You know when you say a word so many times you start thinking it makes no sense or perhaps you even imagined it being a real word?  Today smorgasbord (“a wide range of something”; “a variety”) is the word that just sent me scurrying to Google to make sure it was real.  And that I was spelling it right.  (For the record: I wasn’t.)  (Side note: If I remember looking things up in an actual dictionary, does that make me old?)

Here is a smorgasbord of chocolate I’d like to share with you:

Sol Cacao Ecuador 70% Craft Chocolate (I purchased mine online at The Meadow.)

Made in Harlem by three brothers who grew up in Trinidad and Tobago, this bar is one of the many epitomes of fine craft chocolate: amazing flavor and stunning packaging.

Also, this is one of the first photos that finally convinced me to keep practicing with a new, unfamiliar-to-me-lens, because it might be worth the effort.  (Note to self: Try new things!  New things aren’t as scary as they look!)

Chocolove Cherries & Almonds in Dark Chocolate

I’ve come to realize that there are a lot of people who prefer plain dark chocolate.  Nothing wrong with that. I like plain dark chocolate.  But I’m also big on inclusions.  And dark chocolate with cherries and almonds?  Yes, please!

Francois Pralus Melissa Milk Chocolate

This was my first Francois Pralus bar (and hopefully not my last).  The tasting notes are “vanilla, caramel, and milky spices”.  I remember it as rich and creamy but specific notes still mostly elude me, especially because by the time I’ve finished dressing up my chocolate in three different poses, I’m just ready for a piece (without being too scientific about the taste). Some day maybe I’ll get a few bars just to savor and just to focus on the flavor without photographing them first.  (Why is everyone who knows me laughing right now?!)

Cacao Sampaka White Chocolate with Ceylon Cinnamon

Fact 1: White chocolate with cinnamon is AMAZING.

Fact 2: Rarely does a bar surprise me as much as this one did.  I was pretty sure it was going to be amazing, so the taste was no surprise.  The surprise was that instead of being a thick chocolate bar, it ended up being two thin bars (easily separated, thanks to a liner between them).  This made it a lot easier to portion and share with more people.

Raaka Apple Pie Chocolate (I purchased mine online via Noje.)

I hoarded this bar for a long time.  The very month I decided to give up and go ahead and find a way to take photos without apple pie, apples appeared.  (They don’t grow on trees around here.)

Wait until you hear the impressive list of flours used for the gluten-free graham cracker crust, which crumbles adorn this chocolate: Brown rice flour, whole grain quinoa flakes, tapioca starch, coconut flour, sweet potato flour, mesquite flour, potato four, potato starch, amaranth flour, and sorghum flour.  No kidding.

The apple pie flavor in this chocolate was a little elusive, but it was quite an entertaining bar.

It was also a limited edition, which might make it difficult or impossible to find.

(Thankfully Raaka makes certain flavors regularly.  The two I’d like to try most are Maple & Nibs and Coconut Milk.)

Alter Eco Dark Salted Brown Butter Chocolate

Alter Eco Dark Salted Brown Butter Chocolate  (I purchased mine online via Iherb.)

Last but not least, allow me to introduce Alter Eco’s gluten free, non-GMO, salted brown butter chocolate (an organic chocolate made with sweet pastured butter).

It’s like mixing popcorn and chocolate, only without the corn.  Mmmmmmmm.  Tangy and delicious.  Salted chocolate is growing on me, as long as it is done right.  I think Alter Eco found the perfect balance with this bar.


Organic.  Gluten. Pastured.  These are all words that would have sent me scurrying to the dictionary when I was a little girl.  Unfortunately, when I read our voluminous inches-thick red hardcover dictionary from cover to cover, I wasn’t quite able to memorize everything.

The word that stuck with me the most?  You’d think it might be ganache or gianduia or eclairs or mousse.  But no.  It was actually a French word (in an English dictionary, go figure).  Rechauffe.  Pronounced “ray-show-FAY” (if I remember correctly) it basically means heated leftovers.

Because heated leftovers are always more fun if they have a fancy sounding name.

Now my chocolate has fancy sounding names, but the problem is:  There is never any leftover!Save

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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