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September 2014
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dark chocolate

Sep
18



Ashers Chocolates

Some great chocolates you seek out on your own and others are thrust upon you as gifts. That was the case with these adorable bonbons from Asher’s Chocolates. I enjoy seeking out chocolates on my own since I know what my tastes are and how I feel like catering to them. Yet, it’s always so nice to try something new thanks to the thoughtfulness from a special someone. Not only is the surprise nice, but I also don’t admit to knowing everything out there in the great wide chocolate world. I do need to rely on other’s experiences and recommendations from time to time.

Asher’s is a chocolate company based in Philadelphia where they rose from humble beginnings back before the turn of the 20th century. Their story is similar to that of See’s Candies, a family run business that prided itself in making excellent confections. Asher’s is actually the oldest family owned candy making company in the Unites States and are being run by the fourth generation at the moment. It’s great to see a family so interested in their sweet traditions.

I was given a sampler pack of their milk and dark bonbons:

Mint: The dark chocolate is nice and rich and thankfully not too sweet. The mint has a nice freshness without being overpowering, which is a lot of my problem with minty and chocolate combinations. The texture of the ganache is smooth, creamy and just heavenly.

Peanut Butter Cup: The peanut butter is creamier, richer, and sweeter than the crumbly, dry standard of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The milk chocolate is very smooth and sweet. Paired with the nutty, slightly salty peanut butter it makes one addictive little treat.

Coconut:Very sweet. The coconut is moist with a good dense, chewy texture. The full coconut flakes are still intact and I love chewing them. I consider this to be a more decadent version of a Mounds bar.

Peanut Butter Bonbon: Like the cup version but since the size ratios are different, it comes off as denser, sweeter, richer…Yum!

Blood Orange: Dark choc orange. orange jelly on the inside, can taste the fresh orange oil, flavors balanced well so neither overpower the other.

Marshmallow: Very, very mellow in flavor. The marshmallow is fresh and tastes lightly vanilla. The chocolate delivers most of the flavor and it’s very creamy and sweet.

These were certainly a step above of the other chocolate confections of this type, and the best of this kind I’ve had in a long time. Freshness was a big contributor, but I also feel the quality flavors and chocolate played a big part too. I look forward to visiting their retail store someday to try what other delights Asher’s has to offer.

Rating: WIll Buy Again (Even though I didn’t buy it the first time, haha)

 

Will Buy Again

Links:
Asher’s Chocolates Website

 


Sep
16



Altoids Dark Chocolate: Creme de Menthe Tin

Altoids always lived up to their tag line “Curiously Strong” in my book. I remember having my first taste of them in middle school and totally having my mind and taste buds totally blown by how intense they were. The friend who shared them with me told me they were from England, and somehow that made these killer mints feel very exotic to me. I didn’t like them at first, but as I grew older my tolerance for the “curiously strong” flavor increased. The wintergreen flavor soon became my choice mint to carry in my purse.

I noticed these new Dark Chocolate Creme de Menthe Altoids and knew I had to try them. I didn’t try the first generation of chocolate Altoids, so the bright yellow “NEW” on this package prompted me to change my chocolate-less mint status.

 

Altoids Dark Chocolate: Creme de Menthe

I haven’t had the Creme de Menthe Altoid alone, so I can only comment on how it works together with the dark chocolate coating. Firstly, I’m very pleased to see that the coating is real dark chocolate. No fake stuff here, thank you very much. You can taste the richness of it too, it’s very nice. I let the mint sit in my mouth so the chocolate slowly melted away to then reveal the traditional chalky pastille underneath. It was brilliantly sweet and minty and it complimented the coating very well. My only complaint is that it left an odd fruity aftertaste in my mouth, and it didn’t feel particularly “fresh” to me.

Tasty for sure. But I prefer my Altoids to freshen my breath, so I’ll be sticking with my wintergreen standby.

