I love technology, I am a nerd after all. I like how technology can make the world a smaller place. I have travel buddies scatter around the globe that I can send messages instantly to rather than waiting weeks for the post. On Instagram, I saw an account called My Year In Chocolate (myic2016) with a cute penguin image. My feed was then updated with the best collection of reviews of craft bean to bar chocolate. Then one post caught my eye. A selection bars from a Choc-Swap. What?? I want a Choc-Swap. I contacted Patricia, behind My Year In Chocolate, based out in California about arranging a Choc-Swap.
This post has been in the wings to be written for a while as California has been having a heat wave so we’ve been putting off sending our precious cargo until the temperature took a dip south. This wasn’t really an issue for the UK!
Patricia sets a theme for her year in chocolate. Last year it was working through alphabetically the different inclusions available, as well as working through the 50 states to highlight bean to bar makers. This time, she is working through different origins of chocolate bars.
I spoke to her before I selected my bars to send, of course, any interesting inclusions for her to try and origins but she also gave me some makers she wanted to try out too.
I sent Patricia the following bars to try out –
Dormouse Chocolate – A firm favourite of mine and when they released their Toasted White Chocolate bar, I knew I needed to get Patricia one to try. Made by toasting the milk powder to give a wonderful rich biscuit flavour that means you can polish a bar in a blink of an eye. A refined version of a Caramac bar. I also got a 72% Guatemalan bar, a winner of Silver at the Academy of Chocolate Awards in 2017. I liked the tasting notes for this bar of dried fruits and oak, something a bit robust against the Toasted White Chocolate offering.
Land – I selected this bar after meeting the maker, Phil at last year’s Chocolate Show. I went for the Dark 70% Honduras, with tasting notes of rum and raisin with a hint of coffee. Sounds like a rich bar with a great selection of complex flavours.
Bullion – These guys have three bars in their range, all at 70% cocoa but with their beans from different origins, I also got to meet them at The Chocolate Show this year and they actually recognised me from my Instagram post that I had got this bar for Patricia! I picked the No. 1 Haiti to try, with tasting notes of dried fig, tart cherry and roasted nuts.
Zara’s Chocolates – This bar isn’t a specific origin or an inclusion but the flavour of the Peanut Praline bar is too good to past up the opportunity to share the love. A stone throw from my house in Bristol, it’s so lovely to showcase a great chocolatier. I’m also addicted to Zara’s Sea Salt Praline and Raspberry Lemonade bites.
Ocelot – This was a maker that I haven’t had a chance to try before so when ordering for Patricia, I may have got myself some bars too. The 88% Tanzanian is stone ground for over 48 hours for a strong flavoured but smooth bar. With notes of toffee, orange and hint of smoke. The 75% Porcelana, is made with ultra-rare Peruvian cacao Piura Porcelana which has been brought back from the brink of extinction. With tasting notes of citrus fruit, raspberries and sweet toasted nuts. As she loves an inclusion bar, I had to get the Bee Pollen and Mango Bar, which I hadn’t seen as a combination before. The base chocolate from Eastern Congo and with notes of Morello cherries and apricots and tobacco.
Ocean Creed – Ocean Creed work on emission-free transportation of their beans by sailboat using wind power. I got the two bars in their Autumn/Winter 2017 range – 37% Milk Dominican Republic and 70% Dark Dominican Republic. Being just back in stock and with a shiny new company name (seemed to used to be Seaforth), I don’t have any tasting notes on the two bars so looking forward to trying mine to see what they do taste of.
And a bonus bar – The Chocolarder, Wild Gorse Flower in 50% Nicaragua Milk Chocolate – because she loves a bar with inclusions and thought this ingredient would be an interesting one that might not be too common in California. Made in Cornwall, with handpicked gorse flower from the coastline, then steeped in cocoa butter to give an unusual coconut, toffee and walnut flavour.
I hope Patricia likes her bars and keep your eyes peeled to see what she thinks of them on her Instagram and blog.
Stay tuned to see what I receive in the Choc-swap from sunny California and Patricia.