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January 27, 2006

Review: Dagoba New Moon

I've been struggling with this review for about a week now (about the length of time it has taken me to eat the whole thing) and I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and post what I've got. The bar in question is the New Moon bar from Dagoba. It's a straight-up 74% cacao organic dark chocolate bar with no other fruits, nuts, or flowers along for the ride and I'd been looking forward to trying it for a while. I've enjoyed the Dagoba bars I've had so far and figured that this falls right in my preferred range of cacao mass and should be a nice easy review.

Well, that just shows how stupid I am. And that brings me to a bit of a rant/whine. If you want to skip forward to the last paragraph or so for the actual review, then by all means do so.

I keep saying that I don't have the taste of a chocolate connoisseur and this review drives it home quite painfully. I wrote down my thoughts across several tastings of the bar and there was something I just could not nail down in the flavor. I could taste some slightly burnt coffee but there was something else there that I just could not put my finger on. Finally, one day at work while I was nibbling without thinking it hits me, clear as day: cherry! There was just this pure, pure cherry taste right as I swallowed. I took another bite and there it was again.

Now, I've read all sorts of reviews and write-ups and marketing spiel for chocolate bars and one thing that has always bugged me is how people will describe all these flavor notes in chocolate that are just absolutely lost on me. People would describe individual wood and fruit and flower notes in the chocolate and I'd just sort of stare at the words. I don't know what cedar tastes like or any other wood for that matter. And while I can taste some sort of fruitiness in a chocolate I've never really had much luck nailing down a specific flavor and these people will be going on about notes of mango and a hint of loganberry and tobacco. I'd never been able to pull individual flavors out and I kind of assumed that it was because I have a broken sense of smell and that throws my taste off.

Well, with this bar I tasted cherry and I was just so darn proud of myself for recognizing one of the flavor notes for a change. At this point I foolishly decided to look around and see what other people had to say about the bar and to verify that I wasn't insane. Ah, what a terrible mistake. First there was a nice moment finding myself right there in my search results (even though I had not yet reviewed the bar). After that I found a variety of people tasting a variety of things but only one person I found mentioned cherry outside of the aroma and they found a host of other flavor notes in it as well that I just am not finding. As usual, all of the complexity of the bar is absolutely lost on me. I'd like to be able to enjoy the nuances of a chocolate bar and have something more intelligent to say than a simple "That's some good chocolate there" but it's not coming quickly or easily. Maybe there's just a learning curve involved that I'm having a hard time with. Maybe a lot of it will be lost on me. I really don't know, but as long as I enjoy the chocolate I don't know that I'm really going to sweat it too much. I taste what I taste and that's all I can really deliver.

Okay, enough whining. Time for my impressions of the bar. The aroma upon opening the wrapper is a somewhat fruity, sweetish cocoa and coffee blend. Tasting the bar the cocoa flavor comes on strong first thing followed quickly by the coffee. As it melts a very pleasant cherry note emerges and carries through with the cocoa into the finish. The bar is both dry and bitter, but not overly so, especially given the 74% cacao mass. Once again some added cacao butter is at work taking a little of the edge off and improving the mouth feel. I personally love a good bitter dark chocolate so I enjoyed the bar a great deal. Based strictly on the chocolate itself I'll give the bar a big fat 9 out of 10. Adding in the fact that it is organic (though not Fair Trade as I originally posted) chocolate I have to give it a 9.5 out of 10.

January 26, 2006

Recipe: Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake

scharffenberger.jpgUpon seeing the words "Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake" on the screen in front of me I just didn't know what to think. The very concept of combining something as sublime as chocolate with something as strange as sauerkraut left me stunned and more than a little nauseous. But this recipe didn't come from just any old source, it was in the Scharffen Berger e-mail newsletter. If it comes from one of the best chocolate makers in the world I'm really forced to give it a little consideration before I close the page in knee-jerk revulsion. According to the recipe you can't taste the kraut and it just adds an interesting texture to the cake. And it's low in fat, too, which people seem to think is important these days. Being one of those people who will try most things at least once (just in case I'm missing something good) I figure I might be forced to give it a shot. I'm just not sure who is going to be willing to eat the rest of the cake.

