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
I found this gem in a very neglected dollar store in the middle of upstate New York. Sometimes, the places you find the candy is as interesting as the candy itself. These Haviland Wintergreen Patties sat on the shelf next to several candies that shouldn’t technically be sold anymore. We’re talking the likes of Marshmallow Take 5 and other candies from 2006. I was relieved to find a date, and a fresh one, on the back of this mysterious Wintergreen Patty. I decided to give it a home.
Another tidbit about my personal tastes: I’ve never been big on mint, peppermint, and spearmint. Especially when it’s mixed with other things, like chocolate. But wintergreen? I’m all over that stuff, I can’t get enough of it. So all the rules from my taste buds about minty things are out the window when wintergreen shows up. I love it that much!
I was perplexed why I hadn’t heard of this candy before, considering that I do make an effort to seek out wintergreen flavored things. Part of the answer is that Haviland is a subcategory of NECCO, which have a very interesting niche of products for the candy market. It immediately made sense in my mind; why it was so rare to find and of course in a place where people who’d remember it from childhood would possibly shop. I’d almost liken it to a regional candy in that respect.
When you open the package, you immediately you smell the wintergreen. The patty is large, 2 inches in diameter and about 1/3 inch thick. The chocolate is glossy and a nice rippled effect on top, like patterns on windblown sand. Breaking it in half, you can tell it’s dense as it has that thick “give” to it like a Mounds or Almond Joy. The center is an incredibly bright pink and it looks very striking against the dark chocolate.
Surprisingly the wintergreen smell doesn’t overpower the aroma of the chocolate, which is nice and sweet with notes of caramel. They blend beautifully together.
The wintetrgreen hits you right off in the first bite. It’s strong yet it’s not too much, and delivers that great minty, fresh, slightly spicy flavor. The taste does mellow and allows the chocolate to show the tastebuds some attention, and it comes across as nicely sweet and smooth with good notes of cocoa and a hint of coconut. I didn’t find this as off putting in terms of minty “fresh” intensity like a York Peppermint Patty, but this has a good level of freshness, sweetness, and then the chocolate to balance it all out. The texture is awesome as it’s thick and smooth with a slight graininess to it. It lasts a good time in the mouth if you just savor it slowly, which really adds to the satisfaction level.
So in conclusion: wintergreen+chocolate=YUM! Why isn’t there more of this out there?
Haviland Wintergreen Patties on the NECCO Website
I’ve always admired the Les Anis de Flavigny line of candies on the store shelves. For the longest time I didn’t even know what they were exactly, but their beautiful tins kept me eying them regardless. It was only a matter of time before I gave them a try.
Anis de Flavigny has been producing these candy pastilles for hundreds of years. Each are made using a traditional panning technique, where a single fennel seed is combined with a sugar syrup and dried in a rotating drum. This process is repeated for 15 days until one pastille is completed, so a lot of work went into each of these little treats! The tins are just as classic as the candies they hold; with scenes of two young people finding love.
There’s a whole slew of flavors that you can find in the line: Mint, Orange Blossom, Violet, Licorice, Anise, and Rose. All of which strike me as very classic, refined, and romantic flavors. The one I was given is the Mint flavor, showing the two lovers idling by a freshwater stream.
Now, there’s something to be said about mints and candy. Some mints, in my opinion, aren’t very candy-like. Take Tic Tacs for example. Other mints, like Junior Mints, are more like candy to me. These fall more into the candy category to me, as they’re very sweet and long lasting, and I certainly eat them for the flavor and not how fresh they make my breath.
The outside of these pastilles are very smooth and cool feeling. The first couple of pastilles I just sucked on and got a wonderful sweet minty flavor that lasted such a long time because these take forever to dissolve. I was surprised by how incredibly hard they are and was frightened for my teeth if I decided to try and chew one. As I gained more experience I got to a point where I knew it was safe to munch on them and my eating time was shortened considerably. I know, shame on me, but I’m a chewer all the way.
I’d pick these up over most other mints any day for many reasons. I’m also really drawn to the history, the flavor, and the design. Having a cute tin to keep afterward in a plus too. I’m happy to have finally tasted these and I looking forward to trying out the other flavors soon.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Anise de Flavigny website