Monday, November 07, 2011

Dr Chocolate w Trader Joe's, Fearless & Moonstruck

Anyone following me on twitter knows that I go to therapy once a day, therapy with #DrChocolate - a quick respite from the hum-drums of the workday, usually in mid-afternoon. Just a quick bite of a bar, or occasionally a few truffles, is enough to bring balance & peace into my life. And it inoculates me from diving face first into a six-layer, molten lava cake with hot fudge sauce...

But alas, not all Dr Chocolates are alike, and I figured it'll be fun every now and again to blog about my recent therapy sessions, if they were worthwhile and whether I'll book another appointment again.

These past two weeks my sessions included:

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Bar: Toffee with Walnuts and Pecans

Photo courtesy of Dark Chocolate Diary
Cost of Session: $1.99 for 3 oz. bar

Physician Marketing: "The Caramel Toffee bar is infused with a crunchy, salty toffee, crafted from a third generation recipe. We've added pieces of pecans & walnuts for extra crunch and even more rich flavor. Both of these are artisan-made chocolates for which you might expect to pay art-gallery level prices."

Patient's Notes: A thinly-veiled partnership/copycat of Vosges' Exotic Caramel Toffee Bar (down to the "third-generation" part, Vosges' site noted the toffee is a tribute to the chocolatier's grandmother). 

The major notable difference between the two is cacao content (70% for the TJ bar, versus 45% for Vosges.) Which wound up being my major gripe for this bar--I generally gravitate towards dark chocolate but this is one exception where "deep milk chocolate" worked so much better, with its creamy, subdued character blending harmoniously with the buttery toffee and softly-crunchy nut bits (and I do mean bits, those looking for significant chunks of nuts should find another therapist.) With the dark chocolate, the bold, intense cacao flavor kinda works against the other components of this bar.

However, the major bonus is that this is only a $2 (versus $6-8 for a Vosges bar of the same size.) I can readily overlook the more intense, possibly harsher, taste for that price. And it's probably slightly healthier too, what with all those extra antioxidants in dark chocolate.

Likelihood of Rebooking an Appointment: 9/10, due to the extremely reasonable price

Fearless Chocolate's 70% Matcha Green Tea & Peppermynt
Cost of Session: $5.99 for 2 oz. bar online, I got mine @ a discounted $4.99 at local market

Physician Marketing: "Peppermint cool-kisses the milky mist of Matcha in a rich raw cacao, merging the two most anti-oxidant rich foods on the planet." Also, note that their marketing includes having a "bite" taken out of the chocolate bar to symbolize their charitable commitments.

Patient's Notes: I was skeptical about this bar -- anything with peppermint (or as they preciously called it, peppermynt) can easily go South fast and wound up tasting like toothpaste or chewing gum. But I wound up snapping this bar up because it also had matcha tea added, and because it's made with organic raw cacao, thus devoid of typical additives like soy lecithin or refined sugars (in fact, they even opt out of agave nectar, using rapadura instead as sweetener.)

Unfortunately, when I opened this bar, I discovered that it had bloomed and the texture was definitely less-than-ideal--slightly grainy instead of the expected silky-smooth. Thus this became more a chocolate that I chewed instead of letting it sit on my tongue to melt. But having said that, the flavor is a pleasant surprise, with the cooling mint and roasty green tea coming in delightful wisps and tinges and surprisingly well-synced with the fruity notes of the chocolate itself.

Likelihood of Rebooking an Appointment: 7/10, though might adjust it higher/lower depending on if next bar's bloomed too.

Moonstruck's 68% Chile Variado Bar
Cost of Session: $4.25 for 3 oz. bar online, I got mine @ $3.99 in Portland

Physician Marketing: "A chocolate bar with a kick! We infuse our decadent dark chocolate with Ancho and Chipotle chiles, resulting in a bar that features a finishing hint of spice, just as chocolate was originally enjoyed."

Patient's Notes: I'm a lover of spicy chocolate (be it from chilies, ginger or even wasabi) so I'm always on the lookout for new varieties to try. This particular bar is a great one to try even for the heat-averse, with just a slight, lingery kick and a little roasty smokiness. The chilies also does a great job complementing the chocolate's aroma (strongly advise you rub the bar & have a sniff before taking a bite.) Finally, I love how incredibly smooth this bar is. Just let it sit in your mouth and let the mini-fireworks show commence on your tastebuds.

The only ever-so-minor demerit is that this is one whole bar (as opposed to sectioned off squares like the other two above) that makes portion controlling just a wee bit harder.

Likelihood of Rebooking an Appointment: 8/10, though I got this bar in Portland and doesn't seem likely I'll find it in a store in Southern California.


Diana said...

I loved the TJ's chocolate bar the first time I had it, but the second bar I bought was a bit underwhelming. I haven't rebooked an appointment since.

I think you could probably find Moonstruck at Monsieur Marcel! :)

gourmetpigs said...

I thought I saw Moonstruck at the Whole Foods we went to in OC, the one w the DDR machine?

btw, if you want to indulge in an expensive physician sometime, I found a new favorite for truffles while in SF: Schoggi!


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