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Monday, April 7, 2014

Equal Exchange Dark Bars: Raspberry, Lemon Ginger, and Coconut

Equal Exchange RaspberryEqual Exchange Organic Dark Chocolate with Raspberries 60% is part of the Equal Exchange line of chocolate bars.

They’re 3.5 ounces and priced competitively with other premium chocolate bars. Equal Exchange (I reviewed some Easter items on Friday) is a cooperative using fair trade standards to create a whole store filled with chocolate, coffee, tea and other goods.

This bar features organic freeze dried raspberries in organic and fair trade dark chocolate. The cacao is sourced from fair trade cooperatives in The Dominican Republic, Panama, Ecuador and Peru with sugar from Paraguay and vanilla from Madagascar. There’s no soy lecithin and it’s considered gluten free though it may contain traces of milk, hazelnuts, cashews and coconut. Equal Exchange makes their chocolate in Switzerland.

The bar is wrapped simply, in thin foil and then a thicker paper overwrap (the inside had all the sourcing details about the bar).

Equal Exchange Raspberry

The bar is glossy and attractive, with some bumps on the bottom from the raspberry bits. The molding is good as is the temper, it’s very consistent and I noticed no voids or swirling in any of the bars (which can happen with inclusions). It smells rich, though barely sweet. Like cherries, coffee and honey. Once snapped in half though, the raspberry scent, with its floral notes becomes much more noticeable. The chocolate is sweet on the tongue and has a good, cool melt with a creamy texture. The raspberry bits are crunchy and tangy, though the seeds in the center can be a bit tougher.

It’s a very easy to eat bar, with a lot more acidic tang than most other 60% bars. I don’t care much for the grassy, woody note of the seeds, but that’s berries for you.

Equal Exchange Lemon and Ginger

The Equal Exchange Organic Lemon Ginger Chocolate with Black Pepper is 55% cacao, so it’s the lightest chocolate intensity of the bunch. The package gives the identical sourcing info for the major ingredients but doesn’t say where the lemon, ginger and black pepper is from, though they’re all organic.

It’s nice to see lemon used with chocolate, it’s not as common as orange, but can still combine well, especially with dark chocolate. The addition of ginger and black pepper makes this the most unconventional flavor in the Equal Exchange line. This package looked the same on the outside as the other bars, but instead of a foil inner liner, it’s in some sort of compostable mylar. I also noticed that the nutritional panel listed this one at only 200 calories a portion, not 230 ...which actually sounds more plausible. (But calorie calculations are fraught with error, as the basis for it is over 100 years old, so really they’re just a guide.)

Equal Exchange Lemon and Ginger

Though the bar contains no milk, it doesn’t look like a particularly dark chocolate bar. It smells woodsy and fresh, with a little note of rosemary and cedar.

The melt of the dark chocolate is very smooth, but I did start to detect a bit of sugar grain ... this was from the crystallized ginger in the bar. The lemon is a bit strong, rather astringent at first, but it dissipates. The chocolate is mild, woodsy and of course creamy. The ginger and black pepper hit come in slowly as a hint of warmth in the throat. The sugar from the crystallized ginger rather disguised the ginger kick at first, then it came forward.

It’s a satisfying bar.

Equal Exchange  Coconut

The final bar is the Equal Exchange Organic Dark Chocolate with Coconut 60%. Like the Raspberry bar, this one has a thin silver foil wrapping.

It is also 60% cacao content and contains only one additional ingredient to the chocolate, the organic coconut flakes.

This bar reminded me most of Passover, which I’ve often thought of as Macaroon Season, as coconut macaroons (often dipped in chocolate) are a typical treat since they can be made without only coconut, chocolate, egg whites and sugar to follow the Kosher for Passover rules.

Equal Exchange  Coconut

The bar has a lot of coconut in it, and the silky chocolate goes well with it. There are cherry and raisin notes to go with the more tropical scent of the coconut and hints of the Madagascar vanilla bean.

The exciting development this year for Equal Exchange is their new designation of their dark chocolates as Kosher for Passover. Equal Exchange chocolates that are marked pareve (the 3.5 oz or 100 g line and dark chocolate minis) may be purchased before Passover and consumed on Passover according to Rabbi Aaron Alexander, Associate Dean, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University. The specific bars from Equal Exchange that qualify for this designation are: Organic Chocolate Espresso Bean Bar, Organic Dark Chocolate with Almonds Bar, Organic Ecuador Dark Chocolate Bar, Organic Mint with a Delicate Crunch Bar, Organic Orange Dark Chocolate Bar, Organic Panama Extra Dark Chocolate Bar, Organic Very Dark Chocolate Bar, Organic Lemon Ginger with Black Pepper, Organic Dark Chocolate Minis.

