Thursday, October 29, 2015

Super Simple Granola Bars with a Touch of Chocolate for Halloween!

Looking for a delicious treat that you can send to school for Halloween, or just everyday with NO NUTS in it? Check out these Halloween-style granola bars that I made up earlier this week.

I first made 3 Ingredient No Bake Peanut Butter Oat Squares, but instead wanted something that: a) included chocolate, and b) could be sent to school to abide by the no-nut policy. So I bought some sunflower butter (I like the taste better than no-nut/soy butter), then decided on my chocolate choices and got to work. I also wanted to add some crunch, so I included a cup of crisped rice cereal.

You can press this into a 9 x 9 inch pan lined with foil or plastic wrap and cut them in logs like granola bars.  But if you press it out a little bit flatter on a plastic wrap-lined cookie sheet or large cutting board, you can cut shapes using cookie cutters! I made these for Halloween, but you can certainly plan ahead and gather some cookie cutters for American Thanksgiving or Christmas.

I included chocolate drizzle on some, organic chocolate chips on others, and for the ghosts, I dipped them entirely in tempered white chocolate and sprinkled shredded coconut on top. I put some out for my daughter's Halloween birthday party, and sent others to school in lunch bags all week long (in clearly marked bags that say 'sunflower butter, not peanut butter!').

I was also excited because this was a great way to use my super delicious Crum Farm & Stables Honey that I brought back from my trip to Missouri, where my friend owns a honey bee farm.

Here is the recipe if you want to make them:

Recipe: Super Simple No Bake, No Nuts and No Flour Granola Bars

You need:
  • 1 cup sunflower butter (I used Nuts To You Nut Butter brand, but also recently discovered a delicious sunflower butter in the bins at Bulk Barn)*
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 cups rolled oats (use gluten free oats for a diet-specific treat)
  • 1 cup crisped rice cereal
  • Optional: Chocolate for drizzle -  you need only 1 to 2 ounces or Chocolate for dipping -  for dipping you need 16 ounces (white, dark or milk - whatever you like!)

Other Optional Ingredients:


1. Line a baking sheet or large cutting board with plastic wrap or waxed paper.

2. Melt the peanut butter and honey together until smooth over the stove, or in the microwave.

3. Toss in the oats and crisped rice cereal and stir until combined. If adding chocolate chips, toss them in now.

4. Pour out onto your lined pan.  Spread out with your gloved hands or place a sheet of waxed paper on top of the mix and roll it out with a rolling pin. Spread or roll to 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick, depending on the size you want (but be warned, the thinner it is, the harder it will be to handle.  Dipping it in chocolate will firm them and resolve that, but you must be careful while doing so if you don't want them to break while dipping).

5. Using cookie cutters of your choice, cut out various shapes.  Re-roll the left over mix and cut more until you run out of mix. Set aside while you prepare your chocolate.

6. Melt and temper your chocolate for the following...

   To drizzle: pour your tempered chocolate into a snack-sized Ziplock bag, then cut a tiny hole in the corner to drizzle over the granola bars.  It is helpful to place the granola bars on a cooling rack while doing this so that any extra drizzle drops below.

   To dip in chocolate: melt and temper your bowl of chocolate (for tempering instructions, click here).  Then using a large fork, or chocolate dipping fork if you have one, carefully lift up each granola bar and then lower into the bowl of chocolate. Press below surface, then lift and tap the fork several times on the edge of the bowl to let much of it drip off (otherwise you will have large 'tails' of chocolate around your granola bars.  Then carefully place it onto a piece of waxed paper on the counter by first angling it, then edging it off the fork. Immediately sprinkle coconut on top before the chocolate cools and sets.  Let set on counter for an hour, or in the fridge for a half hour.

7. Seal in an airtight container or package individually in treat bags. Consume within a week.

Prefer Peanut Butter?
*If you want to use peanut butter instead of sunflower butter, go right ahead! I tried this recipe with a variety of peanut butters before trying the sunflower butter option. I used organic or natural peanut butters, including Maranatha brand, NATUR (out of Montreal brand, and Skippy Natural with Honey, which added an extra boost of honey.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Is Sweeter Better? Proof may be in this line-up of lightly sweet, dark chocolate by Patric...

