About a year ago was when I had my first taste of Charles Chocolates, a San Francisco based chocolatier founded by the endearing Chuck Siegel. This is another chocolatier that I was immediately smitten with and have, like Chuao, been trying to work my way through all of their chocolate offerings.
Charles Chocolates stresses the use of extremely fresh ingredients and making the chocolates in small batches to ensure quality. And believe me, you can really taste the difference as the flavors, for me, are much more intense than other chocolate bars I’ve had. Out of the regular Charles Chocolates offerings, I have a weak spot for the Milk Chocolate Caramelized Rice Krispie Bar and have been eyeing the Tea Collection for some time now.
The Emeryville Collection is a new line of bars that are made to sale exclusively in Whole Foods. They’re immediately eye-catching with their bright, art-deco styled boxes.
Hazelnut bar (65% bittersweet): The chocolate is dark, rich, and fruity. It has a beautiful color, shiny gloss and a strong snap. The hazelnuts are whole and roasted, so the flavors are much more complex. Extremely fresh, nutty, sweet, salty and crispy. It’s really lovey and the whole bar has a great buttery feel on the tongue.
Cashew (41% milk): The chocolate is a beautiful, creamy color. The flavor is milky and sweet and exceptionally smooth. It falls into the “epitome of what good milk chocolate is” category in my book. The cashews are buttery and fresh. They have a great crunch to them and they have a nice saltiness to them that balances out the chocolate well.
Pecan Cherry (65% bittersweet: It’s the same nice dark chocolate as the Hazelnut bar, so it has that delicate sweetness and light fruitiness. The cherries are big and juicy and they really deliver a nice chewy texture. The pecans are fresh with that similar salty roasted flavors and crispy texture that the hazelnuts ad cashews have. This bar is the sweetest of the three and I blame that on the cherries, but it’s satisfying and very tempting. This bar is a sophisticated twist on the usual “raisin and peanut bar” you see everywhere.
This trio of bars are an excellent example of how simple ingredients and combinations can really elevate an already great chocolate. I can’t wait for these to show in my local Whole Foods.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Charles Chocolates Website
Tis the season for limited edition holiday flavors, and that’s all too clear from a stroll down any holiday aisle in your local grocery or drug store. While I fail to get excited about re-packaged Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Hershey’s Kisses, my interest was piqued when I found out that Chocolove released a special flavored bar for the holidays. I was lucky and picked one up when I was at the New York City Chocolate Show. I have been very eager to give it a try, but have been waiting until Thanksgiving was over so my festive review was more appropriately timed.
The bar, in typical Chocolove fashion, is decorated to look like a love letter. This one is unique, with an addition of a red ribbon and a picture of a present, so it feels like a present as well. The bar is described as “Fruits & Nuts in 55% Dark Chocolate”. Looking at the ingredients list, I see that “pecans, currants, cherries, walnuts, hazelnuts, orange peel, and ginger” are listed on the back. Already it sounds enticing.
The flavor is of their nice dark chocolate. More importantly it’s bittersweet, which is one of my favorites. You taste a strong presence of orange from the peel. There’s an ever-changing flavor with each bite, as the bits of dried fruits and nuts really effect how the chocolate tastes. I got bites that were slightly more tart with one of the cherries or currants, or nuttier with some of the pecans, walnut or hazelnuts. There’s a constant underlying spiciness that makes the bar feel very cozy and warm. It does evoke the holiday season very well, and it feels very fitting to be munching it as the events draw near.
I’m happy to got two of these bars. It’s a shame that it’ll be gone once the holidays are over, but it gives me something to look forward to next year.
Rating: Will Buy Again
The last of the Dolfin’s summer limited edition bars. Aren’t you sad? I assure you this is the last, but not the least! In fact, this is the one I looked forward to trying most of of the four I bought, so I saved it for the end.
This one is called “Fruity Escapade” and carried the description of: “dark chocolate with apple, peach & apricot”. Granted, I realize that these flavors cane be easily muddled together in chocolate, so I’m very interested to taste if they keep their separate flavor profiles or not. Only one way to find out!
The color of the chocolate is a bit more blue than the others. It smells deep and chocolatey with a strikingly intense scent of fresh apricots. It’s such an intoxicating aroma, I could just sit and inhale it all day.
This is very flavorful of the apricot right away with light peach notes that are rounded out with apple and a slight citrusy tartness. The chocolate delivers a solid base with good notes of cocoa, cream and caramel flavors. The peach and apple support the apricot flavor instead of standing independently. The apricot is really the dominant flavor here. It’s lovely. So, so lovely. The taste stays steady throughout and the finish is light, soft and slightly peachy. The texture is smooth except for the small bits of dried fruit in there.
Again, a lovely flavored chocolate bar that I wish was still around to purchase. Maybe again this summer?
I had to laugh when I first read the name of today’s Dolfin’s limited edition chocolate bar: “Fancy Lemon Feeling”. Doesn’t that sound like some silly Engrish to you? The flavors in this bar are described as “dark chocolate made with lemon and ginger”, two flavors that I think can make or break a chocolate depending on how it’s made. I’m eager to find out.
The chocolate is dark in color with orange undertones. It smells very strongly of lemon and I’m immediately reminded of lemon meringue pie. It’s fresh, sweet and terribly zesty with a hint of ginger that delivers an extra element of pie spice. Breaking off a section, I’m pleased to see that the snap is nice and hard.
You taste notes of the chocolate first: lightly sweet with notes of coffee and molasses. The lemon flavor then shows up with strong citrus notes and a good zest. The ginger appears last as a texture which is slightly grainy in the chocolate. It then gives a very faint burn that it nice amidst the sweetness of the rest of the ingredients, yet it doesn’t add much to the flavor. The chocolate and lemon mix well for most of the taste of the bar. There’s a huge lemon crescendo of lemon at the finish, which is so strong it tastes as if I just bit into one. It really just drowns everything else out. Very unusual but very pleasant. The aftertaste is clean, but the bits of ginger that didn’t dissolve away with the chocolate are left as tiny rocks to tackle my teeth.
I wish I could find more of these. I’d buy them all up.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Here’s the second Dolfin summer edition chocolate bars. This one is pretty appropriate with its name: “Summer Memories”, as summer is indeed a memory as of now. The flavor is “Apple crumble” with “apple, hazelnuts and sugar cane” in it. I don’t know about you, but apple crumble is more of a fall dessert in my mind. I digress.
Today’s bar is a darker chocolate, a 60% bittersweet to be exact. The chocolate’s color is very dark, with blue-ish tones to it and a bright gloss. You can see the bits of apple and/or hazelnuts in the back of the bar. The snap is very crisp and strong.
The aroma is spicy like a lot of cinnamon chili bars I’ve had before. There’s notes of coffee, cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg and chili.
The flavor begins sweetly and I get a “warmth” from the cinnamon with some nice creamy flavors of the chocolate. Then it’s accented with flavors of coffee and caramel. The end of the flavor is very chocolatey with a strong cream note and then it finishes smooth and lightly with subtle notes of vanilla and cocoa. I’m sad to say I don’t get any apple of hazelnut flavor, which I find quite disappointing. The hazelnut texture I do detect amidst the velvety chocolate. The tiny pieces impart a praline like crunch.
I’d buy “Southern Passion” before getting this one again.
Rating: Might Eat Again