The holiday season is now in full swing! This is an exciting time for any candy lover as the sweets that come out for the Holidays are always interesting and delicious. Which is why I was super excited to hear from Hedonist Artisan Chocolates about reviewing some complimentary samples their Salted Caramels. It has been a few years since I tried and reviewed the Hedonist Chocolates’s Holiday Truffle Collection. It was super delicious and awesome so I was most eager to give their Salted Caramels a try.
I first need to comment on the beautiful packaging that these Salted Caramels come in. It’s simple yet so very stylish with the dark brown box and the simple golden rod yellow ribbon. It speaks of elegance with the subtle styling. Once the box is opened, the caramels are beautifully arranged in a tray that keeps them separated and safe. The milk and dark varieties are easy to distinguish, one is noticeable lighter in color. Each has salt sprinkled on top. They smell rich of chocolate, but I detect no notes of caramel in there.
Dark Chocolate Caramel: You immediately taste the salt on your first bite, which elevates the caramel into a whole new level of intensity. The sweetness of the chocolate and the butteryness of the caramel are elevated and the flavor is more grand. The richness of the dark chocolate delivers sweetness that isn’t overpowering and mingles nicely with the salt. The buttery caramel it out of this world! It’s smooth and not too sticky in texture. The flavor is complex, with the flavor rooted in butter accented with nice toasted notes. Again, mixed with the salt, just makes the flavor simply “pop”. It’s incredibly deliciousness.
Milk Chocolate Caramel: The salt really makes these chocolate incredible. The milk chocolate is sweet and creamy, and adds a lovely sweetness but not much chocolate flavor. The caramel is so delicious. It’s buttery and sweet, with nice deep toasted notes that contrast beautifully with the salt. Because the milk chocolate isn’t as flavorful as the dark chocolate, you can taste the caramel much better. I found that I got even more flavors out of the caramel when tasting the milk chocolate pieces. Along with the buttery ans toasted notes, I get a tad of smoke which reminds me of how toasted marshmallows smell. It’s so a delightful play of flavor and texture as you eat it. These are meant to be slowly savored as the flavors are so wonderful.
This package also came with a surprise: Candy Cane Bark!
Gorgeous isn’t it?
The slabs of bark are thick, as least a 1/4 of an inch. They’re mainly bittersweet chocolate (55%), with white chocolate swirls on top and a generous coating of candy cane crumbles. They are very attractive!
Despite all the candy cane crumbles, this bar still smells of chocolate. It’s a sweet smell too, full of cream, caramel and coffee. The flavor is a wonderful balance of peppermint and chocolate. This is an Andes Mint on super steroids. You first get the flavor from the candy canes, with their sweet and intense peppermint flavor. It’s cool and refreshing and leaves a wonderful fresh flavor in your mouth. The chocolate is just luscious, it’s creamy, sweet and incredibly chocolatey. It compliments the candy cane bits so well. I couldn’t stop reaching for this bark one I opened the package, a sign that it is indeed irresistible.
I simply loved these samples from Hedonist Chocolates. They were really delicious and you could tell that they really used fresh, quality ingredients in making these chocolates. Both the Salted Caramels and the Candy Cane bark didn’t last very long between my husband and myself eating them once I had my tasting notes for the review. I know several of my family members who are going to love these, and I plan to buy them some for the holiday season (some of them are caramel people). I’ll buy myself another box of course too. Hedonist have really kept up the quality since I last sampled their chocolates, and I greatly look forward to when I can have some again!
Links Hedonist Artisan Chocolates Website
I came across these Dove Cookies and Creme chocolates by accident while searching out the Extra Root Beer gum. I was in Target and just checked the candy asile to see if the gum was there, and it was, but I also found these. I was excited to see these Dove Cookies and Creme candies because I love white chocolate. I haven’t seen any white chocolate offerings from Dove since the peppermint chocolates that they sell around Christmas. Excited with my find I grabbed a few bags, as they were on sale, and took my treasures home.
I remember when Dove chocolate hit the market back in the 1990s (when they had wrappers that looked like this). Dove has done really well with moving from just the candy bars to a selection of bagged chocolates in different flavors. They have a large selection of different types of chocolate available now, and this Cookies and Creme flavor is one of their newest.
Opening the bag, the chocolate pieces all have a black and white design on the wrappers. They are undone easily and each interior has a inspiration message. The one I had for this review read “Rick big. Win big”. Inspiring indeed.
The chocolates are a nice creamy off white color, as good white chocolate should be. The chunks of cookie are easily seen in the chocolate. They are large and give it a real “cookies and cream” appearance. The chocolate has a faint aroma, but that of cocoa butter as white chocolate should smell.