Last week, I wrote about Pralus chocolate, and seemingly the 'French' or more European way of making chocolate, where indulgence and 'par plaisir' are still the primary features - and selling points - of fine chocolate. High cocoa butter content is the key to a rich and indulgent chocolate.  But what is the traditional American version of fine chocolate?

Patric Chocolate is a brand that stands out in my mind as a hybrid between the over-the-top high cocoa butter chocolate of the French, and the new American-style of uber healthy, three-ingredient-or-less craft chocolate. You see, Alan McClure, the head chocolate maker, owner and founder of Patric Chocolate spent a year in France, and started his chocolate company upon coming back from the country of rich and indulgent food. And I believe his chocolate is representative of what he experienced in France.

Mr. McClure's mission, according to his chocolate bar packaging, is to "create the finest single-origin, blended and flavored chocolate bars imaginable." And I believe he has been tackling this mission with fierce determination.  With a range of dark chocolates with 67% cocoa solids, instead of the 70% to 80%, and higher (so much higher these days) that other chocolate makers are focusing on, Patric has an approach that says to me, "Let's see how good the chocolate can taste and make it dark, but still indulgent the way it was intended to be."

The world renown chocolate makers of recent past - before the worldwide bean-to-bar craft chocolate trend took hold - were Valrhona, Michel Cluizel and for professionals, Cacao Barry, among others. They were the ones who seemingly introduced single origin chocolate to North America, along with a widespread offering from Lindt.  And most of those chocolate makers introduced dark chocolate in the mid-to-high 60% range, knowing that a little extra sugar can open up the palate and allow more tasters to truly enjoy the origin flavours.  Let's face it, very bitter chocolate takes some getting used to, but certainly all kinds of chocolate lovers can palate a 60-something percent chocolate bar and enjoy it.

In my opinion, Mr. McClure has offered a range of dark chocolate bars that enable more people to enjoy his chocolate, by way of sugar percentage in the chocolate, and in the vast and unique flavour combinations that he explores.  

Now let's take a closer look at a few of those chocolate bars, and the wide range of intriguing flavours in which they come.  I recently purchased several Patric Chocolate bars in Missouri, very near where they are made, from Root Cellar in the city of Columbia. I also received some as gifts, which were purchased at JoJo CoCo in Ottawa. And so now I have tasted nearly every flavour - but check out the Patric website - once per month you can purchase the monthly releases online, and you can sign up for the newsletter to find out when the release is available.

Patric PBJ OMG Smooth Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter Blend, 2.3 oz (65g)

The Patric PBJ OMG chocolate bar was revolutionary when it was introduced nearly five years ago. Simply using peanut butter and the natural flavours of raspberry, citrus and berry found in Madagascar origin chocolate, Mr. McClure was able to mimic the flavour of peanut butter and jam without added flavourings. And we are now seeing other chocolate makers add peanut butter to their chocolate bars to achieve similar success and loyalty among their customers as Patric has achieved with the PBJ OMG bar (I could eat one of those every week for the rest of my life and be a happy chocolate lover!).

The PBJ OMG chocolate bar is a prime example of how Patric Chocolate is a hybrid of American-style chocolate and French chocolate. A French chocolate maker would likely not add peanut butter to chocolate, more likely choosing hazelnut or almond butter.  But in America (and ahem, Canada), peanut butter and chocolate is a natural - and probably the most common - pairing. And so this chocolate is both fine and single origin, as was introduced to us by French chocolate makers, but yet it embraces a truly American flavour combination.

Madagascar 67%, 2.3 oz (65g)
This two-time Good Food Award winning chocolate bar is super smooth and super flavourful. Normally 'raspberries' come to mind when I taste Madagascar chocolate, but in the case of Patric's bar, I find it to be more like blackberries, which is a sweeter, yet similar berry flavour.  I also find a hint of purple grapes. I tasted this against Dick Taylor's 72% Madagascar, and noticed that DT's has an overwhelmingly raspberries & citrus flavour in comparison.

