Tag Archive: tasting

Trader Joe’s Chocolate Passport – Tanzania 73%

Chocolate of the week: Tanzania

Tanzania is a country in Eastern Africa bordered by Uganda and Kenya to the north. Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are to the west, while Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique lie to the south.

Germans brought cacao to Tanzania in the 1880s, and although there is a long history of growing cacao, the yield is fairly small. It’s about half the amount grown in the West African countries of Ivory Coast and Ghana. But Tanzanian cocoa production is growing.

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Trader Joe’s Chocolate Passport – São Tomé 70%

Chocolate of the week: São Tomé

The island nation of São Tomé & Príncipe is located in the Gulf of Guinea off the western coast of Central Africa. It is one of the smallest countries in Africa.

The main language is Portuguese, having been settled by Portugal throughout the 1600s. The rich volcanic soil is ideal for sugar, coffee, and cacao. São Tomé became independent 1975.

The Portuguese brought cacao from Brazil to Principe and Sao Tomé in the early 1800s.

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Trader Joe’s Chocolate Passport – Papua New Guinea 70%

Chocolate of the week: Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean and occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea.

Chocolates made from the local cocoa beans are somewhat hard to find because the volume of cacao grown and exported from PNG is pretty low compared to other cacao growing nations.

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Trader Joe’s Chocolate Passport – Dominican Republic 70%

Chocolate of the week: Dominican Republic

Today’s chocolate bar is a 70% dark chocolate from the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic shares the tropical island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

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Trader Joe’s Chocolate Passport – Ghana 70%

Chocolate of the week: Ghana

Ghana is a West African nation located on the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ghana shares a border with the Ivory Coast in the west, Togo in the east, and Burkina Faso in the north.

Cacao is Ghana’s main cash crop to export. It is the world’s second largest exporter of cocoa beans. The number one exporter is their neighbor, Ivory Coast.

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Trader Joe’s Chocolate Passport – Venezuela 70%

Chocolate of the week: Venezuela

Venezuela sits along the northern coast of South America. Colombia borders on the west, Guyana on the east, Brazil on the south. The islands of Trinidad and Tobago are off the northeast border.

Like many cacao growing countries, Venezuela has regional climates that produce cacao of different flavor profiles.

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Chocolate Tasting

Chocolate never fails to give an enjoyable experience, especially if you are enjoying quality chocolate. It provides rich and intricate flavors that vary from one chocolate to another.

Truth be told, the flavor components found in chocolate are more than those of red wine. You get the full experience in eating chocolate if you savor it by eating slowly. Every type of chocolate offers a different set of flavor profiles.

We know all too well that chocolate is derived from cacao beans, like wine comes from grapes. The flavors of the cacao beans are hugely affected by certain factors, namely geographical location, climate, conditions of the soil they're planted into, the processes they undergo after being harvested, and their unique genotypes. And since there are a lot of factors that influence the flavor of a single chocolate bar, it's crucial to taste meticulously to get the fullest flavor it can give.
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Chocolate Pecan Caramel and Petite Sirah

Bogle Petite SirahDuring a recent chocolate and wine tasting program, I introduced the pairing of a dark chocolate covered pecan and caramel cluster with a Bogle Petite Sirah. 

Looking for a wine that would work with cluster, I described what I needed and then took the suggestion from a very knowledgeable wine guru.   But up until serving it, I had not tried this particular combination.  This always makes me a bit nervous because I am using something unfamiliar, yet I’m simultaneously excited to try something new.

The pairing did not disappoint!  This wonderful twosome worked great in the tasting and would also be a very satisfying after dinner treat.
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Chocolate and Beer Pairing – Pale Ales

In the opening post of this series I mentioned that there are three categories of beer that pair well with chocolates.

The third group of beers include pale, bitter beers, such as India Pale Ales.  These also tend to do well when paired with chocolate…

India Pale Ale was created in the 1820’s for the voyages between England and India.  The three month voyage would have to cross the equator twice.  So not only was the journey long, but it was also quite warm.  Since time and high temperatures are bad for beer preservation, typical beers sent to India arrived in very poor condition.
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Chocolate and Beer Pairing – Belgian Ales

In the opening post of this series I mentioned that there are three categories of beer that pair well with chocolates.

A second group of beers are the Belgian-style ales... 

These beers are typically amber to brown in color, with high alcohol content (often greater than 8%) and are usually quite fruity in their aroma.  Candy sugar (like a hard rock candy) may be added to the barley malt to increase the alcohol level without darkening the color or making it too malty.
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