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Posts Tagged ‘TCHO’

Several months ago, I was received a box of chocolate from TCHO. This American chocolate company generously sent me each of their signature chocolates as well as some chocolate-covered cacao nibs and chocolate-covered dried mango. Seeing as part of their reason for sending me such glorious freebies was hearing my opinion of their reformulated Nutty 2.0, I reviewed that one straight away. The rest, however, I saved for a metaphorical rainy day.

After the drought of styrofoam-textured sugar that was Coles Dark Cooking Chocolate and the dust storm of sourness that was Vivani’s 85%, I felt that today was precisely the right day for a rainy thunderstorm of TCHO.

(Wow. That whole metaphor-analogy bit was a bit of a stretch, wasn’t it? I fear the PhD is already sapping my creativity, and I haven’t even started it yet.)

TCHO Dark Chocolate “Citrus”

TCHO Dark Chocolate Citrus

A thunderstorm is a completely inept way to describe such a bright and sunshine-y package of chocolate. Shame on me.

I have a complicated relationship with citrus. Lemon desserts are a favourite of mine, and yet the slightest hint of orange in sweets makes me wrinkle my nose. I think limes are heavenly in Thai-inspired dishes, but I once told my Tasmanian cousin that I didn’t like grapefruit, only to walk upstairs (it was my first morning of a week-long visit) and find a halved grapefruit, sprinkled with sugar, on my plate.

I would happily have eaten it without letting on, but unfortunately my cousin had already let his parents know that I wasn’t a fan. I still remember the feeling of mortification. (I also remember that my uncle brought me a lovely brioche from a local bakery to have instead of grapefruit the next morning.)

Suffice to say I was a teensy bit wary of this TCHO chocolate, seeing as it’s named after alleged citrus flavours. I wasn’t too worried, though, for while I’ve enjoyed TCHO’s Nutty and Chocolatey bars, I’ve never thought they were exclusively nutty- or chocolatey-flavoured. Moreover, there aren’t any actual citrus ingredients in this chocolate; it’s made simply of cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, and vanilla.

TCHO Dark Chocolate Citrus

Once again, TCHO impressed me with a thin-yet-super-crisp snap and glossy dark brown-black colour. When I breathed in, I was surprised to find that I could detect a high note of lemon, with a touch of yogurt, in the aroma.

Could it be? Could I have struck gold? Could I truly have found a citrus bar that played to my citrus-loves whilst steadfastly avoiding my citrus-enemies?

Readers, it could, and I had. I loved this chocolate. The zing of lemon played against the rich chocolate notes without falling into sourness, while undertones of brown sugar meant that every few nibbles, I’d find myself thinking happily of lemon curd and hot chocolate fudge sauce.

TCHO Dark Chocolate Citrus

Even though there were no roasted or earthy flavours in this chocolate, which I usually tend towards, and though the cacao origin for this bar is Madagascar, which I usually find too tangy, I found myself unable to stop nibbling TCHO’s Dark Chocolate “Citrus”.

It’s vegan, organic, and consistently moreish in its combination of assertive cocoa, sweet sugar, and zesty lemon notes. TCHO, I think this is my favourite of your line-up so far.

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TCHO Nutty 2.0

Back in April, I reviewed TCHO’s Nutty chocolate. I was initially confused by and ultimately averse to the bar, as for the first time in my chocolate-tasting life I found myself confronted with too-strong flavours of cast iron, cardboard, and wood lacquer. I was really disappointed by this, as I felt the chocolate had potential yet overshot its flavour-marks to an unpleasant degree.

Soon after posting my review, I received an email from Cash Shurley, TCHO’s IT Director, thanking me for my thoughts and offering me samples of the reformulated Nutty and Fruity chocolates. At first it seemed like the universe was not on my side, for after replying in the affirmative I was told that TCHO couldn’t actually send the chocolate overseas. Thank heavens for a generous American friend of mine, who was able to act as a chocolate middle-[wo]man. The upshot of such generosity (on the part of both TCHO and my friend) was that, on my 23rd birthday, I became the recipient of a delightful and exciting package of TCHO chocolate goodies*.

I was expecting simply two sample-sized bars of chocolate, so imagine my surprise when I opened the package to find:

TCHO chocolate

Happy happy joy joy.

While I was tempted to dig into everything at once, I decided that the proper thing to do would be to review the new Nutty chocolate first. Mind you, I unwrapped the little fella with no small amount of trepidation. You see, I pride myself on being utterly honest when it comes to chocolate. Therefore while this bar came to me free-of-charge, I absolutely wasn’t going to give it a positive rap simply for that reason. I feared having to talk ill of TCHO all over again.