Piura Dark Milk, 2.3 oz (65g)
I purchased two of these bars and wish I had purchased 10! I had already tasted Patric's original Dark Milk Chocolate and thoroughly enjoyed it, but this one was new to me. It was complex, with smooth and buttery caramel flavours, and also lightly acidic from the salt. The chocolate results in a less-sweet indulgence - not quite dark chocolate, and not like sweet milk chocolate.  Sort of like how cheesecake is a rich dessert that is not sweet like regular spongy cake, but rather rich and indulgent.

Holy Mole 65%, 2.3 oz (65g)
"Tongue Tickling Dark Chocolate, Cinnamon & Chiles" is an the entirely accurate description for this chocolate bar. The chocolate begins with a sweet taste and an incredibly smooth texture that quickly melts away into cinnamon and then the heat of the chilies. The heat lingers long after the chocolate and sweetness is gone. The overall effect is a tingling on the tongue.  And I can tell you from experience, that it has a wonderful effect on the sinuses during a head cold.

Mocha OMG 63%, 2.3 oz (65g) - I LOVE this chocolate bar.  The coffee flavour is built into it in a super-smooth way. Smooth, rich and sweet, like a perfect cup of sweetened espresso. One of my fav's!

There are several more chocolate bars under the Patric brand, such as the Habernero 67%, the In-NIB-itable bar or the Signature 70% chocolate, but I think I have covered enough for today! Take my word for it - try them all - you won't be disappointed!

For more information on Patric Chocolate, visit:

Monday, October 19, 2015

François Pralus Chocolate: Intended for Indulgence

I recently tasted a line-up of 75% single origin chocolate bars by François Pralus. The most noticeable feature of Pralus chocolate is the high cocoa butter content. The chocolate, upon first bite, is very soft and creamy, with a 'fatty' mouthfeel. And although 'fatty' does not sound like a nice way to describe it, the experience is certainly pleasant, and very much indulgent.

Pralus reminded me of the month I spent tasting dark-milk chocolate earlier this year. When I tasted Bonnat or Michel Cluizel, against any of the other brands, they had a noticeably creamier mouthfeel, and clearly a higher cocoa butter content.

This makes me curious about the cultural influence on chocolate making.  Old school French chocolate brands seem to focus on chocolate as a pleaure ('par plaisir' as was advertised so much about indulgent food when I was living there). Many of the 'new school' chocolate makers focus on minimizing the cocoa butter content, and sticking to 'two-ingredient chocolate' for health benefits or to highlight the flavour of the bean. These two ingredient chocolate bars are often stiffer, with a slower melt-in-the-mouth effect. But Francois Pralus, Bonnat and Michel Cluizel still maintain their indulgent, cocoa butter-rich texture.

Another noticeable feature of Pralus' origin chocolate is the statement of bean type on each package.  Being a fine chocolate lover and a continual learner, I like to be educated about the chocolate on the package. For instance, on the Pralus chocolate bar packages, I learned immediately that the Djakarta bar is made from Criollo and Trinitario type cacao, whereas the Cuban bar is made from Trinitario-only beans, and the Indonesia bar is made from Criollo-only beans. I appreciate the upfront information, so I don't have to spend time requesting it from the company.

Overall, these chocolate bars were exquisite. I loved that they all had the same percentage of cocoa solids (75%), so I could truly focus on and taste the differences between the origin of the cocoa beans. I enjoyed tasting all three of them. I am also looking forward to tasting more of Pralus's chocolate in the future.

Here is a list of the Pralus origin chocolate bars that I tasted, and some tasting notes on each:

François Pralus 'Cuba Trinitario 75%' - the high cocoa butter was quite instantly noticeable, with a creamy taste; and the overall spicy flavour was not at all what I expected from Cuban chocolate.  I am not sure that I have tasted Cuban-origin chocolate until now, but I was expecting something fruity and tropical. A very interesting chocolate.

Ingredients: 75% cocoa, sugar, pure cocoa butter, GMO-free soya lecithin. May contain traces of nuts or milk.

François Pralus 'Djakarta Criollo - Trinitario 75%' - also creamy, bitter, and slightly strange flavour described as woody and mushrooms on the package. I also found a flavour of deep roast and a hint of fruit.

