April 1st, 2011 by Rosa
As I noted yesterday, Gail Ambrosius is a gal who really has a way with chocolate. So when I was offered the chance to try a free sample of her Parisian Praline Collection, I couldn’t say yes quickly enough.
Gail was inspired to create this line after a trip to Paris. From the press release: “I expected to see a lot of innovation, but instead I was drawn to the pralines that are available in just about every patisserie. That sweet, salty, smooth and crunchy interplay is so wonderful. I came home inspired to take that experience and put my own stamp on it.”
Note: all future notes in italics are descriptions from Gail Ambrosius/her PR team.
We’ll go clockwise, starting at the top left with the Orange Almond. “The sweet crunch of crushed candied almond and marzipan meld with the bright citrus zing of chopped orange peel.” It was a prettily architectural cylinder with a bit of crunch and chew to the texture.
At first I thought I tasted ginger. After I chewed a bit more, I realized that I was tasting the herbal zestiness of orange peel.
It was sweet and lightly spicy with just a hint of nuttiness from the almond and marzipan. The orange zest was the strongest note, which lingered in the finish, along with a delicious cocoa-ness.
Next is Pecan, a near cube with a notch in the corner. “The blend of pecan butter, candied toasted pecans, applewood-smoked sea salt and a balance of milk and dark chocolates reveal themselves in layers of smooth and sweet, salty and crunchy.”
It started off sweet with a light, grainy crunch. Then, it suddenly, unexpectedly became salty and smoky, with an almost meaty savory bacon flavor from the sea salt.
The salt brought a bright, limey tang to the chocolate and was the highlight of the show. The pecans were nice, but to me, their nuttiness played second fiddle to that smoky salt and chocolate combination.
Pistachio Bomb was a round dome with a futuristic arc slashed into the front. “Pistachio nut butter achieves next-level perfection when combined with lime zest, white chocolate, chili verde salt and a whole, toasted pistachio.”
The ganache within had an unusual mustard hue. The nut butter was a thick and smooth paste with a luxuriously velvety mouthfeel. A single whole pistachio hid in the thick of the paste.
It tasted sweet with a light nuttiness and a dairy creaminess. The spicy heat waited for a few seconds before hitting the back of my throat with a fiery wallop that was delicious and exciting!
I loved the texture and flavor complexity to this truffle. Bomb is a fitting name!
Finally, the Hazelnut, a cube with stair steps cut into the top. “Gail combines rich, thick hazelnut butter and feulletine – crushed, crunchy buckwheat crepes.”
When I tasted this before reading the notes, I marveled at the extremely light airiness of what I thought were toasty rice crisps. Turns out they were bits of buckwheat crepe! An ingenious and delicious twist on a classic.
The gianduja was lovely and nutty and unexpectedly sweet, with just a hint of fruitiness. It finished on an amazingly dusky cocoa note that I wished could linger forever.
I’ve give the Orange Almond an OM, the Pistachio Bomb an OMG, and the Pecan and Hazelnut ZOMG!s. The creative novelty and engaging complexity of these truffles were just wonderful. I’m so pleased that such wonderful chocolates are being made in America – they could hold their own against any of Paris’s finest!