TCHO Nutty 2.0

TCHO Nutty 2.0

The packaging hasn't changed, which I'm pleased about. I quite like TCHO's look.

I have to get one thing off my chest, and it has nothing to do with chocolate. Every time I see the Nutty 2.0 name, I can’t help thinking of the iSnack 2.0 debacle, which as an Australian was a very upsetting moment in history for me (actually, I just found it all hilarious). But putting that thought aside so as to taste the chocolate free of bias, I have decided that TCHO’s reformulated Nutty bar is…

A winner.

Yes, I’m relieved to say that the Nutty 2.0 has managed to tone down the most aggressive and unappealing notes of the original Nutty bar, whilst retaining enough of said original’s unique flavours to ensure the bar is a fascinating example of chocolate diversity.

TCHO Nutty 2.0

Swirly swirly.

Like the first Nutty bar, this chocolate has an appealingly rich aroma of dark and earthy chocolate, with strong malt notes sneaking in along the way.

The chocolate is strong and intense without being bitter, as there’s a goodly helping of sweetness to balance out the bar’s peat and cocoa powder flavours. In terms of nuttiness, I picked up some walnut, but what I was most impressed with was that this chocolate had none of the unpleasant cast iron notes of the former yet still offered up hints of fresh wood and wood lacquer. Somehow the notes of peat and lacquer are subtle enough that, when blended with the chocolate’s underlying rich sweetness, the overall taste is not only pleasant but delicious.

I think TCHO’s Nutty 2.0 would be a brilliant option for a chocolate tasting party, as it showcases flavours that aren’t found in mainstream chocolates. Even in the field of upmarket and artisan chocolates, earthy and fruity flavours are easy to find whereas chocolates that render lacquer and walnuts appealing are few and far between. Unlike TCHO’s first Nutty bar, I’d definitely be keen to eat this one again. Those of you living in America – hop to it!

* In the same package from my friend, I received some equally-exciting chocolate samples from another company (as well as five packets of Kettle Corn and two necklaces from the lovely lady herself). Make sure to keep checking back for that big reveal, as well as the rest of my TCHO haul!

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A bit over a week ago, I brought you my thoughts on TCHO’s Nutty chocolate. After a promising start, the bar put forward some of the strangest flavours I’ve ever encountered in chocolate: cast-iron and cardboard. 

Luckily, I also had a bar of TCHO’s Chocolatey flavour in my travel-suitcase-stash. A day after my Nutty experience, I opened the Chocolatey in order to taste and ruminate upon any differences between the two products.

Was I a bit scared to try Mr. Chocolatey? Yes. You see, there’s only so much metal I can bear to taste in my chocolate; only so much disappointment I can cope with in my gustatory adventuring. 

Was this fear justified? Read on, readers, read on.

TCHO Dark Chocolate “Chocolatey”

TCHO Chocolatey

If chocolate can be chocolatey, then can I say I'm feeling very Hannahey today?

Whereas the Nutty is a 65% cacao chocolate is made with beans from Peru, the Chocolatey ups the ante with a 70% content and beans from Ghana. However, mes amis (did you know I went to Paris?), I just noticed that the Nutty chocolate is made from Fair Trade beans and the Chocolatey is not. 

What am I supposed to do now? Eat the bad chocolate and feel good about myself, or eat the good one and feel like a wretched, wretched inequality-perpetuating human being? WWEDD*?

(Note: See what I did there? I gave the game away. You now know my opinion of this chocolate.) 

TCHO Chocolatey

It's the return of the geometric-snakeskin-hammock! (Peruse the earlier TCHO post if this doesn't make sense...)

As I said above, the Chocolatey bar is good. Good, but not great. Good in the sense of not tasting like metal and cardboard, but not great in the sense of lacking in depth and richness. 

There is, to TCHO’s credit, a thick and fudgy element in the chocolate that lends it a satisfying mouthfeel. However, little more emerges from the bar’s pleasant-but-not-striking-sweetness than a few vague flavours of red plum and raspberry.

Do you think, if I don't change tack and give this an entirely positive review, I'll be stabbed in the middle of the night by this pointy bit of chocolate? Also, talking of the middle of the night, last night I dreamt that Lady Gaga was running up stairs wearing scuba-diving flippers. Then I woke up and realised that such behaviour wouldn't be beyond her.

