I broke a rule. I’m not feeling too awful about it at the moment since it is (was?) a self-imposed rule, and a rather silly one at that. It went something like this: Only ever buy one bar from each chocolate company, and then move on to another chocolate company (the point being to try chocolate from as many different companies as possible). (This rule mainly applied to imported craft chocolate and did not extend to local favorites such as Franceschi, Chocolates Paria, etc. etc.)

Omnom Lakkris Licorice Icelandic Chocolate

The problem with the rule is that too many chocolate makers make such intriguing flavors that oftentimes I can’t help but want to try more than one.  However,  “the rule” pretty much kept me in check until last winter, when this licorice* lover caved and purchased the Omnom Lakkris + Sea Salt bar, despite already having had the now-discontinued Omnom Dark milk + Burned Sugar bar. (That’s not all. There was also a 2nd Charmschool and a 2nd Fruition involved, but that’s a story for another day…)

The clever wrapper revealed a caramel-color bar sectioned off into odd shapes of various sizes. Biting into one of those shapes revealed a wonder; a creamy, caramel-y, tangy, licorice-y perfection with just a taste of saltiness.

Resisting the temptation to eat the whole bar in one sitting, I saved some samples.   Slowly, after weeks of Saturday photography sessions, there were enough samples to make up little tasting trays to deliver to friends.  Next step: waiting for feedback.  Especially of interest to me was feedback from the the white chocolate lovers
and the licorice lovers. It didn’t take long for the reports to come in.

Omnom Lakkris Licorice Chocolate Unwrapped

“That licorice one from Iceland was AMAZING.” Yeah no kidding.
“That white chocolate, the one with the licorice…it was AWESOME.” Agreed.
“Did you get that here?!” Uh, no. Sorry. I’d love to say I brought back from my latest trip to Reykjavik,
the truth is I’ve never been to Reykjavik and probably never will go to Reykjavik. Going to Reykjavik is called traveling and I don’t seem to do much or any of that…unless you count my taste buds getting to travel the world thanks to chocolate.

It’s been months since we tried this bar but it is certainly not forgotten. “That licorice one from Iceland” (which is obviously much easier to remember than “Omnom Lakkris“) comes up in conversation now and then, always with a rather starry gaze of fond remembrance.

Even the resident Mr. “I don’t eat white chocolate because it isn’t chocolate” ate two pieces and probably
would have eaten a third if he’d had the option. (Sadly he didn’t; the resident craft chocolate dictator (me!) dictated that some must be saved for those who really appreciate white chocolate even when it doesn’t have licorice or come from such an exotic locale.)

As for the self-imposed rule, so far I’ve remained impervious to getting a third bar from Omnom.
Of course that may have something to do with not being able to ship in chocolate for nine months out of the year.
I have it on good authority from friends that the Coffee Omnom bar is also amazing….

Alaina Cursive Signature

 

 

*There’s licorice and there’s LICORICE. If you ask me, hard waxy stuff isn’t licorice. On the other hand, the
soft, chewy, almost melt-in-your-mouth stuff made by Panda? Now that’s LICORICE.

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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This, my friends, is the reigning champion of white chocolate in the entire world. Bar none.  Pun intended.

‘Icoa’ by El Rey.  (Here I go making chocolate sound like fine perfume again…)

Voted the best plain/origin white chocolate bar five times in a row by the International Chocolate Awards and very recently listed as one of the best white chocolates by Saveur, it ended up being a real treat to have this bar in my possession.

Obtaining it wasn’t the piece of cake I thought it was going to be.  Chocolates El Rey is local.  Pop into any large bodegon and there El Rey is.  Which is technically true.  That is, if you’re looking for 41% Caoba.  Or 58.5% Bucare.  Or 61% “Mijao, 70% Gran Saman, or 73.5% Apamate.  (I kid you not with the extra five tenths of a percent. I’m not making them up.)

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If you want to open a can of worms, start asking around: “Is White Chocolate Actually Chocolate?”

Inevitably, the white chocolate lovers will be quick to assure anyone who asks that of course white chocolate is chocolate (“what else would it be?!”), while the non-white chocolate lovers will be just as quick to denounce it as “not being the real thing”.

Is White Chocolate Actually Chocolate - Combination PhotoPictured:  Sinfonia White Chocolate Mandarin, Divine White Chocolate with Strawberries, & El Rey Icoa.

I’ve taken some informal polls (as in, straight out asking multiple sources what they think) and reactions are mixed. Nobody said it in exactly these words, but if you will allow me to liberally paraphrase:

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