New chocolate bars fascinate me.  The anticipation of the taste is a big part of the fascination, but there’s more to it than that.  Many chocolate companies are outdoing themselves in the packaging department, so the wrappers are quite a treat to inspect. Part of the intrigue are the names that the different chocolate makers have chosen (both for their company and for their chocolate), and the stories behind those names.

The fascination does not end when the chocolate that comes home with me (or home to me) is carefully inspected from front to back, photographed from every angle (remind me to tell you about my 154 GIGS of chocolate photos sometime) and sampled. The packaging is never thrown away.  Instead, it goes into my collection of wrappers to reference later, to use for other photo-ops, or to be re-purposed.  (A plastic insert with shallow indentations that had originally held pralines in place makes a perfect mold for dark chocolate mint thins!  And I really ought to look into decoupage. Only I’d need something big in order to use up the quantity of wrappers that just had to be rehoused because they were outgrowing their drawer.  Anyone ever decoupaged an entire wall of their house with chocolate wrappers?) (Disclaimer: I don’t have enough wrappers for a whole wall…yet.)

There Will Be a Test Afterwards - Craft Chocolate Photo

Pictured: Andean Lemon Verbena by Pacari, SeriousMilk Cacao by TCHO, Smoked Chai by Raaka, and Maple Coconut by Dick Taylor. (I’m making them sound like perfumes. Come to think of it, all of those would likely make nice scents!)

The taste, the wrappers, the packaging, re-purposing the packing…even after all of that, there’s at least one more thing that is fascinating, and that is: What will other people think of each chocolate?  There are usually a few squares leftover to share with this friend or that friend. I know, I know.  Leftover chocolate; is that even possible?  Trust me, it takes great restraint to keep my hands off the whole bar, box, or bag.  Sometimes it’s impossible; there is almost never any milk chocolate left to share (my apologies to my milk-chocolate loving friends)!

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How’s THAT for a title? It’s not likely you read about peeling an appealing Pacari bar every day. It’s not every day I get to do it. It may be a once-in-a-life-time-experience. Who knows.

The first step in the entire process was to actually obtain a Pacari bar, which is no small feat. They’re not available locally; budgeting and shipping are involved.  That, and deciding exactly *which* Pacari bar. Finally, I decided on Andean Lemon Verbena.

Pacari Andean Lemon Verbena Chocolate Still Life Photo

Upon arrival, I was a little alarmed to find a big round sticker smack dab on the front of the chocolate wrapper (stuck there by the third party seller, not by Amazon or Pacari), announcing some sort of discount. It was effectively ruining most photoshoot opportunities (aside from ones involving cover-ups or bizarre camera angles).  And it wasn’t one of those stickers that would just peel off with a little coaxing.  AND it was blocking the pretty little stamp announcing this bar to be an International Chocolate Awards 2014 World Gold Winner.

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Last Friday (May 20th) was Endangered Species Day.  To some, it meant a welcome spotlight on the efforts of organizations and individuals who work tirelessly to save endangered animals.  To others, Endangered Species Day was a reminder to eat more chocolate.  You see, there’s one chocolate company so passionate about
helping out that it is reflected in the name of their company, Endangered Species Chocolate.  10% of their net profits are donated to non-profit partners that protect and preserve wildlife.

(Eating a chocolate bar is definitely more my cup of tea than standing outside out on a street corner waving a sign “Save The Whales!” I’m actually shy.  Believe it or not.)

I’ve tasted quite a few flavors of Endangered Species chocolate over the years; the latest was Lemon Poppyseed.

Endangered Species Chocolate - Lemon Poppyseed

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Saturday, it occurred to me that the Whatever Floats Your Boat Brownies recipe still doesn’t include a photo for the lemon frosting version.   Something really had to be done to remedy that.

Additionally, Mother’s Day was less than twenty-four hours away, and baking something (especially something so melt-in-your-melt-delicious) might score some brownie points.  (Pun intended.)

Excuses excuses.  In reality, I was craving brownies.  It’s hard not to crave these brownies.  These brownies are amazing.  And since I did have a few excuses reasons to make them, make them I did:

Excuses, Excuses - Brownies with Lemon Frosting

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When visiting a new store, I usually make a beeline for the chocolate section.

It’s not that I don’t care about other foods.   I like other foods.  But they can be found at the grocery store, and I’m at the grocery store every week.   On the other hand, visiting new stores isn’t an every week occurrence, especially one that might potentially have chocolates I haven’t tried yet.

During one such trip to a new-to-me market, my initial scan of the store only turned up large bars of baking chocolate.  Upon further investigation, I hit the jackpot:  A shelf filled with a variety of chocolate bars and bonbons.  Immediately, my eyes rested on one particular bar.   I could almost hearing it saying, “Pick me! Pick me! I’m photogenic! Pick me!”  So I did.  Behold, Sanders Chocolatier Cafe Crunch, Closeup:

Sander Chocolatier Coffee Beans Chocolate Bar

This chocolate wasn’t lying about being photogenic!

Sander Chocolatier Cafe Crunch

Dark and milk chocolates, crafted to look like coffee beans, decorated this beautiful chocolate bar. Inside the bar were flecks of coffee beans.

The coffee flavor wasn’t particularly strong, making this bar perfect for those who like both coffee and chocolate but, when the chips are down, they’d pick chocolate flavor over coffee flavor any day.

But wait, there’s more…

Sander Chocolatier Pimienta Limon (Lemon Pepper)

Truth be told, I wasn’t sure if I would like this chocolate.   Yes, it had lemon (lemon + chocolate = fantastic).  But it also had pepper.  Pepper goes on steamed vegetables and mashed potatoes.  I needed convincing that pepper belonged in chocolate.

Sander_Chocolatier_Lemon_Pepper

Consider me convinced.  Well, at least I’m convinced pepper belongs in chocolate as long as it is paired with lemon crystals.  This delicious bar is so incredibly flavorful that it made my list of favorite chocolates.  (It will hold this position for at least a couple of days.  My list of favorites keeps expanding and changing!)

It turns out that lemon pepper is rather photogenic, too:

Sander Chocolatier Lemon Pepper Chocolate Bar

Online:
Website: Sander Chocolatier
Twitter: @sanderchoco