Saturday, September 8, 2018

Hedonistic Triple Chocolate Bark Threat

We reconnected with Hedonist Artisan Chocolates earlier in 2018 but today we want to share with you our experiences with three of their barks in white, milk, and dark chocolate. We tested this month ago but with autumn now approaching more of  you may be thinking about eating, making, buying, or giving chocolate bark candy. Bark just seems like a cooler weather treat to me because you do need to do some cooking that can heat a room and you up but you aren't baking anything. I was assisted by a few of our Acolytes, specialists who enjoy and understand ingredients that Your Chocolate Priestess really does not like or have wide enough experience with to be as objective as we like in our features. When another testers words are used, I'll make sure to label them by their nickname and use italics for their words. Hedonist Artisan Chocolates sent us these three bags of their barks for free in exchange for our testing and writing about them; no other form of compensation was received for this fair and honest review.

We'll examine each bark by the type of chocolate used from white to dark.

Hedonist White Macadamia Coconut Bark
White Macadamia Coconut Bark is indeed white chocolate by the regulation of the FDA here in the USA. It is made with sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa beans, coconut, macadamia nuts, salt, powdered milk, emulsifiers, soya lecithin, and natural vanilla flavor. It comes in a 5 ounce bag tied with a tan natural fabric ribbon. As you can see, these are big macadamia nuts and there are also visible flakes of coconut as well as a dark chocolate drizzle. Our Coconut Acolyte tested it all out and reports: I notice that neither the nuts nor the dark chocolate stick well to the white bark. Definitely smells like white chocolate, can't smell the coconut. It has a nice snap to it when I break it apart. (She takes her first bite of the bark) Very creamy, not overly sweet; I like that in a white chocolate! (She takes a second bite with the macadamia nut) The macadamia overpowers everything else; can't taste the white chocolate or the coconut. (She takes her third bite to get a good amount of coconut) Big flakes are more texture than flavor. Nice crunchy texture, slightly chewy. But really no coconut flavor. Sad. Really good chocolat, nice macadamia, they could have left the coconut and I would not have noticed. This may be the best white chocolate I've had in a very long time.

Hedonist MIlk Chocolate, Dark Swirl, Sea Salt Bark
Milk Chocolate with Dark Chocolate Swirl and Sea Salt is a mighty long name for the next chocolate bark we're looking at. The natural fabric ribbon for this bas is black which draws my eyes to the dark chocolate swirls and then to the large sea salt crystals that are sprinkled across the top. Our Coconut Acolyte helped me with this so her opinions will be in italics. The pieces vary a lot in terms of thickness so because of my ongoing orthodontic work I piece a thinner piece to start. I'm getting milk chocolate scent; I'm getting mostly cream and vanilla, some salt. Good milk chocolate flavor builds up with every bite though the thin pieces more falls apart versus breaks apart. The salt also builds up but the vanilla is consistent. I take a thicker piece to see if there is difference in flavor. Loud snap this time when I take a bite. Initial flavor is creamy milk chocolate with vanilla, the salt intensity depends a lot on how many crystals there are on any section. The dark chocolate only comes out it you like it melt in your mouth. Very creamy, not overly sweet, again I'm liking that. It is very pretty to look at. Only get the dark chocolate when I let it melt in my mouth. The sea salt can be overwhelming. For a milk chocolate sea salt bark, this is good though the sprinkled crystals can make that salt intense in some bite. Other than to look at, neither of us thought the dark chocolate added much to the over all flavor experience.

Hedonist Ancho Chile Pumpkin Seed Bark
Ancho Chile Pumpkin Seed is our final bark we'll share with you all today. Perhaps you know this already but if not, pumpkin and other members of the squash family go great with hot spices. In fact, many of these foods would have been ground in mesoamerica together and part of the traditional diet. The bag for these has a red natural fabric ribbon perhaps telling our brains that this will be hot spicy. As soon as I opened the bag I was hit with the ancho chile intensity followed quickly by a darker chocolate fragrance. As with the macadamia nuts, several of the pumpkin seeds, green in color, had fallen off of the bark but many seeds also stayed on the bark for us to taste as a whole. These made a good snap when the pieces were broken or bitten into. The pumpkin seeds are also crunchy but they don't have a distinctive flavor beyond a bit of salt. The name of this bark does not fully reveal the spices inside. The chile had a heat but I could also taste cloves and cinnamon both. Most importantly for us on this blog is the fact that the dark chocolate is the first and final flavor, each chew increases the spiciness but also the chocolate flavor. That's what you want for a chocolate bark on The Chocolate Cult!

Of the three flavors -- White Macadamia Coconut, Milk Chocolate with Dark Chocolate Swirl and Sea Salt, and Ancho Chile Pumpkin Seed -- the white chocolate and the darker were excellent. In both cases the chocolate itself withstood the other flavors. In terms of overall balance, the Ancho Chile pumpkin Seed Bark was the best with the pumpkin's being the weakest flavor. The Milk Chocolate varied greatly depending on where the salt landed which is unfortunate because on its own, the milk chocolate tasted good. The macadamia nuts really needed to be made a lot smaller so they could stick to the bark and the coconut disappeared. Good attempts but we recommend the final flavor most.

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