Monday, November 7, 2022

Tasting 11 unique Washington chocolates - Both Theo Chocolates and Intrigue Chocolates

We're in Washington State and we have our friend Todd visiting! He previously brought us some Beecher cheese from Seattle to try and today he's brought more treats! Chocolates from 2 different Seattle based chocolatiers! 

We'll be tasting 7 Theo Chocolates. 

And 4 Intrigue Chocolates! 

That's going to be a lot of chocolate! I'm excited to dive right in! That's a lot of unique flavors!

First up, we'll be trying the 7 different Theo Chocolates. Theo has lots of unique flavors and they even host "Virtual Chocolate Tasting Class" where they'll ship you a box of chocolates and you join a chocolate expert virtually in Seattle that will talk you through the history and flavors you're tasting. 

How to organize them? We opted to go from lightest to darkest chocolate. 

And our flavors are quite interesting! 
Hazelnut Crunch, Cinnamon Horchata, Root Beer Barrel, Grapefruit Ginger, and Bread & Chocolate. 
Flipping the bars over, we can see the different inclusions in each of the bars. 

Before we get to the flavored chocolates though, we'll start with a 45% milk chocolate. 
Alli - Is this gourmet? 
Todd - Yes. 
Alli - What does gourmet mean? 
Todd - Fancy. It tastes a lot better than your regular Hershey bar. Or we'll see. I don't know! You'll have to tell me. 
Alli - Mmm! 
Theresa - It's a good smooth milk chocolate. 
Joe - It doesn't have that acid flavor. 
Todd - Very creamy. 

Hazelnut Crunch - Creamy and crunchy, the best of both worlds. Discover a delicious treat with crunchy hazelnuts, brittle sea salt and creamy milk chocolate. 

Alli - I don't know if I'm going to like it. <tastes it> Mmm! So far, the best!
Todd - It's in my top 2 so far!
Theresa - I can taste the salt in that one. 
Joe - Yeah! Like a little salt kick!
Theresa - That's like a gourmet Crunch bar! A much better Crunch bar! I like that one!

Cinnamon Horchata - Our chocolate tribute to the delicious drink horchata. Join us on a flavor adventure with creamy milk chocolate, cinnamon, and puffed rice. 
Todd - This is the one I'm most looking forward to!
Alli - Is it spicy? 
Ian - No, it's cinnamon. 
Todd - Oh yeah, that's got a nice cinnamon to it. It took a little while for it to kick in. 
Joe - I'm trying to taste the horchata. I taste the cinnamon to it, but not the rice milk horchata component. 
Todd - Maybe it's a little smoother than the regular chocolate.
Joe - It's got a creaminess around the crunch. 

Root Beer Barrel - Float down a river of nostalgic flavors. Indulge your imagination with crunchy and sweet root beer candy pieces in dark chocolate. 

Theresa - There's something in there!
Joe - Really? Root Beer barrel? 
Alli - <takes a piece> Ugh. No. 
Theresa - Don't put it back!
Alli - I don't like it. 
Theresa - It's not my favorite one. 
Todd - Alli, you thought that was going to be your favorite!
Alli - You should know that the things you think are going to be good, and the things they say are good, might not be. They don't always get the flavor right. 
Todd - That's true. You have to try it. 
Joe - It's different. It's like a chocolate root beer float.
Theresa - Maybe it would be better in a milk chocolate. 

Grapefruit Ginger - Combining flavors for a ray of sunshine in every bite. Citrusy grapefruit and testy candied ginger come together to brighten up dark chocolate. 
Joe - I usually don't love grapefruit, so I don't know about this one. 
Todd - Same. 
Ian - Same. 
Theresa - I'm looking forward to this one more than the root beer barrel. 
Todd - And I like ginger. Ginger for me is kind of like figs. Whenever I have them I think to myself "Why don't I have this more?"
Ian - Mmm! Yum!
Todd - By the way, I have completely abandoned the idea of just doing small pieces. I'm sure I'll regret that later. 
Joe - Alli is taking the last piece of that, so she must like it. 
Alli - It doesn't taste like grapefruit at all. 
Ian - Citrus. Tangy.
Joe - I taste more ginger. I just got a chewy bit of ginger. Like not essence of ginger or ginger powder. 
Todd - I'm still overwhelmed from the root beer. I need another piece. 
Joe - Uh huh. 

Bread & Chocolate - What could be better than bread? This thoughtful pairing of buttery toasted breadcrumbs, sea salt and dark chocolate is the answer. 

Bread and Chocolate. That's an interesting pair. 
Ian and Alli - <upon trying it> Yuck! Eww!

Oh my goodness. Aren't those some strong reactions. 
Todd - Wow. Two of you are cleaning your palate as fast as possible. 
Theresa - It's not THAT bad. 
Joe - Why aren't you liking it? 
Alli - It's so dark. There's no bread. It's just not a good flavor. 
Joe - It's just toasted bread.
Todd - That reminds me more of a a Nestle Crunch bar. I feel like the bread didn't add so much flavor as it did texture. 

