If I lived in San Diego, I would be at the Rust General Store all the time. I couldn't work there because I would steal everything. Food, candy, tea, honey sticks, soap, candy, tea, and did I mention the chocolate? The store opened in 2011, which may have been after my last visit to the area, so this might have been my first time there. I, um, I bought a lot. I was even more excited here than in the candy store. One of the things I bought was this little, 24 gram bar from Taza Chocolate.
I've had most of Taza's chocolate bars, so it surprised me to find something I had never seen before. The Hazelnut Crunch is part of the Tazitos Minibars range, which are all 65% cacao chocolate with crisped brown rice and one of five flavors: plain, almond, coconut, peanut, and hazelnut. I like hazelnuts, so that was my choice. The tiny bar is only about three inches (8cm) long, so it's divided into a simple three pieces. The small/medium-sized hazelnut pieces can be seen from the back of the chocolate.
If you are unfamiliar with Taza, you must first realize that this is stone ground chocolate, left in a less refined state than most chocolate you buy. The particles have not been ground down as small, so it has a rustic feel to it while still being very good. It's chocolate you have to munch on, which in fact goes well with the addition of nuts. When you bite into the Hazelnut Crunch, you taste the chocolate and the hazelnut and then wonder what the other flavors are. It's the vanilla and the salt: they're less hidden as they might be in a smoother bar. They've come out to be part of the party with the chocolate and hazelnut. Soon you discover that not all the crunch comes from the hazelnut; some of it is the crisped rice, which is made with sugar and molasses.
This bar is absolutely delicious. And yes, it's organic and Direct Trade. The 65% dark chocolate is steady on its feet, the hazelnut is casual, the crisped rice and vanilla are sweet, and the salt adds texture to combine the flavor of the nuts with the rest of the ingredients. I'm not sure how to label it all. A gourmet candy bar, no: it's too good on its own to call it that. A snacking bar? That sounds too boring. But honestly, the small size and the casual-yet-good-quality nature of this bar make it perfect for hanging out near the register at stores. It's something you can quickly pick up to satisfy all sorts of cravings, whether you're craving chocolate, a bit of sugar, or just something to munch on. I don't think there's anything out there that's quite like this bar; no one could have put it together quite like Taza. I want to finish it all up, but I also hate to see it go.
Taza Chocolate Crunch Tazito, Hazelnut, 0.85 Ounce (Pack of 20)