Chocolate Arts – Vancouver

Chocolate Arts is a Vancouver based chocolatier ūüćĀ. They produce handmade chocolate made from fine chocolate & local ingredients.

I’ve ordered chocolates from here several times, usually picking up chocolate¬†truffles, bon bons and infused bars. Everything I’ve had so far has been exceptional. This time I decided to try one of their chocolate bars.

I went with the Allure 71.1%. This bar was carefully crafted by Chocolate Arts owner Greg Hook along with experts from Cocoa Barry. This bar contains beans from several regions that combine to create the perfect blend of flavors. 

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This bar contains beans from Mexico, Dominican, and Peru.

Tasting

20170608_191929.jpgThe chocolate begins with a slow melt followed shortly by vibrant fruity flavors. The flavor is complex, blending fruity notes beautifully with the flavor of bitter dark cocoa.

 

Review

This bar is very unique. At ~71% bars this dark usually do not have such a pronounced flavor, the dark bitter notes usually overwhelm the fruity/nutty flavors. The fruity notes in combination with the smooth dark cocoa was very interesting. 

Rating: 95/100

Easily one of the best bars I’ve had. I don’t think I’ve had a bar like this one before. The chocolate is not as bitter as traditional bars in the range, where bars around 70% are usually more bitter or astringent; This bar is well balanced.

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Organic Fair Chocolate

20170403_192158Last time that I had this brand was several years ago. I picked up a couple bars thinking they were very unique and interesting flavors.. they weren’t bad, but nothing really stood out.

The flavors that I picked up in the past were mixed nuts and fruit bars. This time I went with simpler chocolates. I picked up coconut + 60% dark, and a plain dark bar 83%.

 

COCO-MILK – 60%

20170403_191805The first bar is the coconut and dark chocolate. This blend is pretty common especially for vegan chocolates that want to simulate the creaminess of a milk chocolate. The coconut milk in my opinion is much better than milk chocolate, this of course depends on the bar.

Tasting ~

The chocolate begins to melt quickly. The texture is soft. The chocolate flavor is there with a hint of coconut. 

 

FORTE

20170403_191753This bar is a 83% dark chocolate. Nothing too special here. This the label reads “serious dark chocolate”.¬†

 

Tasting ~

A mild cocoa flavor with slight bitterness. The chocolate is dense and melts slowly. The chocolate ends with a lasting cocoa flavor on the palate. 

 

Review

These bars were okay, nothing special. The coconut bar was good but not as good as the other coconut bars I’ve had, the chocolate overpowered the coconut so you could barely tell it was there.¬†

The dark chocolate bar was like any other generic dark chocolate bar you would find. The chocolate flavor was pretty one dimensional. 

Rating: 65/100

Recommended? No

Edible but not recommended. It’s not the worst chocolate I’ve had, buts its nothing special.

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Fine Chocolate – Whole Foods

So I decided to a pay a visit to Whole Foods to check their chocolate offering. It’s been awhile since I’ve visited here in search of fine chocolate.

I was a bit upset with what they had. I went expecting to pick up something from my favorite chocolatiers: TCHO, Taza and several others but none were found. Appears that Whole Foods has stopped importing these probably due to the low Canadian dollar :(.

I had to settle, I decided on three bars. The first brand, Organic Fair, which is not new to me. I’ve had their chocolate before and was disappointed in the quality. I decided to give them another chance by trying some of their other chocolates. This time I went with  their ‘COCO-MILK’ and ‘FORTE’. Both new to me. Let’s see if they have improved.

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The other bar I came across is from Galerie Au Chocolat. From Montreal! ūüćĀ I’ve always seen these but never tried them due to their packaging. I know.. “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but if you saw these you might assume I got them from the dollar store. Today I’ll give them a shot, lets see how they fare.

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I’ll be reviewing the cinnamon bar now. The other two bars will be covered in the next blog post.

 

Cinnamon – 72% dark

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cinnamon dark – 72%

I picked this one up because I love cinnamon. Cinnamon rolled churros, cinnamon tea, etc. Cant get enough of the stuff. This bar is also dark, 72%. I expect the flavor here to be subtle with a hint of cinnamon.

