Monday, April 10, 2006

Sweetriot!

Last year my favorite discovery was Scharffen Berger’s Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs. I think I might be in love all over again with the nibs from sweetriot. For those of you who haven’t been following along, cacao nibs are roasted cocoa beans that are ready to be made into chocolate. Everything that makes chocolate chocolate is inside the bean, the cocoa butter and what becomes cocoa powder. A plain cacao nib is rather sour, kind of grainy and has very little of the buttery crunch we associate with most nuts. It’s more like eating a coffee bean than a peanut. As a solo snack, they’re an acquired taste, but they make a great addition to salads or thrown into muffins or cookies.

imageSweetriot sent me this fun little “spring fling” pack, which holds three different little upright tins of chocolate covered cacao nibs - each covered with a different blend of chocolate. 50% cocoa solids, 65% cocoa solids and the masterful 70% cocoa solids (with a hint of coffee).

The little tins are rather small, and to be honest when I first read about these on CandyAddict early this year I thought they were extremely expensive. At $6 each for a tin (regular price), it’s about five times the price of the Scharffen Berger nibs (which I already thought were pricey).

What is especially compelling is the mission of the company and that they’re fair trade (though not certified yet). They’re also Kosher, gluten-free and made with non-genetically modified soy lecithin (also called GMO-free).

What’s also different about these and the Scharffen Berger is that the coating on the nibs is quite a bit thicker. Where the Scharffen Berger nibs were bumpy and craggy, the Sweetriot “peaces” are smooth like little nuggets of tumbled chocolate.

image

I started with the Flavor 50, and I’m not sure you can make it out in the photo, but they’re more milk-chocolate looking than the rest. They’re actually very sweet and mellow and had a very clean taste to them, that seemed to have more vanilla coming through than most chocolate. Each little tin includes a “fortune” which has a piece of trivia about where the cacao comes from. In this tin it said: “Cacao Country Brazil shares boundaries with every South American country but Chile & Ecuador.”

Next was Flavor 65, which has a very strong acidity and bitterness to it, with notes of cherry and apricot but a very strong scent of rum and cedar shavings. Like a complex wine, these make you want to keep shoveling them into your mouth so you can try to pin down the notes. The trivia snippet here: “The first inhabitants of Cacao Country Peru were nomadic hunter-gatherers who lived in Peruvian caves.”

The last was Flavor 70, a deep rich experience whole. I was expecting them to be as bitter and astringent as Flavor 65, but they were actually more mellow, but equally dark and complex. The coffee note was not overwhelming and this tin was sweeter smelling. There’s a dry finish and the fruity notes blend together without an overpowering single flavor coming through. The chocolate is smooth and of course the nibs provide an interesting nutty crunch. The geography trivia here: “Together, Cacao Countries Ghana, Cote d’Ivorie, Nigeria and Cameroon produce 70% of the world’s cacao.”

By far the balance of chocolate to nibs is better in the Sweetriot over the Scharffen Berger nibs. The only thing I have trouble getting over here is the price. While I support Fair Trade, I also don’t care for overpackaging of items. Yes, they’re cute and the artwork on the tins is certainly original. The only option for purchase here is in the tiny tin, and maybe I just want to buy a pound of them and keep refilling my individual tin. But the company is young and I’m willing to be patient for more options on purchasing. For now they’re fantastic-tasting and hard to beat on that score, but they cost a pretty penny (and when I say penny, I mean that each little morsel is more than a penny!).

If you’re a true chocoholic, now might be the time to give these a try. They’re on sale through April 14th at 25% off on the website. They are sold at a limited number of brick-and-mortar locations, but check their website for the latest updates.

UPDATE: I found them in the wild! I saw them at a health food store in Greenwich Village - and the going price is only $4.99 ... much better than the expected $6.00 (based on their web price). If you think about how much you’re willing to spend for a latte or ice blended whatever (or hot chocolate), it’s really a comparable treat and of course it’s small enough to tuck in a pocket or your bag.

UPDATED UPDATE (12/28/2006): The prices on the website have come down quite a bit, buying a box of 12 means that tins are only $4 each now. The 3 pack flavor set also has a price reduction (the packaging varies by season).

Name: Sweetriot - real cacao peaces covered in chocolate
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Sweetriot
Place Purchased: samples from Sweetriot
Price: $25 for a set of 3
Size: 1 ounce each
Calories per ounce: 140
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:26 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

Comments
  1. whenever i think about these, i imagine chocolate-covered coffee beans, which i love.  is that what they taste like?  do they have the same texture?

    Comment by Rachel B. on 4/10/06 at 7:59 am #
  2. Even at 25% I have trouble springing for these but they sound soooo good.  I might break down.  I feel a bit of an internet shopping spree coming on.

    Comment by william on 4/10/06 at 10:54 am #
  3. Cybele's avatar

    Rachel B - I’d call it a similar texture to coffee beans, but not as acrid and more nutty. Coffee beans can be really fibery, nibs aren’t quite like that. Actually, if you’ve ever had dried peas, they’re kind of like that.

    Comment by Cybele on 4/10/06 at 4:28 pm #
  4. I love chocolate and coffee flavors together!  A bit pricy, but why fight it?  If you need candy, you need candy. smile

    Comment by Carver on 4/11/06 at 1:55 am #
  5. I finally tracked down the SB cacao nibs and was actually a little disappointed because they lacked the cacao crunch you typically find in chocolate bars w/ cacao nibs. It’s possible I had a bad batch, but the SB chocolate coating tasted fresh. Since I love cacao nibs, I’d be willing to give these a try. Do you think Sweetriot’s have more of a crunch than SB’s cacao nibs?

    Comment by Jen on 4/11/06 at 12:37 pm #
  6. I met the company founder, Sarah, today at Whole Foods in Santa Monica.  Giving away free samples.. ..Wheee.  She’s very nice and was quite suprised that I not only knew about the candy, but had tried some.  I explained about the wonder that is candyblog.  She at first thought I was Cybele, but we rapidly cleared up that I am a mere reader and fanatic.  She remembers you, Cybele, BTW.

    These candies are so good that even my 8-year-old loves them. Good call Cybele.

    Comment by Karen on 6/29/06 at 7:52 pm #
  7. I just picked up a tin at whole foods for $3.99.  I have flavor 65 and absolutely love them!  a few nips calm my chocolate cravings and its only 140 calories in the entire tin.  i’ve had at least 6 nibs a day for 4 days and still have plenty left!  I suggest picking up a tin.

    Comment by Jaime on 5/17/07 at 7:05 am #
  8. I only just discovered these last week and I’m so totally hooked now. 

    They’re at my local Whole Foods for just a tad over $3 per tin, so the price has really come down in a year and a half.

    Comment by Maura on 10/01/07 at 12:08 pm #

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