Ingredients: 75% cocoa, sugar, pure cocoa butter, GMO-free soya lecithin. May contain traces of nuts or milk.

François Pralus Indonesie Criollo 75%' - This chocolate is much lighter in colour than most dark chocolates. And upon tasting it, there is an instantly noticeable smokiness, with an aroma of smoked sweetened ham, It was very bold and shocking at first, with a bitter taste. I tasted this directly against Spencer Cocoa's Vanuatu chocolate bar, and I found that Pralus' Indonesia has a much bolder smoke flavour. Spencer's is a milder flavour that hits you on the finish, but lingers quite distinctly as a mild smoke flavour. Pralus' certainly highlights the distinct smoke flavour of Indonesian cacao.

Ingredients: 75% cocoa, sugar, pure cocoa butter, GMO-free soya lecithin. May contain traces of nuts or milk.

For more information about François Pralus and Patisserie Chocolaterie Pralus s.a.s., visit the company website at:

I purchased each of these chocolate bars online for $6.95 each from La Tablette de Miss Choco, a bean-to-bar chocolate boutique in Montreal:

Friday, October 16, 2015

Pressing Cocoa Butter from Cocoa Beans with The Chocolate Doctor

Last Friday, Dr. Kerry Beal (a.k.a. The Chocolate Doctor) stopped by for a visit while she was working up here on Manitoulin Island. And for some afternoon fun, she brought a cocoa butter press! This was super exciting for me, since I have not had the opportunity to extract cocoa butter from cocoa beans. And yet, it is such an important step in the making of many fine chocolates.

Kerry's little cocoa butter press was ordered in from Piteba in Holland. And in actuality, it is an 'oil expeller', which the company's website says can express the oil from any nuts and seeds that have with more than 25% oil, and they include a spec sheet on settings for cocoa beans. Although, as many of us know, cocoa beans are very different. 

The original cocoa butter press was invented by Coenraad Van Houten in 1828 in Amsterdam, which began the Van Houton cocoa powder and beverage line (once the cocoa butter is pressed out of cocoa beans, you get a hard mass leftover that can be ground into cocoa powder). Cocoa butter is desired by chocolate makers to add in to chocolate for a creamier mouthfeel.

Small presses are not widely manufactured and sold these days, and some chocolate makers are forced to build their own in order to make truly single origin chocolate (ref). But Kerry somehow got her hands on this press from Holland and has been testing it out to extract cocoa butter for use in the EZtemper

On Friday, we used the Piteba oil press to try to extract the cocoa fat from some Brazilian cocoa beans from Cacao Bahia farms, with the hopes of using the cocoa butter extracted to make single origin chocolate. I make homemade chocolate in the blender, so I need a little extra cocoa butter added to my chocolate to help the appliance grind the chocolate down. And I prefer that the cocoa butter comes from the same beans that I use to make the chocolate.

Also, since I have an EZtemper, all the cocoa butter that I need to temper the chocolate is 1% of the entire batch of chocolate being tempered. The EZtemper would then keep the cocoa butter at a precise temperature, so when added to chocolate that is at 33.5º Celsius or less, it tempers it instantly.

We tried whole unroasted beans - with shells on - as was the method told to Kerry by the maker of the oil expeller, but that was a bust.  Shells came out the hole where butter as supposed to drip from, and cocoa butter came out where the cocoa mass should have! But there was hope, since some cocoa butter did come out - just not from the right spot. Unfortunately, this method caused some waste of beans and extracted very little cocoa butter.

This is the tiny amount of Brazilian origin
cocoa butter that we extracted - it is difficult to see in the picture,
but to give you an idea, the container it is in is a very small 1/4 cup measure.
But it may be enough - a little can go a long way in the EZtemper!

So we tried again with nibs. That too didn't work well, but after a third attempt that evening with warmed steamed beans, Kerry achieved enough to get 1% for use in the EZtemper.  She has since been working on a method of cooking the chocolate mass to extract the cocoa butter, which seems to be working better than the press that should have extracted it. You can see this method on her YouTube page:

I do plan to use the small amount of cocoa butter that we extracted - it is a very tiny amount, but the aroma is so chocolaty that it should not be wasted!  I will use it in the Brazilian-origin chocolate that I am making next week. I'll let you know the results soon! 