January 23, 2006

Event: For the Love of Chocolate

forthelove.gifChocolate is not my only weakness. I also roll over for charities very easily (which I really don't feel is such a bad thing) and try to be as generous as possible with each one that calls (and they all call - I think they share their lists or something). Anyway, one of those rare opportunities to combine my giving nature with my love of chocolate has come around.

On Saturday, February 11, at the South Shore Cultural Center in Chicago, they are holding a charity event they are calling For the Love of Chocolate. The proceeds from the event will be split between the Children's Memorial Hospital and the Children’s Organ Transplant Association Fund for Abigail Wodrich. Abigail, daughter of area chef David Wodrich, was born 9 weeks early and with only 5% kidney function. Her father has been screened as a donor and was determined to be a match. Abigail is scheduled to receive her new kidney this April.

This is a good opportunity to support a pair of worthwhile causes and enjoy some chocolate at the same time. The event will be a treat for all the senses and will feature work from some of the best chefs in the city as well as a make your own truffle bar, desserts and cocktails from Chicago restaurants, live music (on three stages no less), chocolate fashion and wearable chocolate art, and a silent auction. The event sounds like fun and you get to help people at the same time: a complete win/win. It will run from 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm and tickets are $45 per person.

Event Site
Press Release

January 19, 2006

Scientists Move Closer to Understanding Health Benefits of Chocolate

Caduceus.gifScientists have finally isolated one of the flavanols that are responsible for the cardiovascular benefits of chocolate! A study by a group of University scientists from around the world and chocolate manufacturer Mars Inc. has shown evidence that the flavanol (-)epicatechin has a blood vessel relaxation effect. The study had both laboratory and field study portions which both support their findings all of which is covered (with some promotional fluff thrown in for good measure) in this press release.

I try hard to ignore the cheerleaders touting chocolate as a health food but at the same time I can't ignore that there are health benefits to be gained from moderate chocolate intake (moderation being the key). As I've said before: chocolate is a snack food, not a health food.

And, while we're at it, just how does one pronounce (-)epicatechin anyway? Anybody?

January 18, 2006

Free Hot Chocolate!

godivalogo.gifGodiva is having another in store event and you all know what that means: FREE CHOCOLATE! Ooooh, that is my favorite phrase in the English language. Okay, maybe not my favorite, but it's in the top ten for sure.

Last year Godiva introduced their Chocolixir frozen chocolate drinks and true to form they offered free samples. Now they are bringing us Hot Chocolixir! It seems everybody wants on board the hot chocolate train and Godiva is clearly no exception. Tomorrow and Friday, January the 19th and 20th, they will be giving free samples of their new hot chocolate product in select locations. Of course supplies are limited so there are no guarantees that even if you find a store that is offering samples that you can get one. Call your store before you go.

Chocolate Booze and D is For Death By Chocolate

BAILEYS.jpgThis may all be old news to some but there are some interesting and relatively new products from a couple of big names that I have just now become aware of and figured they deserved reporting on.

First off we have Godiva Cappuccino Liqueur. This new variety joins the original Godiva Liqueur and the Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur and offers some interesting new options for drink mixing. I've never partaken of their liqueurs before but this one sounds pretty tasty. They even have a few recipes making use of it up on their site.

Next up we have two new limited edition offerings from one of the companies I love: Baileys. For a while now they have been offering Caramel and Mint Chocolate Irish Cream in the Arizona market and starting in March they will be sharing the love nationwide as part of a Saint Patrick's Day promotion. I'm not entirely sure about the mint chocolate variety, but the caramel one really sounds good. I already have a couple of ideas for what to do with it.

So, continuing with Slashfood D-Day I figure I will share one of those little ideas with you in the form of an old recipe (starting with the letter D of course) with a new twist in the form of a little Caramel Baileys. Other options would be to use the Mint Chocolate Baileys or to use Godiva Cappuccino instead of the creme de cacao. Anyway...

