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July 2014
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white chocolate

Sep
11



Cabury Raspberry Triple Decker

I’ve been meaning to get ahold of one of these Cadbury Triple Decker bars for some time now. I can’t remember where I originally hard about them, but I do recall the first thought that passed through my mind when I did: “WANT”. The original variety was a strawberry flavor, yet when I saw this raspberry version in an import store I didn’t feel like being choosy. I knew what I wanted and I went for it.

Sometimes the anticipation of a candy gets the best of me.

It’s an extremely beautiful bar with a bright fuschia pink top, a white chocolate middle and milk chocolate bottom. It looks like a beautiful chocolate Neapolitan. Despite the stunning appearance, this unfortunately didn’t taste like much at all. I do get some sweetness, but not a lot, surprisingly. I can’t taste the difference between the white and milk chocolate. I don’t even get any “chocolatelyness” from this bar. What I do taste though is the frutiness from the raspberry flavor. It’s very light with notes of raspberry, strawberry and grape. It reminds me of a berry flavored Popsicle.

It’s a shame that this bar lacks the flavor punch that the appearance suggests. If only it tastes as nice and it looks.

Rating: Not Worth It

 

Not Worth It

Links:
Cadbury Australia Website


Aug
29



Christopher Norman Chocolate Bars

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.

Rating: Hoard

 

Hoard

Links:
Christopher Norman Chocolate

 


Aug
28



Chocolate By Numbers: Boxes

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.

 

Chocolate By Numbers: Open

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

 

Will Eat Again

Links:
Sa Francisco Chocolate Factory Website


Jul
29



Askinosie Bars

There’s been lots of artisenal chocolate makers popping up in the United States the past couple of years. There has, in my opinion, been a great deficit of them and it’s so rewarding for me to see that many have caught the chocolate making “bug”. These newcomers to the chocolate making scene have helped shape the future of chocolate by adopting progressive practices on how they source, make and sell their products. None of them have gone as far as Askinosie chocolate, who have literally taken chocolate making into their own hands.

Shawn Askinosie, the founder of Askinosie chocolate, was a criminal defense lawyer before he was called away to pursue a passion of chocolate. Learning everything he could about the process, he’s taken great steps to make sure his product is the best that it can be. Not only that, but his background has given him the gift of great social responsibility and has created a new way to work with the farmers whom he sources all his cocoa beans. Aside from traveling to the cocoa plantations to meet the workers and taste the beans himself, Shawn also pays above Fair Trade prices to his farmers so that they can focus on making better cocoa beans from more sustainable farming techniques and enjoy higher living standards.

Another amazing thing about Askinosie is that they are the only small batch chocolate maker in the United States to press their own cocoa butter. They use all natural cane sugar and also refuse to use additives in the chocolate as they feel it messed with the chocolate’s flavor and texture. This results in a very short shelf life of these bars which is about 6 months. Oh, and did I mention that the chocolate is also organic?

With all the fanfare in regard to the practices and processes of Askinosie, the big questions still remains: Does the chocolate taste good? I can give you a very enthusiastic “Yes”. 

70% San Jose Del Tambo Dark Chocolate Bar: Very beautiful bar to look at. It has a great dark color with a gorgeous temper and gloss. The blocks are so cute, each sporting a letter of the “Askinoise” name. The aroma is intense: fresh, bright, red, fruity and very alive.

The flavor starts off mild with notes of cream, caramel, raisins and vanilla. The middle blossoms into a bright bouquet of fruits, berries, tart cherries and citrus which is pleasantly tart and pure tasting. That flavor lasts and has good staying power for a bit before fading into the finish like a brilliant sunset. The aftertaste has clean notes of cocoa and orange. 

 

Askinosie White Chocolate Bar

San Jose Del Tambo 34% white chocolate: There are many special things about this bar, but the main one is that it’s the first small batch white chocolate bar. Another special thin about this is that it’s a non deodorized white chocolate, which means the aromas in the cocoa butter aren’t removed. Other than El Rey’s Icoa white chocolate which is also non deodorized, this is the only type of white chocolate you can find on the market. It’s amazing to look at too, as the bar isn’t white at all; but a soft caramel, beige color. It doesn’t have much aroma, other than a slight fatty cocoa scent. the break is soft, the chocolate feels smooth and has a subtle gloss.

Right away it’s very sweet, and the flavor slowly comes out after a moment of melting on the tongue. It’s has a sweet, dairy-like musk to it (from the goat’s milk I’m guessing) that plays with the subtle notes of cocoa in the non deorodized butter. There’s light notes of caramel too and I’m reminded of dulche de la leche. The mouthfeel is very rich, with a thick texture that’s smooth but not slippery. The finish is light and sweet, and I admit I want more of it when it’s done. 

