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.
Christopher Norman Chocolate
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
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.
Sometimes something sounds so strange, you just have to try it. That’s exactly what prompted me to try Sweet Vellies. My love of fruit jelly candy obviously far surpasses the name, as these are vegetable juices instead. Yes, you heard me, vegetables. So how else to test my love for a certain confection with a flavor assortment that’s totally out of the box?
I found these on a recent venture into New York City at The Sweet Life down in the lower east side. I couldn’t tell much from the very simplistic packaging they came in as they didn’t list anything other then the name and ingredients. There wasn’t even a flavor key! Still, I knew these would be something terribly unique and were worth a try. I even Googled them once I was back home and didn’t find much information. I got a suggestion of flavors (Mint, Tomato Basil, Red Pepper, Strawberry Rhubarb, Beet, Corn, Lemon Verbena, Blueberry Sage, Carrot Ginger, Passion Fruit) but not that it helped me very much.
When I went to taste them a few days later, I couldn’t even eat the one package as it molded right away. Phooey. A suggest shelf life would have been a nice addition to the packaging.
I noticed some differences right away. First, the texture is grainier than other pates that I’ve had, which I found very strange. I’m used to smooth, dense jelly but these felt as if some of the pulp of the vegetables were kept intact. It was strange at first, then I didn’t mind it so much after a few bites.
Dark red: Very sweet, immediately fresh, juicy and tart. I think it’s blueberries, raspberries and beets.
Green: Minty with sharp underlying tart notes that I can’t really place. Maybe cucumber?
Light yellow/green: This one is hard to describe, as it tastes slightly sweet and starchy. I think this is corn.
Opaque yellow: Whoa, ok, no, that last one wasn’t corn. This one is and it’s awful. I immediately spit it out. It tastes like hardened creamed corn soup.
Orange: This one is easy to peg: tomato basil. It tastes of slightly sweet spaghetti sauce.
An interesting idea with horrible execution. It felt like playing Russian Roulette with the flavors and none of them tasted interesting to me at all. Keep the vegetables at the dinner table, ok?
Rating:Not Worth It
Sweet Vellies at the Sweet Life Website