Saturday, January 10, 2015

Vosges African Red Tea & Tart Cherry Bar

African Red Tea & Tart Cherry Bar

Vosges was one of the first high-end chocolate brands that I tried. Since then, I've found other brands that I like more (and often cost less) but I'm always up for a new Vosges bar. They offer some unique combinations, and African Red Tea & Tart Cherry is something I haven't seen before.

It's been a few years since I've been to Las Vegas, but the Vosges boutique in the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace is one of my favorite stops. There are always new truffles, sometimes assortments go on sale, and they usually have several chocolates to sample. Plus, the purple/white decor is pretty.

African Red Tea & Tart Cherry

The chocolate was quite pretty! It was light in color (at 45% cocoa) with little black flecks in it (probably the tea). It smelled more bitter than it actually was and I'm guessing that was from the tea, because it had an earthy scent, too. The chocolate was soft, creamy, and milky (little to no bitterness). It had a slight stickiness and it was sweet, but never what I'd call too sweet.

The tea gave the bar a bit of a strange, gritty crunch. The cherry bits were tart indeed and went well with the sweet chocolate. They also added a soft, chewy texture to the mix. Speaking of chewing, the red tea bits were quite tart when chewed as well. Overall it was an interesting bar, but I probably wouldn't get it again.


Vosges website

Monday, January 5, 2015

Alter Eco Dark Coconut Toffee

Alter Eco Dark Coconut Toffee

Happy New Year! Let me start off 2015 by posting a review for a brand that I have been meaning to blog about for ages: Alter Eco. I have draft reviews for 2 other Alter Eco bars (aside from this one) that I haven't gotten around to posting, so it's about time!

Alter Eco has just about every fair trade/organic certification I've ever seen, but that's all I'll say on that. What I am qualified to comment on is the fact that every darn bar of theirs that I've tried is pretty delicious. This is the Dark Coconut Toffee bar, but I hope to post about the Dark Quinoa and Dark Salted Brown Butter bars soon, too. If I can find my notes, I'll add the Dark Velvet, too!

Alter Eco Dark Coconut Toffee

Full disclosure: in my notes, I treated this like a milk chocolate bar. Oops. But I definitely prefer this sort of barely dark bar to milk chocolate, and I wouldn't want it to be any "lighter." The bar smelled like cocoa and nuts rather than coconut. The chocolate was slightly bitter and not sticky, nor overly sweet. Much like the aroma, the coconut flavor was subtle, so I wouldn't write it off if you’re lukewarm on coconut. Like the chocolate, the toffee was bittersweet, especially at first, giving way to a caramel flavor.

Combined, the flavors reminded me of the Samoa Girl Scout cookies, only not as sweet. The bar had a crunchy texture that was reminiscent of sugar, especially the kind with larger crystals. The flavors and textures were well-balanced, but I wouldn't call this bar a new favorite. As I stated above, Alter Eco makes some excellent chocolate bars, and this one was good – just not top tier.


Alter Eco Foods website

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tirol Daigakuimo and Peach Nectar Chocolates


Here's a little 2-for-1 review of Peach Nectar and Daigakuimo Tirol Chocolates. I love a simple little treat, so I'm always up for new Tirol flavors (though I have my doubts about these Cheese & Pizza chocolates). These were both purchased from napaJapan, where incidentally, you can also purchase the Cheese & Pizza flavor. I'll leave that up to you.

First up is Daigakuimo, or candied sweet potatoes. Literally, it means university potato, and here's a recipe with a back story if you're interested.


The chocolate smelled a bit like potato with hints of butter and something floral. However, I didn't get much of that from the taste. It almost reminded me of strawberry chocolate, and it was sweet with a slight hint of citrus. The biscuit was the best part: very crunchy with a strong black sesame flavor.

Bites with biscuit and chocolate were the best, but the biscuit was too small. Overall, these were decent chocolates, but they lacked sweet potato flavor, and they didn't have that hint of slight savoriness that balances the sweetness in the actual dish. B

Peach Nectar Tirol

Next up is Peach Nectar. There is nothing like a ripe, in-season peach, and as such, my peach expectations are pretty high. Unfortunately, this Tirol didn't quite live up to my expectations.

Peach Nectar Tirol

I knew as soon as I smelled it that this Tirol was going to disappoint. It smelled a bit fake, and intensely sweet. Thankfully, the peach nectar tasted better than it smelled, and it reminded me of white peaches. The marshmallow center was nice, as well.

The problem ended up being the ridiculously sweet white chocolate coating. Not only was it cloying, it was a bit grainy, almost powdery, and just not very good. At least the nectar and marshmallow were good, and 2/3 ain't bad. C

Tirol Chocolate website (Japanese)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Mindo Chocolate Makers Celtic Sea Salt

Mindo Celtic Sea Salt

My sister brought me a Mindo chocolate bar about 2 years ago and I enjoyed it, so when I saw the brand again while shopping in Ann Arbor, MI, I had to pick up another bar. This time, I went with the Celtic Sea Salt. Chocolates from Mindo Chocolate Makers are sold mainly out of Michigan with some limited distribution outside of the state.

You can read all about the company and their products on their website, but definitely try their chocolate if you get a chance. It really speaks for itself!

Mindo Celtic Sea Salt

The best word I can use describe the taste of this bar is "rustic." I don't mean that in a bad way - there is just something about the flavor and the texture that lets you know it was made with care. The chocolate itself was bitter and delicious. The bitterness reminded me a bit of coffee, and it didn't have any fruity notes.

The dark chocolate paired well with the warmth provided by the sea salt. The bar was well balanced overall and melted smoothly to a clean finish. I don't have a whole lot to say except that this was a really great bar! I don't often get up to Michigan, but the next time I do, I will definitely look out for more Mindo.


Mindo website

Friday, December 12, 2014

Seed and Bean Lemon and Poppy Seed White Chocolate

Seed and Bean Lemon and Poppy Seed

Here's another flavor combination I enjoy but had never seen in a chocolate bar before: lemon and poppy seed. It seems so simple, but Seed and Bean has transformed my favorite muffin into a candy bar. Their website is full of fun combinations I'd like to try. Seed and Bean is an English company, and so far I haven't seen their products in any US stores (this bar was given to me by that well-traveled coworker).

Seed and Bean's website invites you to "Experience a chocolate taste sensation in our creamy, dreamy white chocolate bar, with poppy seeds for that earthy crunch and infused with Italian lemon oil for a subtle citrus twist." I'd say they delivered.

Seed and Bean Poppy Seed

The chocolate smelled buttery with hints of lemon. The white chocolate melted smoothly and cleanly, with a hint of natural-tasting lemon flavor. It was a subtle, creamy lemon vanilla. The only drawback for me was it was just on the edge of being too sweet - the white chocolate was about as sweet as I can handle.

The poppy seeds added a fun texture - a little crunch, a little pop. I didn't get much of the earthiness the website mentioned, but the bar did remind me of muffins. It's a pretty safe bet to say that any white chocolate & lemon lover would adore this bar.


Seed and Bean website