Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sale: 20% off Michel Cluizel, Taza, Venchi

This week World Wide Chocolate has 20% off Michel Cluizel, Taza, and Venchi chocolate using coupon code SPECIAL20 during checkout (through June 5th). While their non-sale prices aren't the lowest, with the 20% off, it's a great deal.

They are still continuing several of their 15% off sales by nationality:
You can view the full list of promotions here.

REMINDER: Only one coupon code is allowed per order.

It's nearly summer, so consider adding cold packs (currently $3.99 warm weather packaging; normally $6.99, but sometimes free) and using quicker shipping methods so that your chocolate isn't harmed during shipment.

In addition, the first 30 buyers to add "Free Cafe-Tasse Squares" in the Comments field during checkout will receive 5 free bite-size chocolate squares of Café-Tasse chocolate.

World Wide Chocolate only ships to United States, APO (military), and FPO (diplomatic) addresses. Full information can be found at World Wide Chocolate shipping policies.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Review: Pacari Esmeraldas 60%

Richard's Rating: 6.5
chocolate makerPacari
barEsmeraldas
regionEcuador
plantation(blend)
cacao trees(unknown)
year2011
size50g ~ 1.8oz
cocoa solids60%
added fat(none)
sweetenercane sugar
emulsifiersunflower lecithin
flavoring(none)
other ingredients(none)
list price$5.49
colormedium-dark brown
PANTONE 19-1015
Bracken
texturesmooth, scoring, adhered bits, mottled sheen
aromaroast, earth, floral, fruit (tropical, hint of banana, hint of papaya)
snapmedium hard
tastesweet (honey), sour, earth, fruit (citrus, banana, berry), wine, floral, roast
meltsmooth
lengthshort
finishsomewhat acidic, slightly sour
Ecuador bean to bar chocolate maker Pacari produces chocolate that is certified organic by both the USDA and the EC. They make both raw and roasted chocolate bars from single origin Ecuador cacao. We've previously reviewed their three unflavored raw chocolate bars (100%, 85%, and 70%). Pacari has three unflavored roasted bars with with cacao from specific regions of Ecuador: Los Rios 72%, Manabi 65%, and Esmeraldas 60%.

Like the others, Esmeraldas was made from cacao beans, cane sugar, and sunflower lecithin. The 60% cocoa solids were all beans, with no added cocoa butter. The 50 gram bar was scored into 15 pieces. It came enclosed in a silver plastic pouch inside the paper box. The box was stamped with a production date of 30 September 2011 and a best before date of 30 September 2013.

The color of the chocolate was medium-dark brown Bracken (PANTONE 19-1015), a shade lighter than Los Rios and a shade darker than Manabi. The surface was smooth on the top with no bubbles, but the sheen was mottled with spots. There were some chocolate bits adhered to it. The bottom surface was slightly uneven from the chocolate not fully settling before solidifying. The snap was medium hard.

Esmeraldas had an aroma consisting of roast, earth, floral, and fruit scents. The fruit smelled tropical, with hints of banana and papaya.

The chocolate tasted initially sweet and sour, with earth and fruit flavors. The sweetness seemed to be honey. The fruit included citrus, banana, and berry. Additional flavors of wine, floral, and roast were also present.

The melt was smooth. The chocolate flavor lasted 15 to 20 seconds after the chocolate was gone, giving a short length. The finish was somewhat acidic and slightly sour.

All three of Pacari's three regional single origin Ecuador chocolates were good, but overall I slightly preferred Esmeraldas, followed by Los Rios, and then Manabi, which surprised me, given Esmeraldas higher sugar content.