D is for Death by Chocolate (Revised)
1/2 oz Brown Creme de Cacao
1/2 oz vodka
1 oz Baileys Caramel Irish Cream
1 Scoop Chocolate Ice Cream

Combine in a blender with a cup of crushed ice. Blend well and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or a little cocoa powder. If using the Mint Chocolate Baileys then a sprig of mint would make a cute garnish as well.

D Is For Dark Chocolate Dipped Cookies with Peppermint Creme

Today, in honor of Slashfood's D-Day, we have the York Dark Chocolate Dipped Cookies with Peppermint Creme up for review. Whew! That is one l-o-n-g name. I bought these out of curiosity and an eternal love of York Peppermint Patties while on safari this weekend and I just had to bust into them last night. My initial thought is that this is the York/Hershey answer to the Girl Scout's Thin Mints. Take a chocolate cookie, layer on some York gunk and coat the entire mess in dark chocolate and this cookie is the result. So just how good are they?

The cookies smell great. The aroma reminds me of Thin Mints, which isn't surprising in the least. The cookie inside is crisp and the chocolate is passably decent and the York stuff is York stuff and therefore good. All together i's pretty darn good. Just not quite Thin Mint good. Close though. The next cookie went into the freezer. I love frozen Thin Mints with a passion so I figure if I'm going to use them as the gold standard I should really test the York cookie the same way I enjoy my Thin Mints. I have to say that they are really good frozen, nearly as good as a Thin Mint and not as tooth-breakingly hard as a frozen York Peppermint Patty. But again, it still comes in behind the mighty Thin Mint.

So in the end, what do we have? We have something that is almost as good as a Thin Mint and theoretically available all year round. In terms of taste the Thin Mint wins, but I can't go out and buy a box of Thin Mints any time I feel like it (though they do lurk in my freezer about six months out of the year). I can go out and buy a box of York cookies at the grocery store and that counts for a lot. But the one thing I think that makes me really prefer the Thin Mints is serving size, and it's really a mental thing for me. The serving size is almost identical in terms of weight, but the York cookies are twice the size of a Thin Mint so you only get two in a serving as opposed to four Thin Mints. The York also has twenty extra calories, all in the form of fat (horror!). While I'm not one to shy away from a little fat, it is one more minor mark against the York cookies.

One final annoyance I find with them is on their website. They say that they are available in "2 oz. single serve packages of four cookies" but when you go to look at the nutritional information you find that the serving size is two cookies and there are two servings in their so-called "single serve package". That sort of thing just bugs me. So wonderfully consistent. I'm not going to hold it against them in their score, though. I just find it annoying.

Overall the cookies are good. I can't argue with taste and I like these cookies. The "smaller" portion size and higher fat content when compared to Thin Mints are disappointing. I'd rather eat 4 smaller cookies than 2 larger ones. I have to go with a score of 7.5 for these. They are good cookies, but I want more and I still prefer Thin Mints (which, for comparison's sake I would probably rate an 8.5).

January 16, 2006

Chocolate Safari - 1st Quarter 2006 Edition

Yesterday I found myself in need of a mental health break and that usually calls for a drive. Instead of just driving until I felt like turning back I decided to head for Jungle Jim's for a bit of a reprise of my November chocolate safari. I think that I am going to have to make the chocolate safari a quarterly event. The variety of products I find at Jungle Jim's is beyond amazing. Items from all about the world and an array of chocolate that makes my head spin. It could take me years to eat my way through all the chocolate they have and I look forward to giving it my best shot.
One of the items I was specifically looking for this time around was organic Mayan style hot chocolate - something I was having a hard time finding at home - and, as usual, I was not disappointed. They had both the Dagoba and Green & Black varieties and the Dagoba is even in a limited edition cannister. I'm particularly interested in the Green & Black because it carries the Mayan Gold name, and I love their Mayan Gold chocolate bar. I plan on doing a three way showdown between these two and the Lake Champlain Aztec hot chocolate. I have a feeling that Lake Champlain is at a major disadvantage being the only one of the three to contain only cocoa and no actual chocolate.

