Vere Chocolate (pronounced “very”) is a chocolate company with a conscience. They strive to produce chocolate that’s good for the body and the earth by using the best ingredients by using sustainably grown, pesticide-free cocoa beans with minimal sugar and no preservatives. The pride themselves in making the best possible tasting product while making ecological choices.
I found these two mini bars on a recent trip to Chelsea Market in New York City. They’re very cute, coming in colorful little boxes. Each bar is a 75% dark chocolate base and weighs in at 10g. Obviously meant to be a small indulgence.
The bar come nicely protected with board covering and sealed heavily plastic foil wrapped inside. The bar is a single long piece that is reminiscent of Legos.
Ultimo Dark: Smells very floral, fruity and of course chocolatey. Notes of red berries, raisins, cream, cinnamon.
The flavor is very musky and bitter at first. I taste notes of mushrooms and green coffee. The middle flavor gets more fruity and acidic, with red berries, citrus and cocoa. The finish is a little sweeter, with cream appearing and mingling with the dry, tart fruity notes. The aftertaste is dry and lingers a little while with flavors of cocoa.
The mouth feel is not as smooth as I’d like. It’s a little grainy and doesn’t melt very easily on the tongue.
Raspberry + Lemon Organic Dark: It smells odd and I can’t really distinguish a chocolate, raspberry or lemon aroma. It’s a strange, muddled sour like smell.
Immediately tastes of lemon right away and it’s beautiful. The middle flavor is where the raspberry finally kicks in and it’s very fresh and authentic. So much so I felt like I needed to reach in and pick out seeds from my teeth. I almost thought too soon, because there are bits of raspberry seed in there, providing an slightly crunchy texture and much teeth picking.
I do like the idea of these bars: getting organic chocolate with interesting flavors in a small, portion controlled size. I can’t help but feel I can get this elsewhere where it tastes better and possibly costs less (even though I can’t recall how much I paid for them).
Rating: Might Eat Again
Vere Chocolate Website
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
These pretty little chocolate cups of coffee made by Anthon Berg were another random “gourmet” shopping find. I’d never seen little chocolates filled with coffee before, only liqueurs, so I was eager to give this type of candy a try without making myself woozy from the alcohol. Yes, I am that much of a lightweight that this sort of thing concerns me.
I made my purchase and I eagerly did some internet research on Anthon Berg, which is a company from Denmark with an impressive confectionery history dating all the way back to 1884 when Anton Berg, a green grocer in Copenhagen, decided to start making chocolate. How’s that for an impressive history?
The premise of these treat are simple. A 55% dark chocolate shell holding a flavored syrupy center. They are cute; shaped like little coffee mugs with color coded foil wrappers. The first thing I did once I unwrapped one was gently bite the top off one so I could taste the chocolate alone. I find that it’s pretty average bittersweet chocolate, which is fine considering their main purpose is serving as a vessel for the liquid coffee interior.
Structurally, they chocolates are pretty sound. I had no leakage on any of the pieces and when I bit into them I could feel how thick the chocolate case is. The think foil packaging kept things fresh too, so they get points for that.
Espresso: Smells more of chocolate, but with a good coffee hit to it. The espresso is bitter but doesn’t taste terribly strong. It balances nicely with the sweet chocolate.
Cappuccino: The taste is strong and the coffee is more bitter and acidic. There’s a milky flavor to it, even thought the liquid coffee doesn’t show any dairy addition (not lighter in color at all). It’s terribly sweet.
Toffee Macciato: This one has a very milky and strong caramel aroma to it. The flavor is lighter than all the others with a really big toffee/caramel taste. There’s only a light coffee hint to be found so it’s by far the most mild, coffee-wise, of the bunch. It’s really more like dessert than a drink, as the caramel toffee flavor is very pronounced.
Vanilla Frappe: Smells of light, sweet coffee. The flavor is of a medium-bodied coffee with no acidity and a smooth vanilla flavor. It’s also very sweet.
