Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Dick Taylor Belize Toledo

Richard's Rating: 8.5
chocolate makerDick Taylor
barBelize Toledo
cacao trees(unknown)
size57g ~ 2.0oz
cocoa solids72%
added fat(none)
sweetenercane sugar
other ingredients(none)
list price$7.50
colormedium-dark brown
PANTONE 19-1317
Bitter Chocolate
appearanceimprint, smooth
aromaearth (mold), floral (hibiscus), fruit (prune), spice, roast (malt)
tastesweet, earth, floral, fruit (apricot), spice (cinnamon), dairy, tannin, roast (malt)
finishtannin, slightly acidic
In their Arcata, California, factory, U.S. bean to bar makers Adam Dick and Dustin Taylor currently craft chocolate bars from four origins: Belize, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Madagascar. They previously made a bar from Bolivia as well.

As with all of their unflavored bars, Dick Taylor made Belize Toledo from only two ingredients: 72% organic cacao and 28% cane sugar. The bar was not certified organic. The beans for this chocolate came from Maya Mountain Cacao, who purchases cacao from farmers in the Toledo and Stann Creek districts of Belize.

Belize Toledo came wrapped in gold foil-sided wax paper inside a paper envelope. There was a pull tab to open the outer paper envelope, but it didn't function for me and merely tore off. The best before date for the bar reviewed here was August 2014, and the batch number was 13224.

The color of the chocolate was a medium-dark brown Bitter Chocolate (PANTONE 19-1317). The bar had Dick Taylor's intricate mold, and this particular bar looked beautiful. The imprint was clear and the surface was smooth. Several very fine bubbles were present, but did not detract from the overall appearance.

The bar had a hard snap. The aroma included earth, floral, fruit, spice, and roast scents. The floral scent reminded me of hibiscus. The earthiness contained a suggestion of mold. The fruit scent included prune. The roast was malt.

Belize Toledo tasted initially sweet. As the chocolate began to melt, earthiness transitioned into floral and fruit. The fruit flavor included apricot. A cinnamon spice flavor was present, along with some dairy. I noticed tannin and a malt roast as well.

The melt was superior, with a creaminess nearly as good as Rogue's. The chocolate flavor lasted more than 50 seconds after the chocolate was gone, giving a long length. The finish was tannin and slightly acidic.

This is my favorite of Dick Taylor chocolates, and the best bar I've tasted in months. Belize Toledo easily joins our Best Chocolates Overall. This chocolate bar won a bronze at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in September and a Good Food Award this month.

You can purchase Belize Toledo online for $7.50 directly from Dick Taylor.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Good Food Awards for Chocolate 2014

The Good Food Awards published their winners for 2014. The following unflavored bars won awards in the chocolate category:

Askinosie San Jose Del Tambo (Ecuador 70%)
Blue Bandana 70% Madagascar
Dick Taylor Belize Toledo 72%
Fruition Dominican 70%
Guittard 100%
Patric Signature 70%
Rogue Balao (Ecuador 75%)
Rogue Hispaniola (Dominican Republic 70%)
Rogue Silvestre (Bolivia 75%)
Videri Ecuador Camino Verde 90%

The links above go directly to our associated detailed chocolate bar review.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: Chocolove Rich Dark 65%

Richard's Rating: 5.5
chocolate maker(unknown)
barRich Dark
cacao trees(unknown)
size90g ~ 3.2oz
cocoa solids65%
added fatcocoa butter
emulsifiersoy lecithin
other ingredients(none)
list priceN/A
colormedium brown
PANTONE 19-1015
texturesmooth, scoring, imprints, scuffing, adhered bits
aromaroast (malt, smoke), earth, sweet (marshmallow)
snapmedium hard
tasteroast (cocoa, coffee), vanilla, sweet (marshmallow), bitter, earth, fruit
finishbitter, somewhat tannin, slightly sour
Chocolove makes many flavored chocolates and three unflavored dark bars. The other two are Extra Strong Dark 77% and Strong Dark 70%.

Rich Dark was made from a blend of Caribbean and African cacao in liquor form. The other ingredients were sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, and vanilla. Total cocoa solids were 65%.

Chocolove uses outer paper wrapper that represent love letters. The poem inside Rich Dark was from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. An inner wrapper of gold foil-sided wax paper covered the 90 gram bar. The best before date was March 2014.

The chocolate had a medium brown Bracken (PANTONE 19-1015) color. The bar was scored into 18 pieces, each with a stylized heart imprint. Its surface was smooth, with some scuffing and adhered bits of chocolate.

The snap was medium hard, and the pieces did not break cleanly on the scoring lines due to its thickness. The aroma was primarily a malt and smoky roast along with some earthiness and a sweet marshmallow scent.

The taste of Rich Dark contained strong flavors of roast, vanilla, and sweetness. The roast flavor was more cocoa than coffee. The sweetness seemed to include a marshmallow flavor. Some bitterness was present. There were other more subtle flavors of earth and fruit as well.

The chocolate had a smooth melt. The length was medium, with the chocolate flavor lasting 25 to 30 seconds after the chocolate was gone. The final aftertaste was bitter, somewhat tannin, and slightly sour.

At a price of around $1 per ounce, Rich Dark is a bargain, even if the flavor is relatively uninteresting.

You can purchase Chocolove Rich Dark 65% online for $2.95 from Chocosphere.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Sale: Free Shipping at NewLeaf with Amedei purchase

NewLeaf Chocolates is now offering free shipping on any order that includes an Amedei product. This is a surprisingly good deal, as their prices on Amedei bars are already near the low end, though the selection is somewhat limited. Here's a link to their Amedei products.

