Saturday, February 27, 2010

Seattle Variety in 2.5 Ounce Bars

Last year Seattle Chocolate sent us several offerings, and today we'll be revealing the last of these, several varieties of their 2.5 ounce Truffle bars, to you as a full Chocolate Cult team with reports from your Chocolate Priestess, the Chocolate Coconut Acolyte and our Mocha Acolyte.  In total Seattle sent us 10 different flavors, one of each variety they sell, so you will find out today which bars may be the right one, or two, or three or more, for you.

Let's begin with our hard-working Chocolate Coconut Acolyte's review of the "Coconut Macaroon Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar with Coconut and Sea Salt" — WOW what a long name!

"The color is not quite as dark as I expected, though still much darker than the average milk chocolate bar would be. The cocoa aroma isn't revealed until the bar is out of its wrapper and a section is broken off. Then the scent is so powerful that it's almost overwhelming. The section begins to melt on my fingers fairly quickly, and there's no waxy feeling at all. I bite the first section and let the smaller piece melt in my mouth … except that it doesn't melt as quickly now that it's out of my hand. There's a lot of coconut in this bar, and it binds well with the chocolate.

The coconut is lightly toasted and adds more texture than flavor. Interestingly, I hear a slight crunching sound when I break off a section but none when I actually chew a piece. The chocolate is creamy and very rich in cocoa flavor. Brothers and Sisters, I wasn't expecting to like this candy, as I don't like mixing sweet and salty flavors. However, in this case the salt taste wasn't really apparent and only served to enhance the wonderful flavor of the chocolate. On whole I'd say that this is my favorite of all the offerings that I've been asked to reveal to you, and I'd highly recommend you get your hands on one of these chocolate bars."

Thank you for that report, mavido79.  Lets turn to the Mocha Acolyte's report next:

"Both of these bars from Seattle Chocolates come wrapped in colorful, eye-pleasing packaging. The bars feel somewhat substantial for their size, promising an admirable solidity. Upon opening them, I detect a wonderful aroma of cocoa wafting from each of them. The unwrapped bars bear an interesting textured pattern on the top, and each bar is sectioned into four pieces, each roughly the size of a domino.

The Pike Place Espresso bar is described as a dark chocolate truffle bar with espresso infusion. My attempt to break off a piece results in fair-sized chunks, each with a resounding snap. The texture begins as dense and toothsome, but as I chew it quickly assumes a thick velvety smoothness that is indeed reminiscent of a truffle in bar form. The chocolate flavor is strong and quite sweet. The coffee flavor is less prominent in the initial burst of flavor but rises nicely as a subtle aftertaste reminiscent of espresso beans. After several bites I feel a strong sugar rush and a moderate cocoa rush, though not much of a coffee buzz — it is good, but it might benefit from more of a coffee punch.  The wrapper indicates that this chocolate is 53% cacao dark chocolate and 33% cacao milk chocolate, as well as Turkish-ground decaffeinated coffee. It contains milk and soya, and is processed in a facility that processes peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and wheat products.

The Cappuccino Crunch bar is a milk chocolate truffle bar with toffee and almonds. Like the Pike Place bar, it resists breaking and snaps off into fair-sized chunks. The texture is slightly grainier than the Pike Place bar, but the contrast is distinct and appealing. The sugary toffee's slow dissolving and the sustained crunchiness of the almond slivers both provide wonderful counterpoint for the creamy chocolate truffle smoothness. Chocolate almond lovers will find a lot to enthuse about in this bar; the flavor balance of chocolate and almond is well realized, and the toffee note is a winning element as well. I did not, however, get much of a sense of coffee in this bar. I probably would not have guessed cappuccino was intended to be part of the flavor profile without reading it on the label.  The wrapper indicates this chocolate is 33% cacao milk chocolate and contains almonds, all natural toffee, and Turkish-ground decaffeinated coffee.  It contains milk, soya, and almonds, and is processed in a facility that processes peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and wheat products.