It’s interesting that before this, there were no certified fair trade chocolates that were designated Kosher for Passover. Which is odd, because Passover is all about the commemoration of Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt. The best news is that these are tasty and come in a pretty wide variety of flavor options.

CNN has been covering modern day slavery, including in the cocoa trade in a series of articles, segments and documentaries.

Related Candies

  1. Equal Exchange Milk and Dark Chocolate Foil Eggs
  2. Original Beans Piura Porcelana and Esmeraldas Milk
  3. Kauai Chocolate Tour plus Nanea & Madre Chocolate Bars
  4. Divine Milk Chocolate Praline Mini Eggs
  5. Equal Exchange Chocolate Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt
  6. Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate: 65%, 71% & 80%
  7. Divine 70% Dark Chocolate with Raspberries
  8. Javaz - Milk & Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans
  9. Equal Exchange Halloween Kit


Name: Organic Dark Chocolate with Raspberries 60%
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Equal Exchange
Place Purchased: samples from Equal Exchange
Price: $3.99 retail
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 176
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Equal Exchange, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Kosher, Organic, 7-Worth It, Switzerland


Name: Organic Lemon Ginger Chocolate with Black Pepper 55%
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Equal Exchange
Place Purchased: samples from Equal Exchange
Price: $3.99 retail
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 153
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Equal Exchange, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Ginger, Kosher, Organic, 8-Tasty, Switzerland


Name: Organic Dark Chocolate with Coconut 60%
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Equal Exchange
Place Purchased: samples from Equal Exchange
Price: $3.99 retail
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 176
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Equal Exchange, Chocolate, Coconut, Ethically Sourced, Kosher, 7-Worth It, Switzerland

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:36 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewEqual ExchangeChocolateCoconutEthically SourcedGingerKosherOrganic7-Worth It8-TastySwitzerlandComments (0)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Equal Exchange Milk and Dark Chocolate Foil Eggs

Equal Exchange EggsEqual Exchange is cooperative that sells products with fair trade ingredients and/or labor. Many of these are products where the farmers that grow them live in poverty, lack educational opportunities. Things like coffee, tea, bananas and of course, cocoa. These are all grown in tropical regions and depend on a high degree of manual labor. With the chocolate industry, there’s the added issue of slavery of hundreds of thousands of children on farms, mostly in Western Africa.

Equal Exchange also makes its own chocolate, which uses fair trade certified ingredients, not just ethically sourced cocoa. The result isn’t charity, these are real, sustainable products that you can buy at a fair price that are actually good quality as well.

They’ve been making chocolate for a while, but only more recently has it become more mainstream ... and now they have holiday packaged foil-wrapped eggs.

Equal Exchange Milk Chocolate Eggs

Equal Exchange Milk Chocolate Foil Eggs are 41% cacao, which is as dark as some semisweet chocolate sold these days. The ingredients sound delicious: cacao butter, whole milk powder, cane sugar, chocolate liquor, unrefined white cane sugar, ground hazelnuts and vanilla. The ingredients are also fair trade (except for the hazelnuts and milk) and all organic. There’s no soy, no lecithin, no other fillers.

The melt is smooth and creamy. It’s not at all grainy but very fatty and thick on the tongue. The flavor is interesting and not something I initially liked. It’s deep and not terribly sweet. The milk flavors are definitely more on the powdered milk, flirting with the cheesy side. But the roasted flavors of the hazelnuts balances that. The chocolate itself is woodsy with a sort of green banana note to it. It sounds weird.

I can’t stop eating these. I actually did stop, when I ran out. Then I realized they also sent this to me:

Equal Exchange Milk Chocolate Minis

Yes, that’s over a pound and a half of mini milk chocolate bars. In a handy dispenser box. I have it on my desk, like it’s dispensing tissues during allergy season.

Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate Eggs

The Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate Foil Eggs are also quite rich. They feature the same high fat, though in this case there are no nuts and no dairy at all. The 55% cacao content is rounded out only with sugar and vanilla beans. Like the Milk Chocolate, it’s all organic, but in this case it’s also all fair trade certified. There’s no soy in there, no GMOs though there may be traces of milk, peanuts, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios and/or pecans. Though it doesn’t say on the ingredients, they should be gluten free. Finally, they’re vegan. While there’s not a lot in there, there are a lot of folks these could satisfy. ]

The 55% cacao content makes these quite mild. They smell woodsy, with a light cherry note. The chocolate has a good, silky melt with a light dry finish to it. The flavor profile is all over the map. I taste coffee, cherries, figs and bananas and sometimes even a hint of malt ... though that could have been its storage adjacent to my milk chocolate pieces. There’s a light bitterness in there, nothing too difficult to conquer, but might be enough to keep children away.

You could put these in front of anyone without any information about the origins or disposition and they’d never know that this is more transparently source, ethically accountable stuff. It’s just tasty. As you can tell, I preferred the milk chocolate version, but the dark is a wonderful middle of the road chocolate that’s not too dark for wide appeal.