Joe - <I'm reading the label> What could be better than bread? This thoughtful pairing of bread and chocolate.
Ian - Yuck!
Alli - That's horrible!
Todd - If you think that's horrible, wait until we get to the next one. 

Finally we will end on a 70% dark chocolate. 
We've tasted grandpa's 85% chocolate bars, so this one shouldn't be as bitter. 
Todd - Having gone to many chocolate festivals and eating so much chocolate, I've learned that I like my dark chocolate with inclusions instead of pure dark chocolate. 
Ian - Mmm!
Theresa - That 70% is about as dark as I like to go. 
Ian - That one I like. 
Theresa - I would eat all of these chocolate bars again, except for Root Beer Barrel. 

Alli - Hazelnut Crunch is my first favorite, and pure dark is my second favorite. Bread & Chocolate is the least favorite. 
Theresa - I think, going through all these, 55% chocolate is the right percentage for me. Less is too milk. More is bitter. 
Ian - My very favorite is the grapefruit ginger. Then I liked the hazelnut. Chocolate Bread was my least favorite. 
Theresa - The hazelnut crunch is really good. The salt kick too. There's a little more complex flavor in that one. The hazelnut crunch is my favorite. Followed by the Cinnamon Horchata. The root beer is last for me. 
Joe - Todd, I agree with you about chocolate with inclusions. Something to offset the bitter chocolate flavor is good. I like the Cinnamon Horchata best and Hazelnut Crunch. My last is the grapefruit ginger. I'm not a fan of grapefruit or ginger. 
Todd - I'm trying to figure out where the root beer falls for me. I like it, but the root beer flavor is a little too strong. While my number 1 was the one I was most excited about, I'm pretty stunned by my number 2. Horchata Cinnamon is my favorite, but Pure Milk is my second favorite. I usually mock people who just like milk chocolate. Number 3 is grapefruit ginger, and not being a fan of grapefruit that surprised me. They were all good, but the 70% dark is my least favorite of these. 

We ate a few crackers between chocolate pairings to cleanse our palates. We also recalled how when we were back and California and T's parents were watching the kids, they would have "chocolate time". 
Kids - It's 1 o'clock!
Us - Yeah?
Kids - It's chocolate time! At 1 grandpa gives us chocolate!
Us - Oh does he now? 
Kids - It's 3 o'clock! It's ice cream time!
Us - Really?

That was a lot of chocolate with some interesting flavors. Let's try some even crazier flavors from the Intrigue Chocolate Co! Intrigue Chocolate is a small, artisan chocolate making and confection company that celebrates the discovery of flavor through the medium of fresh chocolate.
These are going to be interesting. 
Theresa - These look like they're going to have more savory flavors. Versus just sweet. 
Todd - Like spicy. It'll be interesting to see how spicy they are. Like the chili. 
Theresa - Or the hibiscus, how floral. 

First we'll be trying the 59% Dark Chocolate with Hops and Clover Honey. 
Sometimes your backyard is the source of life's greatest pleasures. That's where fragrant hops grow and local honey is found. And that's where we crack open a few bars with friends. Hops and Clover Honey is a go-to homebrew, welcome at any barbeque. Tasting Notes: The lingering citrus and pine notes of the hops are softened by a familiar dark sweetness. 

Theresa - I feel like this is something Aunt Megan would enjoy. It's similar to all the Salt and Straw flavors. 
Ian - Tastes... weird. 
Alli - Bad!
Joe - It's got a strong bitter flavor. 
Alli - I do not like this. I took a tiny nibble and I'm done with it. I thought they meant like a bunny hop. 
Theresa - That is bitter. So bitter. 
Alli - My least favorite so far.
Todd - I'm actually with you Alli. 
Joe - I need a cracker. 
Theresa - These are intense flavors. 
Todd - Glad we did these last. The first ones are bland in comparison. 

Our next chocolate is the 64% chocolate flavored with Rosemary, Blackberry Honey, Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt. Walk along the Pacific coast. Feel the sand between your toes and salty air in your lungs. Grab a seat with the locals. They're deeply rooted, smoldering and sweet. Rosemary, Blackberry Honey, and Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt is a campfire get-together by the ocean. Tasting Notes: Herbal and earthy, delicately fruity, with a light touch of smoke and salt. 

Alli - I hate this one. 
Theresa - I'm not getting anything yet. 
Joe - I'm tasting rosemary. I'm trying to taste the smoked. 
Todd - It's less intense. But I don't get a lot of flavor. 
Joe - Maybe I'm sensitive to rosemary because I don't really like it. It overpowers things. 
Alli - I don't taste anything except dark. 
Theresa - I think it's a good dark chocolate, but if you ask me if they flavored it with anything I'd say no. They put a dark chocolate bar in the wrong box. I'm not getting all the hints. 