But right now, I have a festival to get ready for on Saturday.  If you are local to the Sudbury-Manitoulin region, you can find me at the Espanola Pumpkin & Fibre Arts Festival on Saturday, selling a special pumpkin-spiced chocolate TOFFLE, as well as all my other chocolate creations.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The New CLIF Organic Trail Mix Bars are full of dark chocolate!

I love dark chocolate.  It was not my first chocolate love, but it certainly has become my life-long obsession. I also love nuts, particularly whole almonds, and peanuts, and all other kinds too. I eat almonds every day as a mid-morning snack, and dark chocolate of course. So when I brought home a box of the new CLIF bars 'Organic Trail Mix', I was super excited because these granola-style bars had giant chunks of organic dark chocolate in them, and a handful of whole nuts in each one, and they were gluten-free!

My family fell in love with these new CLIF bars immediately and it ended up that I could only eat one! One! They whipped through the box faster than I could tell you about them on this blog. So when I received a box of samples a few weeks back, which included the entire flavour range of trail mix bars, I was happy. So happy in fact that I hid the box from my family so I could savour and enjoy each one.

Truthfully, I thought my favourite would be the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter flavour - and it was good - but I actually liked the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond bar the best.  All of the trail mix bar flavours were delicious, and very filling.  And actually quite convenient as a snack for me, given my busy work schedule this Fall in the commercial kitchen.

I bought a box of 20 CLIF bars at Costco for $21.99, but they are also readily available at most grocery and natural food stores in Canada for $1.99 each or online at You can learn more about them here:

Friday, October 2, 2015

Shortbread Cookies with Reese Peanut Butter Middles!

A few weeks ago, I shared a recipe for a delicious Reese Peanut Butter half-baked cheesecake, made with the new Reese Spreads.  And I still had some left over this week, so I started playing around in the kitchen and came up with these amazing little cookies.  Butter shortbread cookies with Reese spread in the middle.  And since Reese spread tastes just like a peanut butter cup, these little babies were absolutely delectable!

My kids loved them too.  I didn't make a large batch, so I think I will have to run out and buy another jar of Reese soon so I can make more.

The best part of this recipe is that it has only 4 ingredients and is super simple to make. So let's get started...

Recipe: Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate Peanut Butter Centres

Time: About 1 hour.
Batch Size: Makes about 27 to 28 cookies.

·         1/2 pound (250 ml) of butter, room temperature, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes

·         1/3 cup (80 ml) of organic golden cane sugar, coconut sugar or regular granular sugar

·         2 cups (500 ml) of unbleached all-purpose flour

·         About 140 ml of Reese Spreads or 27-28 teaspoons. 
Baking Instructions:
1. Place flour and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (I use a KitchenAid mixer) or in a large mixing bowl, if you don't have a mixer. 
2. Stir for a few seconds to mix the two dry ingredients together. 
3. Toss chopped butter into the mixer while it is on low so the butter evenly distributes. Mix until it becomes coarse crumbs or all starts to stick together (at least 10 minutes).  If you do not have a mixer, you will have to use your  hands to knead, beat and mix the batter together until it forms a ball - this will take longer but it is possible. 
4. Take the cookie dough out of the bowl and kneed it on the counter using a little flour to ensure it does not stick.  On a lightly floured surface, roll it into a thin ball.
5. Dust your work surface, the dough and rolling pin with flour, then roll out the mixture to about 1/8 inch thick with a large a rolling pin. Use a cookie cutter, small round measuring cup (I used a 1/3 cup round measure) or a small juice glass to get the shape of the cookie that you want.  Using a flat lifter, place half of the cookies on a pan lined with a piece of parchment paper.
6. Then place a teaspoon of Reese spread onto the center of each cookie.  Then place another unbaked cookie on top and press the sides to stick the cookies together.
7. Bake in an oven preheated to 350º F for 12 to 15 minutes, or just until the very edges are beginning to turn golden.
8. Let cool on the counter for 30 minutes, then carefully use a lifter to place them on a plate until fully cooled. Enjoy!
For leftovers, seal in an airtight container.  Keeps well for 4 days.  if keeping longer, freeze in a sealed container. 
Note: The product I used in this post was given to me by Hershey's Canada. I was monetarily compensated for one of the two posts I wrote on this product - the other one I did just for my own pleasure!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Askinosie Chocolate Factory: A Tour and Taste Sensation in Springfield, Missouri

