SRSLY Chocolate

With the redevelopment of the Gaines Street corridor, All Saints District, and Railroad Square in Tallahassee underway, many funky little local shops and cottage industries have begun to take hold in that area of town. One of these industries is SRSLY, a local chocolate confectionery. SRSLY describes themselves as “bean-to-bar chocolate entrepreneurs” who begin with organic and fair trade cacao beans and end up with bar of chocolate that “preserve the beans’ distinctive flavors.”

Intrigued by this concept and wanting to support Tallahassee’s cottage industries, I decided to splurge and pick up a few bars of chocolate.

My first taste of SRSLY chocolate was their Strawberry Balsamic Truffles, a creation that immediately peaked my flavor imagination.

Box of SRSLY Strawberry Balsamic Truffles
Box of SRSLY Strawberry Balsamic Truffles

Slowly taking my first bite of a Strawberry Balsamic Truffle, the slight give to the chocolate coat gave way to an initial flavor of dark chocolate, followed by a velvety (and ever so slightly gritty) strawberry infused chocolate center, and a subtle balsamic finish. While it would be easy for the strawberry or the balsamic flavors to dominate the taste of this type of confection, the dark chocolate (70% cacao) remained the leading flavor in this very enjoyable chocolate morsel.

SRSLY Truffle
SRSLY Strawberry Balsamic Truffle Filling

My second exposure to SRSLY chocolates was a Sea Salt and Almond chocolate bar.

SRSLY Chocolate Bar
SRSLY Sea Salt+Almond Chocolate Bar

The first thing I noticed tasting the Sea Salt and Almond chocolate bar was the delightfully smokey flavor profile, pervasive throughout the entire bite of chocolate.

SRSLY Sea Salt+Almond Bar
Chocolate with Sea Salt and Almonds

In addition to the smokey flavor, the chocolate bar was made more interesting by its texture. The almonds and flakes of of sea salt both provide the chocolate bar with a nice crunch. Unlike other bars I’ve had before, the almonds in the SRSLY chocolate did not get soft and chewy. The SRSLY chocolate bar also let the sea salt do what salt does best – enhance the other flavors in the bar – without the salt becoming a flavor itself.

SRSLY chocolate is currently available at several local venues in Tallahassee, including New Leaf Market where I bought mine. The SRSLY website also appears to be in the process of setting in an online store where people can order their chocolates. However you procure your tastings of SRSLY chocolate, you should indulge soon. SRSLY.

I’m Nuts about Nut Butter!

I’m pretty much obsessed with nut butter.  I put a small spoon of nut butter in my yogurt or oatmeal just about every weekday morning.  If I don’t include nut butter in my breakfast, it becomes part of a snack, usually paired with fruits or veggies.  Having become a nut butter connoisseur, I’m eager to share my findings and I think this post is long overdue.

I grew up loving peanut butter – on bananas, in my cereal, on sandwiches (with honey, not gloppy grape jelly), and on banana bread.  Although my family occasionally bought the typical PB that is trans-fat laden, my brilliant scientist grandfather suspected something wasn’t right with trans-fats long before the rest of the scientific community caught on and he ordered natural peanut butter by the case from a specialty store in New York from the 1950s until the natural version of PB became available in Publix in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

Seriously, my grandfather is brilliant.  He once drew out the chemical structure of oil and explained to me in chemical terms exactly what happens when oil is hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated.  Not something we should be putting in our bodies . . . not that I’m perfect when it comes to avoiding processed foods.  Just saying that I’m trying and natural peanut butter is one small step in the right direction.

Many people are turned off by natural peanut butter because of the layer of oil that forms at the top (it’s natural and it comes from the nuts themselves) but once you give the nut butter a good stir, you can solve the separation problem by keeping the nut butter in the refrigerator.

After reading about cashew and almond butters on several blogs I follow, I wanted to try other nut butters.  However, I was intimidated by the $8 – $15 price tag compared to the $2 – $3 for peanut butter.  Finally, I bit the bullet and I’ve been trying other nut butters.  Here are the results of my survey:

No-Stir Natural Butters: Pictured below and also including MaraNatha No-Stir Almond Butter.  Sounds promising and there is a really good flavor and texture (part of that comes from added sugar and salt).  Plus, the added benefit of not having to distribute the layer of oil or store the nut butter in the refrigerator.  However, a closer look at the ingredients reveals a deal breaker: palm oil!

While there is some controversy surrounding palm oil, especially given the prevalence of palm oil in the diets of persons in developing countries, the World Health Organization and the Mayo Clinic, among others, recommend avoiding palm-kernel oils.  However, I keep a jar of no-stir peanut butter on hand because it lasts longer than other nut butters and an occasional serving isn’t going to kill me.  Plus, the plastic jar is a benefit when traveling.

Almond Naturally More: This is just gross.  I can’t bring myself to open it.  I refuse to eat any nut butter where the ingredient list includes egg white.  I probably should have read the ingredient list more carefully before I purchased this.

Once Again Crunch Almond Butter: Perfect texture.  Perfect ingredient list.  Perfect flavor.  Perfect texture.  Perfect.  A fabulous New Leaf Market find.  Love this on sandwiches, in baked goods (Artie makes the most amazing banana bread-almond butter muffins), in oatmeal, and with yogurt (see my recipe for breakfast parfait in this post).  The price is well worth the peace of mind that I am only putting the best, most natural ingredients in my body.

Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter: My most recent love and another winner!  This recent New Leaf find combines everything I love about Once Again Almond Butter with a unique, sweet flavor and an incredibly smooth texture.  Plus, it is about $2 cheaper per jar than almond butter and has fewer calories per serving.  I would recommend this for sure!

Whenever I’m at New Leaf, I check out the nut butter section and I’m looking forward to trying other nut butters, including Cashew Butter and Maple Almond Butter, in the future.