Saturday, September 6, 2014

4 Varieties of Sjaak's Organic Chocolate Bars

As your Chocolate Priestess mentioned the entire month of September is "National Organic Food Month" and to help us mark this month's fun food holiday we're going to look at some of the very first products I ever tried from Sjaak's Chocolates -- their standard chocolate bars.  We have looked at these briefly as offerings from retailers but didn't focus on the bars themselves at that time.  These are directly from Sjaak's and thus we put them through our full sensory testing to write today's feature article.  The variety now available in these bars is amazing so we are looking at four entirely new varieties for us here on The Chocolate Cult. All four of the bars are certified organic and certified by the Rainforest Alliance for how the cocoa beans are grown and how the farmers are treated but the bars is also marked as vegan.

First up is their Milk Chocolate with Almond Butter bar. When I unwrap the golden foil I see six sections that turn out to be very easily snappable into six, two-bite size piece -- this is true for all of these bars by the way.  All of the bars also have molded ridges over the top on each section and each appear to be shiny in color though this bar is lighter from the rest because it is lower cacao content as a milk chocolate bar. It has organic cocoa butter and organic cocoa paste as well almonds so don't eat if you have tree nut allergies. This has a light cocoa scent until you break it open when that is joined by a creamy almond essence.  The chocolate feels a bit sticky not smooth as I expect regardless of the ridges.  It makes a very soft snap when I break the sections apart but no noise when I take bites or chew because it is a smooth chocolate and almost butter filling.  The flavor is less chocolatey and more creamy over all than I expected but there is no lingering aftertaste either.

The Dark Chocolate with Almonds bar is made with organic chocolate paste and organic cocoa butter both as well as almonds so tree nut allergy suffers like my husband need to steer clear.  The six sections break apart with sharp sounds but I can't see any almonds inside or on the outside of the bar.  The chocolate is smooth against my fingertips. There is only a dark chocolate scent with something slightly earthy underneath it.  The chocolate piece bites off with a snap and there at the center is an entire almond -- unsalted, unsweetened, just roasted it tastes like.  The chocolate's nice bitterness is the first and last flavor I get, the almond is there but not the dominant flavor.  The bitterness is the perfect level for my mouth at least with no odd "organic" sweetness aftertaste that I find all too common in organic chocolate. This was an excellent balance of almond and chocolate.

The Dark Chocolate with Creamy Caramel bar also has organic cocoa butter and organic cocoa paste.  It has a deep, dark fragrance and once I break it in half to find the ribbon of caramel a sweet essence is added to that.  It is cool to my fingertips and even starts to melt just a bit.  It makes a sharp snap when I break the sections apart and more of the chocolate melts on my hands. The easy melting continues as soon as a bite passes my lips though the chocolate collapses with barely a noise under my teeth.  The caramel is actually not as sweet as the scent suggested nor it is particularly tangy, more smooth allowing the wonderful bitterness of the chocolate and a strong kick of vanilla to blend with it.  This is by far my favorite bar of these four we tested for our feature today.

Dark Chocolate with Raspberry was given to our resident raspberry lover on The Chocolate Cult and this is his report.  The six-piece bar has already been broken in the middle, showing some of the thick, pinkish transparent filling.  I can smell a strong hint of raspberry without even holding the chocolate near my nose, and bringing it closer reveals a scent similar to that of raspberry jam.  The raspberry aroma is quite a bit stronger than any chocolate aroma, but in general the scent of chocolate is usually rather subdued. The chocolate doesn’t melt at my touch, and breaking off a piece makes it snap rather softly and unevenly, trailing a bit of the raspberry filling behind it.  I cannot resist tasting the filling, which tastes quite a bit like actual raspberry jam, not like an artificial raspberry flavor at all.  Biting into the chocolate causes the piece to crush, getting the sticky filling on my fingers.  In my mouth, the filling is what I taste first, but it dissolves quickly, leaving behind a sweet but dark chocolate flavor with only a lingering hint of raspberry.  Unlike many organic raspberry products, there are no seeds, which I consider a positive trait.  Yes, I will be licking my fingers.

Four organic chocolate bars larger than the average candy bar you can find almost anywhere (1.75 versus 1.5 or less ounces).  Four flavors that are balanced and delicious for all senses. Top that out with each certified by The Rainforest Alliance as well as certified organic and you have the making of Sacrament status chocolate. The dark chocolate bars we tested from Sjaak's certainly earn this status but the milk chocolate bar wasn't not as good and I'm not sure why.

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