choccie rally: taza, chuao, and lulu’s

2 May

Should stores really be selling specialty Valentine’s chocolate for full price in mid to late April? Who would buy this stuff now??

And then, a brief moment later, I answered my own questions. They keep such goods on the racks because they know some poor sucker will fall for old – albeit limited edition – chocolate, hook, line, and sinker.

That sucker was me.

Mi Corazón (translation ‘My heart,’ or ‘My love’) was a special Valentine’s chocolate put out by Taza, in tandem with the Mi Cariño stone ground bar flavored with cherries and cacao nibs. The Mi Corazón, pictured here, is flavored with organic rose oil and Costa Rican vanilla beans.

The bar’s flavor actually reminded me somewhat of honey, in a mellow but luxurious way. Similar to other Taza discs, this ‘Chocolate Mexicano’ bar was made with a Oaxacan stone mill, and as such, has a somewhat gritty texture. Some find this repulsive, but I find it thoroughly exciting.

A tasty special edition that, being three months past its sell-by date, I maybe shouldn’t have paid $4.75 for.

I’ve recently read a lot of reviews of Chuao’s fanciful chocolate bars. The people are clamoring to try Chuao’s bars flavored with potato chips and popping candy.  I finally had the chance to buy some Chuao (chew-WOW!) when down in Bangor last month, and snatched up the Honeycomb bar right quick like.

I guess the hype was right, because this was one of the most enjoyable chocolatey eats I’ve been treated to. The caramelized honey provided an ample crunch, giving the bar a thrilling and chompychomp sort of texture.

60% cacao made of beans from the Aguasanta Growth Initiative in Venezuela provided the base for this bar. I enjoyed how the fruity flavor profile of the chocolate mingled with the mouth-pleasing feel and taste of the honeycomb.

Honestly, I don’t know how I made this bar last a week. Through luck, perhaps. It skews toward candy bar in its eatability, and is a bit pricey for the end-product. But if you have access to Chuao, give this bar a try – it is delightful.

To round out this review are two raw chocolate bars from Lulu’s Chocolate in Sedona, Arizona. Being raw is not enough for Lulu’s: their bars are made with low-glycemic coconut palm sugar, are wrapped in 100% compostable Natureflex foil, and are packaged with recycled paper printed with soy and vegetable ink.

Made of Arriba Nacional cacao from Pacari in Ecuador, Lulu’s chocolate bars are touted as Ecuadorian, Fair Trade, vegan and gluten-free (what? I thought I was eating a box of cereal…? Not!); in other words, I think the claims made on the packaging are over-the-top and distracting. This might help them reel in the unsavvy-about-chocolate-yet-snobbish-about-food crowd, but I find it sort of annoying.

Luckily, the chocolate itself is quite enjoyable. I sampled the Aztec Crunch, a 75% cacao base studded with cacao nibs. With additions of vanilla and sea salt, this bar melted nicely despite the thick sheath of nibs on the bar’s underside. The texture wasn’t overly chalky; rather, it was some of the smoothest raw chocolate I’ve had. Notes of coffee, nuts, and citrus pushed through the strong chocolatey taste.

I also tasted the 78% Raw Love bar, which used vanilla to highlight the flavor profile of the chocolate. The initial sampling of this bar was quite curious. In letting its nutty and fudgy aroma melt on the palate, something truly fermented-tasting surfaced briefly in my mind, or perhaps on my tastebuds. This was quickly replaced by edgy notes of wood and earth, with ‘edgy’ indicating that the chocolate was near-bitter in taste, but not quite.

The only issue with Lulu’s bars, in my mind, is that they are mere 1 ounce rectangles. They’re also quite pricey, retailing for $3.89 each on the brand’s website. So while I Of Great Fortune received these as a gift from my boyfriend’s Sedona-venturing parents, I can understand faltering and floundering upon seeing the price tag. If raw chocolate interests you, however, I recommend giving these a try.

For more info:

Taza Chocolate

Chuao Chocolatier

Lulu’s Chocolate

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16 Responses to “choccie rally: taza, chuao, and lulu’s”

  1. Alayna @ Thyme Bombe 2012/05/02 at 15:52 #

    Caramelized honey…mmmmmmmm. That’s all I needed to hear.

