Friday, July 28, 2017

Summer, Spring, Fall, Hello Cocoa has them all!


I eat a lot of basil. It grows in the backyard garden in the summer. I grow it in pots on my veranda. I also grow it indoors the Aerogarden in the winter time. More often than not, I eat it directly from the plant. I add it to my pasta sauce and make salad dressing from it. And although I have thought about it A LOT, I have not yet added it to chocolate.

So my first taste of basil in chocolate was when I tried Hello Cocoa's 'Spring Fever' chocolate bar. This Arkansas-based chocolate maker has combined dried basil, with basil olive oil and apricots and added them to a 57% dark chocolate.



I thought it might be too sweet before I tasted it. I am, after all, quite used to consuming 70% to 100% dark chocolate on a daily basis. But the sweetness seemed to bring out the basil flavour, while not making the chocolate taste like 'garden herbs'. The sweet and chewy apricot also complimented the flavour. The combination was surprising and lovely, especially since the basil is now growing in pots outside and the anticipation of the herbs in the garden is at an all-time high (we have a late growing season here in Northern Ontario, we are still waiting on, well, everything).


Hello Cocoa's Spring Fever chocolate bar has inspired me to create some truffles this summer out of basil. Stay tuned for recipes!

Hello Cocoa also makes a variety of other chocolate bar flavours, including the lightly creamy Mocha bar with dark chocolate tendencies. It has 52% cocoa solids, and a slightly bitter chocolate taste with a lightly sweetened coffee flavour. The Ooh La Lavender chocolate bar was very floral in its aroma and, well, had a strong lavender flavour. Lavender is not a flavour I enjoy, but the flavours and sweetness were well balanced and the honey flavour stood out. There was also a nice cacao nib crunch from small bits of cocoa nibs tossed into the chocolate's mix. I could see how anyone who likes lavender would love this chocolate bar.


As for the single origin dark chocolates, the 70% Dominican Republic origin chocolate has bright fruit flavours and is quite nice as a dark chocolate. I really enjoyed this bar! The Venezuela 74% dark chocolate has little fruit flavour, and is on the cream and nut side of the spectrum when it comes to chocolate origin flavours. It was true to the Venezuela origin: creamy and perfectly balanced in flavour. The Uganda origin chocolate was much sweeter with 57% cocoa solids, and had a nice flavour balance (it tasted much like a good semi-sweet chocolate chip!).

A cool thing about Hello Cocoa is that they cover all three main bean types in their origin chocolate.  Their Uganda chocolate is made from Forastero cacao, their Dominican Republic chocolate is made from Trinitario-type beans and the Venezuela chocolate is from Criollo beans.

Hello Cocoa also sent me some yummy truffles, which is a new product for them, and a new 75% Haiti origin bar. I ate this bar so quickly because it was beyond delicious.



More About Hello Cocoa Chocolate...

The founders of Hello Cocoa are Preston Stewart and Lauren Blanco. They launched in August of 2014 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with a passion for single origin chocolate and also seasonal flavours. Their first seasonal chocolate bar was released at that time, called Hello Fall, but has since been renamed to Harvest, and contains toasted pumpkin seeds, dried tart cherries and pumpkin spice and is still their best seller to this day.

Learn more about Hello Cocoa on their website at: www.hellococoachocolate.com or on Instagram: @hellococoachocolate.

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