I first heard of the new gourmet line offered by Whitman’s back at the All Candy Expo in 2005. It was at a time when everyday candy companies were starting to jump onto the gourmet and upscale chocolate bandwagon. Whitman’s, a branch of Russell Stover, was unveiling their new box of artisan gourmet chocolate bonbons, called Soho after the trendy, artsy, designer neighborhood in New York City. I admit, at first I didn’t pay much attention to them. I like Russell Stover chocolate as much as anyone, as I’d have them every now and again growing up. It wasn’t until my boyfriend showed up with these Soho chocolates in their bright red box, knowing full well that they were something I hadn’t tried yet. He figured it’d be an interesting thing to try, and boy, he didn’t know how right he was.
Firstly, I want to touch upon the fact that how a food looks can really be a treat. I have to give it to Whitman’s because, the design and look of these chocolate is quite attractive. The bright red box, the golden interior tray that holds and protects the bonbons, and the look of the bonbons themselves is really a treat to look at. Ah, eye candy.
Sadly, that’s where the good things about these chocolates end.
There is no guide saying which flavor is which. There’s a brief blurb on the back of the box stating what the flavors are, but no indication otherwise.
To add to the frustration, there’s this overpowering fake perfume smell upon opening the box which permeates into all the chocolates, making it nearly impossible to distinguish by aroma alone.
Cacao Truffle: round with yellow, red and brown swirls: I figured staring off with the plainest of the bunch was the best idea. Wrong. The ganance center was dry, almost to the point where it was more like a crumbly nougat. It tasted mostly sweet, with that tainted perfume flavor from the whole box.
Madagascar Vanilla Brulee: dark chocolate rectangle with ridges: I could only guess it was the vanilla as it, well, because it didn’t taste like anything else in the flavor line. Process of elimination. It was just sweet and didn’t really carry flavors that make me think vanilla…or dark chocolate. Unlike the Cacao truffle, the center here was more liquid, but not anything custardy like a brulee should be.
Raspberry Ganache: round dark chocolate with yellow swirls: Oh, this was the offender that made everything in the box smells like one generic thing. The flavor and aroma is so fake and powerful. It’s like a bad perfume. Ew.
Pear Praline: white dome with yellow streaks: It took me a moment to figure this one out, as it tasted of citrus at first, then turned so horribly bitter that I had to spit it out. It had to be the pear one as, again, process of taste of elimination tells me it couldn’t be anything else.
Sea Salt Caramel: milk chocolate square with red lines: Just by the look at this one I thought it would be the raspberry. Instead it’s a bland caramel that has no depth or intensity of flavor. As vacant as a California Valley Girl.
Pistachio Noughat: rectangle with red and yellow splashes: This one was confusing because it wasn’t a nougat, just a strange this-could0be-a-ganache-or-a-nougat-but-isn’t center with only little bits of pistachio mixed in. Again, no flavor and just sweet.
I had cut each piece in half so I could share them with the boy. Not only did I not finish my halves, but I also chucked the rest as to spare him the chocolate trauma. Sometimes I think some candy is meant just to look at. These are a good example.
Links Whitman’s Website