The only hesitations for most folks will be where to find them and how much you pay. Equal Exchange has them on their website for $6.99 per package, which is pretty steep compared to their very competitively priced bars. (For some reason foil wrapping just amps up the price of any chocolate, good quality or bad.) Some Whole Foods Markets and other natural product stores may carry them as well. The fall back is always the little mini-bars, which are also extremely cute and a bit better deal per ounce, but come in this 23.8 ounce box (yes, a pound a half) for $35.00 plus shipping. It’s hard to compare that to R.M. Palmer (which isn’t even real chocolate, let alone sustainably sourced), but Godiva or Lindt may be a good comparison on both price and ingredients.

On Monday I’ll have a review of Kosher for Passover chocolates, also from Equal Exchange.

Related Candies

  1. SweetWorks Foil Covered Chocolate
  2. Ghirardelli Milk & Crisp Chocolate Eggs
  3. Divine Milk Chocolate Praline Mini Eggs
  4. Tony’s Chocolonely Chocolate Easter Eggs
  5. Equal Exchange Chocolate Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt
  6. Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate: 65%, 71% & 80%
  7. Eat with your Eyes: Fair Trade Eggs
  8. Madelaine’s Foiled Milk Chocolate
  9. Godiva Easter Eggs


Name: Organic Milk Chocolate Foil Eggs
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Equal Exchange
Place Purchased: samples from Equal Exchange
Price: $6.99
Size: 3.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 163
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Easter, Equal Exchange, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Kosher, Nuts, 9-Yummy, Switzerland


Name: Organic Dark Chocolate Foil Eggs
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Equal Exchange
Place Purchased: samples from Equal Exchange
Price: $6.99
Size: 3.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 163
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Easter, Equal Exchange, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Kosher, 8-Tasty, Switzerland

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:38 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewEasterEqual ExchangeChocolateEthically SourcedKosherNuts8-Tasty9-YummySwitzerlandComments (2)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Chuao Orange A Go Go Chocopod

Chuao Orange A Go GoThe Chuao Chocopod line is a funny little set of mini versions of their large chocolate bars. It’s a great way to try something before committing to 3 ounces.

There’s a shop by my office that has very wide inventory of them, so I’ve been able to try a few Chuao varieties. The Chuao Orange A Go Go Chocopod is a rather standard combination of flavors, orange and dark chocolate.

The little choco pods are shaped like a cocoa pod. It’s about 2.75 inches long and only .39 ounces. Not even a full portion of chocolate, but at 50 calories and one dollar, it’s a good way to control your portions.

Chuao Orange A Go Go

The texture is very smooth, the chocolate is not particularly dark at only 60%, but nicely rich. Even though it’s not very dark, Chuao does not use milk fillers in its dark chocolate, so this is considered a vegan bar (though is made in a facility that processes milk, nuts and wheat). The ingredients list orange peel and orange extract along with bergamot extract. There were a few pieces of orange peel that I detected in my portion, but not large pieces. More like tiny coconut flakes would be. The orange flavor, though, was very well moderated. Not so strong as to create an oily or bitter note, but not too subtle to be overpowered by the woodsy and rather coffee notes of the chocolate.

It’s pricey if you’re picking this up for anything other than a sample before committing to a large bar. The large bars are 2.8 ounces and about $5 retail ($1.79 per ounce) and these work out to about $2.56 per ounce, even when you buy a box of 36 on the Chuao website. However, they’re a fun favor, if you’re considering something for a shower or wedding, especially since they’re rather gender neutral.

Related Candies

  1. Ritter Sport Winter Edition Caramel-Orange
  2. Marabou Noblesse Crisps: Original, Dark & Orange
  3. Chuao Honeycomb & Potato Chip Chocolate Bars
  4. Chuao Panko
  5. Chuao Chocolate Blocks from LEGOLAND
  6. Chuao ChocoPods
  7. Mounds Island Orange


Name: Orange A Go Go Chocopod
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Chuao Chocolatier
Place Purchased: Monsieur Marcel (Farmers Market)
Price: $1.00
Size: .39 ounces
Calories per ounce: 128
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Chuao Chocolatier, Chocolate, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:16 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewChuao ChocolatierChocolate7-Worth ItUnited StatesComments (0)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lindt Gold Bunny Hazelnut

Lindt Hazelnut BunnyLindt Gold Bunny Hazelnut is a new introduction that’s sadly not available in the United States. I saw an announcement about it a couple of months ago and put it on my London shopping list. Not only did I find it, they were on sale, two for £5 ... which is still pretty pricey at $4.25 with the exchange rate at the time.

Honestly, I never read past the name of the product and I was sold. So, I didn’t know quite what to expect, I simply assumed that this was going to be an giandiua product, a sort of milk chocolate with hazelnut paste blended in for an extra rich texture.

