Chocolove’s Raspberries in Dark Chocolate, Orange Peel in Dark Chocolate and Toffee & Almonds in Milk Chocolate

imageAccording to the Chocolove site, “Chocolove started as the classic entrepreneur story – a dream, a garage, extended credit card debt and loans from friends and family.” Founder Timothy Moley is described as “a tall and slightly eccentric man, [who] reminds you a little of Willy Wonka . . . his laid-back attitude, wry grin, and lanky physique would never lead you to believe he is a man who lives and breathes chocolate, and has been consuming two chocolate bars, every day, for the past ten years.”

Seriously? Apparently so.

Even before tasting the bars, I note Chocolove seems to be doing a few things right: they operate out of Boulder, Colorado, in “an unassuming building where a little magic takes place. . . using the timeless combination of chocolate and love”; they import chocolate and cocoa butter from Belgium; they list the percentage of cocoa on the label (purportedly among the first American companies to do such a thing); and they include on the insides of their wrappers snippets of poetry from centuries past.

Arguably, this last might have little to do with chocolate, unless you count the whole chocolate-as-lifestyle thing, which Chocolove’s founder seems to. I may not eat two chocolate bars daily, but I’ll do my best to catch up here.

It’s a little daunting to think the three bars in front of me — Raspberries in Dark Chocolate, Orange Peel in Dark Chocolate, and Toffee & Almonds in Milk Chocolate — would only make up one and a half days of Mr. Moley’s intake. I’ll just eat all three at once, call it a binge, and move on.

Raspberries in Dark Chocolate contains 55 % cocoa. Ingredients: dark chocolate and freeze dried raspberries. Inside the wrapper is a stanza from “I Love Thee” by Eliza Action (17 April 1799 – 13 February 1859), a cooking poet famous for producing one of England’s first cookbooks written for domestic cooks rather than professional chefs. “I love thee as I love the first young violet of the spring . . . ”

The chocolate is smooth and without the dreaded waxy underflavor of inferior chocolates. 55% still allows for too much sugar, in my opinion, and the bar, while pleasant, is slightly too sweet. The dark crunch of raspberry is tart and delicious, going a long way toward saving the bar with a hint of tartness. It’s strange that the raspberry bits all lie on the bottom — or perhaps in the manufacturing process this would be floating to the top? Makes sense, actually. The crunch of the freeze dried inclusions is actually very, very nice, and their red color is startling, pleasing. This may be a personal preference, but I love the crisp texture against the fine grain of the chocolate. Good aftertaste of cocoa and berry seeds, which I happen to like. Pairing with a cup of good black coffee or champagne might be the ticket to cutting the sweetness.

Orange Peel in Dark Chocolate has 55% cocoa content. Ingredients: dark chocolate and freeze dried orange peel. More Acton inside the wrapper: “I love thee, as the glad bird loves the freedom of its wing / On which delightedly it moves in wildest wandering . . .”

Orange and chocolate is my father’s favorite sweet combination, so I’m eager to see whether this one makes the grade. Chocolove chocolate is made in small batches, and it might be my imagination, but this bar seems slightly smoother, perhaps a smidgen darker than the raspberry bar with the same cocoa content. Perhaps it’s simply that the orange pieces cut or carry the chocolate better, though I prefer the actual raspberry bits to the orange ones. The orange is nice too, however; on the tongue it becomes almost caramel in texture, though richly citrus. Another pleasing chocolate bar, if still slightly too sweet for dark chocolate.

Toffee & Almonds in Milk Chocolate notes 33% cocoa content. Ingredients: milk chocolate and toffee (with almonds). After the sweetness of dark chocolate, I’m a little nervous about the milk. It should be mentioned that two of my favorite confections are toffee bark and marzipan, so this one stands a good chance with me.

After reading the poetry snippet (first published in 1616 by Ben Johnson, a contemporary of William Shakespeare’s: “Drink to me only with thine eyes, and I will pledge with mine; or leave a kiss but in the cup, and I’ll not look for wine . . . “), I dig in. The toffee parts to this one are also good. Strong, crisp, flavorful. I can’t help wishing for a larger inclusion component, though that might just be my love for toffee bark exerting itself. The milk chocolate, like the dark, is slightly too sweet. Anyone who’s lived in Europe for any amount of time and then tasted American chocolate will know what I mean; the sugar really shouldn’t overwhelm the flavors of the inclusions, and especially not the subtle flavor of the cocoa itself.

All in all, three delightful chocolate bars if one has a particularly sweet tooth. Pleasant finish and texture to each, and a variety of interesting flavors to choose from and dead poets to sample.

Camille Alexa

Camille Alexa is the alter ego of another odd-lit writer who also loves warm bread, big dogs, serial commas, and post-apocalyptic love stories. Her work has appeared in Fantasy Magazine, Ellery Queen's & Alfred Hithcock's Mystery Magazines, and numerous anthologies such as Machine of Death and The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir. Her collection of short stories, PUSH OF THE SKY, received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, was shortlisted for the Endeavor Award, and was an official reading selection of Portland's Powell's Books Science Fiction Book Club.

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