Next there's 67% Chocolate with Jasmine Green Tea, Turkish Bay Leaf, and Lemon. A familiar fragrance can stop time and bring back the sweetest memories. Lying on warm grass, laughing in the sunshine, holding hands for the first time... Jasmine Green Tea, Turkish Bay Leaf, and Lemon is a trip back to a romantic picnic by the lake. Tasting Notes: Floral and cool wood aromatics, lightly tannic and mineral with a bright finish. 

Joe - Bay Leaf? Oh my. 
Alli - Ughhhh. 
Theresa - If you don't like it, spit it out. 
Todd - Alli, you're more of a Theo chocolate girl than an Intrigue girl? 
Joe - That is like eating a bay leaf. 
Todd - I'm getting some green tea and lemon. 
Theresa - I can taste the turkish bay leaf and lemon. I'm getting some citrus. 
Joe - I don't taste strong lemon. But that's a bay leaf chocolate. 
Todd - Bay leaf is definitely dominant. 
Theresa - Not my favorite. 
Todd - Aftertaste is lots of green tea. That's what staying in my mouth. 
Ian - <points to the last 3 chocolates we tried> Horrible, horrible, worst. 
Todd - I don't think the Intrigue Chocolate people will be calling you for any testimonials. You're not going to be in any of their commercials. 

Finally 67% chocolate with Guajillo Chili, Hibiscus, Cassia Cinnamon, and Vanilla Bean. A few tricks that help us get through long gray Seattle Winters: Feel the rain on your face. Take the long way home. Hold the door for a stranger. Nibble on some soul-warming chocolate and think about sunshine. Guajillo Chili, Hibiscus, Cassia Cinnamon, and Vanilla Bean is a quick getaway to sunny Sayulita. Tasting Notes: Mellow raisiny heat, tart red fruit notes, classic spice, and the complexity only found in real vanilla beans. 

Joe - I can't tell if it's the cinnamon or the chili that I'm getting first. 
Theresa - Oh! I smell the cinnamon though. 
Alli - That's actually not bad!
Ian - Best one so far!
Theresa - I think it has a cinnamon and vanilla flavor. 
Todd - But I'm getting a little heat. 
Joe - It's when I'm swallowing that I'm getting the heat. 
Theresa - I liked this one best. I liked the packaging on all these. 

So can we just say that whoever writes the stories on the bars of Intrigue chocolate gets an A+ in their creative writing class? 

Alli - The chili one is my 2nd favorite. All the others are last. 
Joe - What's your first favorite? 
Alli - I don't have a first favorite here. 
Todd - Oh. Well I guess not all taste tests can be winners. 
Ian - The chili is my first, then rosemary, then hops, then rosemary. 
Joe - You liked hops better than rosemary? 
Ian - Yes. 
Joe - Chili was the best, then rosemary, bay leaf, then hops is too bitter. I didn't care for it. 
Theresa - Rosemary was my favorite because I couldn't taste anything and it was just a regular chocolate bar. The chili was my second. Then bay leaf and hops. Hops was too bitter for me. 
Todd - Guajillo Chili was my favorite. Not complex but well balanced. Rosemary was good, but I didn't get a lot of flavors. Jasmine Green Tea and Hops was too bitter. 
Joe - I'm going to go back to the Hops to taste it again. 
Todd - Being thorough Joe. I'm going to just go off my first impression on that one. 

Are all the Theo bars better than the Intrigue? 
Kids - Yes! Except for maybe the bread and chocolate. 
Todd - I feel like the Intrigue chocolate is a higher quality chocolate. 
Theresa - I agree with you on that. 
Todd - There's a difference between "you did what you said you were going to do well" and "I like that flavor combination". 

Best overall? 
Alli - Hazelnut Crunch. 
Ian - Hazelnut Crunch. 
Joe - I still like the Horchata best. 
Theresa - 
Todd - The Horchata Cinnamon is my favorite. 

Theresa - I have eaten more chocolate than I intended to. 
Todd - I went to one chocolate festival and there was a company that had brown cheese and chocolate together!
Joe - That sounds interesting! 
Theresa - Thanks for the chocolate taste test Todd!

1 comment:

  1. The outer packaging of the Theo bars are very colorful and pretty, while the inner packaging of the Intrigue bars are more "sophisticated"-looking (also has nostalgic descriptions to "soothe" the mind). The "Intrigue Chocolate Co" name is so appropriate with the unusual, "intriguing" flavors they opted to incorporate...perhaps a little too unusual for most taste buds based on everyone's reactions to the different chocolates. Looks like Alli got to experience some gourmet chocolate for the first time (now she knows "hops" isn't the same as a "bunny hop" :-) ). Funny story on "1 pm is chocolate time, 3 pm is ice cream time"...some memories will always stick with you. Another fun taste test from Todd, the chocolate connoisseur! EOM