A new chocolate company for me. Zaabär of Belgium. I picked this up in Quebec City. I wish I knew about them before now. I have been to Brussels twice in the last two years. It would have been nice to visit the shop. Those who aren't familiar with Brussels, it's completely choked out with bad Belgian "tourist" chocolate. Secret gems like this, Laurent Gerbaud, and Pierre Marcolini are some of Brussels saving graces.
The chocolate factory Zaabär was created at the end of 2007 by François-Jean Decarpentrie. “Zaabär”, name inspired by the Spices Bazaar of Istanbul, is a innovative concept : based on the association of Belgian chocolate and spices coming from all over the world.
The chocolate factory Zaabär also innovates by creating, in October 2008, the Zaabär Factory Shop, a chocolate manufacture and at the same time a point of sales and production. This 600 m² space marvellously designed, comparative to New York’s places, invites the visitors to discover the secrets of the chocolate maker’s craft. All the creations of the chocolate maker are sold in the shop, behind the factory.
Since 2009, the chocolate factory Zaabär organizes visits and chocolate classes to make truffles, spiced chocolate bars and chocolate shapes.
The chocolate factory Zaabär sells its chocolates in Belgium, of course , but also in France, Germany, Spain, Canada and Japan, in fine food stores, or qualitative confectioneries.
This bar comes part of their Duo series. Chocolate with spices.
Chocolate bars with spices. Each DUO combines with delicacy Belgian pure and fine chocolate with fruits, flowers and spices from the 4 corners of the world. The two 35gr-chocolate bars makes it possible to enjoy the surprising flavour of each tasteful combination. Vacuum packed, the chocolate bars preserve their flavour in an optimal way.
Sel de Guérande (Medium) Brittany:
Roasting & Cooking - Sea Salt, All Natural
An unrefined natural salt, enriched with elements, especially magnesium, with a taste reminiscent of the sea and winds of Celtic Brittany. Guérande is harvested by hand and celebrated in kitchens throughout the world. Guérande is excellent as a finishing and well as a table salt.
For hundreds of years, the inhabitants of the coastal town Guérande, have harvested salt by hand, using traditional Celtic methods. Today a cooperative of salt farmers continues to produce quality sea salt, which many argue is the ‘champagne’ of sea salts. A completely natural salt, it is light grey in color, rich in minerals, enhances flavors spectacularly, and is a favorite in kitchens throughout the world.
The grey color comes from the rain lightly disturbing the clay at the bottom of the salt ponds. Pure and unprocessed, the salt is dried slowly and then ground into a fine powder or left coarse. This is a proud table salt and a favorite with Celts for thousands of years.
Guérande enhances all recipes, and it is particularly good with seafood, steaks, or anything else you can find in a French kitchen, (although we haven’t yet tried it with frogs legs or snails).
Via The Spice Lab
Type: Flavored milk chocolate, 33.5%
Bean Varietal: Unknown
Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, salt, soya lecithin, natural vanilla.
Sample Size: 2 35g bars.
Appearance: Deep burnt caramel color with dark flecks in the chocolate. Monogrammed custom molding, small size tablet, shiny surface, little but of some surface matting from vacuum sealed packaging.
Snap: Firm snap, low and very dull snap sound, clean break lines.
Aroma: Soft muted aromas of cream and peanuts, lightly smoky.
Taste: Sweet, milky and creamy up front, large salt granules, very sweet and salty, nutty and smoky flavors from the chocolate. But really this is about sweet and salty and creamy milk flavors. The salt disintegrates any lingering creamy milk flavors that tend to hang on and and end up cloying on the finish. Very Euro tasting as far as milk chocolate goes. Some slight floral notes on the very end of the finish from retro-olfaction.
Texture: Creamy, soft, medium fast melt-time. Large coarse salt granules adds a crunchy texture. A little too coarse though towards the finish of the melt.
This was really great. Lots of salt for a very sweet bar of milk chocolate. Creamy and rich milk chocolate. But the creams did dominate the chocolate. It tasted like most European-style milk chocolates.Big sweet fatty creamy milk chocolate, little hints of smoke and some nuttiness, but the salt really dominates once you get to the middle of the melt. It's almost too salty at one point. I kind of enjoyed that because it helped wipe the palate clean and not leave cloying milk flavors behind. But it was a bit over powering in terms of balance. It leaves you with sugary cream versus salt.
Technically this was imbalanced and overly salty, but I got to say I liked it. The salt totally rips up that cream dominance. It prevents it from becoming cloying. But at the same time, the rich fatty milky chocolate was too sweet and needed that taming. They just might want to ease up a bit on the salt to do that.
I was hoping for a much bigger aroma with the bar being vacuum sealed. It was fairly soft. Only a few notes to talk about. As someone noted on Twitter, the packaging reminded of them of a pharmaceutical packaging. I tend to agree with that, but I like the idea of the vacuum seal. Anything to hold aromas intact. But in this case the chocolate didn't have much of an aroma. The rest of packaging I liked very much. Textured box packaging with a duo sleeve for both bars and closes up like a book. I like it and I think it looks real nice.
Final Score: 91.2