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
Charles Chocolates Website
I grew up in a household devoid of marshmallow peeps. It wasn’t until college that I finally became familiar with this popular marshmallow confection. My roommate bought them by the dozen around Easter (they were still an Easter exclusive item back then) and set them out to get stale. She then nuked them in the microwave, froze them, and finally consume them. I had never witnessed such an elaborate candy eating ritual, and I was both confused and intrigued by it.
Since then I have tasted my way though the different types of Peeps. Their light, marshmallow texture is delightful but the flavor leaves a lot to be desired in my book. They come across as flat and cardboard-tasting, and they remind me a little of Communion wafers. They’re terribly cute though, and I can’t help but eating a row of Chicks in the spring and some Pumpkin ones in the fall. Perhaps my love form them would grow if I experimented with my eating techniques a little. As of now I enjoy them fresh.
Enter the newest Marshmallow Peeps, Chocolate Mousse Bears for St. Valentines Day.
These look the same: puffy marshmallow with a colored sugar coating in an standard animal shape. They smell noticeable different, though. It’s a very sweet, cocoa aroma, like a good hot chocolate mix.
The flavor is much sweeter than a normal Peep to me. I’m also surprised to find they’re actually really flavorful, and I’ve tried all the varieties to date. They taste like I just took a spoonful of Nestle’s Quick, except in that wonderful puffy Marshmallow Peep form (you know, soft inside, slightly crunchy sugary outside). Immediately I finished off a row, promising to save the rest out in the open to get stale. They didn’t last a week.
Finally there’s a Peep I can say that I’m hooked on. I can’t help but recommend them whether you’re a Peep lover or not. You may just become a convert like myself.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Marshmallow Peeps Website
I’ve noticed Mallo Cups for a long time, but never picked them up until a little over a year ago. They always read “retro” candy to me, with the very bold and classic packaging design with the intense red lettering and yellow background. The fact that they always seemed to be placed next to the classic Sky Bar certainly didn’t help my impression either. Eventually curiosity got the best of me, and I am so glad it did.
Opening the package revealed several surprised. First, was the scent of coconut! I was under the impression that these were only marshmallow, but a careful inspection of the ingredients list shows coconut. Yum! Second, the cups were so cute, about the size of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. They even comes in similar little fluted wax paper cups! They’re nestled in a nice cardboard tray for protection, which is a nice effort on Boyer’s behalf. Last but not least is the cardboard play money that’s included in each package. I got a 5 point card piece. These are meant to be saved and redeemed for freebies on the Boyer website. A nice nod to a time when every company seemed to participate in these sorts of things.
The cups are nice to look at and area little uneven on the surface from the toasted coconut that sits atop the marshmallow interior. The aroma is lightly chocolatey with a hint of coconut.
The first bite you immediately feel the gooey marshmallow and I find myself carefully pulling my mouth away so I don’t make a mess. I didn’t of course, but that’s the sensation I felt. The marshmallow is fresh and soft, but thankfully not enough so that more of it ends up on your lap than in your mouth. The flavor is lovely: a good chocolately hit from the shell the a cool, smooth fluffy vanilla flavor from the soft marshmallow that’s mixed with the toasted coconut flavor from the coconut shavings. The coconut also adds a great textural contrast to the whole cup: soft marshmallow, smooth chocolate and slightly chewy coconut shavings.
Could this get any yummier? I don’t think so. I’m officially addicted.
Boyer Candies Website