These next two bars from Vosges I picked up on impulse. They both sounded very interesting to me so I grabbed them. The salted macadamia nuts in the Woolloomooloo Bar guaranteed that it would go home with me and I found the Creole Bar with it's New Orleans style coffee (complete with chicory) simply piqued my curiosity. I hope that the taste justifies it's painfully high price.

This next batch is one I have mixed feelings about. I had really hoped to get a Dolfin Pink Peppercorn or Masala bar but had to settle for my third choice in the Green Aniseed bar. I am quite pleased, though, to finally get my hands on the Chocolove Toffee & Almonds in Milk Chocolate. I figured that if anyplace would have it, this would be it. The Endangered Species Bat Bar is one I don't remember seeing before and I love strong dark chocolate, especially with nibs in it. And, on the subject of nibs, I couldn't pass up the Scharffen Berger Chocolate Covered Nibs. They just sound so dangerously good, like chocolate covered espresso beans. I hope, in the future, to find their Chocolate Covered Crystallized Ginger as I love the combination.

One of the things I like to do on these little expeditions is to grab a few of the more interesting 'candy bars' that I find there and these are the items that make up that portion of the haul. After Cybele reviewed some aerated chocolate last week - the first I recall ever having heard of it - I decided that I needed to try some for myself and the Aero bar came home with me to fulfill that need. The Kit Kat is along for the ride because I love Kit Kat and the Hershey bar because I love nuts. The Nestle Crunch bar is here because I really am curious as to how well they can make chocolate with Sucralose instead of sugar. My hopes are not high.

Finally we have a peculiarity that plays to my eternal love of York Peppermint Patties in York Dark Chocolate Dipped Cookies with Peppermint Creme. I wish I could have gotten less than a box of them, but they were cheap and sounded interesting so I put up little fight before loading them into the cart.

Please pardon the quality of the pictures. My kitchen/studio is a bit of a wreck right now. And rest assured that most of the items here are being added to the massive and utterly unorganized review pile. Each will be addressed if and when the whim takes me.

January 13, 2006

Chocolate on the Cheap

Due to some personal and work issues I've been feeling a little down the last couple of days so I decided to stop off at Whole Foods Market on the way home to get a little sushi to cheer me up. I figured an evening with sushi, chocolate, and a bad movie would be just the cure for what ails me. As I do every time I enter the store I swung by the chocolate aisle to see if they had anything new in stock. Most of the time it seems that their selection is poor and when something new shows up it is best to grab it before it disappears. I was happy to see a few more items had hit the shelves (though I have yet to see the elusive Chocolove Toffee & Almonds in Milk Chocolate that I was really hoping for) and was about to make due with a single bar when I noticed the bundles of bars on top of the display. They had been bundling bars together for holiday gifts for a while and I was suddenly hopeful that they might be discounted. On closer inspection I found them to have a Valentine's Day ribbon on them. Disappointed that I wouldn't score a bundle of chocolate at half off I nearly put it down without checking the tag. But curiousity compels and I enswervingly obey so I took a look, just to see how bad the mark-up for a little ribbon would be. My jaw nearly hit the floor when I read the price: $13.99! I carefully counted the bars and did a little mental math and then double checked the tag. I had eight bars of Green & Black's Organic Chocolate in my hand at $1.75/bar and 5 of them were varieties that I almost never see in stock. That's 40% off by my math! Now, this may have been a fluke. There were smaller bundles at the same price. The weird thing is that the other bundles at that price all had a different number of bars. There were 8, 6, and 5 bar bundles all at $13.99 for some bizarre reason. The 4 bar bundle was $8.99 (still a healthy 25% off). I feel guilty for getting such a good deal, but I would think that whoever prices these things out did it all for a reason.

So what I'm getting at here is to always check for deals while shopping. You never know when you are going to run into an amazing bargain. And who wouldn't appreciate a big fat stack of high quality chocolate for Valentine's Day, aside from those people who just plain don't like chocolate (the poor poor souls)? I'm actually glad I don't have an SO right now or I would feel compelled to hide this away for Valentine's Day. Now I get to enjoy them all myself and report the results of my enjoyment here.

