Product Review

Dark Chocolate Showdown!

There are so many delicious dark chocolates out there, and knowing that they’re full of antioxidants and can help with things like high blood pressure and heart disease makes them even that more enticing.

So we tried out six types of dark chocolate and rated them for your viewing pleasure… it was a hard task, very hard, but somebody had to do it.  Chocolates were rated by richness, sweetness, and overall deliciousness, each on a five-point scale.  Oh, some of them are not rated on all three ’cause I explained the directions poorly… sorry.  Because they were so different and all delicious, we didn’t pick one favorite, and I’m putting the individual scores on for your perusal!

The Judges

Judges

The Chocolate!

1. Theo Organic Dark Chocolate

70% cacao, made in Seattle, Washington, theochocolate.com

  1. Laura: Richness 2, Sweetness 3.  “Somewhat of a bitter aftertaste. Started out creamy, but fell apart.”
  2. Ruark: Richness 4, Sweetness 4, Overall 4.  “Nice, mild dark chocolate.”
  3. Erika:  Richness 4, Sweetness 5.  “Amazing!”
  4. Jacqueline: Richness 2, Sweetness 3.5, Overall 3. “Sorta dry.  Nice and deliciously bitter but blah texture, nice and nutty.”

2. Nirvana Single Origin Sao Thome

70% Cacao, Made by hand wth the “finest cocoa beans available in the world”.  Cocoa beans from Africa, made in Belgium, NirvanaChocolates.com

  1. Laura: Richness 3,  Sweetness 2. “Didn’t stand up against no. 1 for flavor, much more mild, but almost no flavor – somewhat fruity. While I thought it had a soapy aftertaste, my friend liked this one more than the first.”
  2. Ruark: Richness 4.5, Sweetness 4.5, Overall 4.5.  “Very similar to #1, a bit more of everything but just slightly.
  3. Erika: Richness 3, Sweetness 2. “Nice aftertaste.”
  4. Jacqueline: Richness 4, Sweetness 4, Overall 4.  “Creamy, tangy.”

3. AlterEco Dark Chocolate Blackout

85% Cacao.  Made from fair-trade, Bolivian cocoa beans in the Swiss tradition.  Contains no artificial flavors, chemical additives or emulsifiers. AlterEco.com

  1. Laura: Richness 4,  Sweetness 2,  Overall 3.  “Way too bitter – sour in flavor.”
  2. Ruark: Richness 3.5, Sweetness 3, Overall 3.25.  “A bit bitter, almost tangy.”
  3. Erika: Richness 3, Sweetness 1, Overall 2. “Bitter, a little citrusy.”
  4. Jacqueline: Richness 3, Sweetness 1, Overall 4.  “Very bitter, good strong taste, I LOVE bitter chocolate.  Would be good for baking in sweet dishes?

4. Phinney Chocolate Factory Nib Brittle

65% Cacao (contains milk). “Fair prices, direct trade, community development and environmental stewardship”  From Theos Chocolate.

  1. Laura: Richness 1,  Sweetness 4,  Overall  2.5. “We didn’t like this one – very grainy, though that could have been the “brittle” – it stayed grainy in the mouth. Very sour aftertaste.
  2. Ruark: Richness 4, Sweetness 4.5, Overall 4.25.  “Nice flavor with the chips”.
  3. Erika: Richness 3, Sweetness 3, Overall 3.  “I like the crunch, but it’s a little bitter.”
  4. Jacqueline: N/A… No milk for me.  Note the lower the cacao content the higher possibility of milk.

5. Pure and Dark Chipotle Rounds

No other information (cue mysterious music).  From a delicious shop on the corner of Bleeker and 10th Street in NYC.  Dark chocolate with a dusting of Chipotle!

  1. Laura: Richness 5, Sweetness 4, Overall:  4.5.  “Nice and creamy, very nice kick to it, and a lovely sweetness behind the heat.  Wonderful surprise!”
  2. Ruark: Richness 4.5, Sweetness 4.5, Overall 4.5.  “Nice richness and sweetness, but WHOAH!! What a kick!”
  3. Erika: Richness 5, Sweetness 2, Overall 3.5.  “Oh, spicy!  Intense, I only ate one.”
  4. Jacqueline: Richness 5, Sweetness 4, Overall 4.5.  “Very creamy, love the kick, taste even more awesome the more you eat.  Good for a meat recipe!”

