Saturday, March 30, 2013

Askinosie CollaBARation Bars

Askinosie Chocolate is not only knows where their cocoa beans come from but CollaBARation Bars.
they also make sure the farmers who grow those beans get some of the profits to improve their communities and their futures.  A while back they sent us early samples of a new type of product but as often happens without a clear date to feature them this featured review fell back and back and back as holidays and specific requests took priority.  So finally this featured review gets to go live and we'll look at some of their 3oz

They sent us two bars and two samples of other bars including their Dark Chocolate + Coffee, Dark Chocolate + Malted Milk, Dark Milk Chocolate + Black Licorice, and El Rustico bars.  One of our volunteers tested the coffee bar while another helped me with the other four bars.

The El Rustico Bar was one of the smaller samples we were sent.  It has sugar crystals and vanilla beans along with the 70% cacao; both sugar and cacao are from the Philippines. Made in a more traditional, meaning ancient Mesoamerican way, without couching this has a more grainy texture once I took a bite.  This results in a lot of snap and crunch, a lot of happy noise while you try it.  You can see the darker sugar crystals on the back but not the front.  It isn't bitter so much as grainy with a hint, just a hint of vanilla sharpness.  While I understand the desire to harken back to the "Mexican" traditions I just didn't really enjoy this one very much primarily because of the texture.

Another sample is the Dark Chocolate + Black Licorice Bar that also has sugar
and cacao from the Philippines while the licorice comes from Sweden.  At 62% cacao this isn't as dark as the previous bar the licorice reminds me of the Colonial American chocolate we had.  The front of the bar looks like the others, 12 sections, but on the bar you can see pieces of black licorice and the sugar crystals.  It has a strong licorice scent with a good dark chocolate fragrance beneath it.  It is very crunchy and stays crunchy with each chew though the licorice pieces are a touch chewy.  The degree of licorice and chocolate you get depends on how you put it in your mouth.  Front side down on your tongue and the slightly bitter chocolate dominates; the sugar crystal and licorice side down though almost overcomes the cocoa essence but not quite.  The salty taste really didn't come forward until I had a second square of it.  I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this and how quickly a cocoa and a sugar rush built up after just one square section.

Tanzania is the home for the 60% cacao chocolate, the malted milk, and the sugar in this Dark Chocolate + Malted Milk Bar.  This full sized sample surprisingly has only a dark cocoa fragrance, no hint of malt no matter how many deep breaths of it I take.  It makes a soft snap when I break off a piece.  It has a very smooth yet dark flavor with milky sub-taste and a light malt undertone that increases if you let a piece melt in your mouth.  The malt level is much lower than I expected from the name of the bar and I wish it were a bit stronger frankly.  It is good just more a dark and milk chocolate mixture than really malt.

The Dark Chocolate + Coffee Bar was tested by Charles.  The chocolate and sugar comes from the Philippines while the Intelligentsia Coffee is a German product of single origin coffee beans though from where I'm not certain.  Charles says this about the bar: This chocolate has a great feel and look.  Nicely separated into bite-size squares it, it holds its shape when held between your fingers, feeling smooth and not melting.  Wonderfully aromatic cocoa scent with a hint of coffee.  Having had Intelligentsia coffee in Chicago, I was excited to try this chocolate.  A square popped in the mouth stays whole and smooth, rubbing the tongue, until chewed, then the rich cocoa explodes into full flavor.  As the dark richness subsides, after notes of coffee, cinnamon and an obscure floral taste.  Also the chocolate holds not a bit of graininess.  The coffee controls the intense bitterness for such a high percent of cocoa.  Adding to the smooth elegant mix of tastes.  Would likely be nice paired with a port - a roommate tried some grappa after a bite and found it added even more complexity to the overall experience which to all of us was very satisfying. The company's dedication to the one origin cocoa and coffee beans and to their world outlook was quite ecologically pleasing and savvy. 

I couldn't have written that last sentence better and with that fact in mind, over all these CollaBARation bars are very a very good idea and at least two of them are excellent -- Coffee and Black Licorice and thus earn a Sacramental status here on The Chocolate Cult.  Have you had a chance to try these bars from Askinosie Chocolate?  If so please leave a comment and let us know what you thought about them.

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