I've had a run of good luck with winning contests and drawings on blogs lately. (I need to find someone giving away a publishing contract on a blog before my streak runs out.) The latest one was the first to give out an actual physical prize, and it's still going on if you want to enter. It's a blog tour promoting The Stone Traveler by Kathi Oram Peterson. This is the weekly prize. The grand prize is even better.
The book is LDS YA fiction, so the nominal audience is pretty narrow. I haven't read the book yet, so I'm going to review the prize—because I've never done a review of any kind before, and everyone else is doing them, so they must be cool. Right?
The rest of the prize is chocolate, and I have opinions on chocolate. First, I love dark chocolate, and what I got was all dark, from Ghirardelli and Lindt.
The Ghirardelli Intense Dark "Twilight Delight" (what a name, eh?) is 72% cacao, which is fairly dark. I've had 90% recently, so I'm well used to this kind of chocolate. The taste is quite nice, and not too sweet, as Hershey's always is. The texture was the only thing that bothered me. It's kind of hard and dry, and doesn't melt very quickly. It's a bag of individually wrapped squares, so I put them in my pocket for a few minutes before eating them just to get them kind of melty. Whatever you do, don't just pop them into your mouth cold and start chewing. It's not nearly so pleasant. And don't drink anything cold right before eating. But it's good chocolate, if a bit harsh in texture.
I should disclose that I'm a Lindt fanatic. A few years ago my wife couldn't eat any dairy at all because she was nursing our daughter who was intolerant of soy and milk protein. The only chocolate we could find without any milk or soy ingredients was Lindt's Swiss Bittersweet. Most chocolates (including the Ghirardelli above) use soy lecithin as an emulsifier. That was all the chocolate we ate for well over a year, and we were hooked. Hershey's chocolate tastes like garbage, now. I've had other kinds of European chocolates, including some that aren't sold here, and never tasted anything I like better than Lindt.
Anyway, I was excited to try Lindt's Excellence Dark with Chili. We once got a Chili and Cherry bar from my sister-in-law who lived near the Lindt factory in New Hampshire, and it was very interesting and quite good. But it had a fruit filling, and I prefer chocolate without bits of other stuff in it. The Chili bar tastes at first like a normal (for Lindt) 50% chocolate. It's amazing how smooth the texture is. There's no trace of pepper taste that I could detect. It's just a great chocolate that makes your mouth burn. And it burns, too. It's easily comparable to a medium salsa.
I happen to like spicy food, and I love this chocolate. I wish our grocery store carried it. I've seen it at Borders, but nowhere else locally. We've been mixing mint with chocolate for years, and everyone seems to like that. Chili and chocolate isn't a new idea either. It was how the ancient people of South America fixed their chocolate drinks (if memory serves) and that's why it's included in the prize. I think it's as natural a combination as mint-chocolate, with a burning kick instead of a cool one.
If anyone can pull off something like this, it would be Lindt and Sprungli. I noticed that this bar was made in New Hampshire instead of Europe. I know the truffles have been made there for awhile, but it seems like all the bars used to be imported from various countries in Europe. At any rate, they've quickly built a reputation for making great dark chocolate. I sometimes wonder if Lindt isn't responsible for starting the fine dark chocolate bandwagon rolling in America.
Maybe next I'll compare Tim Tams to Keebler's rubbish. Oh wait, I guess I just did.
Thanks again, Kathi! Go visit her blog or website, and be sure to look into the tour for reviews of The Stone Traveler and a chance to win a fantastic prize.