Blog :: Ramblings of a health nut

Mad Chocolate Part Two

Posted on 13 Feb 2016 by maisha (posted in: blogs)

In my previous post I wrote about my experience at Chocoa, the yearly chocolate festival in Amsterdam. Last year I was rather disappointed after my visit, but this year there were exciting workshops and newcomers at the fair. The only downside was that it attracted masses of people and thus I wasn't able to register for more than one demonstration.
Nevertheless I had a chance to meet many chocolate makers, taste amazing chocolate (sometimes the tasting samples were a bit too generous!), and I learned so many interesting things. I already touched upon the flavor explosions that the KACAU bars ignited and my thrill upon encountering Mucho Mundo Chocolate for the third year in a row (I mean, Mole & Pasilla Chile chocolate bars, seriously?!). Then there was the surprising newcomer Earth Loaf from India, of all places! But there was more, so much more...
I stocked up on Taza Chocolate, an old favorite from last year, at The Highfive Company stand. Taza chocolate is made by stone-grinding cocoa beans and the texture is what got me hooked the first time round, it's delightfully crumbly/gritty. They added quite some flavor combinations to their collection and I tasted all that were on display. I loved the raspberry nib crunch, even though I bought it for E.

The Highfive Company imports Taza chocolate and a a few other brands in the Netherlands, among which the new to me Antidote.
I ran into another old favorite: Ananda chocolate (Ecuadorian panela sweetened chocolate).

Then there were brick-sized tasting samples at Brick of Raw Chocolate. Their basic raw chocolate and Inca salt variety were the best.

I really liked that it came in a container of small 'bricks', which makes portion control easy. I asked about their ingredients but their answer was a bit vague. I wanted to know how it was sweetened, and I'm still not sure if they use sugar, but they did tell me that they use the sweet white mucus that encases the cocoa bean to sweeten it. I suppose they dehydrate it, then grind it, and use it.
Using the white mucus in the end-product is something new, but I discovered that the makers of Mashpi Chocolate also do it. Mashpi Chocolate produces 'plant to bar' artisinal chocolate in Ecuador. To learn more about that, visit their website! I bought a variety pack of all their bars, without tasting. You see the thing is, their product was on display last year at the Pro-Ecuador stand and I was really excited about their product then after tasting. Until I found out they weren't selling :-(

They have some really unique bars, such as the Chocho bar (which uses lupini beans as an alternative to milk powder, thus creating a vegan milk bar), the Guayabilla bar (with the native fruit guayabilla), and the bar with nectar de cacao (with a liquid filling made of the white mucus).
I also sampled another raw chocolate product from the Netherlands, the creamy coconut from Ridiculously Good.

What I like about their concept are their cute and completely biodegradable (even the plastic!) packaging. Their creamy coconut bar was nice, but to be honest, I make a similar kind of bar at home which I like more. So to me, the bar itself wasn't very exciting.
The same applies to the bars from Hands Off my Chocolate.

They have a lot of milk bars, which I suppose appeals to the general public. They also have a 70% and 85% bar, which were good but nothing to get excited about. What I do like about their bars is that they are pre-scored in rounds, rather than squares, which adds a fun factor.
There were also some great non-chocolate bar products on display. For example this absolutely divine pistachio cream, made with 50% pistachios, extra virgin olive oil, sugar, and salt (no milk). From Marco Colzani. It was so frickin'good that I bought two pots, one for me and one for E. No way am I sharing, not even with him! ;-)

And I simply had to bring back some beer for E... the imperial stout from Brouwerij het ij that uses cacao nibs supplied by the Chocolatemakers and the Illimani espresso porter from Ramses that uses both coffee (from Illimani) and cacao.

The bottle of unfiltered avocado oil from MIRA is an absolute game-changer! I have sampled my fair share of avocado oils, but nothing compares to this one. Imagine squeezing the essence out of an avocado till the very last drop, all its flavor, richness, and fantastic fats. Then bottle it up and you've got this oil.


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