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Welcome to Fancy Food & Culinary Products' blog, your place to read reviews of the great fancy and gourmet products we find in the marketplace.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Editor's Pick: Choctál

I visited Peru in August, and I found a great little shop that featured a myriad of edible products derived from the cocoa bean. There were liquors, candies, chocolates, jams, jellies, teas and even pure roasted cocoa beans, and we learned how the nuances of the flavors changed depending on where the bean was grown.
While I’m back in Chicago hard at work for Fancy Food & Culinary Products magazine, I was instantly taken back to the souvenir shops of Machu Picchu when a lovely sampling of Choctal ice cream arrived at our office.

Choctál’s eight unique flavors don’t feature fun and flirty names like Dare Devil Chocolate but rather a worldly, straight-forward account of the exotic lands from which these flavors derive.

Names like Dominican Chocolate, Ghana Chocolate and Kalimantan Chocolate as well as Papa New Guinea Vanilla, Mexican Vanilla and Indonesian Vanilla instantly intrigued my appetite for travel as well as sugar.

Picking out which single-serve pack to try first was like closing my eyes and pointing my finger to a spinning globe. Following my taste buds, I settled on Madagascar Vanilla to start. Picking up the 4-ounce carton was a luxurious experience, for the design doesn’t play to my lustful love affair with dessert but rather exudes an air of sophistication and eco-consciousness, designed with a burlap-type background and muted colors of blue and brown. The logo itself elicits a near Aztec feel, furthering my sense of adventure.

Choctál's unique name serves as an homage to the ancient cultures that revered cacao as “food from the gods," using the sacred ingredient in a drink called “Xocolatl,” “Cachuatl” or “Chocotal.”

My favorite part: The ingredient description right on top of the peel-back lid: “Pure bourbon vanilla and flakes of vanilla beans; utterly seductive rich, complex and classic flavor.” Indeed, a classic flavor, and my favorite. But this vanilla bean ice cream delivered an unusually pure flavor of vanilla amidst a truly creamy, complex and indulgent texture of ice cream.

I was drawn to the Costa Rican Chocolate description as well: “Lively, well-balanced coffee and caramel flavors; a hint of butterscotch adds a subtle back note.” That’s two points for Choctal, as this deep, velvety and oh-so-rich chocolate flavor matched its product description to the T.

As with fine wines and whole-bean coffees, Choctál believes the area of the world in which a particular cacao or vanilla is grown makes all the difference in the character of the product. Each region produces unique flavor profiles, according to its press release, yielding complex, nuanced flavors. Choctál also sources high-quality ingredients with no artificial additives, eggs or gluten and partners with companies that focus on sustainable practices in both harvesting and production.

After my sampling of both, I felt like I just returned from a trip around the world, and I thought how fun it would be to share a single-serve pack with everyone at my next dinner party. The countries that they decide to “try” would make for a great conversation start; but then again, with ice cream this rich and creamy, who has time for talking?

Choctál is available for purchase at over 200 stores nationwide including Bristol Farms, Whole Foods and an ever-expanding list of independent gourmet grocers. The indulgent frozen treats are also available for order online at