Saturday, January 23, 2010

Four Wonderful 2-oz. Chocolate Bars from Astor

Astor Chocolate has sent several offering to us here in The Chocolate Cult.  Today we will look at four of their 2-ounce Belgian chocolate bars, which come in seven regular varieties and then some seasonal packaging as well, such as their Valentine's Day bars of "heart healthy" dark chocolate.  These bars are simple — chocolate plus a filling if required, no artificial ingredients.  The nutritional information varies greatly between bars, so I'll highlight that for each bar as you take this full-sensory journey with me today, Sisters and Brothers.  Each bar does have soy in it along with milk, if those are dietary concerns for you.

The "Milk Chocolate" bar is wrapped in a shiny blue and black wrapper over a silver wrapper that each bar has.  The bar is one serving with 290 calories, 10 grams of saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 45 mg sodium, < 1 g fiber, 33 g sugars, 3 g protein, 4% of your daily iron requirement, and 8% of your daily calcium.  A mild chocolate scent wafted up as soon as I opened the bar.  Inside was a light colored bar divided into six sections, decorated with a crosshatch pattern.  The chocolate is cool and slick to my fingers, and it starts to melt if I hold it too long, a strong indication of its purity.  Biting into it, I taste creamy milk chocolate with a hint of vanilla that almost melts as fast as I chew.  Letting a bite melt allows the creaminess to increase in my mouth, leaving me feeling very full and creating a gentle buzz that I don't normally expect from a milk chocolate; this buzz is from both sugar and cocoa, by the way.  This is a great milk chocolate bar, and for those of you who want to use milk chocolate as a Sacrament, consider this one.

The gold and black wrapper contains the "Almond Pieces Milk Chocolate" bar.  This has 300 calories, 9 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 30 g sugars, 4 g protein, 4% iron and 8% calcium. When opened, this bar has a strange lack of fragrance to it; I had to get very close to the bar to smell it, and then the scent was a very mild almond one.  Inside were tiny pieces of the nuts, which I hope will show up in my photograph, and when I break the bar into pieces the almond scent slightly increases, and some of the milk chocolate is revealed to my nose as well.  I can tell from their slightly darker flavor that these are indeed roasted almonds, as the ingredients say.  The milk chocolate is creamy and really highlights the nuts.  This is a good milky chocolate with a solid almond flavor, on the sweeter end of cocoa products if you prefer sweet over bitter.

The third bar, the "Caramel Filled Milk Chocolate" variety, comes in a wrapper that is copper and black over silver foil.  It has 290 calories, 11 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 100 mg sodium, < 1 g fiber, 28 g sugars, and 3 g protein, with 8% calcium, making this the least "healthy" of the group, I think. When I open this bar up it is the only one that hasn't broken during shipment in some fashion, and it seems to have more heft to it in my hand, even though the bars are identical in weight.  It has both a caramel and a milk chocolate scent to it, and the six sections have a line pattern on them, not the crosshatch pattern of the two previous bars.  Inside is a gooey golden filling, and it is a bit more difficult to snap apart the sections, because the chocolate feels stronger.  With one bite I discover another variety of milk chocolate in these bars.  This one starts off more bitter and ends more creamy with each bite.  The caramel is very tangy and not so sweet, which gives a nice little nudge to the cocoa.  Lovely balance of flavors, and a good blend of creamy sensations on my tongue.

The fourth bar is "Raspberry Dark Chocolate," which comes in a shiny raspberry and black wrapper over silver.  In terms of nutrition, this one is the best of these four, and not surprisingly, since it is the only dark chocolate variety your Chocolate Priestess was sent in this group.  It has 240 calories, 8 g saturated fat, 4 g fiber, 27 g sugars, and 2 g protein, with 8% daily iron.  The nice dark scent of chocolate rises up immediately after I open the wrapper.  Inside, I hope you can see the jelly-like center, which has a strong raspberry scent.  The six sections are not marked by a crosshatch pattern on top, but simply lines.  It is actually a bit difficult to cleanly break off these sections, since the tops are a bit softer due to the semi-liquid filling, causing the top to squash and the filling to ooze out a bit.  The raspberry is a smooth gel that tastes both sweet and tart, but it just can't compete with the bitterness of the chocolate, instead highlighting it and making a wonderful combination of three flavors and two textures in my mouth.  This is perhaps the best raspberry chocolate I've had in bar form, so I recommend it.

These four flavors are all excellent and would make wonderful gifts for any occasion from Astor.   They offer holiday versions of some flavors of these bars throughout the year, so keep checking back in with them for your next special event.  If these sounded good to you, Sisters and Brothers, then consider adding them to your own weekly Chocolate Sacrament.

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


pegasuslegend said...

Sounds great! love these updates on my favorite kinds of chocolate! thanks

TheChocolatePriestess said...

Thank you for reading and commenting.

So far I've been very pleased with everything that Astor's has sent as an offering to The Chocolate Cult. They contacted me yesterday to ask if I'd review their latest product if it arrives in time for Valentine's Day.

I did make the pie, pegasuslegend, and I'll post about that today. At this point that cookbook review is going to be very mixed at best.

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