Pros: wonderfully sweet and tasty, incredible texture, cheerful flavor profiles.
Cons: coffee notes too subtle; may be too sweet for those used to darker cocoas.
While the coffee lover in me definitely wanted stronger coffee flavors, the chocolate lover in me was pleased. Both bars were delicious, especially the toffee almond crunch."

Thanks for that report, davebear_in.

Now your Chocolate Priestess can turn to the other seven varieties of 2.5 oz. bars from Seattle Chocolate. I've grouped these to get a clearer image on the photos, so there will be several during the Sacrament.  I'll start with the milk chocolate and work my way to the darker, from the solid, unfilled types to the filled or more complex flavor combinations.  I note that each bar is two servings, but I'm going to calculate the total nutritional values for the entire bar, since I know many of you may eat an entire bar in one day.  Each bar also measures 4.75 × 2 × 0.5 inches in dimensions, so I won't be repeating that information each time.  Each also has milk and soya in it as well as any allergens listed in the bar's title, and their plant processes wheat, nuts, and peanuts regularly, so be aware of that if you have severe allergies to any of these.

There are two milk chocolate varieties for me to try today, Sisters and Brothers.  The plain "Milk Chocolate" Truffle Bar will start me off.  The entire yellow wrapped bar contains 380 calories,  20 grams saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 70 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein, and 4% of the calcium and 10% of the iron that an adult needs daily. Removing the paper wrapper lets the milk chocolate scent leak from the dark inner wrapper.  Opening it reveals the same four sections and wavy line pattern we saw in the Acolytes' reports.  The bar is cool and smooth to my fingers as I break off a section, but the molded wavy line pattern on top feels different, adding another sensation to the mix.  (Since this is true for every bar, I won't repeat this observation.)  The first bite breaks off with a dull snap because it is so thick, and inside I see two layers of chocolate, a fact that is reflected on the label, as davebear_in pointed out, with 33% and 53% chocolate in one bar.  This makes the milk chocolate bar more intense than most mass-produced candies you can buy, but still it is very creamy and smooth.  An excellent bar for the milk chocolate lover who can handle high cocoa content.

Next the "Meltaway Mint" is a truffle bar with a peppermint infusion.  Ah, peppermint — this is quite different from the more spearmint-type flavor I normally expect when I think of mint chocolates, so I am anticipating that what is hidden under the green patterned wrapper may be unique tasting.  One bar has 400 calories, 20 g saturated fat, < 10 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 32 g sugars, 4 g protein, 4% calcium and 12% iron.  The peppermint scent is strong after I remove the outer paper wrapper, and it gets stronger when the second wrapper is opened, so strong that it does overwhelm the cocoa scent.  In the photo you can't tell the difference between the two bars, but this mint one has a different heft to it when I pick it up.  The peppermint scent reminds me of Christmastime, something to keep in mind for the future, Sisters and Brothers.  This has a soft snap when I break off a section and take a bite, but the cocoa content spread between dark and milk is the same.  The peppermint remains very strong and is the primary flavor here, creating a tingling sensation through my mouth as I chew or let a bite melt in my mouth.  You must love peppermint to enjoy this bar, so if you prefer the other type of mint, then don't choose this variety.

There are two plain dark chocolate bars to look at next.  The 53% cacao has the blue wrapper, while the maroon wrapper marks the 65% cacao.  The 53% bar contains 380 calories, 18 g saturated fat, 120 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 30 g sugars, 4 g protein, 4% calcium, and 40% iron.  This has a strong cocoa scent to it as soon as the outer wrapper is removed.  Again this bar has two types of chocolate in it, 53% and 33% cocoa varieties.  It is more difficult to break off a section and also firmer to bite into but makes no sound when I do both.  The chocolate begins to melt in my mouth immediately, starting that lovely cocoa buzz we dark chocolate lovers desire.  I can taste the subtle difference between the two flavors of chocolate, but overall this is great for darker cocoa lovers.