 

Tasting ~

Rich dark chocolate fills the palate. As the chocolate melts you begin to taste hints of cinnamon. As it dissolves further the cinnamon powder becomes noticeable adding a significant texture to the chocolate. The chocolate ends leaving you with a robust cinnamon taste  and smooth dark chocolate.

 

Review

20170402_121853Yeah.. I regret not trying this bar before. It was great, they should definitely improve on their packaging though.

I’ve had chocolate with cinnamon before, but this was the first dark blend. I don’t usually expect much from dark blends since the dark usually overpowers the flavor and does not usually bring out the flavors as well as a milk(~40-55%). This bar at 72% is well composed. The dark chocolate was strong but still allowed for the cinnamon to come through beautifully.

Rating: 78/100

Recommended? Yes

Definitely a bar worth trying. This bar actually reminded of my favorite Taza cinnamon chocolate which helps fill the void Whole Foods now has.

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SOMA – 3.26.2017

Let’s take a look at some other¬†forms of chocolate. Here I have two white chocolates, one containing mango + spices and the other, blood orange + carrot. Made in Canada, by SOMA :).

SOMA is a small chocolate shop that produces amazing bean to bar chocolate in Toronto’s distillery district. They’ve won several awards for their dark chocolate bars and other creations. While I was considering reviewing some of their dark chocolate, I instead decided to try out a few of their more recent¬†chocolates. Being that I live close to Toronto you will be seeing more of their creations¬†in the future.

The purpose behind this chocolate is not to showcase the cocoa but rather to create a blend of flavors that mix deliciously with the cocoa butter.

Let’s start with the bar.

Mango Chili Bar

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I love fresh mango. This bar contains so much mango, more than cocoa contents itself! The cocoa content(which is just cocoa butter) still adds a creamy and smooth texture to the chocolate.

I’ve never had mango with¬†chili and lime before, but this seems to have added more depth to the mango with the chili adding a nice kick.

Tasting ~

As you place a piece on your tongue the chocolate begins to melt easily. Starting with a subtle kick of chili. Strong flavors of mango and spices come through. The texture is dense & creamy. The flavor ends with smooth mango.

Carrot & Blood Orange Cone

20170326_115323This¬†chocolate also has¬†a high carrot and orange content. I’m not a fan of carrots, but I do love citrus fruits and blood oranges in particular.¬†

Tasting ~

The first most prominent flavor to come through is carrot. The carrot and blood orange come together to create a flavor that almost tastes like honey. Ends with a well rounded flavor. Not too sweet, well balanced. 

Review 

This is not the first time I have had white chocolates with fruits. My first was from Zotter Chocolate from Austria. With blends of banana and coconut. Those were magnificent. This reminded me of those. The flavors here were well balanced not too sweet and really brought out the best of the produce.  I really enjoyed these.

Rating: 92/100

Recommended? Yes

If you enjoy white chocolate with mixed flavors¬†then I’d highly recommend these. These are remarkable chocolates and SOMA has done a wonderful job with the blending of spices and flavors.¬†

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ENVOL CHOCOLAT

This is the last box in the series of chocolate from Paris’s La Maison Du Chocolat. This box contains¬†5 different bon bons, each with complex and interesting flavors. I’ve saved the most unique for last. This box will show you how creative chocolatiers can¬†be, and how simple changes to a bon bon can create very different¬†and interesting experiences.

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bon bon – sliced

The name of this box is Envol. The chocolatier behind this box, Nicolas Cloiseau has created something special. Nothing I’ve really seen before, in bon bons that is. His goal for this box was to create light and airy chocolate. He achieves this by whipping the ganache so that air bubbles develop, creating a very light and bubbly¬†ganache. You can notice the visible difference easily in the picture of the sliced bon bon. Note how in my previous post the ganache was smooth with no texture.

Let’s begin.

Fleeting Noir

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The Fleeting Noir is a dark chocolate bon bon without cream. It is pure dark chocolate in a cube with pockets of air to keep it light.