January 12, 2006

Snapshot Chocolate Greeting Cards

I ran into this a couple of days ago and have been rolling it around in my mind trying to figure out what to think about it. Snapshot Chocolate is in the business of putting digicam photos on chocolate. They specialize in commemorative items in all shapes and sizes - for births, baptisms, holidays or anything else you can think of - and chocolate picture parties. A quick trip to their site shows that they are quite adept at it. They print the photos with FDA approved food coloring inks and the results look fabulous. And now, according to a Tuesday press release, they will be offering personalized chocolate greeting cards. The cards will be housed in a CD case and will be available over the web or in traditional brick and mortar stores. It appears that the customization options are limited to names and dates but it is still a very neat idea and probably a lot cheaper than the photo printed chocolate offerings.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about sticking your, your child's, or your family's picture on chocolate and then giving it to somebody - presumably with the intention that it eventually be eaten. It just seems a little strange to want people to eat your baby, even if it is only a picture. And I'm not sure I'd even want to eat chocolate with pictures of my friends smiling back at me either. It would just feel creepy.

But I'm fully on board with the greeting cards. I know a lot of cards just go in the trash after a while and this way you leave a person with more than just a card that sits for a while and then meets it's eventual trashy fate. When this card is done sitting around the recipient gets to eat it. And then they can do whatever they feel like with the CD case. The important thing is that they get to eat the card. If somebody gives me a card I feel special. They though enough of me to get me a card. But if I get a chocolate card I'm thrilled. Not only am I special enough to be given a card, but they think enough of me to give me chocolate as well (and I’m somewhat fond of chocolate).

I think it's a clever idea that people will eat up (quite literally). They have a lot of lovely examples of their work on their website and there are a couple more pictures of the greeting cards on the press release so check it out. Very neat stuff.

Press Release
Snapshot Chocolate Website

Review: São Tomé Showdown!

Today we have something fun on deck. Dating back to the chocolate safari I have a Chocolatour São Tomé 70% cocoa single origin bar from Chocolove that has been awaiting my attention. It seems I also have a Lake Champlain Sao Thome 70% cocoa single origin bar that found it's way into my basket at Whole Foods today. And so I thought it might be fun to pit the two bars against each other in a grand São Tomé showdown!

I've said before that I am no connoisseur. I don't know if I have good enough senses of taste and smell to be a proper connoisseur. Today's showdown is an experiment of sorts. Comparing two bars of similar origin and cocoa content should hopefully help me spot nuances that I might not otherwise notice. That's my theory at least. We'll see how it plays out. On with the review!

Chocolove's entry in our showdown is a stunning glossy near-black, neatly molded and pretty. The Lake Champlain bar is neither as dark nor as glossy. It has a more flat unassuming appearance but is lovely all the same.

The Lake Champlain bar has a very sweet and fruity aroma. Too sweet to my untrained nose. The Chocolatour offering wasn't quite as sweet and left me with high hopes for the bar (I don't like overly sweet dark chocolate).

The fruit and sweetness promised in the aroma are there along with a nice hint of vanilla but aren't quite as stong as one would expect. The flavor has more chocolate than the aroma but isn't overly bitter and has a nice balance between the chocolate and the other notes. It was smooth but dry, though I think the added cocoa butter keeps it from being too dry.

The Chocolatour bar was similar to the Lake Champlain bar but the chocolate was stronger, more bitter, and the other flavors were more subdued. I don't know if it has anything to do with the lack of added cocoa butter but the taste is much more chocolatey with vanilla arriving toward the finish. The lack of added cocoa butter is really evident in the texture, though. It is very dry.

The Lake Champlain finish was lightly fruity (and woody?) and lingers nicely. The Chocolove bar continued very dry and has a strong lingering dark chocolate finish.

