As my husband and I were checking out in the Whole Foods line-up, I spotted them, miniature dark chocolates from Lake Champlain. I inquired on the price and the checker responded, “59 cents … they are really good.” My husband piped up with a stern “You don’t need that right now.” Don’t worry ladies, it wasn’t a weight implication, he just knows how we both seem to be at constant battle with our sugar cravings. I backed off, knowing he was right.
But time passed, as we stood and waited … the checker made a major error when scanning in some items, and we ended up being “those people” who hold up the line … when it is really busy, of course. And isn’t it ironic that when the lines are piling up, the manager is nowhere to be found to override a simple charge? Regardless, the checker was very apologetic, and she must have seen me ogling those chocolates the whole time, because just as we were leaving, she handed two of them to my husband and said, “Here you go. These are for your patience.” My husband thanked her and said that his wife would be very grateful. He knows me all too well.
I know, just a 59 cent item, but it did mean the world to me … both the excellent customer service (thank you Whole Foods, we shall return) and getting to discover these marvelous chocolates. I had never sampled Lake Champlain before, and though I tend to like dark chocolate that is 60 to 70%, this Lake Champlain 80% Dark Chocolate was heavenly. It was smooth, deep, rich, and had just the right amount of sweetness. Some really dark chocolates are too chalky and bitter for my tastes, but these were seriously soothing. Yes, my husband graciously gave both of those chocolates to me, and I confess that I didn’t hesitate to take them!
This is not frugal chocolate mind you; it is a splurge. But, when you are watching your pennies, those $.59 minis are extremely satisfying! Just wanted to share, as I assume a few (okay quite a few) of you are dark chocolate fans like me. So what is your favorite brand / type of chocolate? Do tell! I think we would all love to know.
Sorry FTC, this review is on Whole Foods, and I will be buying these chocolates with my hard earned cash (for a special treat of course) in the future.
Hannah of Bittersweet Blog also gave some Lake Champlain flavors a try.
Well, unbelievably lucky as I am, I recently had the great fortune to have some real chocolate fall into my lap – And I’ve continued falling with it ever since. Lake Champlain Chocolates, made in Vermont from only fresh, natural ingredients that simply look like bona fide jewels compared to what I’m accustomed to. Although many of their offerings are not vegan, they do have an impressive selection of dark chocolates without any dairy, including some tempting hot chocolate mixes among other various products. Usually being rather limited even in my selection of cheap chocolates at the grocery store, I was thrilled to stumble upon a whole package of all-vegan chocolate squares in their repertoire.
Totaling 24 seductive squares, making up 6.7 ounces of solid, unadulterated cocoa bliss, the mere sight of the Select Origin Chocolate box is enough to make even the most indiscriminate chocoholics and voracious omnivores sigh with desire. Almost everyone will agree that better quality chocolates don’t need the addition of extra sweeteners or milk to enhance their natural flavors, and Lake Champlain Chocolates will confirm this notion once and for all. If you still consider anything this indulgence to be junk food, just consider the health claims when it comes to pure dark chocolate – With all the natural flavonoids and anti-oxidants, there shouldn’t even be any guilt attached to this purchase!
Representing various geographic areas in which cacao is grown; this box claims that different beans contain a wide range of unique characteristics, which become detectable after fermentation. Proving such a theory might be difficult with so many name-brand mockolates out there today, sourcing ingredients that are of questionable origin themselves, but if anyone could ever do it, Lake Champlain would be the ones to put it to the test. Included in this mouth-watering assortment are beans grown in Africa, Grenada, Sao Thome, and Tanzania, in various percentages of cocoa content.
I must preface by saying that as a recent convert to the way of the cacao bean, I have no expertise in evaluating this most beloved prize. Like an ignorant beginner in wine-tasting, the words “woody,” “dry,” or “thin” make no connection in my mind to any sort of food-related memory. That being said, I can tell you what I enjoy and why I think it’s good, which is really what counts when it comes down to choosing your after dinner treat, isn’t it?