Tasting ~

I’m a quite surprised with this one.¬†Its a dark chocolate bon bon without cream, but it is not too bitter or heavy. It appears that whipping the chocolate gives more than just texture, it creates a flavor that is more¬†subtle and sweet.

Absolute Raspberry

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This bon bon is mixed with a raspberry puree and dark chocolate ganache. Covered in dark chocolate.

Tasting ~

Unlike the emotion chocolate the raspberry in this is not strong. This may also be due to the light fluffy ganache. The raspberry and chocolate flavors appear to be competing and neither of them stand out.

Puff of Lemon

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Puff of Lemon is a bon bon filled with a lemon infused dark ganache with lemon and lime zest.

Tasting ~

I noticed that even though this bon bon had similar air bubbles to the others, the melt was much slower. The lemon with its zest appear to have added weight to the ganache causing the ganache to feel heavy. The lemon does not come through, almost as if it were an after taste.

A Burst of Praliné

Untitled4A burst of praliné is the most unique in this box so far. It features the same bubbly texture as the others, but also contains slivers of caramelized almonds and hazelnuts mixed with a milk chocolate ganache. Covered in dark chocolate.

Tasting ~

I really enjoy a good texture in chocolate, this one is very unique. The chocolate is so light, mixing it with thin but crunchy praline is magnificent. The chocolate starts off crisp and airy but then melts elegantly onto the palate. The flavor is nutty and sweet, strong flavors of caramelized nuts comes through vividly.

Creamy Lait

Untitled5This is our last bon bon for this box. It is a milk chocolate with a bubbly texture. 

Tasting ~

Just like the Puff of Lemon, I found the ganache to bit a bit heavy compared to the rest. This is probably due to the milk ingredients in the ganache. I did not find the bubbly texture to be as noticeable as the others. This bon bon is also much sweeter than the others, I’m aware its a milk chocolate but the sugar overpowers the chocolate a bit too much.

Review ~

This was a interesting box to open. I’ll be honest, I did not like most of the chocolates in this box. Not because they were not good chocolates but because of the contrast between the ones I enjoyed and the ones I did not. Fleeting Noir and A Burst of Pralin√© were amazing chocolates. Those two are the highlights of this box. As for the others.. they were not bad but failed to compare. My rating for this and all other boxes in the future will be based on the best chocolates in the box and not average of them. I prefer it this way so that you do not miss out on the hidden gems that are in these boxes that may be overlooked¬†due to a lower rating.

Rating: 88/100

Recommended? Yes.

Alright, so I said I didn’t like most and then I said I recommended it. This was a tough choice. If you could pick the best √† la carte then you should go with two that I mentioned. If you cannot, then I’d recommend the whole box. The other chocolates are good, but the two I recommended are exceptional. They carried the weight in my decision.

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EMOTION CHOCOLAT, FRUIT

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bon bon –¬†sliced

The next item in the french series is bon bons. If you’re unfamiliar, a bon bon is filled with chocolate that is mixed with heavy cream. This mixture is called a ganache. The ganache is then enrobed with tempered chocolate which creates a thin crisp shell. This is my favorite form of chocolate. Bon bons¬†allow the chocolatier to express their creativity as the¬†ganache can be mixed and flavored in many unique ways.

I have two different boxes of bon bons in this series. The first box I am about to share with you in this post is a simpler form.

In most cases when you get a box of bon bons it contains a variety. This box of chocolate contains 4 different varieties of which I will provide a tasting of, and end with an overall review.

The name of this box is ‘Emotion Chocolat – Fruit’. I’ll begin with the Andalousie.

 

Andalousie

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The Andalousie is filled with a dark ganache infused with lemon zest and lemon cream. The bon bon is covered in a layer of dark chocolate.

Tasting ~

Let me start by saying, bon bons are very different than pure dark chocolate bars. As you’ll see relative to my review of the dark chocolate bar, their flavors are more obvious, intentionally. Bon bons are designed to excite the palate, where the chocolate is used as a medium to blend exotic flavors and is therefore not always the focus.

This bon bon though, has a mild lemon taste. The chocolate overwhelms the lemon. Lemon zest is found, adding texture to the ganache.

