Saturday Sacrament, April 11, 2009

Today, Sisters and Brothers, I will reveal the nature of one of the eleven offerings sent by Theo Chocolate. Before that I want to talk briefly about an issue I discussed yesterday: Choosing your chocolate also on the basis of the maker's social agenda. When the box of offerings from Theo Chocolate arrived, it was packed in a very environmentally conscious way. The boxes themselves could be recycled by my bi-weekly pick-up program. The "peanuts" they were packed with were made of starch, biodegradable. But Theo Chocolate goes beyond just package concerns and buys products grown under what is called "fair trade" conditions. They also use a lot of organic ingredients, but as I have said before, organic is not the same as healthy, and does not necessarily mean good farming practices, which is a complicated issue, this former Iowan can tell you. If these social and environmental issues are important to you, then Theo Chocolate, which can be found in many co-ops and organic markets, may be something you want to look for.

Today we are going to immerse ourselves in the Enrobed Nib Brittle. A 4 oz. portion comes in a sealed bag containing what I suspect is a varying number of pieces, though this bag contained 10 pieces of different shapes, as you can see in the next picture. The bag was sealed firmly, so I had to use scissors to cut it open. As soon as I did so the aroma of dark chocolate hit me full on, and I couldn't help but sigh in anticipation. Looking at the label I see 10 ingredients went into this product; none of them are artificial or added preservatives. I could not find any further information about the nutrition in this, but if you follow the Path purposely and with moderation, I don't think it will harm you.

The initial scent of dark chocolate dissipates just a bit after the bag has been open for about half an hour. The pieces are a dark brown, smooth, not greasy to touch, and do not melt immediately when I hold one. Biting into one there is an immediate crunch that continues as I chew it. The rush of dark chocolate hits my senses immediately, while the bitterness, tinged with just a slight hint of sweetness, lingers on my tongue. This is not a product for anyone who dislikes higher cocoa content.

The second bit snaps off, and I let it sit on my tongue to see how quickly it melts and how much of a rush I can experience. The chocolate coating melts slowly to reveal the hard core, which seems to have a toffee-like taste to it, though it is not toffee and contains no tree nuts. This inner section will not melt, so I crunch it up to get a different taste again, almost nutlike, and a very rough and grainy texture, but really no cocoa rush.

The third piece confirms that the best way to use this product is to crunch it slowly, letting the outer shell melt a bit, but mixing it with the inner solids. This makes my mouth water and my eyes blink from the Divine Substance as I fully take it in through all my senses, appreciating each crunch. The taste again lingers for many minutes after this bite.

The number of bites per piece of Enrobed Nib Brittle will depend on its size. This revelation used one of the smaller-sized pieces, but I know one of the larger pieces could easily be four to five bites. Take it slowly, enjoy each bite, and soak up each texture and flavor fully before moving on to the next piece. If you do this, then Theo Chocolate has offered you a worthy Sacrament for your Saturdays.

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