NewLeaf carries more than a dozen other chocolate makers, so check out their collection and consider picking up some other brands to include in your free shipping order.

They otherwise currently have free shipping for orders of $75 or more, and flat $7.95 shipping to the continental U.S. You can read the full details on the shipping section of their About Us page.

Use coupon code AMFREE14 during checkout. They plan to run this offer through February 9th (to get your chocolate in time for Valentine's Day :) but may discontinue it earlier.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Review: Zotter Labooko Brasilien 70%

Richard's Rating: 7.0
chocolate makerZotter
barLabooko Brasilien 70%
cacao trees(unknown)
size70g ~ 2.5oz
cocoa solids70%
added fatcocoa butter
other ingredientssalt
list price3,35€
colormedium-dark brown
PANTONE 19-1012
Dark Brown
appearancerelief, imprints, textured top
aromaearth (hay), spice (anise), sweet (molasses)
tasteroast (cocoa), earth, fruit (raisin, blackberry, pear), sweet (molasses, honey)
meltmore smooth
finishsomewhat sour, somewhat salty
The Labooko line of Austrian chocolate maker Zotter includes more than a dozen unflavored single origin chocolates. Labooko products come as a package of two individually wrapped 35 gram bars.

The ingredients of Brasilien were 70% cocoa solids (cocoa mass plus added cocoa butter), raw cane sugar, and salt. All of the ingredients other than salt were certified organic and fair trade. The cacao for this chocolate was sourced from Brazil and fermented and dried there by the Vronski and Monta families.

The two bars were wrapped in gold foil-sided wax paper and each glued into a fold of the the heavy outer paper wrapper. The best before date was February 1, 2014. Unfortunately, I did not photograph the bars for this review.

The bars had a relief of "zotter" on a small smooth upper portion and imprints of "Labooko" and stylized cacao pods (one of which was covered in writing) on a textured lower portion. The chocolate had a medium-dark brown Dark Brown (PANTONE 19-1012) color.

Brasilien had a hard snap. The aroma contained earth, spice, and sweetness. The earth scent was primarily hay. The spice included anise. The sweetness reminded me of molasses.

The taste began with a cocoa roast and some earthiness. Fruit flavors developed, including raisin, blackberry, and pear. The chocolate tasted sweet, with a mixture of molasses and honey flavors.

The melt was more smooth. The length was medium, with the chocolate flavor lasting about 20 to 25 seconds after the chocolate was gone. The final aftertaste was somewhat sour and somewhat salty.

You can purchase Labooko Brasilien 70% online for 3,35€ directly from Zotter.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sale: Free Shipping at World Wide Chocolate

World Wide Chocolate has free UPS Ground shipping available on all orders with no minimum purchase requirement. They have a big selection and even though their prices are typically a little higher than the least expensive online chocolate retailers, free shipping is a great deal for small orders.

In particular, this is an excellent opportunity to pick up some chocolate bars from Amano, Amedei, Mad├ęcasse, and Potomac. World Wide Chocolate has competitive prices for these makers even without a sale, so free shipping makes them a bargain.

Use coupon code FREESHIPPING during checkout. This offer is valid through Sunday, January 12th.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Review: Marou Ba Ria 76%

Richard's Rating: 7.0
chocolate makerMarou
barBa Ria
cacao treesTrinitario
size100g ~ 3.5oz
cocoa solids76%
added fatcocoa butter
sweetenercane sugar
other ingredients(none)
list priceN/A
colormedium brown
PANTONE 19-1012
Dark Brown
appearancesmooth, scoring, imprint, bubbles, adhered bits
aromaroast, spice, fruit (hint of olive), earth
tasteroast (cocoa), sweet (honey), fruit (raspberry, apricot, citrus)
finishsomewhat acidic, somewhat tannin
Marou crafts bean to bar chocolate locally in Vietnam. They make five bars, each from cacao of a different region in the country. All of their chocolate contains only three ingredients: cacao beans, cocoa butter and cane sugar. The bars are produced in their nut-free factory in Ho Chi Minh City (a.k.a. Saigon).

Ba Ria came as a nice, big, 100 gram bar wrapped in thin bronze foil-sided paper (with a sticker of the Marou "M") that was enclosed in a lovely bright orange-red wrapper with gold silk-screen (sealed with double-sided adhesive).

This chocolate had 76% cocoa solids (cacao beans plus added cocoa butter) and 24% cane sugar. It came from batch 304, and had a best before date of January 28, 2014.

The bar was scored in different-sized pieces with diagonal lines and a central rectangle with the Marou logo. The surface was smooth to the touch and had a somewhat uneven sheen. The chocolate was a medium brown Dark Brown (PANTONE 19-1012) color. There were bubbles in some of the corners, adhered bits mostly on top, and visible lines from the wrapper. The bar had a generally good appearance in spite of all of these minor flaws.

Ba Ria had a hard snap. The aroma contained roast, spice, fruit, and earth scents. The fruit scent contained a hint of olive.

The chocolate tasted initially of a cocoa roast, but soon revealed sweetness and fruit flavors. The sweetness tasted similar to honey. The fruit was complex. Among the specific flavors I identified were raspberry and apricot, as well as a general citrus.

The melt was smooth. The chocolate flavor lasted about 45-50 seconds after the chocolate was gone, giving a long length. The finish was somewhat acidic and somewhat tannin.

Ba Ria was much fruitier than the other Marou chocolates. Of the five, I think I liked Dong Nai best, though Ba Ria was a close second. Here are the other reviews: Ben Tre, Dong Nai, Lam Dong, and Tien Giang.

You can purchase Marou Ba Ria 76% online for $8.95 from The Meadow or for $9.00 from Chocolopolis.