    • emma 2012/05/03 at 07:59 #

      It was fantastic – so crunchy good!

  2. cheezyk 2012/05/02 at 19:09 #

    Not so sure about the rose oil and vanilla bean but I’m pretty sure the cherry and cacao nib would have suckered me in … full price or not!

    • emma 2012/05/03 at 08:05 #

      Probably not me, I believe that bar cost $8 originally, whereas this was under 5. I can’t picture paying $8 for Taza, ever. But….. we know that I should never say never when it comes to chocolate!

      • cheezyk 2012/05/03 at 19:18 #

        $8?! (eyebrows shoot to the top of forehead) – I take it back, I probably would not have bought that one either

        • emma 2012/05/10 at 09:29 #

          I know, it’s a bit pricy, huh?

  3. Sarah (Thyme) 2012/05/02 at 21:02 #

    I love these chocolate reviews. I’ve NEVER seen one of those chocolate bars. I wonder if different chocolate is sold in different parts of the country. Headed out West tomorrow so I am going to keep an eye out for on the chocolate selections I see…

    • emma 2012/05/03 at 08:08 #

      Different chocolate is definitely sold in different parts of the country. I’m always thrilled to get to Boston, because that’s New England’s gateway to West Coast chocolatiers and chocolate makers! There’s a whole lot of chocolate that I don’t have access to – unless I order online, that is. But … meh.

      Let me know what you end up finding out West, I’d love to hear! :)

  4. Hannah 2012/05/03 at 05:10 #

    This is an evil, evil post. As much as I whinge when you post about chocolate with, say, orange or raisins, I’m secretly happy because I don’t have to yearn for them. These? These I desperately, desperately want. ALL OF THEM.

    *whimper*

    P.S. If anyone in Australia put out quality Valentine’s-themed chocolate, I’d buy it anytime of the year. This is perhaps the only context in which I dislike the fact that Australia isn’t insane with branded holidays like you lot ;)

    • emma 2012/05/03 at 08:17 #

      No, not evil. Fun! Nice! Innocent! Heavy in calories! Free of raisins!

      I’m sorry you can’t have these. But I am an okay second to enjoy them, right? Riiiiight? Right? Right? Please??

  5. Silvia 2012/05/03 at 14:18 #

    That last one is a beautiful bar of chocolate! But messy to eat, I guess?

    A nice collection you have there… I’d love to try them (except maybe the first one, I’m not too fond of the rose flavour to eat!)

    • emma 2012/05/10 at 09:30 #

      It actually wasn’t as messy as it looked, I was quite surprised!

      And as for the rose flavor, I didn’t find it overly noticeable. The bar tasted more like honey to me than roses:)

  6. John Hickman 2012/05/04 at 15:13 #

    Hey Emma! If the forestry thing doesn’t work out, you could easily make it as a chocolate critic. Your reviews resonate with the piquant prose of a sophisticated oenophile. Only better. Your nose knows chocolate!

    Meanwhile, back at your alma mater:

    http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2012/04/30/u-forestry-class-uses-qr-codes-trees-connect-public

    • emma 2012/05/10 at 09:34 #

      John! Thank you for leaving a comment! While I’m slow to respond, it’s only because I’ve been having such a terrific time having my parents out here with me in Maine:)

      Piquant prose is what I strive for, and I only hope that I don’t resonate with the snobbishness of a sophisticated oenophile! ;)

      I saw that article about the QR codes that the forestry students were using, how wild. Hopefully it won’t help them cheat during dendrological exams!

  7. Adrian Briones (@food_rehab) 2012/05/07 at 01:47 #

    I love how I can read your blog and discover so many exciting chocolate varieties. The packaging reminds me of how cheese is packaged LOL

    • emma 2012/05/10 at 09:36 #

      Ah, cheese. It’s probably for the best that I discuss chocolate on this blog. If I let nicely-packaged cheese sit around in a ‘cheese drawer’ for months before reviewing it, my house would probably be a whole lot stinkier!

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