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 sweet 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 flavour of sweet chocolate with some 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.

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!

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!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Cacao Market by MarieBelle New York

I recently received a chocolate bar from a traveling friend. It was dark, delectable and full of small pieces of crunchy, caramelized almonds. I loved it.

This chocolate was by Cacao Market, a MarieBelle New York brand.  In the bean-to-bar world, I have not heard much about MarieBelle or Cacao Market bean-to-bar chocolates. Perhaps because they operate in a large city with foot traffic sales and thus, have less need to ship their chocolate worldwide, like so many craft chocolate makers operating in smaller cities and towns in North America.

I admit, I am not a person who gets excited about inclusions in the bean-to-bar chocolate that I buy, including almonds, even though I eat them on a daily basis. I also stay away from any inclusions sprinkled on the back of a chocolate bar, including seeds, dried fruit, salt and other nuts. I know many people love it, but I am just not a fan. But of course, I'm occasionally surprised. The Dick Taylor Black Fig bar certainly turned me, and encouraged me to taste more chocolate with inclusions. That is also th case with this Cacao Market 70% Dark Chocolate with Almonds bar.

The almonds were in small pieces and caramelized, which added a lightly sweet crunch. They were also incorporated directly into the chocolate, rather than sprinkled on the back, which I think offered a fuller flavour experience. The overall effect of the light crunch and the taste of the delicious Honduras Trinitarion cacao was a perfect combination and quite enjoyable. So enjoyable, in fact, that I finished eating this bar while writing the first paragraph of this post.

So if you are in New York, or looking to order some delicious chocolate online (in the U.S.), check out MarieBelle's Cacao Market and the delicious 70% Dark Chocolate with Almonds bar: http://mariebelle.com/shop-online/cacao-market-40g-bar-dark-almonds/.

The chocolate was also purchased for me from Xoxolat in Vancouver.