Saturday, May 30, 2015

Pascha Chocolate Bars with A Twist

Every time we have tested Pascha Chocolate we have been thrilled. Today we are looking at five of their 3.5oz chocolate bars that they sent us to test and write about.  These five bars include several interesting flavors that we haven't tested yet on The Chocolate Cult. I was assisted in the testing by a group of volunteers. The following report is a combination of everyone's opinions. We looked at bars which included goldenberries, cocoa nibs, maca, Lucuma, and Arabica coffee.  Some of these we've had before in other chocolates specifically goldenberries and cocoa nibs but the other three were quite a new experience. Were they a good experience? Keep reading to find out.

We're going to start with the Organic Arabica Coffee Bar in 70% cacao in the golden designs on brown background wrapped partly around the black box. Three testers tried this bar with mixed results; all three testers are avid coffee drinkers who have experience with a fairly wide variety of coffee varieties. Two testers said the coffee flavor was unevenly split between squares, some squares had more coffee and some more chocolate; a third said it was evenly split. This made us wonder if it was a matter of individual taste or uneven bar. Given the quality of other Pascha products, it seems more like a matter of taste. There is actual coffee grounds in the chocolate yet these are not gritty but there it a texture there that provides bit of crunch. The coffee flavor is more intense when you chew the square versus just letting it melt which increases the chocolate flavor. Overall the chocolate seemed more bitter than the testers expected for 70% cacao. Since this is a very pure chocolate bar with only the basic ingredients, it was not surprising that it made a hard, sharp snaps when they took a bite. Over a very good bar but let's move on to the next flavor.

The next bar is another 70% cacao, the Dark Chocolate Lucuma Bar. Lucuma is a Latin American fruit that has a lower glycemic index than cane sugar. The black box is highlighted by green on green designs. This bar has a slight sweet scent but a fairly strong cocoa fragrance.  It is much nearly black in color like the Arabica Coffee bar was. Interestingly it does not make a loud snap when I take a bite. The first flavor is a sweetness that quickly fades into a fairly bitter chocolate that I like but I think it seems much darker than 70% perhaps because of the sweet spike right at the beginning of tasting. In fact, it dries out my mouth like an 90% chocolate would. I liked it in very small quantites but if you are not a big fan of more bitter chocolate, you probably will not. As an example of this, among my testers they all agreed that it started out sweet, grew very bitter and dried out their mouths. However, two testers did get a caramel note as well in the flavor particularly if they let it melt in their mouth. Definitely not recommended by anyone in our testing group.

The Dark Chocolate Maca Bar has 60% cacao content and is covered in the black box with the brighter yellow and light green designs on the back and sides. Maca is a root vegetable from the Andes mountains so let's see how that affects this bar. This bar has a cocoa but also a slight coffee-like scent to it. Biting into it makes a soft snap and immediately I'm hit but a very intense sweet flavor almost like a very sweet milk that turns a bit sour after a few chews. The chocolate flavor never really comes out with is a big disappointment to me. My other testers were split. Two really didn't like it, they thought it too earthy; two thought it was nicely sweet; one didn't taste anything other than the chocolate. This makes it a very hit and miss bar that you'll just have to test yourself to see where on our range of experiences you might fall.

Goldenberries also come from the Andes mountains and have been added to 55% cacao in this bar with orange on orange designs on the edges and back of the black casing. The berries are spread over the back of this bar but they are rather large and do not fall within each sectioned off piece making it a bit of a challenge to break off only one piece to try; I picked the biggest berry to test it myself before handing the bar off to others. The chocolate has a faint dark chocolate scent but nothing of the berries. Breaking off a section or taking a bite makes a very loud snap. If you bite this with the berry side down you get an initial sweetness with the slightly bitter but still smooth chocolate. With each chew into the berry, the fruit becomes more and more tart until it overpowers the chocolate flavor. The goldberries have a raisin like texture but also seem to have seeds or something in them; the fruit wanted to cling to the tops of my teeth. My other testers agreed with my assessment. They would not highly recommend this one but luckily they could avoid or pick out the berries. Our testers also think if you cut up the berries into smaller pieces and spread it out would allow the two flavors to blend better.

Finally the last bar is another 55% cacao this time with Cocoa Nibs. The browns designs around the black box highlights the double chocolatey nature of what is inside. As you can see, the nibs are spread over the back of the bar fairly well if not perfectly even so it was simple to break off one piece to try out. This chocolate has a strong cocoa but also a roasted, earthy fragrance. Breaking off a section or biting into it makes a loud snap and each chew is a bit crunchy when you have the nibs. The flavor is smooth chocolate with the nibs honestly only adding a bit of texture more than changing the flavor. Nibs do add more fats but also more fiber (a lot more) and more protein to the chocolate. The other testers agreed with my descriptions. Of the five bars this was hands down the favorite for everyone who helped me out. We all highly recommend it.

Even though I didn't include the "organic" title for each bar, all of Pascha Chocolates are organic and free from most common food allergens except for chocolate itself. These particulars are not as good as the pure chocolate chips that we've tested before from Pascha but we have three more just chocolate bars left to test with Pascha so hopefully those will be as good as their baking chips. Some of the combinations in these five bars, such as the Maca and the Goldenberries, overpowered the chocolate flavor and that never sits well with The Chocolate Cult for obvious reasons. I have now found the Pascha baking chips and the bars in my local Kroger so keep your eyes open for these wonderful products in a store need you. And if you can't find it, check out the website. You need to try these products if food allergies have interfered with your enjoyment of chocolate.

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