  May contain traces of peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds and milk.