Coffee and Chocolate Tasting Tours with Local Table Tours

Saturday mornings are great for casually sipping coffee, learning about beans, roasting methods, proper grinding, brewing at altitude, and picking up flavor profiles and nuances. Add snow to the mix, and it’s a perfect November day in Boulder, Colorado. Thank you Briana May for your beautiful photos.

melT: The Almond Drop

I met Melissa Thomas on a progressive dining tour with Local Table Tours. We got to talking about cooking, food blogging, the gluten free trend and just how terrible some of the “healthy” gluten free pre-packaged foods taste. Melissa mentioned that she actually made a gluten free treat called The Almond Drop. She told me that her original intentions were not to create a gluten free product, but it just so happened to be delicious and naturally gluten free, so she found herself right in the middle of the gluten free industry. As she was incredibly friendly, a knowledgable foodie, and passionate about her craft, I told her I’d love to sample them and write a post to help spread the word.

I was expecting a small sample, perhaps one or two of each flavor, so I was really surprised when she gave me four whole packages: Walnut White Chocolate Dried Cherries, Cranberry Chocolate, Apricot Chocolate, and Simply Apricot (a vegan treat). I’m really glad she was generous with me because these things were my nightly dessert for a week or so.

Almond Drops

A combination of almonds, dates, almond butter, unsweetened coconut, and flax has never tasted so good. These little bite-sized balls are sweet enough (agave syrup) to satisfy my sweet tooth, yet wholesome enough to indulge in more than just one, as those calories (140 per ball) are mostly comprised of nuts and healthy fats. I loved each variety of Almond Drop almost equally, and found that having all four in one sitting made for a most satiating dessert.

You can purchase The Almond Drop here in Boulder at Whole Foods and Lucky’s Market. Way to go, melT Foods! That’s a well-deserved product placement.

 

Taste 13: Ritual Chocolate

It’s fun to unwrap. It has a perfect snap when you break off a piece.  Your taste buds immediately taste chocolate, and then as you let it just slightly melt in your mouth you realize it’s not overly sweet.  It has a smooth mouthfeel with no hint of chalkiness.  It’s such an exemplary bar of chocolate, I could make the sensory pleasure of eating this bar a ritual.

Ritual Chocolate is by far one of the best locally made artisan edibles in Colorado.  Owners Robbie Stout and Anna Davies fell in love with chocolate (and each other…) and started a bean to bar chocolate factory in Denver.  They are one of the very few chocolatiers in the United States that source cacao beans as the first step in the chocolate making process.  So, for my thirteenth taste of how much I care, I introduced him to one of my favorite chocolate bars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I brought him a bar and he looked at it, thought it looked pretty cool, and tore off the top part of the wrapper within a few seconds of having it in his hands.  It would have made a great testimonial video for Ritual Chocolate because he broke off a piece (which made a snap), put it in his mouth, and immediately commented on just how fantastic that peice of chocolate was. By his second bite I was explaining how I had organized a blogger tour of the factory and know the owners, (how their story is so damn cool!), and how there’s a lot of time, effort, and dedication that goes into every single chocolate bar.

When you experience a Ritual Chocolate bar, you’ll understand how chocolate can and should actually taste.  There are a lot of chocolate bars out there, but most pale in comparison. Ritual Chocolate is available in a number of coffe shops and specialty stores in the Denver/Boulder area. Rather than spout out a list of places, I’d like to refer you to their website for info on their chocolate, their story, and where to buy a bar.

Taste 4: Double Chocolate Chilies and Cherries Chocolove Chunk Cookies

For my fourth way to show him how much I care (about his waistline) I pulled out one of my original recipes I created a couple years ago: Double Chocolate Chilies and Cherries Chocolove Chunk Cookies.  The title is a mouthful because once these babies come out of the oven, you will have a mouthful of cookies all night. Warning: eat responsibly.

Local Boulder-based Chocolove makes a Chilies and Cherries bar and it’s one of my favorites.  I’m known to make spicy brownies (coming up soon in this 14-part series), but wanted to branch out a bit on my chocolate baked goods, so one day I got creative and made up this cookie recipe.  I love it.

 

Here’s how I made them:

Ingredients:
  • 10 oz bittersweet chocolate (Ghirardelli sells 10 oz bags of chocolate chips which work well)
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 bars of Chocolove Chilies and Cherries in Dark Chocolate
Start by melting the bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler.
While it is melting, whip the cream into butter in your KitchenAid stand mixer. Then cream together the butter and sugar (evaporated cane juice). Next, add the eggs and mix well.
When the chocolate is melted, remove it from heat and let it cool for 5 minutes or so before adding it to the mixing bowl. Mix in the melted chocolate and then add the flour, baking powder, and mix well again. Finally add the chopped Chocolove bars.
The batter is going to be wet, so put 2 pieces of wax paper or plastic wrap on the counter and pour half of the batter onto each piece. Carefully form wrapped logs and transfer them to the freezer for 30 minutes or the fridge for a couple hours.

 

Slice the cold batter-logs into disks and roll them into ping-pong-sized balls.  Bake them on a parchment lined tray at 375 for 10-12 minutes.  They’ll still feel delicate in the middle when they’re done, so carefully slide them onto a cooling rack.

 

 

Enjoy!

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