Seattle chocolate company Theo produces several different lines of chocolate, including a single origin range, “classic combination” bars, some rather fantastic-looking caramels and, of course, the gorgeously-packaged 3400 Phinney chocolates which, to my mind, are the most interesting of the lot.
In the sad and desolate times that were my pre-blog years, I tested out quite a few chocolates from the 3400 Phinney stable. From memory, I loved the Nib Brittle (but I always love cacao nibs), thought the Chai Milk Chocolate could be stronger in spice, found the Bread and Dark Chocolate interesting with a nice crunch, and gave a big tick to the Coconut Curry Milk Chocolate. This last was certainly not lacking in spice oomph and had a distinctly savoury edge, yet once my tastebuds knew what to expect, I loved it (even more than Vosges’ similar Naga bar). While in New York, however, I chanced across one of Theo’s newest 3400 Phinney bars, the vegan…
Fig, Fennel and Almond Dark Chocolate
This is a deliciously rich, dark and complex bar with a delightfully crisp snap and glossy red-black appearance. The fennel is present in the aroma but is not overpowering, and this follows through into the taste. Certainly there is a slightly herby quality to flavour, but this is mixed in with the nuttiness of the roasted almonds, the deep sweetness of the dried figs, and the woodsy and tobacco tones of the chocolate itself.
The almonds provide crunch and the figs both chewiness and crunch, the latter presumably from figs’ tiny seeds. I adored this chocolate, and for anyone who feels tentative about fennel, I assure you it isn’t overpowering. You can trust me on this – fennel is akin to anise, anise is akin to liquorice, and I do not like liquorice. Therefore the fennel is not icky.
(Is that not a lovely equation from someone who hasn’t taken Maths in years?)
Two thumbs up for this chocolate. It is dark, smoky, buttery, sweet deliciousness. Moreover, it is vegan, gluten-free, and made from a mere seven easy-to-pronounce ingredients: cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, almond, figs, fennel and ground vanilla bean (no el-cheapo fake vanillin here!), all of which are Fair Trade certified, if that floats your boat.*
And look! I found an old photo of one of the other bars, so here is more cuteness (again suited to all you cat-folk out there):
*If that does float your boat, I have a 28,000 word thesis on ethical consumption just waiting for such wonderful, eager readers as you lot… It includes many references and pages dedicated to chocolate. No, really, it does.