 

Askinosie 75% Nibble Bar

75% Soconusco Dark Chocolate Nibble Bar: This bar uses the prized cocoa beans from the Soconusco valley in Mexico, where there are great pains are taken to collect these beans since it’s such a remote location. The bar is a deep rich brown and turing it over you can see the nibble bits are generously studded into the backside of the bar. It smells birght and roasted: notes of coffee, red berries, cinnamon, cutrus, and vanilla.

The flavor is beautiful and starts off with mild vanilla and nutty flavors that then bloom into citrus, cream and cocoa. Those flavor longer a moment, then fade when a slight acidic notes of berries and sweet red fruits leave a clean, fresh finish with no aftertaste. Along with all this you get a constant, light nuttieness from the nibs as they deliver a slight chewy texture which goes beautifully with the chocolate. The nibb’s texture is not too soft to get lost in the chocolate or too hard to compete with it. Lovely.

I cannot help but gush about the Askinosie chocolate. The chocolate is top-notch in terms of appearance, texture and flavor. Not only that, but the thoughtfulness of the practices of the company in regard how it processes the chocolate at the factory (they’re as green as possible) and the huge social commitment they make to the cocoa farmers where they course their beans makes this company one I want to support. With retail value $8-$10.50 per 85 g bar, this many not be an everyday indulgence, but it’s something I’ll happily pay for frequently. It’s something sweet for my taste buds and the planet.

Rating: Hoard

 

Hoard

Links:
Askinosie Chocolate Website


Jul
15



M&Ms Premiums: Packages

One of the new products that were announced at the All Candy Expo this year were a new line of “fancy” M&M’s. These M&M’s not only looked different, but they also come in an array of new flavors to appeal to more sophisticated palates. I eagerly awaited these beauties to show up in stores and when I finally say them in Target, I scooped up the three most appealing flavors (hey, they’re $3.99 apiece!) so I could give them a try.

These M&M’s Premiums are different in many ways, but the biggest difference for me is that they lack the candied shell of the originals. I find it really odd not having the shell there. The M&M’s feel like you’ve sucked on them already and have dissolved the shell, so all that hits your tongue is the smooth creamy milk chocolate. This is frustrating, since the shell kept the M&M from “dying” too quickly in my mouth and helped the taste and experience longer. That shell kept the delicious party raging on longer and I miss it.

 

M&Ms Premiums: Packet I


The packages are cute, I give them that. They’re tall cardboard boxes that curve inward at the waist. They have a little window in the tummy area so you can see the M&M’s inside, all shiny and looking like twinkling treasure. Inside, the design gets even more intuitive. The M&M’s come in a re-sealable little plastic pouch, making it easy to take a little now and safely store the rest for later.

 

M&Ms Premiums: Chocolate AlmondM&Ms Premiums: Chocolate Almond Inside

Chocolate Almond:

These have the bright blue speckled exterior and I’m reminded of sapphires. The almond is terribly fresh, with a good crunch and a strong nutty flavor. The chocolate is sweet and compliments the nut well. The only thing I wondered was were these worth paying more than the normal Almond M&M’s? I think the only difference is the exterior. My conclusion is no, since I’d rather have the shell and pay a little less.

 

M&Ms Premiums: Triple ChocolateM&Ms Premiums: Triple Chocolate Inside

Triple Chocolate:

These are purple and pink spattered and look very pretty. The “triple” comes from the fact they have milk, dark, and white chocolate layered in them. Their size is larger, similar to the size of the Razzberry and Cherry M&Ms.

These are incredibly creamy right off. Again, the lack of shell means you get an intense chocolate hit right away. It’s very sweet, milky and terribly smooth in texture. When bitten in half the cross section shows dark chocolate on top, a layer of white in the middle and the center is the milk. The chocolate is pleasant, as it’s really sweet and milky, with a slight caramel and coffee note in there. Other than that it isn’t any more complex than that (really, it’s an M&M, what do you expect?). Regardless, it’s very satisfying and tasty. I don’t really get a sense of all three chocolates but it’s a good blend that makes this richer than the regular M&M’s.

M&Ms Premiums: MochaM&Ms Premiums: Mocha Inside

Mocha

The fairest of them all in my humble opinion with their bronze, copper and golden colors. They’re the size of plain M&M’s and smell chocolatey with a hint of coffee. Good points right away, since I’m scared they wouldn’t taste very “mocha” like at all.

Like the Triple Chocolate, these are very creamy and have a good coffee flavor right away. It’s strong enough to stand out, but not drown out the chocolate flavor. Thankfully the M&M is not overly sweet and it really reminds me of the mocha you can get at the coffee shop. The coffee flavor is bold and slightly acidic, and tastes of a good brew and not just like there was some Folgers flavoring mixed in there. So if you’ve been looking for a good coffee flavored chocolate, this is worth a try.

The M&M’s Premiums are a fun little experiment. The new colors and flavors are attractive and fun, but with the higher price I don’t find them complex enough to keep me from buying more. I hope these do well since I am a fan of M&M’s, and I hope Mars would consider adding more flavors to the mix so something more unique would come along.

Rating: Will Eat Again

 

Will Eat Again


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