You can purchase Esmeraldas online for $5.49 directly from Pacari, or for $3.85 from Chocosphere.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: Pacari Manabi 65%

Richard's Rating: 6.0
chocolate makerPacari
barManabi
regionEcuador
plantation(blend)
cacao trees(unknown)
year2011
size50g ~ 1.8oz
cocoa solids65%
added fat(none)
sweetenercane sugar
emulsifiersunflower lecithin
flavoring(none)
other ingredients(none)
list price$5.49
colormedium-dark brown
PANTONE 19-1015
Bracken
texturesmooth, scoring, bubbles, adhered bits
aromafloral, earth, fruit (citrus), roast
snaphard
tastesweet, sour, earth, fruit (citrus), roast (cocoa), floral, nut
meltsmooth
lengthshort
finishtannin, somewhat sour
Pacari is a bean to bar maker in Ecuador that makes both raw and roasted chocolate from single origin Ecuador cacao. The name Pacari means nature in Quechua. All Pacari chocolate is USDA certified organic. They produce three unflavored single origin chocolate bars with cacao from specific regions of Ecuador: Los Rios, Manabi, and Esmeraldas.

Manabi was made from cacao beans, cane sugar, and sunflower lecithin. The 65% cocoa solids were all beans, with no added cocoa butter. The 50 gram bar was scored into 15 pieces. It came enclosed in a silver plastic pouch inside the paper box. The box was stamped with a best before date of July 2013.

The chocolate had a medium-dark brown Bracken (PANTONE 19-1015) color, a little lighter than that of Los Rios. The surface was smooth, with some chocolate bits adhered to it and a few tiny bubbles. The snap was hard, but close to medium hard.

The aroma contained scents of floral, earth, fruit, and roast. The fruit scent was that of citrus.

The taste of Manabi began with a nice balance of sweet and sour that revealed flavors of earth, citrus fruit, cocoa roast, floral, and nut. The sweetness grew stronger and eventually dominated the taste.

The melt was smooth. The length was short, with the flavor lasting about 15 to 20 seconds after the chocolate was gone. The finish was tannin and somewhat sour.

You can purchase Manabi online for $5.49 directly from Pacari, or for $3.85 from Chocosphere.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: Pacari Los Rios 72%

Richard's Rating: 6.5
chocolate makerPacari
barLos Rios
regionEcuador
plantation(blend)
cacao trees(unknown)
year2012
size50g ~ 1.8oz
cocoa solids72%
added fat(none)
sweetenercane sugar
emulsifiersunflower lecithin
flavoring(none)
other ingredients(none)
list price$5.49
colormedium-dark brown
PANTONE 19-1015
Bracken
texturesmooth, scoring, scuffing, bubbles, adhered bits
aromafloral, earth, roast (coffee), mint
snapmedium hard
tastefruit (banana, citrus, berry), earth, sour, floral, roast (coffee), sweet
meltsmooth
lengthshort to medium
finishtannin, somewhat sour
In March, we reviewed the raw chocolate bars for which Ecuador chocolate maker Pacari is renown (Raw 100%, Raw 85%, and Raw 70%). This month, we'll review their single origin bars from three different regions of Ecuador: Los Rios, Manabi, and Esmeraldas.

All of their chocolate is made from bean to bar and USDA certified organic. Pacari pays above-market prices to support sustainable organic agriculture and social responsibility.

The ingredients of Los Rios were cacao beans, cane sugar, and sunflower lecithin. The cacao beans made up all 72% of the cocoa solids (i.e., no added cocoa butter). The 50 gram bar was scored into 15 pieces. It came enclosed in a silver plastic pouch inside the paper box. The box was stamped with a production date of 13 January 2012 and a best before date of 13 January 2014.

Los Rios had a medium-dark brown Bracken (PANTONE 19-1015) color. The surface was smooth, but scuffed, with some chocolate bits adhered to it. There were a few tiny bubbles and an imperfection in the corner (top right in the photo above). The snap was medium hard.

The aroma of this chocolate was floral and earthy before a strong coffee roast became dominant. I also smelled a mint scent.

The taste was fruity and earthy. Over time I identified fruit flavors of banana, citrus, and berry. I tasted the floral and coffee roast from the aroma, but it wasn't as powerful as the aroma suggested. Sourness was present almost from the start, though sweetness gradually took over.

