Chocolate with a Peel

The Dish

We don't have to tell you (but we will, anyway) that Seattle is far from lacking artisan coffee or chocolate. And it's no coincidence that coffee beans and cacao beans are roasted and harvested in a similar manner and transformed into a delicate, palatable luxury consumable -- also known as a necessity for many of us. For this week's Versus, we chose two local artisan chocolates with a twist -- an orange twist, to be exact. Coffee and chocolate is a natural pairing, but so is orange and chocolate. When it comes to the following gourmet candy bars, which one gave us a zest for life?

Photo by Julien Perry
The Rivals

Claudio Corallo

2122 Westlake Ave., 859.3534

Claudio's laranja chocolate (about $7) is a complimentary combination of 75% chocolate, crystallized orange peel, cocoa, sugar, and cocoa butter. The taste is smokey with hints of tobacco. Chunks of orange peel give the chocolate a nice sweetness, but the sticky bits will certainly get stuck in your teeth, like little pieces of jelly bean. The chocolate, while dark, isn't very intense, which creates a broader appeal. What is nice about this chocolate is that you get two distinct flavors: chocolate an orange. Only when you bite directly into a piece of the orange peel do you get a burst of orange flavor. It's not at all overwhelming as we had imagined after seeing the peel-riddled slabs of chocolate.

Photo by Julien Perry
Theo Chocolate

3400 Phinney Ave. N., 632-5100

Unlike Claudio Corallo, Theo blends orange oil and orange zest into 70% cacao, sugar, cocoa butter and ground vanilla bean to create its orange bar (around $4). The flavor tastes quite a bit darker than the 75% Claudio chocolate, slightly bitter, and very smooth. We must admit, we are huge fans of Theo, partaking in their intense dark chocolate at least once every couple of weeks. Being frequent consumers, we were able to easily detect the orange flavor, even though it is quite a bit more subtle than Claudio's; we just wish we could taste more of the citrus.

The Champ

This is a tough call because it really does come down to personal taste. There are different aspects of each chocolate that we find outstanding. We prefer the texture of Theo's chocolate and the orange flavor of Claudio's. If we could combine them, we'd have the perfect orange chocolate bar. But, until we can manufacture the skill and time to make our own, we are calling Claudio Corallo the winner of this challenge. If you're in the market for a nice orange-flavored chocolate, he's your man.

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