I'm a big fan of Chocolove and I enjoyed this bar with it's more straightforward chocolate flavor but I actually think that I like what the other flavors brought to the table in the Lake Champlain bar a little more. And I found the Chocolove bar to be a bit dry for my liking as well. Overall I have to give it an 8. I enjoyed it a lot, but it was lacking somewhat. The Lake Champlain bar was very nice. It was smooth and not overly dry and the other notes in the flavor were very nice. I'll call it a 8.75 and will probably give it a try again in the future.

January 9, 2006

Review: Godiva Platinum Collection 8 Piece Box

godivalogo.gifClocking in at an impressive $65 per pound I found myself in no hurry to try out Godiva's Platinum Collection. If it were not for the big post-holiday sale I would still not have taken the plunge. But with the 8 piece box down to a mere $7.50 I decided that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see if they had indeed produced something worthy of the name 'Platinum Collection' so I brought a box home with me. What I found was interesting to say the least. But $65 a pound interesting?

Mielodie - A salty sweet praliné enrobed in white chocolate.
Nocturne - A 72% cocoa dark chocolate ganache.
V.S. Comtesse - Dark chocolate ganache with a hint of brandy.
Iconique - Praliné with bits of hazelnut enrobed in milk chocolate.
Razabelle - Raspberry and vanilla caramel in dark chocolate.
Cœur - Praliné in milk chocolate.
Mokalata - A milk chocolate and cappuccino mousse.
Cherié - A dark chocolate covered cherry.

The pieces are all beautiful. They are using transfer sheets to put graphics on some of the pieces and the others have an amazing gloss finish and trim to them. I recently read that people are more apt to buy 'pretty' chocolates and these are pieces that play off of that predisposition. They are pieces that catch the eye and make their truffles look sad and bland by comparison. Take a look through the pieces in the collection and you can see what I'm talking about.

I didn't know what to expect from the pieces in this box. Nocturne was much like their standard dark chocolate ganache. The shell is overly thick and the ganache itself isn't as smooth as I would like but the intense dark chocolate flavor is wonderful. A piece that could be so much more than it is. The other ganache, the V.S. Comtesse, suffered from the same failings but had a very nice flavor, the brandy being very subtle but a nice addition. The mousse of the box, the Mokalata, was nice, but nothing I would consider terribly special. The Cherié was little more than advertised - a nice dark chocolate covered cherry. Very good, but not exceptional.

The rest of the box is caramel or praliné pieces and these are where the collection shines. At the opposite end of the scale from the fruit and ganache pieces we find the Razabelle. I would never have thought to put raspberry and caramel together but the combination is heavenly. This is my second favorite piece from the box and it actually deserves the 'Platinum' designation. Among the pralinés Cœur was very good but Iconique and Mielodie were exceptional. The hazelnut bits in the Iconique were very nice but it was the sweet and salty praliné in the Mielodie that stole the show. It was a perfect compliment to the white chocolate and it made Mielodie the best piece of the box in my opinion.

As far as individual scores go - ignoring price - I find Nocturne, Mokalata, and V.S. Comtesse to be a solid 8. Cherié sits alone at 8.5. Cœur and Iconique deserve a 9 and I'll go out on a limb and give the Mielodie and Razabelle a 9.5.

Overall Impression:
With a name like 'Platinum Collection' I had high expectations for this box and about half of it let me down. They were all very good pieces, but about half of the box didn't seem much better than the normal Godiva fare. Some of the standard fare is much better than the low end of this box (like the marzipan heart that has shown up in stores for Valentine's Day - that I'll recommend with no hesitation) and if you are going to bill the collection as something special then I think it needs to be a bit more special than some of the pieces here. At the same time half of the box was just shy of amazing and the pieces where they were truly creative were the best of the bunch.

So, the big question is this: in the end, is it really worth $65 a pound? If they kicked out five of the eight pieces I might grudgingly say yes. As it is I have to say no. The chocolates were all at least very good, but a lot of them just weren't $65 a pound good. I'll score the box at a 7 due to the fact that some of the pieces are pretty pedestrian (for Godiva) and the normal price is just pain high. If you can score the box for $7.50 like I did and it sounds like the standout pieces are the sort of thing you like then I would say it's worth a try. Otherwise I would say that unless you can score individual pieces - and I believe that the Platinum Collection is boxes only - I would have to say you should give it a pass. I got the box for $7.50 and that was at 50% off so the retail for it was $15. This is not $15 worth of chocolate. At least by my reckoning. Nowhere near. It isn't really even $7.50 worth of chocolate but there are a few pieces that border on art and make it - maybe - worth a shot.

