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Sampling Autumn Sweets From Kekao (Monthly Craft Chocolate Club)

Andrea is a home baker who loves to perfect challenging cakes, breads, and the like. She is on a quest to find the perfect flavor combos.

Chocolate makes any day better. I can get through just about any rough day with some chocolate!

What Is Kekao?

Kekao is a monthly chocolate subscription club. I tried four chocolates from their November box. The chocolates were delightfully fall-themed.

How does Kekao work? The company curates four to five bars monthly. The chocolates are shipped on the first business day of each month. During warmer months, the chocolates are shipped on the first Monday; they're packed with materials to prevent the treats from melting.

My box arrived and inside was a burlap sack with four bars. The chocolates you'll receive will be from different companies; they have different flavors, sizes, and shapes.

I received two chocolates that I think would appeal more to adults. The other two bars were sweeter, and I think could be enjoyed by younger folks.

Sweet November Flavors

My favorite might have been the Ranger espresso chocolate. My husband preferred the bar from Beyond Good, the Uganda crispy rice bar. We enjoyed all four chocolates; we'd gladly eat any of them again.

I've never had a maple chocolate bar, so that was a new experience. There was also an orange chocolate bar that was the best orange chocolate I've had.

You can read my thoughts on the chocolates below. I also included my husband's more concise and to-the-point reviews.

How to Taste Chocolate

Before we dive into the nuances of these chocolates, I want to give you some tips on how to sample chocolates at your home. These tips will help you if you throw a chocolate party or other gathering. Chocolate isn't just about taste; it's about all of the senses.

I considered the following when reviewing the chocolates. I tried to focus on the most striking features. If something was more neutral/subtle it likely wasn't worth mentioning in my reviews.

  • Prepare your space: Avoid distractions and strong scents. Put yourself in a tidy room that's light on decorations. You need to prepare yourself mentally before you try new chocolates.
  • Cleanse your palate: Clean your taste buds for optimal taste. Try using a palate cleanser in between tastes. My go-to is saltine crackers.
  • Visually inspect the chocolate: Consider the hue of the chocolate bar. Does it have any unique qualities? Is it dusty, smooth, bumpy, or grainy?
  • Touch it: Feel the surface of the bar. What does the texture feel like? It could be smooth, creamy, brick-like, or dry.
  • Smell it: Note the smell. Does the chocolate remind you of something? Maybe you'll get hints of coffee, vanilla, or fruit. The scent can help you decipher what's in the chocolate.
  • Does it snap? When you snap chocolate, it will help you determine whether it was properly tempered. A good snap will be satisfying.
  • And finally, taste it: Place the chocolate on your tongue. Let it slowly melt. Chew after it has melted a bit. Are you getting any sensations on your tongue? Do you notice anything in the back of your mouth?

Chocolate Comparisons

CategoryBeyond Good: Uganda Single Origin Chocolate | Crispy RiceQantu | Maple & Maras fleur de selRanger: Espresso Chocolate BarBaianí: Tree to Bar Dark Chocolate with Orange Zest 70%

Main Flavors

Dark chocolate, rice, vanilla, caramel, apricot.

Salt, chocolate, maple.

Espresso and chocolate.

Orange and chocolate.

Occasion

It's mature. Makes you daydream. Great for after work or a long travel day.

For exploring an enchanted forest. Sweet, friendly, and for a fun day. Appropriate for a first date. (Call it puppy love.)

It's strong. I could eat this alone at a coffee shop. It's like a committed relationship. Give it to your spouse if you have one.

Meant for house parties, friends, and holidays.

My Preferred Drink Pairing

Milk

Coffee

Water (You need something neutral, so you can enjoy the nuanced flavors)

Apple Cider

"Transparency tastes delicious. We're on a mission to change the way the world experiences chocolate, from the cocoa farmer to you."

Beyond Good: Uganda Single Origin Chocolate, Crispy Rice

My Thoughts: I love the blue packaging on this chocolate. It's friendly and eye-catching. Who doesn't love chocolate with a giraffe on it?

