Askinosie, one of my favorite bean-to-bar chocolate makers, has recently released two new chocolate bars to their already impressive lineup. While I have purchased several of their items on multiple occasions, I was lucky enough to have received these two new bars to try thanks to Lawren Askinosie.
First up is Askinosie’s 61% Tanzania Dark Chocolate + Avocado & Rosemary Bar, for which Askinosie has partnered with Heath Ceramics to create. Rosemary is one of those ingredients that can easily overpower other flavors, however, Askinosie did a great job balancing the flavors in this bar!
When I heard Dick Taylor was making a milk chocolate bar I couldn’t wait to try it and it doesn’t disappoint! Often Madagascar’s fruit notes can get a bit lost in milk chocolate bars, but not in this one! Dick Taylor manages to capture so many scents and tastes in this bar using Madagascar cacao with milk from Humboldt Creamery.
Dick Taylor 58% Madagascar Sambirano Milk Chocolate Bar
Color: Light/medium brown.
Texture: Great snap with a smooth, full-bodied mouthfeel.
Nose: Red fruit, oak, red currant and orange.
Tastes: Red currant, blood orange, cream, subtle rosemary and caramel.
Finish: Malt, caramel and orange notes linger with a medium-length (around 10 minutes) finish.
What does rap, chocolate tours, dancing, running a business, teaching chocolate classes, and the Portland Chocoholics Meetup all have in common? Kara Hayes founder of Chocolate Pursuit, which offers craft chocolate tastings in tours in and around Portland. Grab some craft chocolate, put your feet up and read on to, as Kara would say, “melt into the experience”.
As subscriber to Raaka’s First Nibs (Raaka Virgin Chocolate is a craft chocolate maker located in Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York) I particularly love the August selection of First Nibs educational aspect for featuring both a single and a double fermented cacao bar, made from unroasted Zorzal Cacao, Dominican Republic, with each bar at the 75% mark.
Soma Chocolatemaker, located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada features bean-to-bar chocolate creations and was founded by David Castellan and Cynthia Leung.
The very first item I tried by Soma Chocolatemaker was their Dark Side of the Mug drinking chocolate (which I was inspired to order right after seeing an IG post on it in March 2016 by Ecole Chocolat). Since then I have now tasted 23 items made by Soma including chocolate bars, cookies, toffee and drinking chocolate. Why so many? Because Soma always manages to demonstrate consistent quality, texture and taste in their items. And if you want to know what a great “snap” should sound/feel like when biting into a piece of chocolate this is the maker to learn from.
In March of 2018 Willie’s Cacao (a bean-to-bar chocolate maker located in the U.K.) held a live Facebook tasting event featuring eight of their chocolate bars. I was not able to attend this event, however, my chocolate pal Patricia Baker of the blog Eating the Chocolate Alphabet kindly sent me a piece from each bar to try.
My tasting notes are based off of having two bites from each bar and not having watched the tasting video. If you have watched it, or if you have had these bars, please comment below what tasting notes you perceived.
Luke Owen Smith of The Chocolate Bar in New Zealand puts together amazing bean-to-bar chocolate bars from all over the world for a monthly chocolate subscription box as well as leads chocolate tastings. As if that wasn’t enough, want to know what else makes Luke pretty special? Sometime ago he found out that I never had the chance to try Marou’s no longer available Treasure Island bar so he sent me a piece from the last bar he had in his personal chocolate stash! When I was trying to locate Chocolate Naive’s one-off bar made with sea buckthorn, The Chocolate Bar was the only place I could find it listed any longer and Luke added an extra one to his site just so I could order it. In fact, my full order arrived quickly and in great condition from New Zealand all the way to where I live in Port Townsend, WA USA.
Luke recently sent me his newest creation, a monthly Chocolate Tasting Course. The course includes 4 bite-sized pieces from 4 different tasty craft chocolates by makers from around the world. The first 6 months of the course feature a different lesson card each of those months, such as How to Taste Chocolate and the very first box includes a chocolate tasting notebook.
Read on for my mini-interview with Luke followed by pictures of his new Chocolate Tasting Course and my video on the course too.