6. Pure and Dark Cardamom Rounds

Same deal as above, but with a dusting of cardamom!

  1. Laura: Richness 5,  Sweetness 5, Overall 5.  “This was my favorite – love the cardamon, very creamy and a wonderful combination of sweetness and spices – fantastic!”
  2. Ruark: Richness 4.5, Sweetness 4.5, Overall 4.5.  “Another flavorful chocolate, accentuated nicely by the cardamom.
  3. Erika: Richness 4, Sweetness 3, Overall 3.5.  “Less spicy but still has some kick.
  4. Jacqueline: Richness 5. Sweetness 5, Overall 5. “Love the cardamom!
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Devouring the Delicious Monster

Monstera Deliciosa - The Delicious Monster Fruit!

Hello, meet Monstera Deliciosa, a delicious food of the fruit variety that is easy to prepare and delectable to eat!

I was shocked at meeting this fruit at my favorite local healthy-foods store, Integral Yoga Natural Foods.  Tucked away by mangoes and strawberries was this very phallic, scaly, alien-like fruit that completely weirded me out… so of course I had to try it!  Ends up Monstera Deliciosa is incredibly delicious.  I just wanted to get that out of the way… in case you really don’t trust the name… and are doubting purchasing this radical food.

About Monstera Deliciosa:

Alternate names: Ceriman, Swiss Cheese Plant (or just Cheese Plant), Fruit Salad Plant, Monster fruit, Monsterio Delicio, Monstereo, Mexican Breadfruit, Monstera, split-leaf philodendron, Locust and Wild Honey, Windowleaf and Delicious Monster.

Origin: Mexico and Central America

Interesting Facts: This plant is most common as a leafy decorative plant and grows naturally in moist, warm climates, suffering with any frost.  The fruit doesn’t usually grow indoors, but rather in the wild where the plant will hide from the sun in order to find the shade of a tree on which to plant itself and grow upwards towards the light.  The fruit is actually an ‘unripened flower spike’ (source one) that takes at least a year to mature fully before harvesting.

Health Benefits / Warnings: Don’t be afraid by the following: because of its high content of oxalic acid, the unripened fruit can be toxic, causing itching, swelling and asphyxiation.  But if you’ve bought the fruit rather than hacked it off a tree yourself, you’re good.  The mature fruit contains a small amount of oxalic acid, which is common in a few other fruits and may cause a slight itchiness in the mouth and tongue if you’re sensitive to certain allergens.  I am very sensitive to certain allergens and found myself surprisingly fine with this fruit!  Health wise, Monstera Deliciosa has a good amount of vitamin C and is a natural energy booster due to the rush of natural sugar and water content.

Observations: The first observation my roommate and I made was that the flesh smells amazing! Like a really strong Jolly Rancher or an entire fruit salad concentrated into a small kernel.  The fruit itself is soft and a bit slimy, but that only makes it more delicious as it melts in your mouth.  The taste is a combination of pineapple and banana, a surprising delight of both sweet and a tad tart in one bite.

How do you serve and eat Delicious Monster? I was happy just to eat it alone with a spoon, but throwing it over icecream, yogurt or cereal would be an appropriate plan, as would sticking it in a smoothie or baking it into a crepe.

How Do You Prepare Delicious Monster?

  1. Place the fruit in a paper bag or upright in a glass, stem side on top.  Let it ripen naturally – which takes 2-4 days depending on the age of the fruit and the humidity.
  2. When the scales have started to peel off, gently remove remaining scales with your fingers, revealing the soft white flesh underneath.  Warning: this may remind you of skinning an iguana or a nightmare you had as a child after watching an alien movie.  Keep in mind, the fruit coming to you is named Delicious Monster for a reason!
  3. Using a thin knife, remove the now delicate and somewhat slimy scales from the hard and inedible core.
  4. Mix into a smoothie, sprinkle on yogurt or cereal, or eat raw for an unbelievably delicious treat!

Step One: Place the whole fruit upright in a glass or in a paper bag to ripen, stem side up

Step Two: Fruit is allowed to ripen naturally and the scales fall off

Step Three: Peel away the green scales to reveal the white flesh underneath

Step Four: Cut the flesh away from the core

Interesting links / sources: University of Connecticut, Tropical Fruit Photo Archive

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