Partnering with Time to Eat Chocolate on this collaboration project has provided me with the opportunity to expand my horizons! Since Lori posted about a chocolate maker from her home state yesterday, I thought it would be fun to write about a company that I only recently discovered was near my home state! Honestly, it never occurred to me that there could be a chocolate maker in Scottsdale, Arizona since their summer temperatures are consistently in the triple digits!! It surprised me to discover that there are actually quite a few companies in other parts of Arizona as well (see the bottom of this post for a full list of makers).
As any marketing person will tell you, vibrant packaging sells! When trying to select which Arizona maker to feature, I was captivated by the colorful/eye-catching rustic artwork of the Stone Grindz bars as shown on their website. Seeing that they also carried a Bolivia bar (one of my favorite origins at the moment) “sealed the deal” – now to try to locate it! Luckily their bars are sold by Chocolate Covered San Francisco, so I quickly placed an order and received the bar within two days.
To me, it looks like both a llama and a donkey are depicted on the front of this C1S (coated one side) notched cardboard sleeve since these “beasts of burden” are perfect for transporting supplies in the Bolivian Andes.
Removing the bar from the outer packaging, the clear heat-sealed plastic bag allows you to immediately see the matte finish of the 18-square mold, despite some minor chocolate “dust” marring the overall finish.
Cutting open the plastic wrapper released a deep, rich, chocolatey aroma. Taking a closer look at the bar, I noticed tiny air bubbles at the corners of most of the squares and some slight “ghosting” swirls. I’m always mesmerized by the natural beauty of minor imperfections, if you take time to notice them. FYI, I enhanced the photo below a bit to make it “pop.”
Breaking off a row of squares to make tasting morsels, I noticed that the mold had not been evenly filled since each of the pieces varied in width.
There was a slightly brittle snap to the bar and I detected a nutty aroma at the break. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy – something I didn’t really expect from a name like Stone Grindz. After melting several pieces in my mouth, I noticed a malty aftertaste; however, the overall flavor of this Wild Bolivia bar was mild to me, rather than the distinct earthy flavor profile I have come to expect from other Bolivian beans (Alto Beni, in particular). To my surprise, I tasted mostly green apple rather than the cashew and plum from the tasting notes. Based on my experience, green apple is generally considered to be an “off flavor” in beer, so I’m wondering about the amount of acetic acid produced when fermenting this particular batch of beans which, according to the packaging, grew wild along the Amazon River Basin. [As a side note, I sampled this bar twice with the same results: once in the morning as a “first taste” before having anything to eat & a second time after eating a spicy meal.]
Taste is definitely subjective! Just recently, the Choocolate Journalist published an interesting article about some of the reasons why people taste things differently than others. So, don’t take my word for it…try it for yourself & let me know your thoughts & experiences!!
If you’d like to learn more about the different bars available from Stone Grindz, check out: http://www.stonegrindz.com/
To be sure not to miss any story from this “50 States” project, I recommend that you also follow the Time to Eat Chocolate blog!
Other chocolate makers in Arizona:
Brazen Chocolate https://www.newfangledlabs.com/
Desert Indulgence http://www.difinechocolates.com/
Lulu’s Chocolate http://www.luluschocolate.com/
Zak’s Chocolate http://zakschocolate.com/
NOTE: If you know of any other bean-to-bar makers in Arizona that aren’t mentioned above, please leave a comment or send an email so that we can keep this list as up-to-date as possible!