Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Askinosie Chocolate

Askinosie San Jose Del Tambo (Ecuador)Less is more. And I never would have guessed that such simplicity would be so complex.

Askinosie Chocolate makes Authentic Single Origin bars. They’re made with a very short list of ingredients: cocoa beans, sugar and cocoa butter (they make their own facility from the same origin beans).

There are no emulsifiers and not even any vanilla.

The package isn’t quite so simple. It’s a waxed paper envelope that folds over at the top with a little tie of recycled string from the bags that are used to transport cocoa beans. Inside is the bar itself, wrapped simply in a clear cellophane sleeve and an insert that details the origin of the cocoa beans.


The first bar that I tried is the San Jose del Tambo made from Arriba Nacional beans from Ecuador. At 70% this is a pretty dark bar.

The bar is absolutely gorgeous. The simple molding with the lettered squares format is inspired - each is the perfect sized portion for a bite and it’s fun to play with them to make new words if you’re Scrabble-y.

The snap is quite sharp and doesn’t quite melt readily, but when it does, it’s quite smooth.

The overall flavor was light and bright with notes of caramel, cardamom, coffee, black pepper, licorice & molasses. The finish is a little dry but also sweet.

AskinosieAfter that happy experience I picked up the Soconusco from Mexico made of Trinitario beans.

The look of the bar was the same - beautifully shiny and with a bright snap.

This bar had a grassier scent of olives and black & green teas. The melt was smooth but had a very perceptible dryness right away. There were a few fruity notes of some berries, but overall it didn’t have the variation in elements that I like especially in the woodsy and balsam tones.

Askinosie Nibble itty bar

Askinosie makes a large variety of products including cocoa (which make sense if Shawn Asknosie is making his own cocoa butter, he’s gonna have a lot of cocoa solids left over) but there were two that I was especially interested in. His Nibble Bar which includes cacao nibs and the White Chocolate bars.

I found these Itty Bar Nibble Bars in Santa Barbara at Chocolate Maya a few weeks ago.

They’re not big, just two inches long and about an inch wide, but packaged in pairs. At only $1.00,  I think they were a steal! (The big bars were $8 each.) They’re the same San Jose del Tambo but, obviously, with some same origin cocoa nibs scattered in.

They’re much more tangy than the large format bar but it still has the same caramelized sugar notes and coffee flavors with a light peppery finish.

It’s easy to say that $8 is too much for chocolate. But keep in mind that like many artisan chocolate makers, Shawn Askinosie is making his growers essentially his partners. It’s called a stake in the outcome and not only do they get fair prices, they also get a share in the final sales of the finished products.

Some fair trade products can make me feel like it’s charity, not an actual purchase for the sake of the quality. That’s far from the case here. The consumer of the chocolate gets both the full experience from the look and feel of the package down to the actual taste of the product there’s also so much more going on in the background.

I am a huge fan now and will probably seek out every product in the Askinosie line. (Except maybe this item.) Maybe someday Askinosie will do an Ocumare bar.

Related Candies

  1. Amano Single Origin Bars: Madagascar & Ocumare
  2. Theo 3400 Phinney Bars
  3. Equal Exchange: Espresso, Mint & Nibs
  4. Sweetriot!
  5. Scharffen Berger - Cacao Nibs
Name: San Jose Del Tambo & Socunosco 70% Bars
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Askinosie Chocolate
Place Purchased: Fog City News (SF), Mel & Rose's (LA) & Chocolate Maya (SB)
Price: $8.00 for bars, $1.00 for Itty
Size: 3 ounces & 14 grams
Calories per ounce: 165
Categories: Chocolate, Cacao Nibs, United States, All Natural, Single Origin, Fair Trade

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:35 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. I love, love, love Askinosie chocolate! And I’ve been lucky enough to see Mr. Askinosie himself talk about his work and cooperation with farmers on several occasions. He’s very passionate and dedicated. And claims he’s no real expert on chocolate smile. Too modest!

    I can’t wait to try the white choco bars. Can you imagine how amazing the white choco with nibs must be? Thanks for reminding me that I need to seek that out.

    Comment by KateC on 9/16/08 at 11:19 am #
  2. WOW ... this looks wonderful!  Thanks for the lowdown.  I’d love to play Scrabble with those chocolate squares!

    Comment by Jenny on 9/16/08 at 12:54 pm #
  3. Re: the link, $20k and it doesn’t include the price of chocolate?!?  Wow, I hope that’s a joke and if so, well done.  Otherwise ?????

    Comment by Justin on 9/16/08 at 1:39 pm #
  4. I splurged on a bar of this a couple-few months ago - purchased from Cacao (a gorgeous emporium of chocolate) in Portland.  I’m pretty sure it was the Suconosco from Mexico.  It was easily some of the very chocolate I’ve ever eate - ever.

    I also very recently had the privilege of sampling some buttons of Steve DeVries Costa Rican and Mexican single origins, while attending a lecture given by him at the NW Chocolate Festival this past weekend. Truly transcendent.  These chocolates are in a class of their own, to be sure.

    Comment by joanna on 9/16/08 at 1:43 pm #
  5. Tricia's avatar

    Okay, I guess it isn’t rum week after all.

    Have you tried the Santander single origin bars?

    Comment by Tricia on 9/16/08 at 2:43 pm #
  6. Oh my—these look and sound heavenly. I MUST try them.  I know you got yours in SB.  Are they being sold anywhere in LA?  If not, I’ll wait until the weather cools and order some directly.

    Comment by Karen S. on 9/16/08 at 3:34 pm #
  7. Wow, the packaging is really interesting. Even though it’s just relatively plain paper there’s something about it I quite like.

    Comment by Terry on 9/17/08 at 8:02 am #
  8. Speaking of single source chocolate, there’s a pretty new chocolatier in Minneapolis that’s been getting a lot of buzz, because the owner (who’s like 22) makes single-source chocolate bars entirely himself, starting with processing cocoa beans, and the bars I’ve tried have had very complex flavors. I’d recommend them, as another high-end, boutique-ish, single source chocolate bar, if you can get your hands on them.


    Comment by Anjanette on 9/17/08 at 4:17 pm #
  9. Sera's avatar

    Oh, I love, love, LOVE Askinosie’s stuff! I’ve yet to see the mini-bars, but I just swoon over their white chocolate.

    Comment by Sera on 9/17/08 at 5:35 pm #
  10. Where did you find this bar?  I can’t recall having seen it anywhere in my area.

    Comment by Johnny Carruthers on 9/18/08 at 5:54 am #
  11. Nice coverage - we’ve tried their chocolates and agree.

    Comment by Food Channel on 9/19/08 at 4:40 am #
  12. As Nature Intended in Canberra, Australia, stocks these for AU $16. A bit dear, but it is certainly exciting to see them all the way down under! I am happy to say that my bar did not suffer from the travel at all.

    Comment by Caitlin on 11/06/08 at 3:45 pm #
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