Saturday, December 10, 2016

Feed Others by Eating Chocolate

We have been honored on The Chocolate Cult to feature a lot of products from the Seattle Chocolates Company but today we're looking at something beyond their chocolate to their social work with a project called #chocolategives. On Wednesday we were supposed to interview Ayla Janukajtis, the company's marketing manager about her role in the business and this project that donates money to food banks across the USA. We never heard back from her but we're still going ahead with our Saturday Sacrament today by revealing the chocolate bars in full sensory glory. Their new Holiday Bar line includes six flavors wrapped in six different themed photo images. These are some unique flavor ideas so I'm thrilled to share the experience of trying them out with you today. Each bar is two servings to these are perfect to share with a loved ones; the four section design make it easy to break apart and share between people. Seattle Chocolates sent me one of each of the six flavors in exchange for a fair and honest review; no other form of compensation was received.

We'll start with Hot Buttered Rum Bar is a milk chocolate truffle bar with rum spice and crunchy toffee. The photo on the wrapper shows two pairs of comfy socked feet in front of a fire. I like to think of the fire as indoors but it could be outdoors as well. One half of this bar is 190 calories. This bar is Kosher Dairy certified. In terms of allergens it has milk, soya (lecithin), and coconut (oil). The toffee is not made with almonds so those among you who are purists will be disappointed but for folks with tree nuts allergies this is a good thing. The tiny toffee pieces are visible to my eye when I bring open one of the four sections but hard to see with the camera, when I bit into one it was very sticky and chewy and provide a strong burst of buttery flavor. The scent is a creamy chocolate with a hint of vanilla but sadly not any rum fragrance. There is a rum flavor though that pops out as soon as I take a bite. The chocolate is very creamy and sweet, the rum doesn't overwhelm but is balanced with the milk chocolate. If anything the overall sweetness is a touch intense so if you like very sweet chocolate, this is the bar for you. There is no alcohol in this bar so in theory you could share it with an underaged person though I don't know how much they'd appreciate the flavor.

A snowman graces the wrapper of the Peanut Buddy Crisp Bar is milk chocolate truffle bar with peanut butter and crispy bites. This bar is Kosher Dairy certified and labeled Non-GMO if that is a concern for you. In terms of allergens it has milk, soya (lecithin), and coconut (oil), along with peanuts and wheat. On the back side of the bar you can see the "crispy bites." This has a strong roasted peanut scent to it that overpowers the milk chocolate completely.  Breaking the bars into four pieces makes a snap because of the crispy pieces inside and these same pieces crunch when I take a bite and with each successive chew. The pieces have less of a roasted peanut flavor than I expected so the milk chocolate starts to come out as it melts against my tongue. The crispy bites are not equally distributed throughout the bar so the amount of crunch and the flavor varies as you eat it, the less bites, the more intense the creamy chocolate but also a slightly salty flavor as well.

Perfectly entitled Holiday Cheer Eggnog Bar is milk chocolate with vanilla and nutmeg. The couple walking together on the wrapper might be sharing such a bar but we can't see their faces. I am not a big eggnog fan so I'm only trying one of the four sections from this bar. This bar is Kosher Dairy certified but this is also the only bar in this holiday collection that is not certified by the Rainforest Alliance but it is labeled Non-GMO if that matters to you. In terms of allergens it has milk, soya (lecithin), and coconut (oil). This has a fragrance balanced between milk chocolate, vanilla, and nutmeg. Inside you can see that there is a white chocolate layer, the only bar with a second type of chocolate in it. The white layer does not make the bar soft, it still makes a snap when I take a bite. At first I can taste the milk chocolate then a touch of creaminess, a burst of vanilla, then the kick from the nutmeg; all of these flavors blend together very well though the nutmeg is just a touch stronger so if you aren't a fan of that, you won't like this. My Milk Chocolate Acolyte who was helping me test these bars out really likes eggnog really loved this bar and wondered if there might be a way to add chocolate to eggnog as a drink, too.

The lighted tree on the Nutty Nougat Chew Bar is lit but still alive and outdoors, I think I see ice or snow on it as well. This bar is a milk chocolate truffle bar with honey almond nougat. This bar is Kosher Dairy certified. In terms of allergens it has milk, soya (lecithin), and coconut (oil), the added allergens for this bar are almonds and wheat. From the backside you can see the almonds inside the bar, they do not neatly fall into the four sections but they were still easy to break apart into those pieces.There is a light honey scent mixed in with the creamy cocoa fragrance. Biting into one of the sections makes a crunch and the pieces of almond continue to crunch with each chew because they are moderately sized. The initial flavor is creamy chocolate, a strong honey, and then then almond with a hint of salt. I notice that the bits of almond are not merely nuts because the honey taste is strong and the pieces are sticky in my teeth. It is a nice bar but I think the other flavors overwhelm the milk chocolate; I wonder how a darker chocolate would fare.

Candy Cane Crunch Bar is a dark chocolate truffle bar with candy cane and peppermints -- yes, those are two different things not the same, a lot of folks don't realize that, candy canes can be any flavor even if a lot of them around this time of year are peppermint or spearmint. The wrapper shows a car racing away with a lighted tree perched atop the roof. This bar is Rainforest Alliance and Kosher Dairy certified (it is also marked as Vegan on the label). In terms of allergens it has milk, soya (lecithin), and coconut (oil). The dark chocolate is more difficult to break into the four sections but I did it and when I did that peppermint scent was released but it didn't drown out the darker chocolate fragrance. I don't think you can see the pieces of candy canes because they are rather small but there are there. The pieces provide crunch but not really flavor, the peppermint blends very well, in fact, I think the mint enhances the darker chocolate as well as providing a cooling sensation in my mouth. I'm not sure how dark this is but given that there is also a bit of drying in my mouth I'm guessing it at least 70% and more likely higher. So far, this is my favorite bar but one more to reveal to you today.

Seattle is a port city so the lighted portscape on the next wrapper makes perfect sense for the Toffee Sea Salt Bar. This bar is a dark chocolate truffle bar packed full of crunchy toffee. This bar is Rainforest Alliance and Kosher Dairy certified (frankly it has no dairy so I'm not sure why it isn't also marked as Vegan). In terms of allergens it has milk, soya (lecithin), and coconut (oil). This pure dark chocolate fragrance when I take a whiff of it and when I break it into sections. You can see the toffee pieces in this photo but no hint of butter toffee scent at all. When I take a bite, the only crunch is in those toffee pieces which stick to my teeth and provide bursts of tangy buttery flavor and a bit of salt. The saltiness builds up with each chew but the butteriness and the dark chocolate blend very well. This doesn't taste as dark as the previous bar, it also doesn't dry out my mouth as much. I like this one, too, and it becomes my second favorite bar of this six pack.

Seattle Chocolates are a women owned business but they are also part of the Rainforest Alliance for some of the ingredients that they use such as cocoa butter and chocolate liquor; oddly not for every bard even though every bar does use cocoa butter and chocolate liquor. The stack you see in this photo is what the company sent to me but you can pick several options of gifts that are part of this collection if you visit their website and look for their Holiday Bars. Buying these bars all help with the #chocolategives project, too. Will they wrap up your purchases as they did for me? I don't know but several of the options come in cute boxes or bags anyway.

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