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TCHO Beta Bars: Like Fudge Brownie Batter

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I recently signed up at Blake Makes to receive and review free samples of food products. If you are a food blogger and you haven’t heard about Blake Makes yet, definitely check it out. This week’s sample was from TCHO chocolate, a San Francisco chocolate company.

Over the past month, I’ve gone from chocolate commoner to snooty chocolate elitist. I actually turned down some cheap chocolate Groom 2.0 brought to an event, calling it “fake chocolate”. I attended a lecture and tasting with Patric Chocolate and later, I sampled some other fine chocolates including Askinosie at Ciccolata in St. Louis’ Union Station. One of the things that I learned both from Patric and Askinosie is that good chocolate stands on its own without the need for vanilla flavoring.

Enter TCHO

One thing I noticed right away about the TCHO chocolate was that it contained vanilla beans. Always the good student, my mind started repeating what I’d learned, “Good chocolate doesn’t have vanilla. This can’t be good chocolate.” I was sad. I hadn’t even tasted it yet.
My TCHO chocolate came with a color wheel to describe the possible flavors the chocolate could have:
  • Chocolatey
  • Citrus
  • Fruity
  • Floral
  • Nutty
  • Earthy
I wonder about the distinctions here. What does earthy taste like, vs. nutty? What fruit does fruity taste like? TCHO thinks that this system will make things easier for consumers. They say it makes more sense than the typical percentage of chocolate that you see on bars. I’m not that sure. Will people be able to taste all of these subtle flavors? I’d like to try one of each flavor and see for myself. I had no such luck. My beta bar was one flavor only: “chocolatey”.

Was the TCHO Beta Bar Chocolatey?

Despite the vanilla or perhaps because of it, my beta bar was actually extremely chocolatey. It tasted like fudge brownie batter (brownie batter also has vanilla in it so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised). I loved it! The flavor was not as complex as the Patric or the Askinosie – both of which I would describe as black on the chocolate wheel (a combination of all of the chocolate flavors). However, for a traditional deep, rich chocolatey chocolate, TCHO will leave you very, very happy.
Thanks, Blake and TCHO, for the chance to try it!
By the way, the beta bars are for sale for $5 plus $5 shipping. The real bars should be coming soon.
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4 comments on “TCHO Beta Bars: Like Fudge Brownie Batter”

  1. Blakesays:

    Excellent. Love your description of the TCHOcolate. Brownie batter is a good example. I’m with you, I’m curious as to the other flavor notes. Maybe TCHO will do another giveaway.

  2. Kristensays:

    I’m so glad you came in to Cioccolato and that you had a good experience! Sorry I didn’t get to meet you though – perhaps on a return visit?

    One thing I try to impart to our customers is that there really is no such thing as “the best chocolate” in terms of objective standards – everybody likes different kinds. The presence of vanilla on the ingredients list will not automatically mean a brand or its source chocolate is of lesser quality. It just means that chocolatier prefers a recipe that includes vanilla. (The presence of vanillin, on the other hand, would give me pause, but then again there are people who don’t mind it.)

    My yardstick for better quality chocolate is a short, comprehensible ingredients list. If it takes you more than three seconds to read it, or if you don’t know (or don’t WANT to know) what any of the ingredients are, that’s bad news.

    In terms of dark chocolate percentages making sense to buyers, you should come back to Cioccolato sometime and get a blind taste test of a few different brands of dark chocolates with the same or similar percentages and tell me if you think their numbers make sense. For example, I LOVE, in a big way, a certain brand’s 99% bar, and could eat it every day, but another brand’s 100% bar tastes like dirt and burnt olives (ie, very icky) to me. We don’t have samples at that extreme end of the spectrum, but you get my drift.

    Sorry to be so verbose!

  3. Stefsays:

    Kristen – Interesting comment about the vanillin vs vanilla. I see what you are saying about the problem with the percent chocolate method, but what do you think of TCHO’s method? Do you think it makes it easier?

  4. Kristensays:

    I do think the TCHO method is more useful, especially with single origin chocolates, which are as varied as wines from different vineyards or coffees from different estates, and tend to have more distinctive tasting notes.

    Most chocolates are made with blended cocoa harvested from different locations, resulting in a more homogenized flavor. I notice on Blake’s page the TCHO bar wrapper says “Ghana” on it above the flavor selections, so I suppose for that bar they are using Ghanaian cocoa. However, if the resulting bar simply tastes like yummy brownie batter, the flavor wheel approach does seem silly.

    The Askinosie bars present a good use for the wheel, however. The 70% bar contains a variety of beans from Ecuador called Arriba Nacional. These have a very distinctive, almost agressive, dark berry note to them that, I think, makes the flavor more intense than the 75% Askinosie bar, which utilizes milder Mexican Soconusco beans.

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