Chocolate and fill-in-the-blank…

A couple of years ago, I worked on a food trend analysis for a client, and one of the trends I noticed was flavored chocolate bars. Not just any old flavor, though. No, definitely some “out there” flavorings were popping up in the gourmet marketplace.

The first brand I noticed was Vosges, and what was so unusual, besides the shockingly high price tag (I think the first bar I bought was $6, and some are selling for close to $8 today…for 3 ounces) was that they were pushing the envelope beyond normal flavorings for chocolate.

Vosges was incorporating ginger, chiles, wasabi, sesame seeds, and bacon into their haute bars of chocolate. It was mind-blowing. Some even sparked delight. The red fire exotic bar is exciting: delicate Ceylon cinnamon,  spicy ancho and chipotle chiles swirled in deep, dark chocolate.

The Mo’s Bacon Bar…eh, not so much. It wasn’t that I didn’t love the dark milk chocolate (41% cacao). The smoky bacon just completely overwhelmed the chocolate taste. These days, every pastry chef worth his or her salt is putting bacon on the menu, so combining bacon and sweets isn’t unusual. And in many cases it works.

I just didn’t think the Mo’s Bacon Bar worked. Still don’t. And they’ve recently introduced an organic enchanted mushroom bar (dark chocolate and mushrooms). Could their chocolate designers be tripping?

Not to be outdone, Theo Chocolates has introduced a line of  flavored bars called Theo 3400 Phinney (the address of the Seattle based factory). I’ve been hearing lots of chatter from the foodie world that these Theo bars are “to live for.” They’re organic and labeled fair trade certified. So I decided to check them out, you know, for you.

I bought three flavors: coconut curry (40% cacao milk chocolate); bread & chocolate (70% cacao dark chocolate); and fig, fennel & almond (70% cacao dark chocolate). All are 2 ounces and retail about $3.75.

Overall, the chocolate tastes superior to the Vosges bars. Perhaps because they’re thicker, or Theo takes a lighter hand with the flavorings or perhaps the chocolate really is better.

B+ :  If you’re not a fan of yellow curry powder, better skip the coconut curry milk chocolate bar, as it’s the predominate flavor. Love the texture of the minced coconut.

A- :  Not sure I get the flavor of the toasted bread crumbs that are listed in the ingredient list on the bread and chocolate bar, but it is a little crunchy and the chocolate is dark and rich.

C : I personally love licorice, just not sure it’s working in this fig, fennel and almond dark chocolate bar. I hardly taste the almonds and the fig is understated, too, except for the tiny crunch of fig seeds.


Filed under Book & Product Reviews

2 responses to “Chocolate and fill-in-the-blank…

  1. You totally hit it on the head – don’t get me wrong, I love it when chocolatiers are adventurous, but I always wanted to like the flavors you reviewed better than I actually did. Partly it could be the danger of naming them by flavor; it creates a more fixed expectation. I prefer to name by intention, and allow the ingredients to create their own emergent experiences that transcend preconceived notions. What does Inner Delight taste like? One just has to try and have one’s own experience.

  2. Lisa, thank you for that insightful comment. I definitely need to get to the farmers market and sample your chocolate. The line at West of Western for your goodies was so long, I decided to skip it, but I know there are lots of Wei of Chocolate fans here in the valley.

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