The melt was smooth. The chocolate flavor lasted around 20 seconds after the chocolate was gone, giving it a length right at the boundary between short and medium. The finish was tannin and somewhat sour.

You can purchase Los Rios online for $5.49 directly from Pacari, or for $3.85 from Chocosphere.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review: Dandelion Colombia

Richard's Rating: 6.5
chocolate makerDandelion
barColombia
regionColombia
plantation(blend)
cacao trees(unknown)
year2011
size56g ~ 2.0oz
cocoa solids70%
added fat(none)
sweetenercane sugar
emulsifier(none)
flavoring(none)
other ingredients(none)
list price$8.00
colormedium-dark brown
PANTONE 19-1015
Bracken
texturesmooth, scoring, imprints, adhered bits
aromadried fruit (apricot), roast (cocoa), earth
snapmedium hard
tastesweet, roast (cocoa, coffee), fruit, spice, acidic, nut
meltmore smooth
lengthmedium
finishsomewhat acidic, slightly sour
As you can see from the label above, I was fortunate enough to get a bar from the first batch that Dandelion released made with single origin cacao beans from the 2011 harvest in the Santander region of Colombia. The back sticker was initialed by Cameron Ring for the batch and Chiann Tsui for the packaging.

As with all chocolate made by this San Francisco chocolate maker, Colombia was made with 70% cacao beans and 30% cane sugar, and nothing else. The two ounce bar was scored into 18 pieces, each with five parallel squiggles. It came wrapped in heavy gold-sided foil inside patterned outer craft paper sealed closed with the back sticker. There was no production date or best before date, but the bar was made in 2011.

The chocolate had a medium-dark brown Bracken (PANTONE 19-1015) color. In spite of the bar arriving broken (along the 2nd from the left vertical scoring line), the surface was smooth and was not noticeably scuffed. There were some chocolate bits adhered to it and a few minuscule bubbles, but overall the bar looked great. The snap was medium hard.

Colombia gave off an aroma of fruit, roast, and earth. The fruit smelled of apricot and a melange of other dried fruit. The roast had a cocoa scent.

The taste was sweet, with a cocoa and coffee roast. Other flavors included fruit, spice, and nut. The taste of this chocolate was noticeably acidic.

The melt was more smooth. The chocolate flavor lasted between 20 and 25 seconds after the chocolate was gone, giving it a medium length. The finish remained somewhat acidic, with a slight sourness.

Overall, while not as remarkable as its Upala Costa Rica or Sambirano Madagascar bars, Colombia was another good chocolate from Dandelion.

You can purchase Colombia online directly from Dandelion for $8.00, or if you would like to combine the purchase with other brands, from Chocolopolis for $8.99.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Review: Moho Plain Dark 72%

Richard's Rating: 6.5
chocolate makerMoho
barPlain Dark 72%
regionBelize
plantation(blend)
cacao trees(unknown)
year(unknown)
size100g ~ 3.5oz
cocoa solids72%
added fatcocoa butter
sweetenersugar
emulsifier(none)
flavoring(none)
other ingredients(none)
list price$7.00
colormedium-dark brown
PANTONE 19-1015
Bracken
texturesmooth, scoring, adhered bits, scuffing, dimples
aromaroast (smoke, tobacco), earth (must), fruit, spice
snapvery hard
tasteroast (coffee, cocoa), earth, sweet, nut, fruit (citrus, lime), ashy
meltless smooth
lengthmedium
finishtannin, somewhat sour, slightly bitter
New York chocolate maker Moho crafts bean to bar chocolate with single origin cacao beans from the Moho river valley of Belize. They source their cacao beans from Moho River Cacao, which ferments and dries the beans of small local farmers.

The current Moho Chocolate Company was previously Moho Cocoa. The Dark 67% we reviewed previously had the old Moho Cocoa label. The Plain Dark 72% reviewed here had the new label.

Plain Dark 72% had only three ingredients: cocoa liquor made from organic Belize cacao beans, sugar, and cocoa butter made from those same beans. The full 100 gram bar was scored into 28 pieces. It came wrapped in foil-sided wax paper inside a paper sleeve. There was no production or best before date.

