Saturday, April 30, 2011

Save the Animals with Chocolate

Whenever a company or chocolatier uses fair trade, eco-friendly products, supports native growers or charities, we always mention that here on The Chocolate Cult.  At a huge chocolate event some months back, your Chocolate Priestess met a representative of the Endangered Species Chocolate Company.  They fulfill many of our criteria for being worthy Sacraments simply through their business practices (look at the Mission list at the bottom of the cover page on their website for a lot of information) but as we know, it has to appeal to our fives senses as well if people are going to be convinced to buy it regularly.

All of these nine varieties of bars are part of Endangered Species Chocolate's 3oz All Natural Collection.  This is not the entire collection, I counted 13 varieties on the website.  We'll look at these a few at a time so you can see the photos which are a big part of the mission for these bars. 10% of their costs go toward saving endangered species.  All of these bars contain chocolate liquor though not cocoa butter and rarely any added oils.  However I know that some of you have very strong allergies so you need to know that the machines used to create these also make bars with peanuts, milk, soy, and tree nuts.  Remember, the outside wrapper is 100% recyclable and inside it contains information on the animals or area pictured on the front as well as different ideas to help endangered species.  The also include three general suggestions on how to help other humans, the planet, save energy or save money.

We'll start with the two milk chocolate bars which have 48% cocoa content which is going to be quite high compared to most milk chocolate we have here in the USA.  Indeed, I'm not sure legally if this still qualifies as milk chocolate but they both have milk as a main ingredient.  For those with soy allergies, these also both have soy added.  Both the "Smooth Milk Chocolate" and the "Milk Chocolate with Cherries" have 220 calories in one half a bar so think of them as really 440 calories bars to make it easier on you to keep track.

 "Smooth Milk Chocolate" has a strong cocoa scent with a creamy undertone when I open the wrapper.  This is the sea otter bar and I really liked the four action suggestions inside for how we can help out these creatures with every day decisions we make.  The 15 squares break apart easily with loud snaps.  The first bite also makes a snap but otherwise it is quiet while I chew.  At first this has a strong milk chocolate flavor that turns more bitter then returns to the milk chocolate flavor again.   Since the cocoa content is fairly high, it has a hint of potential cocoa buzz.  Definitely a milk chocolate bar though for more dark chocolate lovers to try because I can just imagine some of my milk chocolate loving friends saying "this is too much, this can't be milk chocolate".

The "Milk Chocolate with Cherries" bar has a tart scent along with the chocolate, very little of the creaminess with the first bar is noticeable to my nose.  I hope you can see the dried pieces of cherry in the bar, each square seems to have at least one in them.  The cherry scent and the chocolate essence are both strong as I snap apart one of the squares which really means I snap a few off since they are arranged in five, three bar sections. This has a touch more crunch but it also has some chewiness when I get to the cherry; that also includes a burst of tart then sweet before returning to the chocolate which tastes darker than the other bar even though they have the same cocoa content.  The dolphin information inside also lists four actions you could do especially if you lived near the coasts. 

Next we'll look at the first two of the six varieties of 72% cocoa content bars: "Supreme Dark Chocolate" and "Dark Chocolate with Deep Forest Mint".  Each bar is 420 calories and include soy though no chocolate and no other allergens unless you are allergic to mint. Is anyone reading this allergic to mint?




The "Supreme Dark Chocolate"is our first dark chocolate bar and I wanted to just focus on the chocolate here without added fruits or nuts.  This is clearly a darker chocolate just from the scent and it makes my mouth eager to take a bite.  It also has a darker color than the milk chocolate bars, which we would expect.  It breaks apart with a snap and the chews make a soft crunch.  The chocolate itself is just a touch bitter but mostly smooth as the label promises.  There are undertones of vanilla which come through.  This chimpanzee bar has three suggested action we can take to help save this species though two of are more general for the habitats which protect other species as well.

Then I turn to the first dark bar with added ingredients, the "Dark Chocolate with Deep Forest Mint".  I personally think that darker chocolate always is better with mint than milk or white chocolate, I believe the coolness of the mint is a good counter to the bitterness we want with a darker chocolate. This has a moderate amount of mint scent mixed with a light chocolate fragrance but the mint actually cools my nose down a bit when I breathe it in.  This is slightly loudly when I take a bite and chew it than the plain 72% bar.  The mint is more cooling than a separate flavor, it really allows the chocolate to come out but oddly there is a lingering aftertaste I'm not pleased with and a lasting cooling sensation.  This is the only bar I received without an animal's photo on it.  Instead the label information is about the rainforest in general which is important to several of the animals we'll meet today.

"Dark Chocolate with Blueberries" and "Dark Chocolate with Raspberries" also have 420 calories each. The blueberry one has soy while the raspberry one has both soy and coconut oil so I don't think I need to consult our Acolyte for this though I'm eating only a small part of each bar and sharing the rest.