Interestingly, I got some almond notes from this that were completely lacking in the Nutty bar. Overall, though, it would be remiss of me not to admit that TCHO’s Chocolately bar tastes chocolatey. 

Such chocolatey-ness does seem to be the bar’s blessing and its curse, though. The chocolatey flavour is pleasant, and I’m hardly likely to stand (type?) here and say I’m against my chocolate tasting like chocolate… but there is also a lack of complexity in the bar that ensures I’m unlikely to buy it again. 

Instead, I think I’ll stick to my ridiculously-expensive-oh-dear-heavens-did-I-really-spend-as-much-on-50g-of-chocolate-as-I-do-on-eggs-florentine Amadei chocolate. 

But you’ll have to wait for that post.

* What Would Ellen DeGeneres Do.

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It’s been a little while since I’ve reviewed a chocolate bar that is all about the… well, chocolate. In recent days we’ve looked at chocolate with caramelised nuts and seeds, with faux-cherry pieces, with hemp, and with Bailey’s Irish Cream (click on “chocolate” in the categories drop-down menu, on the right, to find out more). While such ingredient additions can be fun, sometimes a girl/person/eater simply wants to revel in the complexities and shifting depths (hopefully) found in unadorned dark chocolate.

And sometimes the writing up of such revelling occurs two months after the revelling took place… but maybe you’ll forgive me the delay?

TCHO “Nutty”

Tcho Nutty and Chocolatey

My pick of the bunch. Bunch of what, you say?

TCHO offers four different dark chocolates, which are differentiated primarily according to their flavour profiles. The chocolates are called “Fruity”, “Citrus”, “Nutty”, and “Chocolatey”, and have different cacao percentages and origins to boot. I quite like the idea of naming chocolate for its distinct taste, as this could help people new to the world of high-quality chocolate to develop their own flavour preferences. As much as I hate to admit it, not everyone wakes up one morning knowing that, for example, cacao from Madagascar is fruitier than its earthier cousins from Ghana.

Back to the chocolate itself, though, I was pleased to find a good deal of attention-to-detail in the chocolate’s embossing. It’s quite pretty, really, although it does remind me a little uncomfortably of geometry and maths.

If chocolate (A) is less than the square root of sugar (B) when divided by the time Timmy took to get to the station by bike (C), then what did the taste of this = ?

Although I would have loved to try all four of TCHO’s chocolates, and to thereby ascertain whether I agreed with their advertised flavours, the only two I found were the “Nutty” and “Chocolatey” bars. This certainly wasn’t the worst thing in the world, as I’ve discovered that citrus flavours are my least favourite in the world of chocolate.

Today, I’m talking about Mr. Nutty. Made from cacao from Peru and with a cacao content of 65%, the first thing I noted in the aroma was how chocolatey it was. In fact, I even checked that I hadn’t accidentally unwrapped the “Chocolatey” chocolate. After assuring myself that, yes, this was the Nutty chocolate, I then concentrated on the burnt caramel, dark golden syrup, and bitter muscovado sugar components of the aroma.

It was an enticing smell, and as soon as I tasted a square I was overwhelmed by thoughts of golden syrup on slightly-overdone pancakes (even though I can’t remember ever having put golden syrup on my pancakes).

It got a bit strange after that, though, because I couldn’t separate this pancake flavour from the cast-iron skillet they were (in my imagination) cooked on. Sometimes, the taste flipped back to burnt sugar and a more delicious taste, but increasingly my experience of the chocolate tended towards metal, detergent, and always cast iron. Cast iron appears countless times in my tasting notes, and before long I started to be a bit put off by the taste of it.

TCHO Nutty

Actually, now I'm seeing a hammock. Which is more calming. Although I've never quite got the hang of hammocks, and tend to be unable to relax in them.

I was very surprised by the strength and unusualness of the flavour of this chocolate, and must say that nuttiness was not something that ever came to the fore. I actually had to leave half of this to eat at another time and, when I did return, my experience was indeed slightly different…

The second time around, I couldn’t stop thinking that the chocolate tasted like cardboard and wood lacquer. Maths and woodwork? Why couldn’t this chocolate remind me of my favourite classes from Year 9, like English and Cooking?

I was, and remain, quite unsure as to what to make of this chocolate. Was it deliciously unusual, or unpleasant? Did I get a bad batch that had been stored incorrectly and had somehow soaked up unwanted flavours? Or is cardboard and iron the new “in thing” in the world of chocolate?

All I knew for sure, upon finishing this, was that I couldn’t wait to find out what Mr. Chocolatey had in store.

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