Frango Mints, redux

A few weeks ago, a co-worker shared a few Frango mints from a small box she had. I love Frango mints, having been introduced to them in graduate school by a roommate who was from Chicago. They stopped make them for a while, but now they are back in production, and that same co-worker gave me a full-sized box of Frango mints this week. So, while I have already technically reviewed them, consider this a love letter of sorts, a love letter to Frango mints.

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Frango mints come in a one-pound box adorned with a beautiful painting of Chicago. Inside are forty-six mints, arranged in a tight pattern.

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Each mint comes wrapped in a paper cup. You can still see how the chocolate was poured from the little dollop on the top of the mint.

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While I am not a huge fan of mint or milk chocolate, something about that combination works so well with Frango mints. They have a nice snap when you bite into them, and then they melt in your mouth, releasing a wonderful chocolate flavor with just a touch of mint, enough to taste but not enough to overpower the chocolate flavor. I shared these with my co-workers, and several wanted seconds and thirds. Lucky for them, the box holds a lot of mints. Lucky for me, I had some extra to take home. Dang, these are good chocolates, and I have missed them.

Thanks Michelle!

Francois Pralus Le 100%

For the second time in as many weeks, I find myself in possession of a single-origin 100% cacao chocolate bar (another gift from my co-worker Brian H).

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This bar was not only single origin, but its beans are from a single valley in Madagascar, the Sambirano valley, one whose coordinates are on the front of this label: 17 degrees 5 minutes south, 47 degrees 20 minutes east. That puts the valley here.

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Like the single origin Koko Black bar two weeks ago, this bar tasted sweet, even though it contained no sugar or other sweetener. The singular note was a slightly metallic “bright” note at the end, which doesn’t sound good but is really delicious. I shared this bar at the office, and my co-workers loved it. People had seconds, and in a few cases, thirds. Personally, I ate five pieces, and I think this bar was the best single origin chocolate bar I have ever tasted. Seriously, it was that good. I could eat this instead of sweetened bars, easily.

Thanks again Brian!

Francois Pralus Equateur

We tried another Pralus bar from the stack that Brian H. found in San Francisco.

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This bar was single origin, with all of the beans coming from one county in Ecuador. It had a singular note too, a citrus one, which blended well with the chocolate and then left a faint sour note in your mouth. Like the Djakarta bar, this one seemed far sweeter than a 75% cacao bar should be, yet it was still deep and dark.

I have had this bar before, in the Pralus sampler I got in Seattle in 2011, but since the labels are different and I am trying each one by itself, I am including these bars again so I can record their individual tastes. And because they are awesome.

Thanks Brian!

Maglio Extra Bitter 72%

We continued to eat our way through the chocolate that my co-worker Brian H. brought back from San Francisco.

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First of all, let me say how much I *loved* the label on this bar. It is a combination of the graphics of the 1960’s and the Victorian era and modern day, all rolled into one. And the chocolate was delicious. It looked MUCH darker than 72% bars usually do, and the flavor was very rich, yet it was creamier and sweeter than you’d expect. It disappeared quickly as my co-workers came back for seconds.

It turns out that I had had this brand once before, in truffle form, in a package sent to our company for Christmas from Valve. That was just as delicious as this bar, leading me to believe that this is a very good brand.

Thanks Brian!

Francois Pralus Djakarta

My co-worker Brian H. gave me this bar that he bought while on a trip he took to San Francisco for the Game Developer Conference 2016.

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This bar was very good. It was very dark and very rich and tasted much sweeter than you would expect a 75% cacao bar to taste. We thought it was a single origin bar, since it had a very singular note like that of a sweet wine, but when I checked the back label, I saw that no, it was a mix a beans from Ghana and Indonesia, made in France. Still, while not a single origin bar, an excellent blend of cacao did go into this bar. Everyone loved it.

The name Pralus seemed familiar, and it turns out I have had this brand once before, in the form of a stack of ten 50g single origin bars, all 75% cacao. They were delicious, but I don’t remember how each individual bar tasted. Well, now is my chance to find out, because Brian brought back several full-size versions of those bars. So stay tuned, more Pralus is to come!

Thanks Brian!

Trader Joe’s Simply Nutty Dark Chocolate Nuts And Sea Salt Bar

I found a box of these dark chocolate and nut bars at Trader Joe’s over the weekend.

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Wow, this bar was really good, being chock full of nuts on a base of good dark chocolate. And surprisingly, I think it was good for me! The first three ingredients are various nuts and fiber. Dark chocolate is listed fourth, and honey is fifth.

I may have found a decent work time snack!

Koko Black 54% Bar

This was my last bar that I purchased from Koko Black in Sydney.

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This bar was very good. It was not as dark and rich as their 80% bar, of course, but it was still quite yummy. It was smooth and had a nice deep flavor. I have now eaten all of the chocolate from Koko Black, Haigh’s and Josophan’s that I bought, and I think Koko Black and Haigh’s are quite close as chocolatiers and are probably tied for second place as the best chocolate in Sydney. But after Josophan’s 70% São Thomé bar, that chocolatier gets first prize.