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April 2014
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Aug
06



Ezca Chocolate Bar

I first heard of Ezca Chocolate on The Chocolate Life a little while ago. They’re a brand new company interested in chocolate making that were looking for some tasting opinions. Since I am working to train my palette so I can “read” chocolate with its many flavor nuances, I offered my taste buds to see what this new chocolate could say to me.

Now a little about Ezca Chocolate. It’s handcrafted, small batch chocolate from made from bean to bar. The bar I got was a 65% cacao from Ocumare in Venezuela, batch #001.  The 2 oz bar is beautifully wrapped in an elegant, yet slightly exotic wrapper made from recycled paper. The ingredients read simply as: cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, whole organic vanilla bean. No artificial flavors or preservatives.

Under the paper wrapper, the chocolate is nicely packaged in medium weight gold foil. I love the way the foil is folded too, with triangular edges which are very easy to unwrap and then re-wrap if you want to save more for later. The mold of the bar is interesting as it’s sectioned into squares with a smaller square that’s raised in the middle. The interesting part is that there’s also raised “piping” that connects the squares and it reminds me of machinery. A fascinating choice of design for a bar of chocolate. The chocolate has a nice deep red-brown color with a subtle gloss. The backside of the bar has a few air bubbles but is otherwise smooth and pristine.

The aroma is very robust. It’s nice to have a chocolate with such a strong aroma. It’s a very roasted smell: notes of coffee and cocoa hit me first, then underneath I sense vanilla, honey, and caramel. This is complimented with subtle notes of woods, mushrooms, and olives. I’m excited already because these nuances are favorites of mine.

The flavor starts off like green coffee with notes of caramel and a little cinnamon. These flavors linger a moment before bursting in with a small crescendo of flavor that is very chocolatey: strong notes of cocoa, vanilla, and cream with slight accents of mushrooms and moss. The finish is slow and sweet with the middle flavors gradually becoming more and more faint. The aftertaste is clean with a finishing note of coffee.

The mouthfeel is smooth and rich with a teensy bit of grain to it. I liked that though, as it gives is a fuzzy like texture and really rounds out the chocolate for me. At some points I get a larger sugar crystal and it feels more like a welcome surprise than an unwelcome intruder. The chew is excellent too since the chocolate isn’t as dark as other varieties and is has a a nice give to it that feels thick when you work in in your teeth. It’s very satisfying.

I was pleased with this bar as the flavors come across as a little sweeter than most 65% I’ve had because of the wonderful flavor notes of the chocolate. Also there’s no hint of acidity or bitterness in this. Just wonderful deep roasted flavors that translate as very “chocolatey’ to me. This Ezca bar is delicate and sweet with a complexity that’s been coaxed and cultured.

A marvelous first attempt at a chocolate bar. I don’t know what else to say other than I’m enthusiastically waiting to taste what other chocolate Ezca produces.

Rating: Will Buy Again

 

Will Buy Again

Links:
Ezca Chocolate

 


Aug
05



Les Anis de Flavigny Mints

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

 

Will Buy Again

Links:
Anise de Flavigny website

 


Aug
04



Sally Williams Fine Nougat Mini Boxes

Nougat is a confection that has an interesting place in the candy world. It has many forms and varieties: the fluffy center in a Snickers bar, the dense chewy almost taffy like slab in Big Hunk or as a light block studded with nuts from one of many European countries. Nougat is typically composed of of sugar, honey, egg whites, and roasted nuts with the end result dangerously delicious. It is one of my favorite types of candy out there.

Sally Williams Fine Honey Nougat was an extremely lucky discovery at the Fancy Food Show and I immediately liked them. They’re based in South Africa were their recipe was perfected and is now shipped all over they world. Over at Sally Williams they’re very picky about what ingredients they use to make their nougat; they use no gelatin or preservatives and claim it contains no cholesterol. Not only that, but the nougat has also won several awards which is always impressive and reassuring.

 

Sally Williams Fine Nougat

Almond: These are beautiful to look at: white and pristine with bits of full sized almond halves peeking out. It smells light and sweet with that nice “starchy marshmallow” essence that nougat has. The texture is lovely: light and soft with a little chew. The almonds deliver a great crunch and their flavor is sweet, nutty, and mellow. The nougat is delicate with detectable notes of honey, vanilla, and sugar. It’s beautifully balanced and when you get an almond in your bite…..wow, it’s great.

