Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tirol Adriatic Sea Salt Vanilla

Adriatic Sea Salt Vanilla Tirol

Normally, the only Tirol chocolates sold in Japanese import grocers are the ones that come in a long strip, but on a recent trip to Tensuke Market in Columbus, Ohio, I bought the last bag of Adriatic Sea Salt Vanilla Tirol chocolates. Never have I seen such a specific Tirol flavor.

The package promised slightly salty vanilla chocolate and a crispy biscuit, using salt from the Adriatic Sea. I was also surprised to see that the package proclaimed the use of "pleasantly cool" erythritol, a sugar alcohol that seems fairly innocuous as artificial sweeteners go (this is based on a little internet research, so take that with a grain of salt - or sugar, if you like). Normally, the only products I see touting the cooling effects of some artificial sweeteners are gums and mints, so it was nice of Tirol to be upfront about it.

Adriatic Sea Salt Vanilla Tirol

The chocolate smelled buttery, and the white chocolate was very soft with a smooth melt. Everything about this Tirol was mild. The vanilla flavor was very subtle, the chocolate was only slightly salty (as promised), and the biscuit had a very soft, fine crunch to it. I didn't really feel any cooling effects, nor did I taste the sugar alcohol.

White chocolate can get unbearably sweet, but the combination of the sea salt and the dry biscuit kept the sweetness in check. This Tirol had a good balance of flavors, but it was a little bland. I wished the vanilla flavor had been stronger and more authentic.


Tirol website

Monday, July 1, 2013

Trader Joe's Orange Hibiscus Chocolate Bar

Orange Hibiscus

This goes back a while, but the Orange Hibiscus chocolate bar was part of the Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Tasting Odyssey. I received a set as part of a Christmas gift from my sister and her husband, and those were some of the best chocolate bars I've had. This one was my favorite, and I'm sorry I didn't get to this review until now.

Trader Joe's did such whimsical packaging for these dark chocolate bars, and while I'm not a huge fan of whimsy, it works here. The little orange bird makes me chuckle. Like the other bars in the set, this one was 70% cocoa - just the way I like it. Unfortunately, the set (and many of the bars in it) was limited edition.

Orange Hibiscus

The chocolate had a fantastic, citrusy aroma. At first, I tasted the tart bits of dried fruit, and it almost seemed like candied fruit. There were so many different fruity flavors (and different fruits listed on the package) that calling it an orange bar seems almost inappropriate. That's not a bad thing, just a bit misleading. The bar had a floral aftertaste that reminded me of lavender - probably just because I don't have a point of reference for hibiscus.

The texture of the bar was great, especially since this sort of bar can tend towards grittiness. The dark chocolate had a great snap and a smooth melt. It was mild for dark chocolate - not too bitter or acidic, which let the fruity, floral flavors take the lead. There was none of the soapy flavor that some floral foods have. The bar reminded me of red tea, and it was my favorite in the set!


Trader Joe's website