This was one of my favorite chocolates from the Kekao November box. I highly recommend trying it.

The smell is subtle. The flavor profile is progressive. You should let it sit in your mouth for a moment. I felt like the flavors ramped up after 30 seconds. This chocolate is like a ride at Disney World. It has many levels to it. I'm definitely not qualified to break down all those levels. What we really need is a full-on chocolate engineer for this review, but I'll try anyway.

It's a treat with many secrets. Initially, you'll sit back all cool, relaxed, letting the chocolate melt in your mouth. But then all of a sudden you're met with a blend of caramel, dark chocolate, vanilla, and apricot. The rice at the end is crunchy and satisfying. If you let the chocolate melt in your mouth completely, the last thing to greet you will be the rice.

The chocolate at the beginning is light and playful. Give it a moment, and it descends into darkness. It's the chocolate nectar of a forgotten mythological creature. Seriously, it makes my mouth feel as though it has been blessed by some holy chocolate elixir.

My main takeaways from this chocolate are:

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  • Let it sit in your mouth, so it can be the quiet little killer that it is. It's waiting to dance its absurdly dexterous song.
  • I'm not kidding, this chocolate bar is a creative masterpiece. It's attempting to be a full-on symphony.
  • It's mouth-watering with all kinds of secrets, and I definitely want to know all about its dirty little secrets.

My Husband’s Thoughts: CHOCOLATE! If a Crunch bar was delightfully darker. It's chocolatey with some creaminess. Bit of a bitter taste on the tongue as it sits there, but a good bitter! Not sure if you're the kind of person who likes black licorice, if you are it's a good bitter aftertaste. Probably would go really well with a cup of coffee. Do not hand out this chocolate on Halloween! Keep it for yourself. It melts very well. The flavor lasts in your mouth for a long while.

Notes from the Packaging:

  • Crispy rice. 73% cocoa. Rich and chocolatey with notes of vanilla.
  • Recommendations: Eat slowly. Let it melt. Search your back teeth for flavor.
  • Ingredients: cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, crispy rice, rice flour, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract.
  • It's gluten free and soy free. Also, it's vegan.

"Qantu is the discovery of the purest cocoa flavors. We scour Latin America seeking native cocoa beans with exceptional flavors. In our workshop, we transform the beans into a pure bliss that will never fail to surprise your palate."

Qantu: Maple & Maras Fleur de Sel

My Thoughts: There are beautiful engravings on the chocolate. It has a unique design with the company's name and artistically placed lines and shapes.

The chocolate breaks in a nice, satisfying snap. The texture is slightly dry. There is some whitish-brown spotting. It has some color streaking to its finish. The spotting is more noticeable on the back. Some of the spotting is salt.

You can smell the maple. You can actually smell the maple while the chocolate is in the package. Maple is one of my favorite flavors. I feel like it often gets overlooked.

For me, the maple takes a moment to sink in. The salt is pronounced at the beginning. The salt melts away to a chocolate melded with autumn secrets. That sea salt flavor hits squarely on the tongue. Overall, it tastes somewhat caramelly and buttery.

The chocolate has a mature profile that gets more robust the longer it sits in your mouth. It's like skating in pools of chocolate maple wisps. It is slightly sharp at the end and then it declines fast. It fades away like a friendly ghost.

It melts beautifully, a part of you doesn't want it to disappear. . . another part of you is ready to grab another piece and restart the cycle with its salty opening.

I don't think I've ever had a chocolate bar that fits fall so precisely. This chocolate bar screams November.

It's salty and sweet. At some point, it turns into a dreamy pool of maple bliss. I want to eat it with bacon. The sweetness stays with you long after eating. It's kind of rich.

My Husband's Thoughts: This is really salty at the beginning and then gets super sweet in the middle. The maple might be too much for me, but I do like the bitterness of dark chocolate.