The flavor starts off extremely creamy, with nice fatty notes of cocoa butter and a subtle notes of chocolate and vanilla. The cookie pieces are delightfully crunchy, but they have no real flavor from what I can tell. Together you get this wonderful creamy and crunchy contrast. You get the flavors of nice white chocolate accented with the cookie bits. They’re fun to eat, and the fact that they’re in single pieces makes it easy to ration them. Even though I admit I’ve eaten more than anticipated on more than one occasion.
I really enjoyed this candy, and I’ve been recommending them to my friends who enjoy the Hershey’s Cookie’n'Creme bar. “Why?” do you ask, well, it’s because they are made with better ingredients than the Hershey’s version (but they are also more expensive). In this case you pay for quality. I commend Dove for these, and I hope they will stick around for a long time.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Links Dove Chocolate Webpage
~~Today I’m trying something new. My fiance, who is a big chili head, ordered some chili candies that are made with extremely hot peppers. Now, I can take a pretty good dose of hotness in my foods, but even these were a little out of my league. I asked he he wouldn’t mind doing a guest review of these candies for me, as I didn’t think I could do a full review myself with the small nibbles I took (it was a hotness that I could handle). So please, enjoy!~~~
I first heard about these Scorpion Sting Caramels from aTed Barrus review. I’m a fan of spicy things, specifically the natural heat of peppers, so I decided to try these as they use powder from the Moruga Scorpion which currently one of the hottest peppers in the world. They’re made as a collaboration between Volcanic Peppers and The Madison Chocolatiers and can be purchased from either site. They came in a clear package with six caramels: two white chocolate, two milk chocolate, and two dark chocolate. They were wrapped in orange, maroon, and gold foil (with no indication of which was which) and were about an inch square and 1/3 of an inch thick. The important thing to note about these chocolates is that they are getting their heat from a very hot chilli pepper. This makes it different than most hot candies in that the heat here is coming from the capcasin in the peppers, not from anything artificially added.
I’ll start with the orange wrapper:
Turns out this one is the dark chocolate. It definitely smells rich, like chips used for cookies. You can smell the butteryness of the caramel immediately and as it was fairly solid, it allowed me to break it in half cleanly exposing a rich molasses color. The initial bite is sweet and creamy, though with a fudge like consistency. The chocolate melts nicely and in about 15 seconds you begin to feel the heat from the peppers. Honestly, to me it isnt very hot, however I enjoy fiery foods. In terms of the burn, I can feel it mostly on my tongue and down the back of my throat, almost like drinking some good brandy. Actually it feels really good in my humble opinion. It is a nice, warm, tingly burn that never peaks to a huge degree. It just settles into a nice warm burn and lasts for a few minutes.
Moving to the gold wrapper:
This one was the milk chocolate. It had the same sweet smell as the first, however not as powerful. It melted fairly quickly on my fingers. The chocolate and caramel seem sweeter than the first and actually seem to hold off the burn of the peppers a bit longer than the dark variety. Again, the chocolate melts very well and the caramel is rich and has that fudge-like quality. One of my biggest gripes about caramel is that it often sticks to my teeth and this fortunately avoids that entirely. Again I get the same burn sensation as the dark due to the dusting of Scorpion powder with similar localization of the burn.
Finally, the dark maroon wrapper:
This one was the white chocolate and as soon as its wrapper is removed you get this great white chocolate aroma which reminds me of a Zero bar. You don’t smell as much of the caramel because the lovely aroma of white chocolate is so strong. The flavor of white chocolate seems an even better coating for these caramels in my opinion. The white doesn’t seem to melt as fast and provides a bit of a chew to it, not much, but enough to give you a choice: either let it melt slowly and definitely get more heat, or chew and swallow and not feel it as much. Thats a recurring theme here, the longer you hold them in your mouth the more heat you’ll get. The pepper flavor and heat are quite strong here and build to a nice burn like the previous. At this point I’ve eaten three of them and their heat definitely starts to stack. I can feel the burn on my tongue, down the back of my throat and now I’m feeling a nice warm sensation in my belly. I’m the kind of guy that enjoys a nice after dinner cordial and honestly, it feels a bit like that right now. My stomach feels a nice warm tingle. The difference is that my mouth and throat get a bit of that capsacin burn.
These are lovely caramels and I applaud the use of such a rare and distinct chilli in their creation. It tames the scorpion heat VERY well. I’ve had some other things that were made with the pepper and let me tell you, they’re mind BENDINGLY hot. Just check out some internet videos of people eating the pepper whole and you’ll see what I mean. But these caramels used just right amount of the powder and blended it with the right ingredients to make it a quite enjoyable flavor. I wont say its for the chili novice and you’d certainly have to have a palate for, and enjoy spicy foods, but if you like your curries or chicken wings pretty spicy, these would be a great candy to try out.
As for the long term, Its been about 15-20 minutes since I’ve started the review and the ‘pain’ or ‘burning’ of the peppers has gone away, but I’m left with a really nice warm feeling in my throat and belly. Great job!
