Mulate Sea Salt Dark Chocolate

My friend William H. sent me this bar from a store in Alameda, California.

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What a crazy label! I see butterflies, and salt crystals, and something that looks like a snout with two legs dangling from it. Maybe the back of the label will clear things up,

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Nope, just some weird story about MULATE, the island of the cacoa Gods. OK…let’s move on the chocolate itself.

Oh my god, this bar was fantastic! It was very dark and very smooth and the flavor was so deep, I would have guessed it was far darker than 70% cacao. I checked the ingredients and I think I see their secret. They add butter to the bar! That probably deepens the flavor, and it certainly makes the bar silky smooth and melt in your mouth. I always approve of butter and chocolate together.

What’s more, this is my first bar from the country of Lithuania! How have I missed this country? Thank you so much, William, for this and the other two Mulate bars, which I look forward to reviewing soon!

ChocXO Yaguachi

I found this bar at the ChocXO store after the tour.

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This bar was really good! It didn’t have much flavor at first bite, but then as you chewed it, it burst with flavors. There was a deep chocolate taste, followed by a fruity aftertaste. I really liked it, maybe better than the hybrid ChocXO bar. Maybe because it had more cacao, at 70%. That is right in my sweet spot. And being single origin meant the flavors were very pronounced.

I bought a few more of these bars, in higher cacao percentages. I’ll eat them soon!

ChocXO Truffle Box

My husband Robert bought me this box of truffles at ChocXO when we were finished with the tour.

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The box contained 24 truffles, arranged in two layers of a dozen each.

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Aren’t they gorgeous? The one in the bottom left looked like a marble, and it was a delicious coconut lime ginger truffle. The two spotted ones were Gran Marnier, and the top right was truffle was peanut butter and jelly! They were all delicious, covered in rich dark or milk chocolate, and the fillings were soft and bursting with flavor. The bottom one, second from the left, was the most banana-flavored creme I have ever tasted. It was like the richest banana creme pie in the world.

Here are all of the flavors.

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I have not finished them all, but surprisingly, some of my favorites are milk chocolate. I think it’s because the milk chocolate is so high in cacao that it is really dark milk chocolate. In any case, these truffles are amazing!

Thanks Robert!

Dark Chocolate Edible Arrangement

My sisters sent me this edible fruit arrangement for my birthday last Tuesday.

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Each piece of fruit was dipped in delicious dark chocolate! I ate two strawberries and a gigantic pineapple star, and then I let my co-workers have at it. They devoured it in minutes! I think they may have even eaten the greenery at the bottom!

Thanks Sheryl and Deana!

ChocXO Tres Rios

This was the first bar I bought at the ChocXO factory after the tour.

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This bar was very unusual. It was a blend of two kinds of cacao, Criollo and Nacional, which are hybridized on one tree. Only 500 pounds of this chocolate is made each year, and I grabbed bar 333 of last year’s crop.

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The chocolate itself was very good, having a rich chocolate flavor with an aftertaste reminiscent of blackberries. I am not sure it was worth three times the price of their other single origin bars, but I got those too, so I will find out soon!

A visit to the ChocXO chocolate factory

My friend Tiffany arranged a tour of the nearby ChocXO factory in Irvine yesterday, so Robert and I met her and a couple of friends there Saturday afternoon.

This was a serious tour, and we had to wear protective gear.

1 Dr Chocolate

We got to see how chocolate is made, from bean to bar. It all starts with a cacao tree.

2 Cacao Tree

This is a fake cacao tree, but it’s the right size and appearance, and those cacao pods are real. Of course, unprocessed pods are not edible…for most people. Nothing stops me from trying chocolate in all of its forms.

3 Eating Cacao

Just kidding. But we did drink the juice of the pod pulp, which is sweet and tangy and not unpleasant at all. But the pulp is left intact on most pods so that they ferment the beans, which are then dried, resulting in these cacao beans.

4 Cacao Nibs

We each cracked open a bean (it’s called “winnowing”) to extract and eat the nib inside. It tastes just like chocolate, unsweetened of course. If you have ever eaten unsweetened baking chocolate, a nib is like that.

We saw how nibs are ground in a conching device to make them smooth and silky, resulting in chocolate liquor, which we also tasted. Again, it was exactly like melted unsweetened chocolate. I liked it!

Finally, we saw how sugar is added to make chocolate flakes, which are sent through rollers to break up the sugar particles so the final chocolate is super smooth. We then tasted a 70% chocolate, both a single origin from Ecuador and a blend. Of course, I liked the single origin better, with its bright notes and distinct flavor, but the blend was good too.

As the tour progressed, we got to enter the actual factory floor, so we had to wear jackets and hair nets. They were going to give Robert and me “beard nets” too, but they couldn’t find them.

5 Dressed

Robert was VERY enthusiastic, as you can see.

I didn’t take a lot of photos inside the factory, but I did get a good photo of the separator machine, which accepted piles of fermented beans straight from burlap sacks and separated out twigs and rocks and anything else that might have been scooped up after the beans had been dried.

6 Seperator

You can see some beans on the bottom left, ready to be made into chocolate!

And of course, when the tour was over, they served us some samples, like these.

7 Treats

The top two were both caramels, while the bottom one was a lemon meringue truffle. They were all delicious.

I couldn’t leave without buying several dark chocolate bars, ranging from 68% to 80% cacao. I will be eating those this week, so expect reviews on this site soon.

Thanks for arranging this tour, Tiff!