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Charles Chocolates

Jan
22



Charles Chocolates: Bi-Rite Creamery Bar

One thing that I really love about Charles Chocolates is their willingness to experiment with a multitude of different flavors. Their standard line of chocolates use all sort of additions to their tasty chocolate; from the traditional to the exotic. Regardless of what ingredients are used, the result is always pleasurable and delicious.

One of their most recent creations are a series of bars made especially for Bi-Rite Creamery, which are inspired by their infamous ice cream flavors. It’s a match made in heaven, as both companies share similar philosophies: making delicious treats in small batches while using the freshest ingredients. Besides, ice cream and chocolate are a natural pairing, and I’m interested to finally see ice cream in chocolate as opposed to the other way around.

Before I get into describing the flavors, I want to mention first that the base of these bars is a mix of dark and milk chocolates. This makes the chocolate exceptionally sweet and creamy, very reminiscent to how an ice cream base tastes. I thought this was a clever method of getting the “essence” of an ice cream’s flavor while still missing the texture.

Peanut Praline (a crunchy peanut candy in a rich blend of dark and milk chocolate): It has a terribly enticing aroma that’s hints of caramel, nutty, and very chocolatey. There’s large chunks of the candy in the bar and they are quite visible. The taste is of the chocolate: sweet, creamy, and of rich cocoa. The praline is crunchy and gives a great texture. The flavor is very buttery and nutty with a good dose of salt.

It’s exactly how I imagines a peanut praline would taste in chocolate. I love how the chunks of the praline aren’t too small so that I’d lose the texture in the chocolate, as I love to chomp on the chunks. Neither element of this bar is compromised for the other and it’s really nice.

Rocky Road (housemade marshmallows and salted almonds in a rich bled of dark and milk chocolate): Wow. Rocky road is right! This bar is just loaded with chunky bits of marshmallows and nuts and really looks like it needs a good pave job. Just breaking off a row I immediately hit the marshmallows and they softly pulled and stretched. You can tell they’re fresh and it’s awesome.

This bar is all about the texture. You get the intense crunchiness of the nuts and they’re very hefty. The marshmallows are soft, spongy and have a good “give” to them which is a great contrast to the nuts.

Flavor-wise it’s of the nice chocolate blend but supplemented with some saltiness from the nuts. It’s sweet and slightly stronger on the vanilla from the marshmallows.

Coffee Toffee (housemade almond toffee and coffee beans in a rich blend of dark and milk chocolate): This bar is extremely textured, and you can really tell just by looking at it. You can easily see the bits of toffee and espresso beans and it makes the bar look very mottled and spotted. Breaking off a row the texture is a little more crumbly and the snap is softer from all the additions.

The aroma is very roasted and sweet with a distinguishable coffee scent. It reminds me of mocha.

The flavor is immediately creamy with notes of the toffee with caramel and burnt sugar. The coffee flavor comes through after that initial burst of sweetness, with a smooth flavor that’s light and compliments the toffee and chocolate. Once you have all three flavors working together, it’s really wonderful, as all they’re all expertly balanced.

I’m happy to say that there’s no coffee grounds in this bar to deliver the flavor. Instead it’s bits of espresso beans and combined with the chunks of toffee it’s a very satisfying crispy texture.

This is my favorite of the bunch.

I love these bars and it’s a shame that unless I made the trek to the San Francisco to buy more, I probably won’t have them again. They’re certainly worth picking up if you’re in the area and I highly recommend you do so.

Rating: Will Buy Again

 

Will Buy Again

Links
Charles Chocolates Website


Dec
10



Charles Chocolates Sweet & Salty Emeryville Collection

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

 

Will Buy Again

Links
Charles Chocolates Website


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