It was very hard to narrow them down, but here are 5 craft chocolate bars I’m excited to try in 2021.  (Technically I’m excited about far more than five.  I might have to do a part two!)

Vanilla Milk Chocolate* by Dick Taylor

This Dick Taylor bar is made with A2/A2 milk, which is most natural to the body and easily absorbed.  Their hazelnut milk bar*, also with A2/A2 milk, was launched at the same time and also sounds like an absolute treat.)  I’m glad Dick Taylor decided to include vanilla.  It seems to me so many craft chocolate companies do not use vanilla (perhaps fearing it would mask or hide the flavor of the cacao) but I’m a huge fan of vanilla and believe it to complement the cacao instead of overshadowing it.  I have heard such rave review of this bar from many chocolate influencers.

(My vanilla milk bar arrived yesterday and therefore there are no proper pictures yet.  This shot is of one my previous Dick Taylor selections, candied almond.)

Lemon Myrtle by Atypic

My travel options are limited to traveling the world via chocolate, and one of the most far away places to travel to is Australia, where Atypic is made.   A far-away locale + a cute mould (hot air balloon-ish) + one of my favorite chocolate inclusions (lemon) made this bar shoot to the top of my to-try list this year.

Peru Ucayali 70%* by Goodnow Farms

This is a “plain” dark chocolate.  You may have noticed I’m big on dark milk chocolate or chocolate with inclusions, but I do love a “plain” dark chocolate and I don’t know if you’ve seen pictures of this one but it is plastered with academy of chocolate award stickers and international chocolate award stickers, a clear indication that a lot of educated tastebuds thought this to be one of the best dark chocolates out there.   Goodnow keeps popping up as “the chocolate to try” and I’m ready for my first taste.

Castronovo White Chocolate With Lemon Unwrapped Yellows Still Life Photo

(This is a winner I tried a few years ago, White Chocolate With Lemon Oil and Lemon Salt* by Castronovo.  It’s….white chocolate perfection.  Can’t say enough good things about this bar and I may have caught myself daydreaming about it a few times.)  (Too bad I don’t still live in Florida, I can see myself making a road trip to Stuart to stock up…and try the other Castronovo confections!)

Goodio Metsa (Forest)

First of all, this bar has the foreign-locale-travel-the-world-by-tasting-chocolate-from-around-the-world thing going for it (it’s made in Norway).  Second of all….birch and forest crystals in chocolate?  Yes please! Sounds just strange enough to add to my repertoire of  “strange things I’ve tried in chocolate”.  (Not quite as strange as shrimp or ants but it’s up there…

Marou Kumquat

This Vietnamese maker makes thin delicate bars (much like the so-dear-to-my-heart Francheschi in Venezuela) and I’m loving the fact they have a few inclusion bars that are becoming more widely available, in addition to their usual offering of dark chocolates made from cacao grown in various regions of Vietnam. I chose kumquat (citrus again!).     I haven’t seen actual kumquats around here so I’m guessing when it comes time to photograph this, you should expect flowers next to the chocolate in the photo instead of actual kumquats.

Which 5 bars are you most exited to try in 2021?  Let me know in the comments!

Happy chocolate tasting,
Alaina

*These are affiliate links; I earn a small commission from chocolate/other items purchased via these links.

Castronovo White Chocolate With Lemon Still Life Photo

Whenever I would run across online summaries of the best white chocolates, I could almost count on finding Castronovo White Chocolate With Lemon on everyone’s short list.

After all, it made it to the TOP of the judge’s lists at the 2017 International Chocolate Awards (in the Americas / White Chocolate category).

Castronovo White Chocolate with Lemon International Chocolate Gold Award Winner

Being a decent-sized fan of white chocolate and a BIG fan of lemon chocolate, this bar made it to the top of my rather exclusive list of bars-to-get-in-2019, so much so that whole orders were rearranged or delayed based on where it was and was not in stock. The reviews were so good I ordered TWO. (One disappeared somewhere along the long route to me….all I’m going to say is, whoever swiped it has *excellent* taste…but thankfully the other made it.)

Finally a Castronovo White Chocolate with Lemon was MINE and the first order of business was opening it upon arrival and taking a big huge bite and…

Ha.

Part of how I share my chocolate is in the form of pictures, so into the photography queue it went. Supposedly at the top of the queue. But strange things kept happening to the queue. One Saturday I had full intentions of photographing my Castronovo but then I had lugged in a rock that didn’t quite match (but went with some other wrappers beautifully), and had purchased some mint (that wouldn’t keep) for my Boho bar, and something new was blooming that wouldn’t match either (and one must pounce on new blooms before they wither; new photoprops don’t pop up every day!)…and so my Castronovo waited patiently while I waited not so patiently to try it.

Finally the day came.   The wrapper wasn’t even completely off before the mouth-watering scent of sweet lemon made my nose start doing a happy dance.   Ok.  Fine.  Maybe more than my nose was doing a happy dance. Shiny flecks of yellow lemon salt decorated the back of the bar; as I don’t recall seeing any in the front, it seems to me the salt must have been sprinkled on the back instead of being incorporated throughout. It was all I could do to snap this:

Castronovo White Chocolate With Lemon Unwrapped Yellows Still Life Photo

…before breaking off a section and popping it into my mouth and:

Sheer bliss. Sweet and tangy and lemon-y and custard-y with a bite of lemon salt here and there.

When you all said Castronovo White Chocolate With Lemon was THE BEST, YOU WEREN’T KIDDING.

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, Milk Chocolate 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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