I don’t quite get the appeal of these. If I want chocolate, I’ll have chocolate. If I want coffee, then I’ll grab myself a cup. These, while nice, are just a little tease of both for me and I find myself frustrated as opposed to satisfied. I need to go get myself some coffee now to fill this odd flavor void I’m feeling at the moment.
Rating: Might Eat Again
Anthon Berg Website
One of the other items I bought along with the bonbons was this Aztec Chocolate Strawberry bar. I didn’t quite understand what made this bar “Aztec”, but the idea of strawberries in high quality bittersweet chocolate sold me right away. I did my best to pay little attention to the $8 price tag and threw it in with the rest of my purchases.
The bar is a pretty 100g bar. It comes in a square, as opposed to the traditional rectangular shape. It has these fun little peg holes in it, which reminds me of an old fashioned switchboard or a game of light brights. The packaging is nice too, ornate with a simple yet elegant color scheme, and the bar comes wrapped tightly in clear plastic. The chocolate is very dark and the back side is bumpy from bits of strawberries.
The chocolate has a medium hard snap, as it’s 60% cocoa. It smells very chocolatey with deep notes of caramel,coffee, a slight nuttiness and a good creamy note from the milk. I smell no strawberries.
The flavor is very creamy, which surprised me as I’m used to bittersweet chocolate to being a little on the drier side. The chocolate is rich and “dark” with good notes of cocoa, coffee, and a light nuttiness to it. The chocolate feels very light and airy, almost crumbly when you bite into it, but it melts smoothly on the tongue.
And the strawberries? They’re little freeze dried chunks, that are evenly distributed throughout the bar. They give a “rice crispy” sort of texture and a blast of fresh flavor that blends with the chocolate for a very sweet fruity finish. The combination works nicely together and it’s very tasty.
I really liked this bar and I polished it off pretty quickly. I’d buy it again, but not regularly because of the price.
Rating: Will Eat Again
MarieBelle Chocolates Website
Mariebelle is one of those high-end gourmet chocolate stores in New York City. With a store each in Soho and Madson Avenue, you know they are chocolate of style and sophistication. I’ve often browsed their stores, but have always been frightened away but the choices, and of course, the price tags. On a more recent trip there, I decided to finally splurge on a few items, especially since I’ve started to hear good things about their chocolate from reputable friends. I decided it was time I finally tried it out for myself.
Texture is so rich, as the chocolate exterior is light and soft. There’s not “snap” to these at all. The ganache is terribly slick and silky smooth as it just rolls over you tongue and it feels like heaven.
The bonbons comes in a snazzy blue box and you can pick your flavors that are neatly stacked behind a glass counter in the store. The lady at the counter told me how long they’d stay fresh and warned me, in her french accent, that “they will melt if you walk too long” as she eyed my walking shoes.
Dark Meyer Lemon: Image of a girl playfully lifting barbells: The ganache is so silky and has a nice dark chocolate hit with smooth notes of coffee and cream. Then a tart fresh zesty flavor of lemon shows up. The lemon and the chocolate are lovely together and the flavors of sweet/tart are beautifully balanced.
Spices: Showing suited men around a giant high heeled shoe: Smooth and sweet at first, then cinnamon enters to make a starring appearance. I wait for other flavors, a burn perhaps, but none show up.
Cardamom: A crazy abstract stained glass window pattern: Immediately you get the spicy, warm notes of cardamom with it’s woody and zesty flavor. Nice, but nothing noteworthy.
Pineapple: Model Legs showing off some expensive hosiery: Sweet with a flavor that is so subtle and delicate. The chocolate is mellow and is a wonderful base for the pineapple with it’s sweet pine like notes. I’m reminded of pineapple tort cake, and it’s just lovely. My favorite by far.
Impressive to look at but nothing that strikes me as particularly noteworthy in terms of flavor. I’d buy these as a gift, but run too rich for my tastes and wallet.
Rating: Might Eat Again
MarieBelle Chocolates Website