The color of the chocolate was a medium-dark brown Bracken (PANTONE 19-1015), slightly darker with less red than Dark 67%. The surface was smooth, but scuffed, and there were many bits of chocolate adhered to it. In addition, there were small dimples at the scoring intersections. Except for the wear (presumably during transit), this bar looked much more professional than the earlier Dark 67%.

The snap was very hard, but not brittle. Plain Dark 72% had an aroma similar to Dark 67%, with scents of smoky tobacco roast and musty earth. The difference was the addition of an interesting combination of fruit and spice scents.

The taste of this chocolate was more complex, with flavors of roast, earth, sweetness, nuts, and fruit. The roast was a combination of coffee and cocoa, and the fruit a citrus that I experienced mostly as lime. The taste was also ashy. On a subsequent tasting, Plain Dark 72% reminded me of an oreo cookie.

The melt was less smooth. The length was medium, with the chocolate flavor lasting 20 to 25 seconds after the chocolate was gone. The finish was tannin, somewhat sour, and slightly bitter.

Overall, a good chocolate and an improvement over Dark 67%. The link to purchase Moho Plain Dark 72% online for $7.00 is no longer available. I'll update this posting when it is working again.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Review: Moho Dark 67%

Richard's Rating: 5.5
chocolate makerMoho
barDark 67%
regionBelize
plantation(blend)
cacao trees(unknown)
year(unknown)
size67g ~ 2.3oz
cocoa solids67%
added fatcocoa butter
sweetenersugar
emulsifier(none)
flavoring(none)
other ingredients(none)
list price$4.50
colormedium-dark brown
PANTONE 19-1015
Bracken
texturesmooth, uneven shape, uneven sheen, scuffing
aromaroast (smoke, tobacco), earth (must)
snaphard
tasteroast (cocoa), sweet, earth, tannin, fruit
meltless smooth
lengthshort
finishtannin, slightly bitter, slightly ashy
Moho is a single origin bean to bar chocolate maker based in New York, but with strong ties to the Moho river valley of Belize. Not only do they source their cacao beans from small local farmers through Moho River Cacao, but Jeff Pzena also co-owns Cotton Tree Lodge there, which hosts educational chocolate weeks. Moho River Cacao handles all of the fermentation and solar drying of the cacao for quality and consistency.

The current Moho Chocolate Company was previously Moho Cocoa, and the Dark 67% reviewed here had the old Moho Cocoa label. Moho is in the process of phasing out these 2.35 ounce bars and instead making 100 gram bars. They make flavored chocolate bars in addition to their Dark 67% and Plain Dark 72% (which we'll review next).

As explained on their website, Dark 67% was crafted from 8 parts cocoa beans, 5 parts sugar, and 2 parts cocoa butter. Jeff confirmed that they make their cocoa butter from the same Belize cacao beans.

The 2.35 ounce bar came as a single slab wrapped in foil-sided wax paper inside a paper sleeve. There was no production or best before date.

Dark 67% had a medium-dark brown color that was slightly redder than Bracken (PANTONE 19-1015). The bar was uneven, with one side slightly wider than the other. The surface was smooth, but had an uneven sheen and some scuffing. The bar had a hard snap.

The aroma was roasted and earthy. The roast included both smoke and tobacco scents; the earth was musty.

The chocolate had a roast taste, too, but it was cocoa rather than smoky and tobacco. The taste was sweet and tannin, and had additional flavors of earth and fruit.

The melt was less smooth. The chocolate flavor lasted about 15 seconds after the chocolate was gone, giving a short length. The finish was tannin, slightly bitter, and slightly ashy.

It appears you can still purchase Dark 67% online for $4.50 on the Moho Cocoa website.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ranking: best Venezuela single origin chocolate

Here are my personal ranking results from four rounds of tasting most of the Venezuela single origin chocolate bars we have reviewed. We did not include Venezuelan Chuao or Porcelana chocolate in this ranking. They were ranked separately, as can be seen on our Chocolate Rankings page (which contains all of our rankings with current information).