Just over a week ago, I visited the Askinosie Chocolate Factory in Springfield, Missouri. Super-friendly Sarah gave me a tour of the craft chocolate factory that was both inspiring and mouth-watering. She not only told me about Askinosie's artisan chocolate-making process, but also the company's beautiful mission to be socially responsible both at home and abroad.

What I learned was that Askinosie not only makes great chocolate, but also that they ensure social and environmental responsibility is included in every aspect of their chocolate making. This is just some of what they do:

  • The wrappers are environmentally friendly and fastened with strings re-used from the burlap sacks that the cocoa beans are delivered in.

  • Local and American partners are used to provide any chocolate inclusions that are needed for their 'collaboration' chocolate product line, giving this company (who requires international trade as part of business) to also be locally focused.

  • Focusing on direct trade with the farmers who grow the cacao that is used to make Askinosie's chocolate.  They also bring this focus to the customers, by placing a picture of the farmers directly on the label of Askinosie's origin chocolate bars. By visiting the farms and paying farmers directly, more money goes to the farm and the workers, so they are not working and living in poverty as many cacao farmers across the world are doing.

  • Affecting communities and schools in both their own city (Springfield) and the villages where they buy cocoa beans. Chocolate University is an Askinosie program that annually takes groups of kids from local Missouri schools on a trip to Tanzania to learn about the business of chocolate making, and to understand how local artisan businesses can help solve world problems. The program also funds projects in the local Tanzanian village where they visit, such as a deep water well and a Sustainable Lunch Program at a local secondary school.

  • Using goat's milk in their milk chocolate bars so that people with cow's milk allergies and insensitivities can enjoy their chocolate (let's face it, this is also benefitting us foodies who love a great adventure for the palate, and for a little wine and chocolate pairing fun).

Askinosie also does so much more.  You can read about other programs on their 'Product of Change' web page:

Touring the Chocolate Factory

As for the factory tour, it was fun.  Being an 'artisan' chocolate factory, it is not a long process to tour the facility, but still informative and eye opening. I was curious about how much equipment is needed for Askinosie, given that in the last month they started selling a custom product line at select Target stores in the U.S., and their artisan chocolate bars are sold to chocophiles all across the U.S. and Canada in specialty shops. The refiner was quite large, and the melangueur was gorgeous.

Askinosie Chocolate Refiner, in which most of the dark chocolate is made!
Shame I couldn't have brought a pail of my own to fill from its massive tap.

Goat's milk white chocolate is churning away in this large sized stone grinder.
That's a lot of chocolate!

The product on the shelves in the wrapping room seemed to reach epic proportions.  I was also quite impressed that Askinosie has its own press to make cocoa butter and powder (cocoa beans are pressed to extract the fat, 'cocoa butter' and the remainder can be used to make cocoa powder). This is a rare activity for craft chocolate makers, but it is worth while because Askinosie can truly make 'single origin' chocolate by using cocoa butter from the same cocoa beans used to make the rest of the chocolate bar.

Askinosie is one of the few artisan chocolate makers who presses their own cocoa butter.
This is where the magic happens.

Overall, it was a fun tour and definitely worth the drive to Springfield, Missouri. The town was also amazing (I could easily live there), and they even had an organized 'wine walk' through the entire downtown area on Thursday night, where wine lovers could pay $45 for a glass and participation in countless wine offerings at various local businesses (Yup, I could definitely live there). We also stayed at the University Plaza Hotel Convention Center in downtown Springfield, which was beautiful, with a very unique layout and a cool social lounge setting in the center of the hotel. It was also walking distance to the local restaurants and pubs.

