Saturday, January 25, 2014

Loving Hearts in All-Senses of the L-word

To kick off our Valentine's Day features we have two boxes of chocolate hearts from Equal Exchange Chocolate -- their 41% milk chocolate and their 55% dark chocolate versions -- for you to consider as possible gifts for your loved one this year.  I'm going to be updating this post later on because I plan to use these chocolate for a baking project but I wanted to get the basic testing results up in time for you to check them out yourselves, Sisters and Brothers.

We'll start with the 41% Milk Chocolate Hearts comes in a red box containing 0.14oz hearts wrapped in pink foil. For our readers with food allergies please note that these have hazelnuts in them, just a bit but if you are allergic to tree nuts this is necessary for you to note and it has milk as well for those of you with dairy allergies; there is also the trace peanut and tree nut warnings that my husband with severe tree nut allergy never has a problem with. The little heart is cool but a bit sticky in my fingers when I bring one to my nose.  It has a creamy chocolate hazelnut scent. It makes a soft snap when I bite it in half and at first the creamy chocolate hits my taste buds. This fades into a hazelnut flavor that blends back into the chocolate with a little roasted aftertaste. Letting it melt in your mouth intensifies the cocoa essence as is often the case for chocolates. Definitely one for the chocolate hazelnut combination lovers out there.

If you like slightly darker chocolate then the 55% Dark Chocolate Hearts come in a brown box with 0.14oz chocolates wrapped in red foil.  Other than chocolate these have no allergy warning beyond the trace peanut and tree nut warnings -- my husband's severe tree nut allergy is not set off in these cases but you are no forewarned.  This is cool in my fingertips and has a nice, moderate cocoa scent when I take a whiff of it.  It makes a much louder snap when I bite it in half and continues to make little crunching noises for a few chews.  What I notice right after a burst of cocoa is a burst of very intense sugar cane flavor that I wasn't expecting. That fades a bit to allow more of the dark chocolate through but I'm not as thrilled as I was hoping to be.  Letting the second of the heart melt cuts back a bit on that sweetness but not enough.  Less sugar cane for this recipe please.  I'll have to find a unsweet treat to add these to or it will be overwhelming.

Let's compare the two cacao contents in terms of just what they look like -- you can clearly see that one is darker than the other but otherwise they are the same simple chocolate heart with diagonal lines across them.  These are small enough and in fact each has 23 calories so they seemed ideal to me to use as decorate accents for homemade dessert projects. Both are made with organic cocoa butter, organic raw cane sugar, organic chocolate liquor, organic unrefined whole cane sugar, organic ground vanilla beans; the only difference is the hazelnuts and whole milk powder both of which are organic, too, found in the Milk Chocolate Hearts.  No weird chemicals you have difficulty pronouncing.

Clearly since I am going to use these to decorate some homemade treats I have to use the dark chocolate otherwise my hubby couldn't eat them but I do have friends coming over one evening so I can use the milk chocolate to make a treat for them.  I'll post these updates with photos before Valentine's Day.

If price is a concern for you these are both very reasonable and you could easily get both for under $15 (not including shipping) and do so many different things with them.  While these may not have the romantic look of a heart-shaped box of truffles the quality of the chocolate is very good plus the versatility of them make them useful in ways that a traditional box of chocolate can't be. When you factor in the companies support for small cocoa farmers I think this could be a gift that speaks volumes of love on different levels. We'll have several other feature articles about Equal Exchange Chocolate throughout 2014 because they sent us several of their products to test out.

2 comments:

elizabeth said...

Those are so cute!

TammyJo Eckhart said...

They are, aren't they? I'm looking forward to sharing two more photos with you all once I do some decorating with them.