Friday, March 18, 2011

Guittard Bars Revealed

Guittard is best known for it's baking and candy making supplies such as the 24oz slabs of baking chocolate they sent your Chocolate Priestess and which won them our 2010 Chocolate of the Year acknowledgment.  They now make candy bars that you can eat or use for your baking or candy making projects.

Unlike the mainstream candy bar you can find in almost any grocery, mass market, or pharmacy in America today, these Guittard Chocolate Bars are large bars, 2oz, and measure 4 5/8 X 2 X 3/8 inches.   The cacao content or cacao mass content is on the front of the wrapper.  They sent us eight flavors plus some extras of each so I had a lot of folks try these bars out before revealing them to you all today, Sisters and Brothers.  We'll look at them from the least cacao content to the most.  Note that there are other bars they now sell but these are the ones we received and can write about for you all today.

The first flavor is a 38% cacao "Orinoco" bar in a lighter purple wrapper which has 310 calories made of 13g saturated fat, 10mg cholesterol, 50mg sodium, 1g fiber, 26g sugars, and 4g protein.  This has dairy in the form of full cream milk so this is a milk chocolate bar though much high cacao content than many of you may be used to tasting.  I broke up all the bars some some were broken in transport and I wanted to be fair and judge them on my senses, not on their breakage.  This has a creamy cocoa scent to it.  It was easy to break into the twelve sections all the bars come etched into and very quiet when I took a bite.  The taste was creamy with a slight almost caramel essence as well as a kick from the cocoa.  It melted very easily in my mouth and thoroughly coated my tongue.  Excellent for milk chocolate lover who also like dark chocolate since it has a higher cacao content than you may be used to.

"Tsaratana" is a 61% cacao bar in a sky blue wrapper with 290 calories made of 13g saturated fat, 4g fiber, 22g sugars, and 3g protein.  Notice how darker chocolate tend to have less fats and more fiber in general.  This had a good cocoa essence in the scent but surprisingly it almost tasted milky and a bit like coffee for some reason to me.  It melted in my hands as I tried to break it apart and it was much more difficult to break, making a loud snapping sound.  The flavor has to be a result of the cocoa beans used because the only added ingredients are the basics -- sugar, cocoa beans, cocoa butter, vanilla beans and soya lecithin.

In a royal purple wrapper comes a 65% cacao bar called "Ambanja Bittersweet" made from Criollo beans from Madagascar.  The type of cacao tree and the area it is grown, as well as the farming conditions, greatly affect flavor for all chocolate unless you overwhelm it with additional ingredients.  This one bar has a lighter color than the 61% bar but a much darker cocoa scent that has a strong hint of earthyness to it.  One bar has 290 calories composed of 13g saturated fat, 5g fiber, 20g sugars, and 3g protein.  It was difficult to break apart but didn't melt on my skin as the previous bar did.  It had a very dark taste and the chocolate felt like it was drying out my mouth as I took a bite and chewed it or let it melt in my mouth.  The aftertaste was tangy sweet and totally unexpected but a delight.

The "Quevedo Bittersweet" in a aquamarine wrapper also has 65% cacao content but it's bean come from Ecuador.  It is slightly darker than our second bar in this featured review and certainly much darker than the previous bar.  It has almost no scent no matter how hard I breathed in and attempted to get a grasp of the pieces or the bar itself.  Not knowing what to expect then I broke it apart fairly easily and noted a reddish streak on the edges where I broke it.  At first the chocolate is very subtle in taste but it builds with each chew and reveals a fruity and nutty quality that balances the intense buzz it also creates.  The nutritional values for all four of the 65% bars turns out to be identical or refer to the "Ambanja Bittersweet" for that information.

The next 65% bar comes in a emerald green wrapper with the name of "Chucuri Bittersweet" on the front.  The name reflects that fact that these are Trinitario beans from the San Vicente de Chucuri Valley in Columbia.  This has a strong cocoa scent with a generic spiciness to it when I took a whiff.  It is very difficult to break apart and as I did so it released an almost coffee essence which I'm sure our Mocha Acolytes would disagree with.  Apparently I sense more coffee than they do or perhaps they just like coffee so much it requires more to get a reaction from them.  The taste is mild then builds up to a hint of spiciness as the scent suggested but much more mild over all.  If darker chocolates tend to be too intense for you, try this one, I think you might discover a dark bar you can love.

In a brick red wrapper we find the "Sur Del Lago Bittersweet" bar which has 65% cacoa again, making that four bars with the same percentage of cocoa but very different flavors.  These beans are a combination of Criollo and Trinitario from the Sur Del Lago region of Venezuela.  This bar was broken as you can see in the photo but I broke it up even more which was difficult and really makes me wonder how it broke in the first place.  The scent is so dark and intense it almost makes my eyes water and yet the flavor itself is fairly mild with a hint of fruity tartness.  This would probably frighten non-dark chocolate lovers by the smell but try it and you'll be surprised.

"Quetzalcoatl" is a burgandy wrapped bar with 72% cacao mass because it contains no added cocoa butter.  It has an almost smoky touch to its very dark fragrance. Once more it is very difficult to break this bar apart, I had hoped with less cocoa butter it might be easier but no.  I am shocked by the flavor which is smooth not sharp or too intense at all.  The bar has 270 calories but still 13g saturated fat (why if no added cocoa butter?), 5mg sodium, 6g fiber, 16g sugars, and 4g protein.    That nutritional information though holds nothing to our final bar which just surprised me all around.

That would be the very dark, 91% cacao, "Nocturne" which I forgot to take a photograph of apparently or it was so dark it erased itself from my camera.  This comes in a black wrapper, just black with the normal white and gold letters and decoration from Guittard.  As I said, the nutritional information shocked me with 300 calories, 18g saturated fat (the highest!), 20mg sodium, 7g fiber, 5g sugars, and 5g protein.  If sugar is something you need to cut out, eat this, if saturated fat, well, I still have good news for you.  This is intense.  I'll say that again: INTENSE but what did you expect at 91% cacao?  It made several people I shared it with pucker up and look away.  It is not for the faint of tongue nor even for the vast majority of us dark chocolate lovers.  But guess what?  That just means you can make this last for a few more days compared to the other bars so you end up eating less calories and fat over all.   The flavor has a tangy berry like quality to it if you can tolerate the bitterness enough to truly let it connect with your taste buds.  Just like the "Ambanja Bittersweet" bar this also drew the moisture from my mouth as I tried a piece, just one piece.

Guittard is simply excellent chocolate made right here in the USA.  They have direct ties to their cocoa farmers and their company philosophy is something we can get behind here on The Chocolate Cult.  You should check them out, Sisters and Brothers, because they have yet to fail to live up to our standards here on The Chocolate Cult.


Victoria (The District Chocoholic) said...

I was personally disappointed with the Sur Del Lago, as I usually adore Venezuelan-origin chocolates. On the other hand, I was surprisingly impressed by the Madagascar-origin bar.

TheChocolatePriestess said...

Victoria, that's actually a great point. When we get used to single origin or region chocolate, we can sense the differences really well. Since I'm always trying new chocolates, my palate is not that refined so thank you for leaving a comment. I hope you come back and leave more!

briarrose said...

I didn't know they made candy bars. What a fabulous selection....a little box of heaven right there. ;)

TheChocolatePriestess said...

I didn't know they did either until they arrived at our Cult headquarters. Check back this weekend for my misadventures with different spices in baking and cooking with chocolate.

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