Rating: Will Eat Again

 

Will Eat Again

Links:
Altoids Website

 


Aug
29



Christopher Norman Chocolate Bars

There’s some chocolatiers that can do no wrong in my mind and Christopher Norman Chocolates is one of them. I originally discovered them last year at the New York City Chocolate Show where I was graciously given some of their signature bonbons to try. Aside from the fact that I was blown away by the incredible quality and flavor, I was also drawn to the acute artistic sense that was applied to the bonbons. Christopher Norman was a painter before becoming a chocolatier and he now combines his two passions to create chocolates with his modern sense of painterly design. The result? Well, for my taste buds at least, everything is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Dark Chocolate and Blood Orange: These bars are beautifully wrapped and neatly folded in gold foil. I was surprised to find the bar was not a singular slab, but made of six filled connected squared sections. It smells mainly of the dark chocolate and hardly any scent of orange at all. It you concentrated enough you can detect a little, but it’s very, very faint. The inside is a chocolate filling that has a unique texture: think of it as a cooled, soft, not very dense ganache. The blood orange flavor is pronounced with a lovely fresh and very real orange flavor that’s not to sweet and delivers the perfect amount of tartness. It balances beautifully with the rich, complex dark chocolate and it really a masterpiece to taste. This is a great sophisticated bar if you’re looking for a chocolate orange comibination, but don’t want to restort to something cheap and artificial like Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

White Chocolate Lemon Crisp: This bar also follows the same format with six squared sections as opposed to one large bar. It’s a wonderfully creamy white color and just beautiful to look at. The white chocolate is the most delicate I’ve ever tasted, and by that I mean that’s it’s not overly sweet or bursting with vanilla like most of the other white chocolates I’ve had. This is subtly sweet, very creamy, and you can taste the creaminess of the cocoa butter.

Of course, this is all lightly accentuated by a hint of lemon. It’s amazing how the flavor is incorporated since I think “white chocolate” when I eat this, not “oohh, this is lemon flavored”. The flavor is mixed in and balanced so well, that it just makes the white chocolate stronger and more natural tasting. It reminds me of how just a hint of lemon can really brighten a cheesecake, and this is a similar thing. The crisps are like bits of corn flakes and provide a nice texture to the bar and thankfully they do not compete with the chocolate. The amount is perfect too: not too little not too many and it isn’t like a Nestle crunch at all, thankfully.

I just love this bar, because it managed to find elements that compliment the white chocolate rather than hide it, which is what I find most companies do. Christopher Norman managed to find a way to add ingredients that allowed the white chocolate to shine and really show how good it can be when done right.

Words fail me in describing how much I loved these. I cannot wait to make it back to the Christopher Norman store so I can buy more of these and sample some of their other flavors. Do yourself a favor and get your hands on these chocolate bars.

Rating: Hoard

 

Hoard

Links:
Christopher Norman Chocolate

 


Aug
28



Chocolate By Numbers: Boxes

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.

 

Chocolate By Numbers: Open

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

 

Will Eat Again

Links:
Sa Francisco Chocolate Factory Website


Aug
26



Snickers Rockin' Nut Road Bar

This is latest and greatest in the Snickers bar limited edition line. The wrapper describes it as: “Almonds, caramel and marshmallow-flavored nougat wrapped in dark chocolate”. Oh, wow! Is it just me, or does that sound simply amazing? Pinch me please, I surely must have gone to heaven.

Once unwrapped, the bar looks like a normal Snickers except for the darker brown color. It smells of the deep dark chocolate and a bit of a roasted flavor, I think from the almonds. It’s also smells very sweet with a milky vanilla essence. I cut the bar it in half to see the cross section. The marshmallow nougat is a pale white like snow, with the layer of almonds and caramel

The first bite is awesome. It’s thick, chewy and substantial and oh so tasty! You get a nice nuttiness from the almonds, a good sweetness from the caramel and a nice chocolate hit from the coating. The marshmallow nougat doesn’t deliver much in flavor but the texture is so nice. It’s a little thicker and stickier than the standard Snickers nougat, but it makes the chew so much more fulfilling. It’s really, really good. It’s a really stellar bar, and I like it way more than the original.

I’m hoarding these. Mars better make these a regular addition to the Snickers family.

Rating: Hoard

 

Hoard

Links:
Snickers Website


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