I liked all of these chocolates, so being near the middle or bottom of this list does not mean the chocolate wasn't good, only that I thought the ones above it were better. Note also that the qualities of each chocolate differ, and you might prefer the flavor, aroma, or texture of a lower ranked chocolate to that of one ranked higher. Click on a name to see a detailed review of that chocolate bar.

  1. Patric Rio Caribe Superior
  2. Amano Montanya
  3. Amano Ocumare
  4. Amedei Cru Venezuela
  5. L'Amourette Carenero Superior
  6. Rogue Rio Caribe
  7. Michel Cluizel Concepcion
  8. Amano Cuyaga
  9. Bonnat Puerto Cabello
  10. Valrhona Palmira
  11. L'Amourette Chocolat Noir
  12. Bonnat Hacienda El Rosario
  13. EscazĂș Carenero Venezuela
  14. Dandelion Venezuela
  15. E. Guittard Sur del Lago
  16. Moonstruck Venezuela
  17. Chapon Venezuela

Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: L'Amourette Chocolat Noir

Richard's Rating: 6.5
chocolate makerL'Amourette
barChocolat Noir
regionVenezuela
plantation(blend)
cacao trees(unknown)
year(unknown)
size100g ~ 3.5oz
cocoa solids75%
added fatcocoa butter
sweetenercane sugar
emulsifiersoy lecithin
flavoringbourbon vanilla
other ingredients(none)
list price$4.80
colormedium-dark brown
PANTONE 19-1015
Bracken
texturesmooth, glossy, scoring, text imprints, bubbles, adhered bits
aromaroast (smoke), earth, floral, sweet, acidic, dairy (butter), spice
snapmedium hard
tastesweet, fruit (citrus, orange), roast (hint of coffee), nut, acidic, bitter
meltsmooth
lengthmedium
finishsour, somewhat bitter
L'Amourette is the brand under which chocolate maker Andre V began selling his bean to bar chocolate bars this year. He crafts three unflavored single origin Venezuela dark chocolate bars, including Carenero Superior that we reviewed last week. L'Amourette is in the process of having their chocolate bars certified fair trade.

Chocolat Noir was made from cacao beans from the Rio Caribe region of Venezuela. The 75% cocoa solids included separately sourced cocoa butter. Additional ingredients were cane sugar, bourbon vanilla beans, and soy lecithin. L'Amourette's website indicated that the chocolate was conched for 36 hours.

The full 100 gram bar was scored into ten substantial pieces, each with an imprint of the L'Amourette name inside a stylized heart. The bar came wrapped in magenta-colored foil inside a paper box. The best before date was 10 December 2012.

The chocolate had a medium-dark brown Bracken (PANTONE 19-1015) color. The surface was nicely smooth and glossy, with some tiny bits of chocolate adhered. There were a few tiny bubbles present. The snap was medium hard.

The aroma was a smoky roast, with earth and floral scents. It was also sweet and somewhat acidic, with a dairy scent that smelled like butter. I noticed spice as well.

Chocolate Noir tasted sweet and fruity, the latter of which developed into a citrus and then orange flavor. There were additional flavors of nut and roast with a hint of coffee. Underlying them all was acidity and some bitterness.

The melt was smooth. The length was medium, with the chocolate flavor lasting 25 to 30 seconds after the chocolate was gone. The finish was sour and somewhat bitter.

Although not as impressive as Carenero Superior, this was another good new chocolate from L'Amourette. Priced at only $4.80 for a 100 gram bar, it's a bargain, too.

You can purchase Chocolate Noir online for $4.80 directly from L'Amourette.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Event: Seattle Chocolate Salon on Sunday

The fifth annual Seattle Chocolate Salon will take place this Sunday, May 6th, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center on Pier 66 (2211 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98121).

