These cute little boxes of chocolate are made by the San Francisco Chocolate Factory, so it’s a wonder that I was able to locate them in Chelsea Market in New York City. I was immediately drawn to the design of the boxes, especially since they really played on the idea of the cocoa percentages of the product. I’m not really surprised by this either once I researched the company, since the San Francisco Chocolate Factory does excellent packaging work.
I find myself being much more critical of dark and white chocolates, I decided upon trying the 72% dark, 61% bittersweet and 31% white to see the quality of the chocolate. The boxes are really adorable with each containing 14 little buttons, each about the size of a quarter, of the chocolate in it. It reminds me of a portion-controlled collection of tempering chocolate couverture.
31% White Chocolate: The texture is very thick and slippery from all the fatty cocoa butter, and it’s a real pleasure to let it melt on the tongue. The flavor is very lacking I feel. I applaud the fact that they didn’t dump ten tons of vanilla in it which often happens with white chocolate I find. I get a light cocoa notes from the cocoa butter, a good sweetness which isn’t overpowering (which is another common problem with white chocolate) and has a very large flavor of, well, butter. Overall, it’s just too mild. A good starting white to get an idea of what to expect, but I encourage you to move on to see the difference with the El Rey ICOA bar.
61% Dark Chocolate: It’s nice to see a simple list of ingredients: cacao beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, coya lecithin, vanilla beans. It smells rich, ad very fruity with strong notes of blueberry, mulberry, raisins and blackberry . The flavor is very smooth with high notes of cream, caramel, raisins, molasses, malt and vanilla. They appear immediately and remain constant through the life of the chocolate. The fade in the finish and the aftertaste is clean and lightly chocolatey. I liked it.
72% Dark Chocolate: This smells very sweet with notes of cream, coconut and vanilla. The color is quite dark with blue-brown undertones and it nice to look at. The flavor is slow to come out at first but it’s light and tastes of coffee, almonds and moss. As the flavor grows it gets more notes which is of vanilla, caramel, and coconut along with “starchy” flavors of puffed rice and cereal. The finish is dry and doesn’t really taste of much; it gets more of a cocoa essence and a slight burn in the mouth from the sweetness. I also detect some raisins in there with an aftertaste that is slightly fruity and acidic.
Maybe I’d buy these again. Maybe. Although I’d certainly eat them if given to me.
Rating: Will Eat Again
Sa Francisco Chocolate Factory Website
The first thing that ran though my mind when I saw this bar was: what’s a tiffin? It sounds like something belonging to Little Miss Muffet sitting on her tuffet. Still, the silly name tickled me and the bar was secured a place in my shopping cart. After doing a little research, I found that this seems to be a very sought after and hard to find Cadbury bar. It’s from Northern Ireland and is similar to the standard Cadbury Fruit and Nut, except the nuts are taken out and replaced with biscuit pieces. So raisins+cookie shortbread=the Cadbury Tiffin.
The bar itself is small but hefty and is sectioned into six squares per 50 gram bar. It has vegetable fat in the chocolate itself, so it’s a cheapened chocolate. The smell of the chocolate bar is overpowerfing of the dry dairy milk powder. The color of the chocolate is a pretty, light milky brown.
My first bite and I immediately got a raisin which was wonderfully sweet, rich and chewy. The chocolate tasted different to me from the Cadbury Dairymilks I’ve had in the past. This was overwhelmingly flavored with the milk powder, so much so tha the bar almost tasted sour to me. After the dairy hit you get the burning sweetness of the sugar, but I really get no “chocolate” flavor from it at all. Instead I get a smooth mouth feel, which is probably more from the vegetable fat than the cocoa butter. The second bite I finally got bits of the cookies, which are very small bits of shortbread. They do provide a bit of texture but no flavor.
Overall, a nice bar for a good “candy” hit, but if I’m craving chocolate, I’ll get something else.
Rating:Might Eat Again
I was originally introduced to the work of Lake Champlain Chocolates by my Mom, and I wish I could remember where and when she originally discovered them. All I can recall is her gushing to me about how good their chocolate was and how I needed to try it. I finally caved and bought some when I saw it in Whole Foods some time later, and when I tasted it, I was hooked.
I saw these earlier this year as one of their seasonal spring releases, and it was too pretty and tasty looking to pass up. The chocolates are so beautiful. They’re shaped like dogwood flowers and are wrapped by flavor in colorful foil. The actual chocolates is very dark in color and has a nice “clean” chocolatey aroma. I can’t imagine how they could be any more enticing.
Dark Mint (green): The bite is surprisingly firm and breaks off with a good “klok” sound. The mint flavor shows immediately yet it’s light and not overpowering at all. The chocolate provides sweetness and a good richness to the palette. What I thought was really cool was that there’s slivers/chunks of peppermint in here, like crushed pieces of candy cane. It delivers an unexpected burst of mintiness in some bites and the slightly chewy texture is a lot of fun.
