Where has TCHO chocolate been all my life?  (Or, rather, since I’ve been around much longer than TCHO, let me rephrase: Where have I been all of TCHO’s life?)

Seriously, one bite of TCHO’s lush, creamy SeriousMilk Milk Chocolate “Cacao” was enough to make me realize that TCHO has done their homework on how to pair the few standard ingredients that make up milk chocolate, in order to come up with such an extraordinary bar.  I have been eating milk chocolate wrong all my life; THIS is how it’s done.Seriously TCHO Milk Chocolate Still Life Gallery Photo

Curiosity aroused, I discovered:

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I love lilies (the flowers).  I’m also pretty fond of Lily, the family dog.  Now I’ve just added another type of Lily to the collection of Lilys I like: Lily’s Crispy Rice Stevia Chocolate

gallery_photo_lilys_crispy_rice_stevia_chocolate

Stevia and I are old acquaintances .  If my memory serves me correctly, we first met in the 90’s.  While we don’t hang out every day, we get along fine when we do have a chance to spend time together.

On the other hand, Lily’s Chocolate and I just met for the first time.

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Once in a while, a chocolate comes along and manages a statistical improbability: winning over every single member of my family after the first bite.  This isn’t exactly an easy task. If it is too dark, 2/5s lose all interest. 1/5 of us do not eat white chocolate at all. (“What is white chocolate even made out of?”)  Peanuts in chocolate are a welcome addition (if you ask 3 out of 5) and not-so-welcome (if you interview the other two).  Coffee in chocolate…well, that’s a story for another day.

The most recent chocolate to be unanimously approved? Alter Eco Truffles.

Alter Eco Truffles - Velvet

Words fail me.  These truffles – made with coconut oil, whole milk powder, cane sugar, cocoa butter, cacao beans, caramel flavor, & vanilla beans – are incredibly silky and decadent.  They melt in your mouth.   I wouldn’t be surprised if these truffles have inspired people to write poetry about them.

(In case Alter Eco is new to you, visit their website for more info.    Fair trade and organic ingredients?  Check.  Compostable packaging?  Check.  Dark chocolate with flavors such as burnt caramel, quinoa, and brown butter?  Check check check.)

Words may have failed me, but, if I remember correctly, everyone else had this to say:

“They’re SO creamy!”
“I remember you got the purple ones a long time ago.  They’re both really good.”
“I think these are my favorite.”
“Are there any more of those?”

There weren’t.   Be warned: Alter Eco Truffles (in Velvet) disappear.  Fast.

Because they’re really good.

Alter Eco Truffles - Coconut Oil + Cocoa Powder(This is proof I haven’t mastered the art of making coconut oil photogenic yet…)

Confession time: I just ate the Equator.

Either that, or part of an ocean.  I didn’t pay too much attention to whether it was the Atlantic or the Pacific; my eyes had been a little glazed over ever since opening the wrapper of my first bar of Salazon chocolate.   No boring square shapes for them!  Instead, I discovered the world, intricately molded in chocolate.

Salazon Caramel Sea Salt Chocolate, unwrapped:

Salazon Caramel Sea Salt Chocolate Map

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Picture this:

  • Traveling the world (Trindad. New York. Istanbul. Hong Kong.)
  • Making chocolates (Mint chocolate bars.  Hazelnut vanilla chocolate squares.  Mahajanga cherry chocolate infusions.  Coffee Cinnamon Truffles.)
  • Purchasing ingredients at local markets  (Macadamia nuts.  Caramel.  Raspberries.)
  • Completing quests (Finding recipes.  Delivering chocolates.  Manufacturing new products.)

…All from the comfort of your chair (or couch/desk/bed or wherever you park your computer/laptop/device).

Sound like fun?  It is!  Allow me to show you a brief glimpse of the Chocolatier Game:

Chocolatier Game

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70%. 60%. 51%.

No, I’m not watching the battery on my phone being drained at an alarming rate of speed.

Instead, those are just a few of the many cocoa percentages of the dark chocolate bars that have found their way to my house recently.  (I’d name names, but the safety of future posts would be put at risk.  There are chocolates counting on me for their own special moment in the spotlight.)

Dark chocolate is delicious.  It is also touted as being healthy (in small amounts).  The varieties available are practically endless, due to both the varying flavor of the cacao beans being used and the creative use of inclusions.  (Chocolate with lavender, anyone?)  We’ve sampled several new dark chocolates, but, in the midst of it all, it was a welcome change to try something lighter: The Tea Room Black Masala Chai Chocolate

gallery_photo_black_masala_chai_tea_room_chocolate

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In my childhood, ginger was synonymous with baked goods.   I was most likely to eat ginger in pumpkin pie or spice cookies or gingersnaps.    Fast forward a few (!) years…

Did you know that ginger is surprisingly delicious with beef?  I recently had the pleasure of tasting a tender beef dish with a ginger teriyaki-like sauce and let me tell you… it was quite tasty.

Not so surprisingly, ginger is also delicious in chocolate.   Like Theo Dark Chocolate with Ginger:

Theo Dark Chocolate with Ginger

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Ever taken one glance at a chocolate and knew that you were pretty much guaranteed to love it?  (Some people profess they’d love every chocolate they’d ever run across.  I draw the line at grasshoppers in my chocolate.  But not ants, apparently.)

For me, I took one glance at Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Raspberry and knew it had to be mine:

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Raspberry

Many people are privileged enough to find Ghirardelli chocolate in the wild (ie: local stores) and others have to splurge and order it.   Mine traveled a couple of thousand miles, only to be treated in the following manner:

Step 1: A visit to the refrigerator.  It had to firm up in case it was too soft to be handled after its trip, and it had to learn how to play nice with all the other chocolates.  Assuming there were other chocolates in there, of course.  (Here is where my sudden coughing fit clues you into the fact it’s a pretty safe bet that my Raspberry Ghirardelli wasn’t lonely.)

Step 2: Getting its picture taken.  If you come to my house on Saturday afternoons you will find everything in a total uproar as my photographer and I speak in code (“Now straight on.”  “Now canted”.  “Kill spot.”) while trying to get all the right shots before the chocolate starts misbehaving (sweating, ’cause it’s nervous).

My Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Raspberry behaved beautifully.  I think they taught it how to pose before they packaged it up, because it started posing as soon as we got it out:

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Raspberry Unwrapped

See what I mean?

Step 3: Taste testing.  We could hardly wait to get this chocolate into our mouths because it looked so delicious.  Believe me, it tastes as good as it looks… smooth dark chocolate with a generous amount of creamy raspberry filling.  This bar didn’t last long.  In fact, the rest of the family can consider themselves very fortunate that there was any left at all!

Next time (if there ever is a next time), I might have to consider the individually wrapped squares (more to share)!

Alaina Cursive Signature

 

 

 

When I think of Italy, I think of history.  And architecture.  And good food, and family.  Now, thanks to Perugina 51% Cacao, I’ll also think of chocolate as well.

My first taste of Perugina chocolate was in the form of Baci, chocolates with a hazelnut filling, wrapped with a love note (“Say I Love You The Italian Way”).  They were tasty, but didn’t exactly make my top ten list (only because nothing involving nuts usually makes my top ten list).

(Technically my top 10 list doesn’t exist.  And if it did, it would probably look different every few weeks!)

Much time has been to devoted to designing chocolate packaging to tempt consumers.  This consumer loved the richness of the reds, golds, and browns of Perugina 51% Cacao packaging:

Perugina 51% Cacao Chocolate Bar Wrapper

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