That being said, the moment this new, potent incarnation of everyone’s favorite aphrodisiac hit my tongue, I knew there was no turning back. Every glossy square was composed of the smoothest, most velvety substance I’ve ever experienced putting in my mouth – So obscenely silky that I hadn’t before even considered it to be a natural texture in terms of food. The magic came in the first bite, snapping a corner clean off with one swift cleave of the teeth and an audible ‘pop!’ that rang through the air like a bell. Slowly melting, allowing one to savor every last drop of flavor, it was nothing like any chocolate I had ever known.
Starting at the lightest end of the scale for cocoa content, the 54% African Blend was first on my hit list. Deliciously sweet and simple, it reminded me of some of my best experiences in childhood with chocolate chips and bars. The creamy texture had me hooked, although the overall flavor was nothing I found particularly spectacular that would make it stand out in comparison to other chocolates on the market. Moving up to the 60 % cocoa from Grenada, I found that this percentage had only a mild increase in flavor intensity, making for a slightly less sweet but still very mellow and pleasant flavor. Since this was only a 6% discrepancy, I hadn’t expected them to have jarringly diverse tastes overall, but I was so far only moderately impressed.
When I got to the Sao Thome at 70% however, all five senses were going wild. The aroma, the feel, the smell, everything told me that this would be a pleasurable experience. Instantly I discovered it had a markedly unique tone, coming off as being deeper, richer, and somehow infinitely smoother. The simple sweetness present in the earlier squares had dissipated, now replaced by a more mature and sophisticated bite. Bowled over by this sensation, it was incredible how such a tiny amount of chocolate could focus my whole system on the experience of consuming such a luscious commodity. I swear that just a crumb could have coated my entire tongue like the softest and most comfortable blanket I had every taken shelter beneath. If I could only have one type of chocolate for the rest of my life, it would be this kind that I would demand, without question. I exaggerate not; While I’ve encouraged my mom to share much of this treasure with me, if one of those from Sao Thome turns up missing, there will be hell to pay.
Finally, reaching the uppermost level of cocoa content at 75% with the square from Tanzania, perhaps my taste buds had just reached their climax and tired out, but this one didn’t strike me quite so much as the previous. Still fantastic and intense, all the sweetness had been replaced by pure chocolate essence. At times the faint bitterness would remind me of a nice, strong cup of black coffee, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This one was very strong and not something that the children would probably take a liking to, but I found it to be a luxurious extravagance quite befitting of an after dinner nibble. Certainly not something I would turn down if offered, unlike my early response to any sort of chocolate up for grabs.
Whether you buy into the idea of potential health benefits, nuances in flavors depending on origin, natural ingredients, or anything else that this package offers up, there are few sweets more satisfying to the soul than chocolate. Now that I’ve learned the error of my ways, it will be difficult to satiate my appetite for such high-end vegan chocolate, but truly, the sacrifice will be worth it; Was it not Shakespeare himself who said “T’was better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?”
In addition to their year-round selection of truffles, chocolate bars, and chocolate covered-almonds, they have you covered at Lake Champlain Chocolates as well; Can you say “solid dark chocolate Easter bunnies?”
I suppose that this may be the one time that it’s perfectly vegan to eat rabbit! Just try to restrain yourself and divide this sweet fellow up into multiple portions for you own sake – After only scratching the surfacing on this 9.7 ounce cocoa bunny, I think I could be on the verge of a cocoa-induced coma right about now… But even so, I think I finally understand what makes quality chocolate worth all of the obsession, and even possible chocolate comas.
The Facts on Lake Champlain
Certifications: Lake Champlain is Certified Kosher, Certified Organic, and some varieties are Fair Trade.
Dietary Notes: By ingredients, these Lake Champlain Chocolates are dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, vegan / plant-based, vegetarian. Some varieties are nut-free, peanut-free, and soy-free. Nonetheless, always read the ingredient statement and check with the company on their manufacturing processes for all varieties if potential allergen cross-contamination is an issue for you. Processes and labeling are subject to change at any time for any company / product.
For More Product Information: Visit the Lake Champlain website at lakechamplainchocolates.com.
This is a third party review by Alisa Fleming, author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide & Cookbook (also available as an eBook). For more information and to purchase these foods, visit the Lake Champlain Chocolate Website.