Saturday, August 30, 2014

Equal Exchange Candy Bars for National Organic Food Month

In just two days it will September, Sisters and Brothers, and that means "National Organic Food Month" all month long.  In honor of that today's Saturday Sacrament returns to the good folks at Equal Exchange to look at three of their candy bars that meet the criterias for organic food as well as fairly traded foods.  Equal Exchange sent us these three bars -- two milk chocolate and one dark chocolate -- to test and write about today for all of you so please go check them out and let them know you heard about these bars on The Chocolate Cult.  All three bars use cacao from Peru grown by small farmers. All three also have organic cocoa butter and organic chocolate liquor in them. Note: we tried these months and months ago and pre-wrote this feature for you all today.

We'll start with the Milk Chocolate Crisp bar that has puffed rice and quinoa in it.  This bar has a strong sweet chocolate scent and as you can see in our photo the top is fairly smooth (aside from the seven sectional divisions) while the bottom shows the grains we should find inside.  These make a continuous crunchy sound that lessens in volume but never completely disappears as you chew.  The chocolate starts off nicely cocoa then becomes increasingly sweet perhaps because of the organic raw cane sugar or the grains themselves.  The nuttiness of the quinoa is stronger than the puffed rice flavor so be aware of that before you buy but don't be afraid if you've never had quinoa because it tastes really good and add a unique edge to the bar.  The most disappointing thing has to be the overwhelming sweetness, this needs less sugar which could only make it slightly healthier and more chocolatey.  This bar is for super sweet chocolate lovers.

Next we'll turn to the tried and true combination of chocolate and peanut butter in the Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter bar.  this bar has a sweet cocoa scent to it.  Snapping apart the seven sections takes a bit of effort but I can see (and hope you can in our photo) two rows of peanut butter inside that run the entire course of the bar.  I don't really get a peanut fragrance now but only a bit more sweetness.  Each bite and chew makes a crunch and my mouth is initially flooded with a sweet chocolate. A sweet roasted peanut flavor next bursts forth before it and the chocolate settle into a sweet creaminess with a hint of salt and the earthy roasted peanut. It was not exactly what I was expecting but it was good.  If you eat one of the two end pieces you get more of the chocolate flavor but it eventually turns into a sweet cocoa creaminess with a touch of salt and roasted peanut.  Very well balanced.

Finally on Coconut Acolyte tested the Dark Chocolate Fruit and Nut Bar with raisins and almonds because our Fruit Acolyte really dislikes raisins... we all have things we love, hate, are allergic to, or can't eat, this is why we have so many volunteers that help us.  The bright red wrapper is very eye-catching and without even opening it, the chocolate scent is strong.  I measure it and find that it’s 5 1/4” long, 1 1/4” wide and nearly 1/2” thick. It breaks easily into 6 bite sized pieces.  My first bite is just half a section and I let it melt on my tongue.  Surprisingly the taste of the chocolate plays second fiddle to the almond’s bitter flavor. The ratio of nuts to chocolate is high, or seems that way. Finally I have to chew the small nub left in my mouth and I find a small bit of raisin skin. I try chewing the next section. The chocolate is rather dry and crumbly. Again the chocolate flavor is not overwhelming and I’ve still not encountered much in the way of the fruit in what is said to be a fruit and nut bar.  The chocolate flavor that is there is very alkaline, something I expect in a darker chocolate but not to this degree and on top of the chalky texture, it’s not particularly pleasing. Having finally eaten half the bar, I have yet to find much evidence of any fruit, which is interesting since raisins are named before the almonds on the ingredient list. Very disappointing, especially since I really like raisins.  In short, this is not a bar I’d recommend. Just too many unattractive features to make up for the few attractive ones.

Two of the three bars from Equal Exchange were a bit disappointing, not every product a brand can be their best, but I hope our descriptions of our experiences help you decide if you want to try these bars.  If you've had them and had different experiences, please do leave a comment and let all of us know.

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