At the 2017 Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle, WA I enjoyed an experiment of sampling Dandelion Chocolate bars made from the same beans in both the USA and Japan. Each bar really did taste different! At the same show in 2018 I purchased 70% and 85% bars made in the USA and a 70% bar made in Japan. Each bar is made bean-to-bar with beans from Maya Mountain, Belize. Will there be a difference in taste this time? Let’s find out!
Kekao Chocolate Purveyors offers a dark chocolate subscription box featuring three different bars for $29.99 a month. The bars are often a mix of bean-to-bar and some non-bean-to-bar, but excellent quality (often organic) chocolate. They are offering a discount code for my readers for $5 off the first box when subscribing. Discount code: DARKMATTERS5.
Per Kekao website’s “About Us” section, the founder and CEO, Dino Hodzic, missed out on a hiking trip to Machu Picchu due to a fractured knee. When Dino’s friends came back from Peru they brought back gifts including chocolate bars. This lead to Dino researching dark chocolate and it’s health benefits and thus Kekao.co was born.
I was given this particular box from Kekao. I had no idea in advance which bars would be included in it. I’ve included my own nose/taste notes for each bar in this post.
Marou, a bean-to-bar maker in Vietnam, recently launched their Provisions Marou line which includes cacao powder, nibs and cacao spread. This post focuses on the cacao powder, that is 100% cacao as well as flavor and thoughts on how single-origin cacao powders might effect baking/recipes.
Cacao Review has outdone themselves this year with Collection No. 2, a very limited (only 200 made of each item, ever) chocolate set featuring Chocolate Naive, Marou, Omnom, Ritual and even a bar by Cacao Review. While a few of the chocolate bars are available for individual purchases (50 individual and 150 box sets) the only way to try Chocolate Naive’s Nano_Lot drinking chocolate is by going for the whole collection (ahem…holiday gift perfection, just saying).
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.
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.