Saturday, December 26, 2009

Astor's Great Chocolate Values

Back to our friends at Astor Chocolate for our day-after-Christmas Saturday Sacrament, Sisters and Brothers. This might surprise you, but your Chocolate Priestess did not receive chocolate as gifts, nor did I eat a lot of chocolate yesterday.  Even so, given the holidays, I wanted to choose a small Sacrament, and these two 3-ounce bars from Astor fit that requirement, even though they are big bars themselves.  Remember, what you experience when I do these Sacraments or reviews is never a result of my eating the entire offering or product — I eat only enough to reveal them to you in all five senses, and then I share the rest with family and friends.

I'm going to start with the "Belgian Sea Salt Dark Chocolate" bar.  The black paper wrapper opens easily, as does the gold fold inside.  Sadly, it looks like it broke in two in transport, but it broke almost evenly along one of the columns, as you can see in the picture; each column is made of four sections resulting in a bar that measures 6.5 by 3 by 0.25 inches.  I snap off one section and release the aroma of dark cocoa and a light salt scent.  The chocolate is dark in color and smooth to my fingertips.  The ingredients reveal no artificial flavors or additives, only dark chocolate and sea salt, and this is free of all animal products, for those Sisters and Brothers  looking for dairy- or animal-free chocolates.  It does have soy, however, if that is an allergy concern for you.  1 bar is equal to 2 servings, each containing 200 calories, 8 grams of fat, 240 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 19 g sugars, 2 g protein, and 15% of the daily iron an adult needs.  After I finish looking at all this information, the scent urges me to taste, so I bite a section in half.  While the salt scent is only slight, the taste is definitely there.  It is easy, very easy, to let salt overtake chocolate, even the darkest variety.  At first the salt blends well with the bitterness of the cocoa, but then it remains the only aftertaste.  I try another bite, letting it melt in my mouth, and this releases more of the chocolate and dampens the saltiness.  My advice is to let this bar melt to decrease the salty part of the taste.

I cleanse my mouth and then look to the "Belgian Black & Tan" bar.  On top it looks like a milk chocolate bar, but when I turn it over, as you can see in the photo to the left, I can see that its sections are infused with darker chocolate —thus the name "Black & Tan," for the milk and dark chocolate.  This bar also broke along one of the five columns.  It has the exact same dimensions as the previous bar but slightly different nutritional values, with 220 calories, 8 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 20 mg sodium, less than 1 g fiber, 21 g sugars, 3 g protein, and 6% of the daily iron and calcium an adult needs.  It has both milk and soy in it, for those with allergies or concerns about such information.  The fragrance is primarily milk chocolate, though if I turn over the bar to the darker circles I get a hint of dark.  Looking at the bar sideways where it has broken I see that each section is mostly darker chocolate.  Again I break off one segment, and this releases more dark cocoa aroma.  Eating one with the milk side down reveals a very creamy, gently sweet taste with a hint of bitterness at the end.  Eating it dark side down I get more of a slightly bitter taste with a creamy afterglow.  This means you can decide which flavor to focus on when you eat it, and I think that is very fun and possibly engaging to the consumer.

At $4 a bar and with six flavors to chose from, these 3 oz. Astor bars are a good value for their taste.  The chocolate is high quality, and the taste is varied, so you can decide what you like.  I preferred the "Black & Tan" in terms of overall taste today, since I found the other a bit too salty.  I've never seen these in local stores, but you can always visit their website links I've provided.  Whatever your next holiday or gift giving occasion, you should check these out.

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

1 comment:

mavido79 said...

The black and tan bar sounds especially wonderful. I must be on the look out for this.

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