Saturday, January 16, 2010

4 Organic Chocolate Bars

The Chocolate Cult's retail friends at Taraluna have another offering for us to reveal to you all today.  These are four of the Sjaak's 1.6-ounce organic chocolate bars.  In total, Taraluna offers eight flavors from Sjaak's, but we have the "Milk Chocolate with Almond Butter," "Chocolate Green Tea," "Chocolate Mint," and "Dark Chocolate Raspberry" varieties to review today.  Each bar has a paper wrapper with a unique image on it that is attached with a very strong glue.  Then they have an inner gold and silver foil wrapper that is quite easy to open and reclose to save parts of the bar if you like.  Each bar is about 4.5 by 1.25 by 0.5 inches in dimensions and is divided into 6 sections you can snap apart with ease, making a very soft snap.

We'll start with the "Milk Chocolate with Almond Butter" bar, which equals one serving, so you don't have to worry about breaking it up to know what you are getting.  What you are getting is 280 calories, 10 grams saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 23 g sugars, and 4 g protein, with 8% of your daily calcium and 4% of your daily iron.   The milk chocolate scent wafts up as soon as I start to open the foil, but once completely unwrapped the almond fragrance becomes powerful.  Inside I can see a small sliver of something light, so I break one section apart with some effort to reveal a filled center, which I hope this photo can display.  The milk chocolate is very slick to my fingertips and very creamy tasting on my tongue.  This lighter colored center is a bit grainy feeling and has a very light almond flavor.  So in this bar's case, scent is stronger than flavor, and the chocolate remains the primary essence, resulting in a much tastier bar than I had suspected when I first opened it.

Your Chocolate Priestess turns to the "Dark Chocolate Raspberry Bar" next.  This has a very dark cocoa and deep raspberry scent to it when I open the foil.  I snap off a piece and see a very dark, sticky looking substance with a powerful fruity scent; I cannot get my camera to show you this in detail, so here is the bar broken up a bit to entice you.  The filling here makes the top layer of chocolate crack into several pieces when I bite one section in half.  What raspberry I taste isn't sour, as that fruit often tastes to me, and it is completely submerged into the dark cocoa flavor.  I get tired of raspberry and chocolate, so I'm glad this is less intense, though with the second bite the fruitiness builds up.  Each bar has 250 calories, 9 g saturated fat, 203 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 26 g sugars, 3 g protein, 2% calcium and 16% iron -- Ah, a good source of iron, then!

"Chocolate Mint" is a flavor that everyone in my household enjoys generally, so I'll tackle this bar next, knowing I have people just waiting to get their share.  Please note, Sisters and Brothers, that when I do these Sacraments and reviews, I never eat the entire amount of a product I'm sent unless it is one single bite-sized piece -- Moderation and Purposefulness in all things.  An entire bar of this variety has 302 calories, 14 g saturated fat, 26 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 22 g sugars, 2 g protein, 6% of your daily vitamin A requirement, 45% calcium and 8% iron.  The coolness of mint and the intensity of dark chocolate drift up to my nose when I open the foil wrapper on this bar.  At first this appears to be a solid bar, but when I take a bite and look at the half melting in my fingers I see another lighter center.  This center has a very crisp minty twang to it that blends with the chocolate, which seems darker than the almond butter bar but lighter than the raspberry bar.  The mint leaves my mouth tingling, but so far there is no real cocoa buzz from these bars, perhaps because the pieces are fairly small, about 0.26 oz. each.

Finally I turn to the "Chocolate Green Tea" bar.  Now I recently had a conversation where a friend confessed that her attempt to eat healthier chocolate wasn't quite working since she found it hard to tolerate anything more than about 60% cocoa; remember that the health benefits start to solidly outweigh the negatives for chocolate at the 70% and above range.  But, she countered, "I also drink green tea."  I'll have to see if this bar can offer her a good alternative.  This bar has 302 calories with 14 g saturated fat, 26 mg cholesterol, 16 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 22 g sugars, 2 g protein, with 6% of your daily vitamin A, 4% calcium and 8% iron.  It has an almost coffeelike scent when I unwrap it.  I break a piece off and immediately see a very light green filling inside.  I don't taste any tea here, only lighter chocolate than what I expected with a grainy texture.  Of these four bars, this is my least favorite, but maybe my friend who likes green tea would have a different opinion.

Remember, Taraluna is a woman-owned business that offers fair-trade and organic products only.  If that fits with your social, economic and political leanings, please check them out.  If this revelation today intrigued you, check out the chocolate section on their website for several other products.  When we get closer to Easter, we'll have another Sacrament from Taraluna, featuring a chocolate bunny that they will be offering again this season.

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

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