Milk Chocolate Caramel (pink): The milk chocolate is wonderful and is the “standard” chocolate base for Lake Champlain: very creamy with dairy flavors and strong sweetness. The overall effect is extremely chocolatey and very satisfying satisfying. I’m reminded of good Swiss chocolate. The center holds the caramel which is very free flowing and drippy. The flavor is quite sweet with really strong notes of cooked sugar resulting in a toasty flavor. I also taste a strong hit of cream that gives it a little tang. The caramel center and chocolate exterior make a very sweet and dedicant combination here.
Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Praline (blue): This uses the same delicious milk chocolate as above but the the taste of the hazelnuts is immediately apparent. It’s as if Nutella has come and crashed milk chocolate’s party. It’s a wonderful combination, and dare I say, the whole thing feels smoother and richer because of it. This is hard for me to believe since Lake Champlain’s chocolate is so smooth to begin with. A lovely chocolate morsel to say the least.
These are awesome, no question about it. Even if the flavor selection doesn’t appeal to you, I can safely say that these also make excellent gifts. My Mom relies on me to give them to her.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Lake Champlain’s Milk Chocolate Flowers Webpage
The Hershey’s Symphony line of chocolate bars was released back in 1989, just in time for me to catch the commercials during my after school cartoons. These bars are meant to be more “premium” than the regular Hershey bar with creamier, richer chocolate that, well, feels like a symphony in your mouth.
There are only two bars in the line; a Milk Chocolate and a Milk Chocolate with Almonds and Toffee. There’s been rumors that with he release of Hershey’s Bliss, the Symphony bars are going to gradually be phased out. I saw this as an opportunity to try these bars in case they do disappear, so I did some hunting to track these babies down.
Symphony Almonds and Toffee: The wrapper has a blue color scheme and the expiration date reads 2009, so I know it’s at least fresh. Looking at the ingredients I’m immediately annoyed to see PGPR listed. Hershey’s has a nasty habit of using this stuff in their chocolate in recent years. It allows them to use less cocoa butter, but still keep that slippery mouth feel. I digress….
The bar smells lovely once unwrapped: milky, a little nutty and very sweet. The back of the bar is bumpy showing the almond and toffee bits while the front is very traditional looking with the standard rectangles with the Hershey’s name printed in them. The break is very,very soft; almost fudgy. The chunks of almonds and toffee are a reasonable size from looking at the pieces.
The flavor is is very punchy: the sweetness of the chocolate is cloying and has a creamy milkiness. This is cut by the nuttiness of the almonds and then the final kick of the toffee: extra sweet, with a good caramelized flavor and a super crispy crunch. Aside from the chocolate lacking “chocolate” flavor, I have little to complain about. It’s very tasty, also a little “moreish”.
Symphony Milk Chocolate: This is the single serving bar and once opened you immediately notice a difference in presentation. Where the other was more the form of a normal Hershey’s bar, this is thicker with the bar split into two rows of slightly raised squares with “Symphony” written on them. The color also seems much lighter to me. The aroma is also very sweet with a solid creamy scent with notes of vanilla and caramel.
The flavor is bland at first. The chocolate doesn’t really feel creamy, but instead it’s smooth with a subtle grain. The flavor appears more as it melts giving notes of milk and sweetness, but not much else. There are moments where I’d get an strange note of fruit or bubblegum but it soon vanishes as another wave of sweet rushed over me. I’m not impressed buy the super sweetness (what are they hiding?) and lack of complexity. Not too impressed with this, give me the almond toffee one any day.
I wish Hershey’s would drop the Bliss chocolate and just stick with the Symphony Almond Toffee. It’s the best of the Hershey’s chocolate bars I’ve had to date.
Rating: Might Eat Again
Hershey’s Symphony Webpage
I saw this bar on the shelf of a overlooked convenience store and knew it was something that was long and forgotten. Despite my better judgment, I picked it up anyways. Once I was home I checked the code on the back; it read 87F2Z 61 2 . Ahh, it was considered peak freshness in Jan 2006. No wonder I haven’t seen this bar anywhere else!
As I opened the bar (yes, I did plan on eating it!) a strong smell of coffee came through. The smell, mixed with the caramel and chocolate, makes a very malty cappuccino effect. Impressive, for once, since candy often claiming to be coffee of cappuccino flavored tend to fall short on their promises. So far this one smells spot on.
Overall, it looks pretty good. There was a little blooming in the chocolate on the bottom side of the bar where the chocolate had cracked near the caramel cavity. There was also a little on top where the chocolate has been bumped from storage and rough handling during shipment. Still, it looked nice for something so old!
The bar itself is split into four square cavities, with all of them sitting on a nicely molded rectangular base. There’s nice decorative cross hatching on the top, surrounding the Hershey’s logo. The ingredients list is pretty clean, no trans fats listed, unlike Hershey’s products today, but PGPR is shown on there.
I break off a piece to try….
Ugh. Not good. The chocolate is dry and the caramel is thick and sticky. Not in a good way either; but an old, tacky sort of way. The cappuccino flavor, which I’m sure was good a long time ago, now just tastes like two week old coffee: bland, odious and oddly artificial. I bet this tasted great two years ago, but now not so much.
I don’t know why I feel so surprised about this. Let this be a lesson to you: don’t eat candy that’s expired over two years ago.
Rating: Inedible (but it’s my fault!)