Rating: Will Buy Again
Links The Madison Chocloatiers
Comptoir du Cacao is a French chocolate company that I discovered way back in 2006 and the New York City chocolate show. They had too many different chocolates to remember, but I did buy a box of their crispy pralines. I brought my swag home to share with my family, and to this day my Mom has never raved about anything more than the Comptoir du Cacao chocolate I brought home. I wish I knew more about the company itself, other than it is in France. Sadly their website is mostly in French, which I can’t read, so their background will have to remain a mystery to me.
Fast forward to 2011’s holiday season. My sister discovered a store in Manhattan who recently began selling Comptoir du Cacao’s chocolates. As a Christmas gift ,she gave me these two chocolate bars of theirs. Having been so long since I have had them I was super excited for this opportunity again. Will they live up to my memory though?
Praline Feuillete: Noix de Coco
This bar is described as white chocolate with a coconut hazelnut filling. The package keeps the chocolate nice and safe, with a thick clear plastic around the chocolate and a sturdy cardboard case. The bar is sectioned off with two chocolate squares per row, and it’s easily to break a piece off. You can easily see the filling through the beautiful white chooclate. Its smells creamy and extremely coconutty.
The flavor is very creamy and rich at first. You taste the sweet, buttery notes of the white chocolate and the richness of the hazelnuts right away. Then to coconut appears, it’s delicate, and completely authentic. You can even taste the texture of the flakes of dried coconut in there. The mixture of the flavors is very harmoniuos and amazingly delicious. I really wish I had a more of this bar as I practically inhaled it.
Praline feuillete “caramel beurre sale”:
This is the second bar I received as a gift. It’s a salted caramel with milk chocolate, if I’m reading that French correctly. The chocolate is a pretty color with a nice medium tone and a very high gloss to it. Very gorgeous to look and an unusually beautiful for a milk chocolate (which is usually more matte in color).
This has a layer of praline in it, and when you snap off a piece you can see the center that is sandwiched between the chocolate.
The flavor is first of the rich, smooth and flavorful milk chocolate. Then you feel the crispiness of the salted caramel, as they’re little pieces inside the praline. They’re flavorful, very buttery with a nice kick of salt. Then you taste the extremely flavorful richness of the gianduja filling. It’s very chocolaty and has wonderful notes of toasted hazelnuts. Just amazing.
I can’t express properly how amazing delicious and incredible this chocolate it. It is beyond words delicious. I wish it was more readily available so I could have more of it (well, maybe not a good idea, I don’t want to put 300lbs on in a week) and so that other have the opportunity to taste something so good. If you ever stumble across their stuff, I recommend buying it, it’s something you won’t regret.
Links Comptoir du Cacao Website
Simon Coll Chocolate is a brand I am unfamiliar with. I had never even heard of it before seeing it in a gourmet store that I stopped in on a whim while passing through Hollywood. It was a place friends had recommended to me for their hamburgers (I love hamburgers), but what I didn’t realize was this place was half deli counter and half gourmet store. I eagerly perused their stock while I waited for my order, and that’s where I found these Simon Cool chocolates.
Since I was hoping for a sampling, I grabbed only three of the available five flavors. They also had larger chocolate bars from their collection, but I figured in this case I didn’t want to go overboard with a chocolate I was unfamiliar with. The three flavors I chose were “Milk Chocolate”, “50% Chocolate” and “White Chocolate”. I was hoping to get a good idea of their range with these flavors.
“Milk Chocolate”, 32% cocoa solids, 20% milk: Surprisingly light in color for a milk chocolate. It’s creamy brown, almost beige in color. The smell is slightly creamy and sweet with a delicate flavor. It’s sweet at first, then you get some chocolate flavor. Then you get a big rush of creamy flavor of the milk. The end of the flavor is very chocolatey and sweet which gives a nice throat burn.
50% Chocolate: It’s not considered a dark or milk chocolate by any means (has no milk added to it, by the way). It’s a nice middle brown color, like I’d expect from a 50% chocolate. It has a subtle shine to it, and it’s very pretty. The aroma is wonderful, it’s chocolatey with notes of caramel and marshmallow. The flavor is very chocolatey as you get the richness of the chocolate flavors and can really taste the nuances. I get notes of cream, coffee, and a little almond in there. Absolutely lovely, The texture is nice and smooth too, really wonderful.
White Chocolate: It’s a creamy, off white color and it’s very smooth looking. It smells sweet and buttery. The flavor is very smooth and it’s slightly chocolatey since it is made with cocoa butter. Its has intense creamy notes which are very tasty. This bar is all about fat and sugar, and it’s absolutely delicious.
My overall impression of the Simon Coll Chocolates is a very favorable one. The chocolate was very good, had nice flavors and a great texture. I hope I can find more of it in the future so I can try it.
Rating: Will Eat Again
Links Simon Coll Webpage