Our next two bars have added berries in them.  First, the "Dark Chocolate with Blueberries" and I have contrary views of this compared to what I said about mint.  Normally I find less cocoa content preferable with blueberries, around 60% or so down to even high quality white chocolate.  The berries are very buried in the dark chocolate but I tried to find a few for this photo.  The bar has only a chocolate scent but the berries inside is nice a juicy and sweet when I find them inside.  Not dried out at all which was a wonderful surprise.  I really like this combination of small, sweet berries with nicely intense dark chocolate and I now need to lift my opinion of high cocoa content's possibilities with this fruit. This sea turtle bar is the second sea creature on the bars I received.  This has four suggested action inside the wrapper. 

Second we'll talk about the "Dark Chocolate with Raspberries".  Raspberries are so common with chocolate that I actually grow tired of reviewing them but I'll try to keep my mind open, Sisters and Brothers.  This has a lot of visible bumps on the bottom of the bar and some of the raspberries I hope you can make out in our photograph.  It has a strong raspberry scent but also a stronger chocolate essence than the previous bars did.  The bar makes a lot of crunchy sounds as I chew it, the dried raspberries are crunchy and very tart.  The chocolate grows more bitter over time and actually has a bitter aftertaste that I'd associate with a 80%or high cocoa content chocolate.  The grizzle bear is an animal that scared me terribly when I was child because of a terrible movie my parents to me to see when I was only five!  But they are an endangered species and this wrapper has four suggested actions you and even I can take to try and help them out today.  Just don't rip my face off, grizzles!

 Our last two 72% cocoa bars both have tree nuts so I'll be keeping them safely away from our Milk Chocolate Acolyte.  "Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Toffee" sounds decadent while the "Dark Chocolate with Cranberries and Almonds" sounds very outdoorsy.  Even with the added ingredients these are still 420 calorie bars though the hazelnut has a small amount of cholesterol and sodium.  Many of these bars have negligible amounts of these and most have neither.  Both have soy and the hazelnut also has milk for those of  you with allergies.

The final two 72% cocoa content bars have tree nuts.  The "Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Toffee" goes beyond the normal hazelnut blend to include toffee which is most often associated with almonds.  This has a dark chocolate fragrance with an undercurrent of butter.  I can see small pieces of hazelnuts or perhaps toffee in the as you can see in the photo to the right.  There are both hazelnuts and toffee because I get a butter tang plus a hazelnut flavor at different points as I chew this crunchy section.  The chocolate is the strongest flavor by far and is the one that lingers long in my mouth.  I don't what exactly it is, but this earthy hazelnut is not sitting well with this particular toffee on my tastebuds.  The black rhino is the endangered species one this wrapper and two of the four suggested actions relate specifically to not buying products made from animal horns and adopting animals through various programs.  No, you don't get a pet rhino when you do that, sorry.

The "Dark Chocolate with Cranberries and Almonds"combines fruit as well as tree nuts.  The almond pieces are large and you can see the cranberries pieces as well in our photo.  There is primarily a chocolate and almond scent to this bar.  The nuts are crunchy and unsweetened but also taste unroasted.  The cranberries are sweet but not as much as in the other bar with them.  The chocolate delivers a good solid buzz after one section and this combination of flavors is certainly one of my favorites for this collection.  Wolves have generally gotten a bad rap from humans and given what I know of the history of human development, that makes perfect sense.  But all of us are part of our eco-systems and all of us play an important role in them.  This wrapper offer three suggested actions you could take to protect the gray wolf right here in the USA.

That ends are exploration with the "Extreme Dark Chocolate" coming in with 88% cocoa content and 420 calories in the bar but also the highest amount of fiber at 12grams, more than it has sugars though it has more saturated fat.  It, too, contains soy but otherwise is allergen free.  You all know that your Chocolate Priestess loves her darker chocolates but the question with one at 88% is: Is this too dark?  You'd be surprised how much 88% cocoa varies in intensity.  It has to do with where it came from and what is added to it.  I can enjoy up to 92% and yet I've found some low 80% varieties too much for my tongue. 

Regardless I always love the fragrance when I open up such a dark treat.  This is harder to break apart, and with each break more of the deep chocolate is released to my nose.  The chocolate is loud as I bite and chew.  The chocolate itself starts off tart then turns very bitter almost making my eyes water.  This is a bit more than what I can enjoy for more than one square in a few hours I think but it certainly provides that cocoa rush to my brain.  This leopard and jaguar bar has four suggestions about the animals but also their habitats; while these are not cats you want to meet out in the wild, they are not more powerful than an automatic gun nor can they simply move if their forests are destroyed. 

You can find Endangered Species Chocolate in many brick and mortar stores now.  It used to be that I could only find that at our local food co-op but now I see them in mainstream grocery stores in the natural/organic food section and in several discount department stores as well.  But you can also buy these 3oz bars online and also many other products which surprised me like gourmet chocolates and chocolate covered goods.  The flavors are varied and I like more some than others.  Overall for their taste, the naturalness of their ingredients, and their mission, Endangered Species Chocolate certainly earns the right to be called a worthy Sacrament for The Chocolate Cult.

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