Milk Chocolate Covered: The chocolate is a little lackluster, but I bet that’s more due to the heat damage during shipping since the pieces of the ones I tried at the show were beautifully pristine. The chocolate adds a richness to the nougat and it feels much more substantial. I lose the delicate light notes of the honey because of the chocolate, but the taste is just as delicious in its own way with the sweeter, chocolatey flavors.

It’s amazing to me how such a simple looking confection like nougat can deliver such a powerful and pleasurable eating experience. I really wish I knew where to find these in stores around where I am. I already finished all of it and I know I am going to be craving them again soon.

Rating: Will Eat Again

 

Will Eat Again

Links:
Sally Williams Fine Foods Website

 


Aug
01



Cactus Candy Package

Cactus candy, which is a type of that fruit jelly that makes my heart go pitter patter, was something I’d had my eye on for a long time. I’d see it on random places online, but it wasn’t until I had a layover in the Phoenix airport that I actually saw it in the flesh. I quickly picked up a medium sized box of the prickly pear flavor and bought it. For once I felt grateful for those cheesy airline terminal gift shops.

Inside the box the squares of the candy are beautifully arranged in little white fluted cups to prevent them from sticking together. They’re incredible to look at with a gorgeous intensely deep rose red color. It reminds me of fresh guava pulp and they feel so exotic. I was a little disappointed to find that the color is helped a bit by bitter tasting Red 40.

The texture is very chewy, much more “gummi” than other fruit jellies that I’ve had. They stick a little in the mouth, but not enough for it to become annoying. It’s very dense so I automatically find it very satisfying.

 

Cactus Candy

I’ve never had prickly pear before and the best I can describe it is it’s lightly fruity and “watery”. It reminds me of aloe in the sense it’s refreshing and sweet, but these lack the herbal flavors. You can taste the lemon oil that’s been added to enhance the overall flavor, and I can’t decide of that’s a good thing or not. It’s nice to have that bright zestiness to heighten the light watery flavor but I can’t help but wonder how much of the prickly pear flavor is lost because of it.

I was pleasantly surprised with these, as I was expecting them to come across as odd more than anything else. I finished my box (I shared a few of course) and look forward to getting some again next time I’m in Arizona. Whenever that will be.

Rating: Will Buy Again

 

Will Buy Again

 


Jul
31



Katjes Tropen-Lakritz Package

“Black licorice and fruit gummies?” was what ran through my head as I saw these on the shelf at a Cost Plus World Market. I have a big spot in my heart for black licorice, and the idea of a chewy version of it combined with fruit flavors was too much for me to handle. So into my shopping bag they went.

The fruit flavors here are tropical: kiwi, mango and passion fruit. I’m tickled by this choice, as I’d imagine more domestic fruits like apples, pears, peaches and strawberries blending better with licorice. I’m not a candy maker though, so what would I know? I can only imagine and express what my taste buds say to me.

The shapes of these are really cute; some are round and coin shaped while the others are more slender and oblong. The texture is like how I’d imagine a flat DOT would be: soft, chewy, lightly firm and nice staying power in the mouth.

 

Katjes Tropen-Lakritz

Kiwi (green): The kiwi flavors are really juicy and the taste a nice mix between apple and peach. I don’t know how that translates to kiwi, but I’m open to the interpretation. The licorice matches with it well; it’s refreshing with strong notes of molasses and an herbal zest to it.

Mango (yellow): The mango is not quite mango in my mind. It’s more peachy and a little more berry tasting than the kiwi. It also lacks that signature “bite” I associate with mango. The flavor mixes nicely with the licorice side which tastes milder to me than the licorice in the kiwi.

Passion fruit (red): Tastes of peach (I’m seeing a trend here), strawberry and grape. Also blends nicely with a milder licorice.

These were fun to try and certainly quite tasty. I admit I’m slowly working on my bag, choosing to savor them as opposed to feeling that I need to gobble them up immediately. I love how unique they are, I cannot think of anything like this sold here in the United States. I’m happy that I got to try them, but I don’t see myself craving these once my bag is gone.

Rating: Will Eat Again

 

Will Eat Again


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