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
Chuao Chocolatier was one of my biggest discoveries back when I was beginning to expand my horizons with candy tasting. I first tasted their work at the All Candy Expo in 2007 and was immediately hooked. I believe it was the Spicy Maya ChocoPod that I tried first and had sold me completely. Since then I have eaten my way through all their offerings and was excited to learn of a new chocolate flavor that they cooked up.
The newest member to the Chuao Bar and ChocoPod family is the Firecracker: dark chocolate, chipotle, salt and popping candy. What a fascinating combination! It certainly fits the company motto of “Unusual Unexpected & Delicious”. Another point I’d like to make is that Chuao use the Venezuelan chocolate El Rey for all their confections. This is part of the reason why it stands out to me so much, since I am a big fan of the El Rey couveture.
The bar smells chocolatey and spicy. There’s a heat to the aroma and it’s hard to lay my finger on exactly what it is.
The chocolate is firm and has an excellent snap. Upon the first bite, it’s briefly sweet, then you feel the popping candy start to crackle on your tongue. The tingling sensation from the candy holds your attention until the chipotle kicks in, and I must say, this is the strongest chili presence I’ve had in chocolate to date. It’s a very smooth, smoky and powerful burn that matches the 60% bittersweet chocolate well. It leaves a burn still even once you’ve swallowed, and you can feel the heat all over your mouth and throat. It was never too much spice, but it’s certainly not for the weak and delicate.
This is an excellent example of how chocolate can be a medium of delivering interesting flavors while not directing too much attention to itself, and still be delicious.
Rating: Will Eat 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