The worst thing about this box is that now I'm curious about the rest of the collection and not sure I really want to pay the price necessary to find out how the rest of it stacks up, even at 50% off.

January 3, 2006

Review: Green & Black's Organic Maya Gold

Up on the review block today we have Green & Black's Organic Maya Gold chocolate bar. The first time I had tried Green & Black's chocolate I tried their Espresso bar and found it a bit too strong for my tastes but not being a big coffee person I figured that it was my fault and they were due a second chance. I must say that this bar is much more to my liking than the last.

I don't have the developed nose of a chocolate connoisseur and won't pretend I do. I will say that upon opening the bar I was greeted with a variation on the slightly sour, earthy chocolate aroma I have come to associate with organic chocolate. The aroma was a little spicy and had just a hint of citrus about it. The taste is very nice. The orange flavor that was hinted at in the aroma really comes through without being overpowering and the spices complement it and the chocolate nicely. The chocolate itself is a nice dark chocolate - smooth, not very bitter and pleasantly sweet. The spices keep me scratching my head, though. Tasting the chocolate and smelling the bar I keep thinking of making pumpkin pie cake - I come back to nutmeg and cinnamon. Green & Black's describe the bar having nutmeg, cinnamon and a hint of vanilla (which I missed entirely) so I'm apparently not too far off the mark. I think a little ginger in the mix would be amazing, but that's just me. Possibly the nicest thing about the bar is the fact that while it has the orange flavor it doesn't have a strong orange aftertaste.

Both the spices and orange are a nice complement to the chocolate and don't overpower it. The bar, like all good flavored bars, is very well balanced. The flavors are all complementary of each other and not overwhelming. On top of it all the bar is organic and Fair Trade certified - both important selling points for me. I have to say I really like this bar a lot and figure it to be about an 9 out of 10. Highly recommended.

Chocolate Motherlode Cake

I hate to simply steal somebody else's great find, but now and then something comes along that I feel I just have to share. Once again Slashfood (much love) have one of those astounding items that I just can't read and not pass on. I'll not repeat everything they have to say, but try to add a little something of my own to the mix so be sure to read the original.

It is a cake. A cake like no other. It comes in three or, for those special occasions, six layers. The six layer version is nearly a foot tall and a single slice weighs in at three pounds and is divided into 10 servings. And it's beautiful. Some spectacular food porn. The cake comes from a California based restaurant chain called Claim Jumper (why don't these items ever show up at Ohio based restaurants I ask you) and is available for all occasions. Claim Jumper appear to be pushing ever eastward and I might stop in their Lombard, IL (really close to Chicago) location next time I'm up to visit my sister.

Being the ever-inquisitive web nerd I stuck chocolate motherlode into my favorite image searches and found some very interesting little items. First is a recipe for the beast (*EDIT* the recipe I first posted has disappeared - such is the net - here is another recipe for it that hopefully is still accurate *EDIT*). The recipe is attributed to Claim Jumper so it may even be real. Next up is one more porntastic shot of a slice of the cake that is floating in limbo on the AZ Central site with no story to be found to go along with it. Rather than spit in the face of Copyright I'm posting a link to the poor orphaned picture. Check it out!

It occurs to me that you only ever really see these utterly out of control desserts involving chocolate. There is no vanilla motherlode or strawberry avalanche. There are occasionally out of control ice cream dishes but you pour chocolate all over them so they don't count. What is it about chocolate that makes it such a perfect food for over the top presentation? I'll personally go with the concept that if the implied decadence of chocolate on it's own is off the chart then multiplying it a hundred-fold can only make it more amazing. Just a thought.

Slashfood Article
Claim Jumper Restaurants
Pure Food Porn