The two dark chocolate bars are just barely different in color, though the scent is much stronger for this 65% dark chocolate bar.  It has different nutritional values in some areas compared to its lighter cousin, with 380 calories, 20 g saturated fat, 10 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 24 g sugars, 4 g protein, and 4% calcium and 12% iron an adult needs daily.  This has only one type of chocolate in it, the 65%, which explains the deeper and earthier intensity in scent. This is also a bit harder to break and bite into, but it makes a solid snap when I do so.  Inside is solid chocolate with an amazing creaminess that I was not expecting from a dark chocolate.  The sensations move from my mouth into my sinuses and into my head, and soon I'm floating from just two bites of half of one section of this incredible bar.  I highly recommend this as a Sacrament.

Finally I get to the three "dark chocolate plus something else" bars.  The first of these is "Perfect Peanut Butter," which boasts roasted peanuts.  The orange and maroon wrapper encases 400 calories, 12 g saturated fat, < 10 mg cholesterol, 90 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 28 g sugars, 8 g protein, 8% calcium, and 8% iron.  Normally I see peanuts and peanut butter paired with milk chocolate, but when I open the wrapper here the dark cocoa and the roasted peanut scents mix equally and pleasantly for me.  

This bar was broken when I opened it, sadly not along a section boundary, so I took a picture so you can see the peanut butter and the few nuts visible in it.  This has two levels of cocoa listed, but these are different from what we've seen before: 30% white chocolate and 53% dark chocolate.  I don't see the white chocolate, so I'm betting it's in the peanut butter, like a product I'll be reviewing later.  This has a very roasted flavor to it which makes the cocoa seem darker than the previous 53% bar, but it also has this sweet creamy flavor that I believe confirms the presence of the white chocolate in the filling.  There aren't many peanut pieces here, but they do crunch when I encounter them.  This is a unique peanut butter chocolate treat that reminds me of a more intense dark Reese's cup, so if you like that, I think you will really enjoy this.

The second is "Orange Appeal," which has a "candied orange peel" listed on the front label.  This bar, whose wrapper is decorated with orange rectangles, has 380 calories, 18 g saturated fat, 10 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 30 mg sugars, and 4 g protein, with 30% vitamin C, 4% calcium, and 8% iron.  This has a strong orange scent when I open it but only a few hints of orange peel, so I only took this one picture of the two last bars together.  Oddly, when I take a bite I encounter a lump of very chewy but hard orange something, but it is small, and I can't find it again to take a photo of it.  The flavor is a great combination of cocoa and orange sweetness, but this lump is just an odd texture to deal with.  The bar is not expired yet — the dates are on the back of each wrapper — and I maintain the products I'm sent in cool and dry conditions, so I'm not sure what is going on.

The very last one is "Rainier Cherry," which has "praline pecans and cherries," making it the most complex bar of the ones your Chocolate Priestess had to reveal today.  This comes in a two pattern purple label and has 380 calories, 18 g saturated fat, 30 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 28 g sugars, and 4 g protein, with 4% of the calcium and 12% of the iron you need daily.  This has a nutty fragrance but no cherry or fruity scent when I open it; cocoa is the strongest essence I smell.  Biting into it I see lots of little nuts, so I snap a picture for you.  The nut pieces create a continuous crunch while each bite is also a bit chewy.  I can taste the chocolate, the nuts, and the sweet glazing immediately, but if I didn't know the other very subtle taste was cherry, I couldn't name it as such.  Letting it melt brings out the cherry flavor more.  This is an example of how complexity may not be a great idea all the time, because I feel like there is just too much going on in this variety.

I'm sure among all of these varieties you could find something to love for yourself or as a gift.  The overall impression we three had was very positive, and thus The Chocolate Cult can declare that the 2.5 oz. bars from Seattle Chocolates are worthy Sacraments, with some flavor combinations more worthy than others.

Sisters and Brothers, may you, too, take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

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