Tag Archives: Chocolate review

Two Pigs in a Pod: Tasting Bacon and Chocolate by Zotter

Zotter Organic Chocolate from Austria

Zotter Bacon Chocolate

Zotter Hand-Scooped Bacon Bits (left) with its layered nougat and dark chocolate and Zotter Mitzi Blue Bacon and Grapes (right) with its unique disk shape

I’ve tasted Zotter’s organic chocolate bars before, but only recently laid my hands on some of their flavored bars.  Zotter Hand-Scooped is a complex layering of ganache or Nougat and chocolate couvetures to make something that’s full of surprises in texture and flavor.  On the other hand, Zotter’s Mitzi Blue chocolate is a small solid chocolate disk fused to the center of a separate large disk, usually of a different flavor.  From there, the possibilities are endless – giving Zotter a creative license to combine all sorts of flavors that go well beyond simple pure chocolate.

For the Hand-Scooped Bacon Bits bar, Zotter combines bacon with hazelnut nougat and cinnamon and enrobes it with 70% dark chocolate.  The Mitzi Blue Bacon Bits with Grapes is actually dried grapes, or what most of us would call raisins, in milk chocolate with hazelnut nougat [2].  Both strike me as great ideas if you believe the popular adage bacon makes everything better.  Let’s see.

Zotter Hand-Scooped Bacon Bits in Chocolate

Cinnamon and nuts dominate the aroma.  The flavor is pastry-like and sweet, at least compared to my usual staple of dark chocolate.  I can feel the crunchiness of the bacon against the backdrop of soft hazelnut nougat, but neither the nuts nor the bacon were distinctive for me.  Something happens with the melding of flavors so they lose their identity.  Cinnamon was the most present, but still it all combined to make something new and relatively intense.  I have to admit, I’m not a fan of cinnamon in chocolate and the cinnamon is one flavor that stood out just a bit.

If you like cinnamon in chocolate, this may be one for you.  It has potential as a complement to a good light-roast cup of coffee.  It has this chocolate coffee-cake quality to it.  A good bar, but I’m looking forward to trying the Hand-Scooped Ginger more.

Update:  I tried it again a few weeks later with some coffee and it was a really nice complement.  The nutty spicy flavors were just asking for a something to drink and coffee pairs well.

Zotter Mitzi Blue Bacon Bits with Grapes

Zotter Mitzi Blue Bacon Bits with Grapes package art [3]

Zotter Mitzi Blue Bacon Bits with Grapes Milk Chocolate

Zotter goes all the way and uses full cream milk chocolate in this bar so you get a sense of richness.  So even though milk chocolate is often, in my opinion, the White Zinfandel of chocolate, Zotter shows us that it can be done with high quality and care resulting in full flavors rather than dilution.

The center disk appears to hold most of the bacon – little crunchy bits with a hint of salt.  I would have liked more salt to bring out the savory character of the cocoa butter and milk, but I also trust that Zotter had a reason to do things this way.  The raisins were big and plump adding interest to both the texture and flavor.

Of the two bars, this was my favorite – ironic since I’m not big on milk chocolate, but this bacon chocolate bar is rich, creamy and way more interesting than the average milk chocolate bar.

As for Hand-Scooped Bacon Bits, try it with a crisp light roast coffee. I’m excited to move on to the Hand-Scooped Ginger chocolate next.

Notes:

[1] I paid for these bars myself.

[2] Nougat is simply chocolate (with sugar) mixed with nuts or fruit or both.  In Europe is it most often associated with nuts.

[3] Mitze Blue package photo courtesy of Zotter Chocolate.

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Dark Chocolate Review: Taza 87% Dark Bolivia

Taza 87% Boliva Dark Chocolate Wrapper

Taza's packaging is unpretentious, consistent with their authentic, keep-it-real approach to chocolate.

Although Taza Chocolate went through a brief period of experimentation with cacao sourced from Chiapas, Mexico, they have since exclusively used cacao beans from the La Red Guaconejo cooperative in Dominican Republic.  So when Taza sent me this new 87% dark chocolate bar, I was surprised to see that it was single-origin Bolivia and equally interested to learn how it compared to their other dark chocolates.  Regardless of the bean supplier, Taza uses a model they call Direct Trade where they work directly with the cacao growers and pay them fairly for their beans.  They have also employ third-party certification to confirm not only that the prices paid are fair, but provide assurances on social issues:  “We only develop relationships with cacao producers who grow their crop in a manner that respects the rights of workers and the environment.”

Those of you already familiar with Taza know their stone-ground approach creates a rustic style of chocolate that preserves more of the bright, bold flavors of the original bean.  Could they achieve the same impressive results starting from different beans?

Tasting Taza 87% Stone Ground Organic Chocolate

Taza 87% Stone Ground Chocolate

Taza 87% Stone Ground Chocolate uses certified Direct Trade beans from Bolivia

WHAT:  Taza 87%  Stone Ground Dark Chocolate.  87% Cacao. 85 g (3.0 oz). Ingredients: Organic Bolivian cacao beans, organic cane sugar, organic vanilla bean.  Gluten, soy and dairy free.  USDA Certified Organic.  Kosher Pareve.

Where to buy Taza 87% Dark Chocolate Online.

WHEN:  January 28, 2012                                OVERALL RATING:  81.

AROMA:  The aroma was the best thing going.  Intense herbs, leather, coconut, cedar and tea.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:  A quick flash of strawberry.

MIDDLE TASTE: Blueberry sitting on top of intense leather, mint, sour apple…

FINISH:  Berry turns into gripping, potent cacao that eventually calms down into notes of nutmeg, buttered toast, roasted ham, roses, malt…

TEXTURE:  Typical rustic Taza texture without the noticeable sugar granules that some of the Mexicano disks have.

LAST BITE:  One thing I like about Taza is that they keep it real.  They could make all sorts of claims around “raw chocolate” since their beans are minimally processed, but most of us already know that dark chocolate is rich in polyphenols and thought to provide a host of health benefits.  They could claim that the high cocoa content is healthier than other bars (it probably is), but they don’t.  They just provide a great honest product and let you decide what  it does for you.

For me, I found this chocolate satisfying and nourishing.  I always test new chocolates first thing in the morning so that my palate is fresh.  This day, I needed to rush out the door to my kids’ swimming lessons and forgot to eat breakfast, and I always eat breakfast.  It wasn’t until both kids were in the pool that I realized that I hadn’t eaten.  The third of a bar was enough to get me half-way through the morning.  I’m not advocating a breakfast of pure chocolate, as appealing as that may sound, but there is something nourishing about this bar.  If it’s chocolate you crave, you get a satisfying fill of intense cocoa without too much sugar.

For others, I suspect it fills a need to experience big, bold, intense chocolate.  I gave this bar a good score of 81, but if you seek extra dark chocolate, then you can call this one a 90 – 95.  I found that it had somewhat less fruit than their other bars like the 70% or 80% stone ground dark chocolates that use Dominican cacao.  Still, the extra intensity was very satisfying.  Putting the numbers aside, if you like Taza’s style, this is a good way to see what’s new at one of the few bean-to-bar chocolate makers in the USA.

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