 

Salvador

2017-03-16_18.35.18Next is the Salvador. This bon bon is filled with a dark ganache, mixed with a blend of raspberry pulp. Covered in a layer of dark chocolate.

Tasting ~

This bon bon has a sharp rasberry taste. Right as you bite into it the flavor of raspberry overwhelms the palate. Almost as if I were eating a bowl of raspberries!

 

Chiberta

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Chiberta is our next bon bon. This one is filled with a dark ganache. Similar to the Andalousie, the ganache contains orange zest and orange cream. Covered in dark chocolate.

Tasting ~

This bon bon has a mild orange flavor. Similar to the Andalousie, it also contains orange zest pieces that add to the texture.

 

Maracuja

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Maracuja is our last bon bon for this box. Filled with a dark ganache, combined with fresh passion fruit juice and pulp. Covered in dark chocolate.

Tasting ~

Like the Salvador, this has a very strong flavor within the first bite. The passion fruit flavor is vibrant and smooth.

 

Review ~

You might assume this being a fruity box of chocolates it must be overwhelmingly sweet, it’s not. A good chocolatier should not have to add much sugar to bring out the flavors. This box¬†is a great example of that. This being a box¬†of bon bons that are entirely dark makes this an even greater achievement.

Sure, the lemon and orange were not too strong. I’ve found that citrus flavors are harder to bring out, especially with dark chocolates. These bon bons did very well considering. As someone who loves citrus fruits, finding dark chocolates that incorporate them well is quite difficult.

Overall I really enjoyed this box.

I was planning on using different scoring systems but I think I’m going to keep it simple. A simple scoring from 0-100, a yes or no recommendation and end with a description of the reason. I’m keeping the rating¬†since it will be a useful tool in comparing different chocolates.

Rating: 85/100

Recommended? Yes.

I really enjoyed this box. I love when chocolate is mixed well with fruity flavors. The raspberry and passion fruit were my favorites. If you enjoy fruity flavors with chocolate, this is highly recommended.

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CUANA BAR 74% – Dark

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Cuana Bar – 74%

Lets start with something simple, clean. A bar made from 74% pure chocolate.

A great chocolate bar can only be made with the finest cocoa beans. This bar contains a blend of 4 different beans from Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Africa. I personally prefer single origin bars, but in this case I went for something different and was not disappointed.

Tasting ~

For a bar with high cocoa content it is surprisingly smooth and not dry. The chocolate begins melting with a slight bitterness. Flavors of caramel and vanilla become more pronounced as the chocolate dissolves. As this is a bar with several beans, the flavor profile is quite complex, but well balanced.

Review ~

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74%

Overall this bar was great.¬†This bar is a wonderful blend of a variety of beans. It’s not too bitter, and has a creamy texture.

As this is my first review I will introduce my rating system for chocolates. I’d like this system to be useful to you, hopefully as a guide to¬†help you decide if you would be interested in ordering this chocolate for yourself in the future.

Scoring will be the same for all dark chocolates. I will have separate scoring for other chocolates, white and mixed/blended flavors.

Score:

7/10 – Flavor profile

9/10 – Texture

Overall: 8/10

Recommended? No.

Based on my score this is a very well rounded dark bar. The reason I do not recommend the bar¬†is mainly due to how similar it is to many dark bars that are already out there. There’s also a slight bias as I favor single origin and enjoy the flavor from those bars much more. ¬†The profile from this bar is a bit too generic, not bad, but too similar to warrant a higher score.

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Welcome

Welcome. This is blog is dedicated to bringing you the finest chocolate from around the world. If you’ve stumbled upon my blog you’re probably also a huge fan of chocolate. This blog however is focused only on the high end chocolate. No Cadbury ¬†or Hershey here(if you would even call those chocolate).

While I have had many chocolates already from around the world, there is are still many more to try. A few of my experiences include wonderful Japanese chocolate(ES Koyama), to Austria(ZOTTER) and to Canadian(SOMA) chocolate. I hope to bring these back into my blog and review them but I will also include new experiences as well.

Our first chocolate experience will be from France, La Maison Du Chocolat. Stay tuned as I work on my first content post with pictures and in depth tasting reviews.