The bottom label on the foil covered rabbit explained that it was milk chocolate with hazelnut pieces. It’s actually 20% hazelnuts while the chocolate is 30% cocoa solids and then another 14% milk solids. In addition, there’s a touch of malt extract (I don’t know what that means when it comes to gluten status). There’s no actual allergen statement, just bolded items on the ingredients which include dairy, soy, hazelnuts, and barley plus traces of almonds.

Lindt Hazelnut Rabbit

The bunny looks a little odd, with the variations in the color, but oh, my goodness it smells great. It’s a roasted hazelnut scent that just makes my mouth water. The ears are nearly solid, so the first bite was quite a treat. The chocolate is a bit softer than the Lindt Dark, though their regular Milk Bunny is also on the soft side and also has a touch of malt.

Lindt Hazelnut RabbitThe melt is immediately milky, but it’s not that dried milk flavor that so many Swiss chocolates have, this is much fresher and brighter.

The note of malt is not completely overshadowed by the hazelnut either. It just moderates the sticky sweetness of the Lindt milk chocolate, as do the generous hazelnuts. The hazelnuts are crisp and crunchy with a macadamia or coconut crispness. They’re quite small bits (as they’d need to be for a molded item like this).

This is amazingly good. Easy to eat, filling but not too sweet. It’s expensive ...but really cute and very well executed. I would love to see these introduced in the United States next year. I was poking around online and saw that they may be available in Canada and there’s always a few eBay sellers that do European confectionery imports.

Related Candies

  1. Eclat Chocolate Caramelized Hazelnuts 65%
  2. Poco Dolce Hazelnut Bar
  3. Ferrero Eggs: Hazelnut & Cocoa
  4. The All American Chocolate Bunny Battle
  5. Riegelein Confiserie Hollow Chocolate
  6. 3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch
  7. Lindt Chocolate Carrots
  8. Lindt Chocolate Bunnies (Dark & Milk)
  9. Dagoba Hazelnut


Name: Gold Bunny Hazelnut
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Lindt
Place Purchased: Sainsbury (London)
Price: $4.25 (£2.50)
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 175
Categories: Candy, Easter, Lindt, Chocolate, Nuts, 9-Yummy, Germany

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:09 am     CandyReviewEasterLindtChocolateNuts9-YummyGermanyComments (3)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Almond Eggs

Hershey's Milk Chocolate Almond EggsAlongside the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Eggs on shelves this year are the new Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Covered Almond Eggs.

They’re not something particularly Easter-themed, as chocolate covered almonds are already rather egg shaped. But they’re still a welcome item, since some chocolate covered nuts sound less sweet than the many other marshmallowy, sugar-crusted and white chocolate items that typify the holiday fare.

They were expensive, as real nut items often are. I picked up this 7.1 ounce bag for $3.29, which is on par with what I’d usually pay for an item from Whole Foods ... yet I bought this at Target.

Hershey's Milk Chocolate Almond Eggs

They look great. Dark and glossy. They varied in size quite a bit, from a peanut all the way up to an almond in the shell. I expected this, because almonds themselves vary.

The chocolate itself is Hershey’s tangy, cheesy, fudgy chocolate ... it’s odd. But it goes well with the almonds, which are well chosen, nicely crunchy and good quality. I ate the whole bag in about two days, so I must have liked them, but I didn’t feel satisfied by any particular element. The chocolate is gritty and has that Hershey’s burp note ... the almonds are good, but the fact that I spent over $3 on less than half a pound of a Hershey’s chocolate product was a little odd.

Hershey’s had a version of these in their Pieces line that had a candy shell which added to the texture experience, but I haven’t see those in stores for a while.

If you’re a lover of the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with Almond bar and wanted an Easter version, I think these ratios are good.

The allergen warning only says that these may contain traces of peanuts. They are made with soy, dairy and almonds as well. There’s no note on gluten or wheat at all.

Related Candies

  1. Ritter Sport Winter Edition Caramelised Almonds
  2. Starbucks Salted Almond Chocolate Bites
  3. Toblerone Crunchy Salted Almond
  4. Valor Milk Chocolate with Almonds
  5. Trader Joe’s Almondictive Bits
  6. Hershey’s Special Dark with Almonds
  7. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Almonds


Name: Milk Chocolate Almond Eggs
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Hershey’s
Place Purchased: Target (Eagle Rock)
Price: $3.29
Size: 7.1 ounces
Calories per ounce: 145
Categories: Candy, Easter, Hershey's, Chocolate, Kosher, Nuts, 6-Tempting, United States, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:28 pm     CandyReviewEasterHershey'sChocolateKosherNuts6-TemptingUnited StatesTargetComments (0)

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Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.

 

 

 

 

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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

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