Notes from the Packaging

  • The maple bar won the International Chocolate Awards World 2020-21 Bronze award.
  • Ingredients: organic cocoa beans, organic cocoa butter, pure maple sugar, fleur de sel.

"Ranger's Espresso Chocolate Bar strikes a balance between two of our most beloved items on the planet—chocolate and espresso."

Ranger: Espresso Chocolate Bar

My Thoughts: The bar has a clean snap to it if you break off a piece. It smells like a warm bath of chocolate and coffee. It has a profound coffee taste right off the bat. It melts in your mouth in exactly the right way: slowly and meticulously, like you're in love. The espresso dances on your tongue.

Fair warning: this chocolate bar is addictive. Try your best not to eat it all in one sitting. It's got a mature profile. Definitely a chocolate for adults and not kids.

The espresso is heavenly, like a bistro gelato. I've never had an espresso chocolate that was this good. It dissolves with finesse. It's warm, pleasant, and intoxicating. It transports you to a coffee shop with indie music. It tastes like what I'd expect Portland to taste like if the city was smashed down into a coffee-infused dessert.

The flavors linger in your mouth, leaving you with a trace of warmth and bitterness. I would describe the aftertaste as malty. It doesn't have the astringent aftertaste of coffee.

When you're done eating the chocolate, you may feel odd as you drop back into reality. No chocolate daydream can last forever. (This chocolate may or may not be an aphrodisiac.)

My Husband's Thoughts: Melts rather slowly. I find the espresso flavor is a bit delayed. Takes a while before it hits the palate. The espresso almost gives it a sweet flavor.

Notes from the Packaging:

  • The company collaborated with some of the best coffee roasters in Portland to produce the warm and welcoming bar.
  • Tasting notes: cream, fruit, espresso.
  • The bar is vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, and nut free.

"Oranges are abundant in Brazil, so our interpretation of the classic orange-chocolate pairing couldn't be left out. We bring only the fresh orange zest. Not infusions, essences, or dried fruit. The balance is just perfect. At our farm in Bahia, Brazil, we produce Craft Quality cacao and make all our chocolate bars with it."

Baianí: Tree to Bar Dark Chocolate With Orange Zest 70%

My Thoughts: It has a noticeably dry surface. A lot of effort was put into the engravings on the bar. It has elegant lettering and beautifully engraved wreaths.

The orange hits right of the top. It's delightfully sweet, like afternoon sunlight in the fall. It's the right blend of orange and chocolate. It isn't sour or pungent. It's sweet like candy. I would consider it a playful chocolate, like what you'd eat at a movie theater. While melting in my mouth, it split in half. It does break down into pieces.

It has a malty finish. It reminds me of the orange hot chocolate mix from the Whittard tea company. This isn't the most romantic chocolate. I suggest giving it to your friends, children, and relatives. It has a pleasant aftertaste, a nice sprinkling of orange. It's not bitter, at least not as bitter as some of the others on this list. This chocolate would make for a nice refreshment after Thanksgiving dinner.

My Husband's Thoughts: Chocolatey-orange taste. And that's just kind of it. Neither that sweet nor that sour. Don't get me wrong: it is a good orange-chocolate. Easily one of the best orange chocolate things I've ever had. The orange tastes genuine and not artificial. It strikes a good balance.

Notes from the Packaging:

  • The chocolate is the Academy of Chocolate Bronze Winner, 2018.
  • It is considered a tree to bar chocolate.

Would I Try Another Box from Kekao?

Absolutely! This is a fantastic and affordable way to try craft chocolates. I like that the chocolates are curated for you, so you get a selection that works altogether. You're also paying for the company's expertise when you signup for a subscription.

The company works with chocolate traders who are ethical, focus on sustainability, and give workers fair wages. Buying a subscription supports local farmers around the world.

You can also order a subscription as a gift. If you're scrambling to come up with something for Christmas or someone's birthday, I would recommend sending them chocolate.

© 2021 Andrea Lawrence

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