While this event lacks the educational opportunities and variety of chocolate makers of the Northwest Chocolate Festival, it is still a good way to sample lots of quality chocolate. Some of the makers who will be present include Amano, Pacari, Taza, and Theo.

Here's a link to additional information and a schedule of the six presentations.

Tickets may be purchased online in advance for $21.39 ($11.19 for children 6 to 12), or at the door for $25.00.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sale: Ghirardelli chocolate bars $1.50 at Walgreens

Walgreens has a sale on Ghirardelli chocolate bars through Saturday, May 5th, at the price of 2 for $3. You must buy two to get this price (single bar sale price is $1.99).

This offer is available both online and in stores (I've confirmed it in a local Seattle store).

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Review: L'Amourette Carenero Superior

Richard's Rating: 7.5
chocolate makerL'Amourette
barCarenero Superior
regionVenezuela
plantation(blend)
cacao trees(unknown)
year(unknown)
size100g ~ 3.5oz
cocoa solids75%
added fatcocoa butter
sweetenercane sugar
emulsifiersoy lecithin
flavoringbourbon vanilla
other ingredients(none)
list price$5.00
colormedium-dark brown
PANTONE 19-1431
Fudgesickle
texturesmooth, glossy, scoring, text imprints, bubbles
aromaroast (coffee), earth, sweet, wood, floral spice, fruit (blueberry)
snapmedium hard
tasteroast (cocoa), sweet (honey), earth, wood, fruit (blueberry, cherry), vanilla
meltsmooth
lengthlong
finishsomewhat sour, somewhat bitter
French chocolatier Andre V handcrafts bean to bar chocolate in San Francisco as L'Amourette. L'Amourette began selling chocolate bars this year, and makes three unflavored single origin Venezuela dark chocolate bars. The cacao they use is fair trade, and L'Amourette is in the process of having their chocolate bars certified.

The ingredients of Carenero Superior were cocoa beans, cocoa butter, cane sugar, bourbon vanilla beans, and soy lecithin. The chocolate contained 75% cocoa solids, but the added cocoa butter was not made from the same cacao beans. The generous 100 gram bar was scored into ten substantial pieces, each with an imprint of the L'Amourette name inside a stylized heart. The bar came wrapped in black-sided foil inside a paper box. The best before date was November 2012.

The chocolate had a medium-dark brown color that was closest to Fudgesickle (PANTONE 19-1431), but darker and browner. The surface was nicely smooth and glossy. There were some tiny bubbles present. The snap was medium hard.

Carenero Superior had a complex aroma that included a coffee roast, earthy and woody scents, sweetness, something floral, spice, and a fruit scent that smelled to me like blueberry.

The taste began with a sweet, earthy, cocoa roast before revealing woodiness and fruit flavors including blueberry and cherry. A vanilla flavor was also present. The sweetness reminded me of honey.

The melt was smooth. The chocolate flavor lasted a remarkable 40 to 45 seconds after the chocolate was gone, giving a long length. The final aftertaste was somewhat sour and somewhat bitter.

I was impressed by this new chocolate from L'Amourette, and at only $5 for a 100 gram bar, it may have the lowest price per ounce on our Best Chocolates Overall list.

You can purchase Carenero Superior online for $5.00 directly from L'Amourette.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ranking: best raw chocolate

Here are the ranking results from three rounds of tasting the raw chocolate bars we have reviewed.

  1. Pacari Raw 70%
  2. Stirs the Soul Honey Dark
  3. Chocolate Conspiracy Dark Bar (note: grainy bits)
  4. Fearless Dark as Midnight
  5. Pacari Raw 85%
  6. Stirs the Soul ORIGINS Madagascar
  7. Stirs the Soul ORIGINS Ecuador
  8. Stirs the Soul Dark
  9. Stirs the Soul Blissful Dark
  10. Gnosis Dazzling Dark
  11. Fine & Raw 78%
  12. Gnosis Simplicity
Notes
Clicking on a name above will take you to the detailed review of that chocolate bar.
To see updated information and other rankings, go to our Chocolate Rankings page.