As if in a dream, a dense package arrived with my name upon it, and it was filled with nothing but chocolate! Seven sizable bars and a box of truffles to be exact, “somebody pinch me,” was the only thought I could muster. The incredible reality continued when I discovered that three of the bars were rice milk chocolate bars. Completely dairy-free and vegan “milk” chocolate bars … could this really be?
Alas, this fantasy moment was just a bit too good to be true. As it happened, that one strange week in the spring, we experienced an unseasonable warm spell. I could feel the bars attempting to break free from their packaging and become a pool of chocolate sauce. To salvage my poor desserts, I rushed them to the refrigerator as quickly as possible.
The dark chocolate and truffles faired the best, while the “milk” in the others had obviously encouraged some serious melting. Nonetheless, with a good chill, everything returned to solid form. Since they did undergo this episode, I fear that my review may not represent the rice milk bars at their very best, but they were still quite tasty.
My husband snubbed his nose upon first bite. He admitted that the bars did taste very similar to milk chocolate, with just the right amount of sweetness. But, little did I know that his taste buds had dramatically changed. The very man who used to lavish in the glories of milk chocolate was now proclaiming, “I don’t really like milk chocolate.” The dairy-free conversion had refined his palate, as he now longs for only dark and rich semi-sweet chocolates. Who knew!
I, on the other hand, was quite the opposite. It seems my tastes had a natural repulsion for all things “milky.” Even as a child, semi-sweet chips in very small amounts, were the only chocolate varieties to pass my lips. Yet, as I bit into the first Ricemilk Choco™ bar a familiarity hit my tongue that was unlike any dark bar I had trialed in recent years. Smooth, sweet, and utterly soothing, my mind was insistent that this must be a milk chocolate, but my tongue could tell that this was not a dairy experience.
As I ventured further into the tasting, I noted the calm of an almost malted milk chocolate flavor. Granted, while this bar could easily fill that milk chocolate void, it was not an even swap for the old standard. On the contrary, it was a unique, but delicious chocolate confection in its own right. I almost found Terra Nostra’s version to be more pure, relying less heavily on dairy milk to give it flavor and body. This lighter “milk” chocolate bar was one that I could easily fall in love with.
With my taste buds sold, I decided to venture the Ricemilk Choco™ w/ Almonds. While I am typically a purist, the rice milk chocolate and almonds made a delightful pair. The almonds were sizable enough to deserve a crunch or two, without taking up large portions of the overall confection. They added a definite flair that seemed to mellow the bar and give it more of a complex, candy bar-like flavor. Don’t take my words too literally, but together these ingredients exuded an almost toffee-like flavor!
As if these two were not enough, Terra Nostra has one more “milk” chocolate variety, the Ricemilk Choco™ w/ Dark Truffle bar. I loved the complexity of this bar. One might expect a semi-sweet meld, but the deep, rich dark maintained its identity, contrasting with the smooth milky exterior. Rather than a truffle, it was like a solid chocolate bar inside a chocolate bar, but with flavors for the more sophisticated palate. Two thin (at least after my melting tragedy) milk chocolate layers sandwiched a thicker rich dark chocolate layer.
I am eager to trial this chocolate when it has not suffered in travel, and with a little luck, I shall, right from the source! This summer I will be trekking back to my husband’s hometown of Vancouver BC for a month, back to some stomping ground where we used to live. To my great surprise, Terra Nostra has opened a chocolate shop there, Monde Chocolat! Once I am able to judge the full potential of this chocolate, I will report back. Perhaps while I am there, I can put a bug in their ear about creating a dairy-free white chocolate. Now there is a confection that I sorely miss!
My Extra Notes & Tips:
- In pure Terra Nostra fashion, these bars are organic and all natural. They are also free of any soy or gluten ingredients. Unlike many manufacturers, Terra Nostra does not use soy lecithin.
- Terra Nostra does ship year round, with only express delivery in the summer. Nonetheless, I highly recommend that you time your chocolate shipments around any heat spells
Where to Purchase: You can buy any product from the Terra Nostra line, directly from the Terra Nostra Chocolate website. Of course, they are making chocolate as fast as possible to distribute throughout the U.S. and Canada. See their store locator for a North American shop near you.