Enough About the Tour and Social Responsibility, What About The Taste?
As for the taste of Askinosie's chocolate, I can tell you it is fantastic.  Not only is the owner, Shawn Askinosie, famous in the fine chocolate industry for making a quality product, but also for Askinosie's interesting chocolate flavour combinations. I think I have now have tasted all of their products, from the past limited edition chocolate bars to the current chocolate offerings at the factory (I purchased so much chocolate that I broke my chocolate budget for the month - or three - but it was worth it).  And I can tell you from experience that it consistently exceeds expectations.

Most of Askinosie's chocolate is dark, and certainly with a bitterness that appeals to dark chocolate lovers, but also they make a few white chocolate bars, and some collaboration bars with a little more sweetness. Here are my tasting notes on some of my favourite Askinosie chocolate bars:

The 4-Bar Box:
You can purchase Askinosie's line-up of single origin chocolate bars separately, or in a lovely gift pack of four chocolate bars that saves you some money.

The entire series of chocolate bars had complex layers of flavour, with bold roast and bitter tones that were thoroughly enjoyable for the dark chocolate fanatic. I found the acidity to be low in each of the dark origins. Here is a detailed report on each:

Tanzania Origin Chocolate by Askinosie: 72% Dark Chocolate
This chocolate bar was creamier in texture than the other two origins, and to me, had and an instant bitter flavour reminiscent of tobacco smoke, spice and dark roast coffee before it opens up to a berry fruit flavour and perhaps dried cranberries. Also, maybe a hint of dried grass. It is my favourite.

Ecuador Origin Chocolate by Askinosie: 70% Dark Chocolate
This Ecuadorian chocolate is made with Arriba Nacional cocoa beans. It is both bitter and sweet (like honey), with a smoky, earthy flavour and perhaps some nuttiness. I taste no fruit in this chocolate, particularly compared to the other two fruity origins I was tasting it against, but the package says you 'might' taste red fruit. Also, a dark roast flavour is evident, leaving a bitter and wonderful smoke flavour that lingers.

Honduras Origin Chocolate, Askinosie 70% Dark Chocolate
The Honduras chocolate bar has a snappier, stiffer texture, which is instantly noticeable on the palate. It is fruity, with a sweet-and-bitter cocoa taste highlighted by some roast flavours. As for the fruit, it's slightly citrus acidic, but also has red grape and other fruit undertones.

Davao, Philippines 62% Dark Milk Chocolate + Fleur de Sel (Goat's milk chocolate)
This is somewhat acidic, lightly salty, and has the taste of soft goat cheese, not as strong as in the white chocolate, but still very apparent. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes not. It depends on my taste buds at the time. It tastes great with red wine.

CollaBARation Series of Chocolate Bars:

The CollaBARation product line by Askinosie has the most interesting chocolate bar names on the planet.  The flavour combinations are just as intereting.  Here are some of my favourites...

Malted Milky Dark Chocolate... partner with
Jeni`s Splendid Ice Creams
The only milk chocolate made by Askinosie with cow's milk - tart and, well, malted. This falls on the darker side of dark-milk chocolate. It is quite bold, bitter and intense, with a delicious melt-in-your-mouth after-taste. I truly enjoyed it.

'The breathless Mexican sun, vanilla pods echoing in crisp chocolate depths, sings "el rustic!"' - did you get all that? This one is a collaboration with Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Michigan for some of his 'carefully curated' vanilla.  Morsels of vanilla beans are sprinkled on the chocolate bar, adding a chewy, tasty texture to the chocolate, in addition to a crunchy, minimally processed texture. Truly a unique take on a vanilla bean chocolate bar.

Same Home Same Place Chocolate, Chocolate. Coffee.  A Quiet Balance, the Perfect Texture.
This dark and bitter chocolate has the bold and strong taste of coffee thanks to a partnership with Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago, and their direct trade coffee.  It is rich, bitter and delicious. If you like dark chocolate (and coffee!), you will like this chocolate bar!

Askinosie has many other flavours of chocolate bars.  They also sell drinking chocolate (hot chocolate mix), and a delicious dark chocolate hazelnut spread.  For more information on Askinosie and their chocolate factory, products, tours and business activities, visit:

For more information about chocolate in Missouri, visit my recent post: