Archive for the 'Hedonist Artisan Chocolates' Category

Hedonist Artisan Chocolates – Corned Beef and Cabbage Truffle

March 25th, 2013 by CamNMere

Hedonist Artisan Chocolates whipped up a special batch of Corned Beef and Cabbage truffles that they gave out as a free St. Patrick’s Day treat. My friend and former Rochester roommate Meredith got one to try and review. ~Rosa

I wasn’t planning to do anything (or really leave the house at all) for St Patrick’s Day, but I woke up to find my social media informing me that beloved local establishment Hedonist Chocolate was offering free corned beef and cabbage truffles all day. Uh, what?

Hedonist is only a couple of blocks from home, and I’m not one to turn down a one-off gustatory challenge. Nor to turn down the opportunity to stock up on their phenomenal salted caramels, which are perfect for bribing myself to finish writing projects at work. I picked up an extra caramel in case I needed a chaser for the corned beef and cabbage truffle.

(Cameron did the photography, but lacked the intestinal fortitude to participate in the tasting experience. His loss?)

I’m happy to say that the caramel chaser lives on in my chocolate drawer for another day when its services are more urgently needed. The corned beef and cabbage truffle had a thin milk chocolate coating, with an even thinner layer of dark chocolate lining the bottom of the truffle.

The coating easily gave way to the creamy ganache filling, which had a sweet frosting texture with a hit of savory-salty flavor. Much of that savoriness came from little nubs of meat embedded in the filling:

Though the corned beef I’ve had in the past was texturally closer to pulled pork, these nubs were firm and chewy, like bacon. This seems like probably a wise textural choice (though now I am envisioning delicious pulled-pork-truffle collaborations between Hedonist and Sticky Lips BBQ, and ok now I really want that to happen).

The corned beef did have more of a briny flavor that came through mostly in the aftertaste, but otherwise if I hadn’t been paying close attention I might have just assumed it was a bacon truffle. The cute little blob on top of the truffle was candied corned beef, hitting the same delightful sorts of salty-sweet-candy-chewy notes as candied bacon. I would happily have eaten a whole tray of these.

I couldn’t detect any textural evidence of cabbage (again, a wise choice!) but it did contribute a vegetal, garlicky funk to the filling that was more pronounced in the aftertaste than in the initial flavor. It wasn’t actually bad by any means — it was fairly subtle, and I just finished off an embarrassingly large supply of generic milk-chocolate discount truffles from the post-Valentine’s sales so the complexity of cabbage-chocolate was surprisingly welcome.

But I think the truffle would have been better overall if it had just focused on the corned beef, which had plenty of complex savory flavors to offer. As it was, I think some of the smoky meatiness might’ve gotten lost in the sour cabbage aftertaste.

I can’t imagine a more competent execution of this concept, and I consider making a corned beef and cabbage truffle that is not only edible but actually sort of good a pretty remarkable feat. That said, it was still pretty weird. Grading on a bit of a novelty-chocolate curve, and taking into account that delicious candied beef topper, I’d give this truffle an O.

Category: chocolate, guest post, Hedonist Artisan Chocolates, limited edition, novelty, O, review | 2 Comments »

Hedonist Salted Caramels FTW!

February 11th, 2013 by Rosa

If y’all follow me on Twitter (plug plug plug), you already know that I’ve been bragging about Hedonist Chocolates lately. They’re a small business chocolatier in Rochester, NY, where I used to live, and they turn out many delicious confections, including a ZOMG!-worthy set of chocolate-covered salted caramels.

I love those caramels. I bought a box last year when I was back in Rochester for a visit, and they’re my go-to gift when I need to send something nice to someone who lives far away. Considering all the free candy that I get, you know something’s good when I put my money where my mouth wants to be.

Last week, the NY Times named Hedonist’s Salted Caramels one of the 10-best chocolate-covered caramels in the U.S.!! And gave them the first slot in their graphic.

I’m quite excited for Hedonist, as such high praise is certainly well deserved. On the more selfish side, I’m also pleased that some culinary heavy-hitters corroborated my impression of the caramels.

Hedonist was kept busy busy filling all the orders they received after the Times piece ran. It’s now likely too late to get these caramels in time for Valentine’s Day (unless you live in Rochester), but do yourself a favor and get some anyway. You won’t regret it!

Category: Hedonist Artisan Chocolates, news | Comments Off

Hedonist Artisan Chocolates – Classic Truffle Collection

January 4th, 2013 by Rosa

One of my favorite things about Hedonist Artisan Chocolates is that they shake things up a lot and trot out different truffle flavors every season or so. I’ve been so busy reviewing all of their different truffle collections that I’m only now getting to reviewing their classic truffle collection. I no longer live in Rochester, so these were free samples that they sent me.

The five classic truffles flavors are Milk, Bittersweet, Hazelnut, Espresso, and White Mint. The first four were dipped, while the White Mint was rolled.

Milk is about as classic as it gets. Hedonist’s take was smooth and creamy all over. The soft milk chocolate ganache center had a thin melt, while its milk chocolate shell had a soft break and a thicker melt.

It tasted of sweet and dusky cocoa with a great chocolatey finish. Sometimes I find pure milk chocolate truffles to be too sweet, but this had a really well-balanced sweetness level that was not at all cloying.

Bittersweet was prettily decorated with a few green leaves. Its texture and flavor was drier than the milk version. The cocoa flavor ran deep with earthy tones.

This truly lived up to its name – it teased just a hint of bitterness, but then a light sweetness came and chased that hint away. Really well balanced!

Hazelnut was sprinkled with bits of hazelnuts and salt. It tasted of dry cocoa with a gianduja nuttiness.

Chocolate and hazelnut is a classic combination for a reason – the roasted nuttiness of hazelnuts paired well with chocolate here.

Espresso was topped with a roasted coffee bean. The ganache had a light grit and astringency from the ground coffee that was mixed into it.

Its coffee flavor was really powerful, and the truffle tasted like the scent of fresh roasted coffee beans. I enjoyed the interplay between sweet chocolate and slightly bitter coffee here. Some coffee + chocolate treats go too sweet, into Mocha Frappuccino mode, but this was nicely restrained.

My one complaint was the coffee bean topper. I found it super bitter and astringent to chomp into. I’m not a coffee drinker, so my taste buds were wiped out by eating a solid coffee bean.

Finally, White Mint was a white chocolate rolled truffle dipped in milk chocolate and then dusted with cocoa powder. Its ganache was smooth and creamy with a luxurious-feeling fatty melt.

The center ganache had the creamy vanilla undertones of white chocolate scented with mint. That mintiness was not effervescent (a la York Peppermint Patties). Instead, it reminded me more of mint leaves, with a slight herbal note.

I thought these were a solid set of classic flavors (though the white mint was a bit more out of the ordinary). Personally, I like Hedonists’s adventurous flavors more – part of why I love them so much is that they’re not afraid of unexpected truffle flavors, like goat cheese!

Still, these were quality truffles that were clearly made with care. An OM (and a great gift idea for your more culinarily unadventurous loved ones!).

 

 

Category: chocolate, Hedonist Artisan Chocolates, mint, nuts, OM, review | Comments Off

Hedonist Cinnamon Chipotle Drinking Chocolate + Coupon Code

November 26th, 2012 by Rosa

Last year, Hedonist Artisan Chocolates sent me free samples of their bittersweet drinking chocolate, but it never really got cold enough in North Carolina for me to bust it out. Recently, I got a free sample of their cinnamon chipotle drinking chocolate, which I made to get me through Thanksgiving prep.

Hedonist described their Cinnamon Chipotle drinking chocolate as “a thick, spicy dark chocolate beverage to warm your soul.” The directions were pretty simple: stir 3 tablespoons of the mix into 3/4 cup of very hot water or milk and enjoy.

The mix was made of bits of chocolate, cocoa powder, and cinnamon and chipotle spices. It smelled strongly of cinnamon with undertones of cocoa and a spicy smokiness.

The thickness and richness of the resulting drinking chocolate is really up to you – just add more mix or less water to change the concentration. I wasn’t super careful when I made my cup. I used a mix of hot water and milk and just kept adding mix until the thickness was to my liking.

The drinking chocolate started off sweet and chocolately before the chipotle come through with a lightly smoky undertone and strongly spicy kick. Cinnamon, which was so strong in the scent, was less dominant in the flavor, where it provided just a light hint. Rich cocoa undertones played below the drink’s flavor profile.

The chipotle definitely warmed up my tongue, and the tingling that it provided lingered for quite a while. This was not a drink for those who are scared of spiciness (for those people, I’d recommend the bittersweet version).

It was, however, a great drink if you love spicy chocolate. Turning the chocolate into a slowly sippable treat was a nice way to maximize the amount of chocolate enjoyment time that you get for your calories.

A $12 tin makes 5 standard servings, making it about a dozen times pricier than Swiss Miss cocoa mix. BUT it’s infinitely better and feels like a really special gourmet indulgence. An OM.

If you’d like to try this or any of Hedonist’s delicious chocolates for yourself, or if you need to pick up some holiday gifts (the drinking chocolate tins would make great hostess gifts!), you can get 20% off your online order from now through December 1st with the coupon code ZOMG!

Do yourself a favor and nab some of their salted caramels while you’re there.

Category: chocolate, Hedonist Artisan Chocolates, OM, review | Comments Off

Hedonist Spring Collection

March 23rd, 2012 by Rosa

I went back to Rochester over spring “break” to work on some brain data I left there. Grad students don’t get vacation! Fortunately, my visit was timed so that I was able to pick up a free sample of Hedonist Artisan Chocolates’s new Spring Collection (full description and “artist’s notes” here).

While in the shop, I got a chance to chat with head chocolatier Nathaniel Mich about his creative process in developing the collection. He was inspired by spring gardens and put together a collection that utilized a variety of flavors, textures, and techniques.

Strawberry Rhubarb is Hedonist’s first layered truffle. It was gorgeous to behold, with a bottom layer comprised of a creamy pink strawberry ganache and a top layer that was a translucent rhubarb fruit pate.

The strawberry ganache reminded me of super flavor-concentrated strawberry yogurt, a great mix of fruity sweetness mixed with dairy creaminess and just a tinge of tartness. The rhubarb layer was a soft gel that was bright and sweet. Apparently it’s made with a local rhubarb wine – who knew there was such a thing?

I loved the berry brightness of this treat, and its dusky chocolate chaser was a great ending note. It was like a perfectly ripe chocolate-covered strawberry distilled into one creamy bite. Easily my favorite of the collection.

The Earl Grey Caramel was a dark chocolate dipped caramel that was infused and topped with organic tea leaves. The dark chocolate coating cracked and flaked off when I bit into it, revealing a speckled caramel center.

The caramel was chewy and slightly sticky with just a bit of grit and grain to the texture.

I usually like chewing caramels, but I preferred to let this one melt into my mouth so that I could savor its depth of flavor – a deep burnt sugar caramel with woodsy tea notes that had a hit of salt and a slight bitterness at the end.

Porcini Thyme was a rolled truffle coated in chocolate and dusted with cocoa. It was deep and woodsy and earthy with a dash of smokiness. The thyme brought a mild herbal grassiness to the finish.

Mushroom and chocolate is a unique flavor combination that I’ve only had once before. The bittersweet and savory blend was well-balanced here. It’s definitely an unusual surprise for the tastebuds and harkens back to chocolate truffles’ original namesake.

Tarragon Carrot was a dipped truffle topped with a tiny piece of chewy dried carrot. It started off sweet from the chocolate, then turned earthy with a vegetal rootiness, and finished with carrot’s sweetness.

The tarragon added an herbal undertone that was hinted at throughout the flavor profile. The sizeable dried carrot bit on my pieces added a chewiness that distracted from the truffle. From the looks of the website, they’ve replaced it with a sprinkle of smaller dried carrot bits, so that’s probably no longer an issue.

Cardamom Rosewater was a pink striped dipped truffle that started off chocolatey sweet, then became full-on gingery (cardamom is a member of the ginger family!). The ginger flavor was more like what I associate with powdered ginger spice rather than fresh ginger – it had a light edge of dry bitterness to the finish.

This truffle was sweeter than the others, either because of its milk chocolate base or the addition of honey. I wonder if the honey was what also gave the ganache an unusually smooth look?

Nathaniel said the cardamom rosewater was his favorite of the collection. I feel bad for admitting that it was my least favorite – I liked it, but something has to be on the relative bottom! I just don’t like ginger enough to embrace the intensity of the gingery cardamom flavor here.

Cardamom rosewater gets an O, the tarragon carrot and porcini thyme get OMs, earl grey caramel gets an OMG, and the strawberry rhubarb earned a ZOMG! for its combination of flavor, texture, and sheer beauty in construction.

As a whole, this collection is a truly unique assortment with inventive flavor combinations that really set them apart. Compare that to Godiva’s more conventional (i.e. boring) and more expensive spring collection – there’s no question where your money should be going!

 

Category: caramel, chocolate, Hedonist Artisan Chocolates, O, OM, OMG, review, ZOMG! | 1 Comment »

Hedonist Salted Caramels

December 2nd, 2011 by Rosa

These salted caramels from Hedonist Artisan Chocolates were free samples that I got in the same package as the candy cane bark (Wednesday’s review). I’m a total sucker for salted caramels, especially when they’re covered in chocolate.

The label simply described them as “buttery caramel and sea salt enrobed in rich chocolate.” The box of 10 had 5 that were milk chocolate and 5 that were dark. All were sprinkled with a pinch of sea salt.

The caramel centers were a beautiful amber color flecked with little black vanilla seeds. The caramel had no pull when bitten into but was thick and sticky when chewed.

It was possible to hold the caramel on my tongue and just let it melt into a pool of sweet, limpid butteriness. Alas, I was too impatient and preferred to pick the deliciously sticky errant strands out of my teeth.

The flavor of that caramel was incredible. It tasted as deep and scorchy as it looked. It was just shy of burnt, which gave it a great complexity and just a hint of bitter edge.

The caramel itself was salted as well. Every once in a while, I’d chomp on a crunchy bit of sea salt, which released a flash of saltiness that really set off the scorchy brown butteriness of the caramel.

The milk chocolate coating added a mild sweetness and light malty chocolate flavor to the caramel. I preferred the dark chocolate version, which added a deep, rich cocoa complexity.

My only complaint was that some of the caramels with larger salt pinches were a tad too salty. But that wasn’t much of a deterrent – I polished off over half the box in my tasting session as I kept reaching for “just one more” to lock down my tasting notes.

This gets a ZOMG! in the true sense of the rating, as I was a little frightened at how quickly my box of 10 disappeared.

 

Category: caramel, chocolate, Hedonist Artisan Chocolates, review, ZOMG! | 3 Comments »

Hedonist Candy Cane Bark

November 30th, 2011 by Rosa

When I left Rochester, NY, I was sad to leave behind a great local chocolatier in Hedonist Artisan Chocolates. Fortunately, when you’re a candy blogger, candy can follow you around in the form of free samples!

Hedonist sent me a bag of their holiday Candy Cane Bark, along with some holiday truffles (previously reviewed here), salted caramels (review to come on Friday), and drinking chocolate (review TBA; it’s still too warm in North Carolina for hot chocolate).

The Candy Cane Bark was made of “shards of semi-sweet chocolate (55%) swirled with white chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy canes.” It was festively pretty to behold, with the swirl of semi-sweet and white chocolate evoking the candy cane’s red and white twist.

The bark was thin, no more than a centimeter at its thickest and thinner in some slabs. That made it easy to break apart with a sharp snap.

I didn’t find the candy cane’s mintiness apparent in the scent, but its flavor was lightly present in the finish of the bar. The crushed candy cane bits added just the right hint of airy mintiness to meld perfectly with the smooth, dusky pure cocoa flavor of the chocolate.

The white chocolate swirl added just a hint of vanilla and a slight fatty overtone. The cool melt of the chocolate mixed with the slight grittiness of the candy cane bits, which dissolved quickly.

Hedonist excels in its ability to find a great balance in its flavors. It would have been easy for the peppermint to get heavy handed in a treat like this, but Hedonist treated the mint with restraint and really used it to bring out the best of the chocolate and the mint. An OM.

 

Category: chocolate, Hedonist Artisan Chocolates, mint, OM, review | 1 Comment »

Hedonist Farm Egg Truffles

April 15th, 2011 by Rosa

Usually I review Easter candies after the holiday is over – love those steep next day sales! But today, I’m actually reviewing an Easter product before Easter, thanks to free samples from Hedonist Artisan Chocolates.

These Farm Egg Truffles are made to look like (aka are not made from) farm eggs. They are mind-bogglingly gorgeous with their shiny, speckled shells. Each truffle was about the size of a real egg, if that egg were cut in half and left with a flat back.

They came in Bittersweet (dark brown with white speckles), Peanut Butter (light brown with dark brown speckles), and Coconut (white with yellow streaks and blue-green speckles).

Bittersweet lived up to its name. Its ganache was dry, rich, heavy, and thick, with almost no sweetness.

It tasted of pure chocolate goodness, lots of genuine dusky cacao flavors, and a lightly smoky cocoa finish. Sometimes simple can be so good!

Peanut Butter had a dry and crumbly peanut butter ganache. I polished off the whole thing before I remembered that I had meant to retake the cross-section photo – there were whole roasted peanuts hidden in there as well!

The whole peanuts were a great addition – dry and crunchy with a strong, roasted nuttiness. They also carried a perfect hint of saltiness that really made the classic chocolate and peanut butter combination sing.

Coconut had a thin, white chocolate shell with a lusciously creamy ganache. The white chocolate was high quality, very mellow, lightly sweet, and full of vanilla goodness.

Strands of coconut were mixed into the ganache, which added a textural contrast – that special squeaky chewiness that coconut has – and a lovely floral nuttiness.

I’m a little ashamed to say that I ate all three of these in one sitting. My friends were disappointed to learn that there was none left to share, though they delighted in eating the extra Easter truffles that Hedonist also sent me.

Peanut Butter and Bittersweet get OMGs while Coconut gets a ZOMG! For the sake of my waistline, it’s probably good that these are a holiday-specific treat.

It looks like noon on April 20th is the deadline if you want to order some for yourself in time for Easter. I promise they’ll draw oohs and ahhs and yums!

Category: chocolate, coconut, Easter, Hedonist Artisan Chocolates, OMG, review, ZOMG! | 2 Comments »

Hedonist Raspberry Chocolate Truffles – TweetHeart

January 14th, 2011 by Rosa

Valentine’s Day is exactly one month away, and I’m about to help you score big with your sweetheart.

For the third year in a row, Hedonist Artisan Chocolates has put out a special Valentine’s Day collection of truffles featuring artwork by local artists. You can read more about it on their blog. I got a free sample box to taste.

This year, Erica Guilfoyle won with her TweetHeart images, which fortunately have nothing to do with Twitter. They’re kind of ridiculously adorable:

The truffles come with a cute little story: “Legend has it that every Valentine’s Day, Mother Nature beckons all young birds to gather and choose their mates. Once they have chosen their TweetHeart, they fly off together and celebrate with a song.”

The truffles themselves were “made with fresh raspberries, raspberry liqueur, and semi-sweet chocolate.” They had a crisp outer shell of pure chocolate with a softer ganache inside.

The ganache had a melt that felt cool and fatty on the tongue. Unlike the raspberry wasabi truffle from their Spice Collection, the ganache is totally smooth and free of seeds, and the raspberry flavor is quite mild.

It brings a light sweetness rather than an in-your-face fruitiness that melds nicely with the chocolate. This truffle is understated and mild, with nicely genuine cocoa flavors that are lightened just a bit by the raspberry.

This truffle was admirably restrained, and its combination of subtle deliciousness and endearing art earn it an OM. It’s a truffle that’s meant to be given away for others to ooh and ahh over, though you may have trouble relinquishing it.

If you’d like to taste it for yourself, Hedonist is having a tasting/meet the artist and chocolatiers event on February 4th from 5-8 pm at their retail store.

Category: chocolate, Hedonist Artisan Chocolates, OM, review | Comments Off

Hedonist Fruit and Nut Collection

January 12th, 2011 by Rosa

Hedonist Artisan Chocolate‘s Fruit and Nut Collection seems to be one of their year-round staples, yet I’d never tried them until now. Fortunately, I recently got a free sample box to taste.

From left to right, top to bottom, they are Dried Apricots, Crystallized Ginger, Cranberry-Pecans, Candied Orange Peels, and Pistachios.

These are a departure from Hedonist’s other truffles. Rather than having flavor-infused ganaches, these are fruits and nuts nestled in dark chocolate. The visual effect is quite stunning.

Dried Apricots featured dried apricots that were sliced into slivers. They were stiff and chewy at first bite. After a bit of chewing, the apricots’ sweetness and light fruitiness was released.

I’m not that big on apricots, dried or fresh, so this didn’t play to my taste preferences. It was a little on the chewy side but still a nice flavor combination.

Crystallized Ginger featured a single generous chunk of sugar-crusted crystallized ginger nestled in a chocolate bed. The ginger was soft with an instant give, which contrasted nicely with the snappy chocolate.

The ginger was sharp and spicy, as it should be, but not overpoweringly so, which I appreciated. Ginger isn’t one of my favorite chocolate accompaniments, but here it was tempered enough by the chocolate to work for me.

Cranberry-Pecans was a mix of chopped pecans mixed with dried cranberries. I loved the pecans, which were lightly caramelized. They brought a hint of extra sweetness, crunch, and crisp nuttiness.

The cranberry was mild and contributed just a hint of sweet and sour, but the pecan was the star here. And it shone – this was my favorite piece of the collection. I thought it was better than the bark version, thanks to the intense pecan density.

Candied Orange Peels was a shiny chocolate dome filled with chopped candied orange peels. There were two in my set. One had peels that were moist, soft, and sweet, while the other’s peels was drier, stiffer, and not as sweet.

It tasted like a toned down version of their Chocolate-Covered Orange Peels. The flavor of the peels was mostly that of citrus oil and orange zest, which paired well with the chocolate.

Pistachio was chock-full of whole pistachios. They were dry and extremely nutty with a strong saltiness. I felt like they overshadowed the chocolate a bit, as their nutty flavor was quite strong.

I enjoyed these chocolates, but I prefer Hedonist’s truffles, which are better at showcasing their mastery of crafting creatively flavored ganaches. The Fruit and Nut Collection is more about showcasing pure chocolates and pure ingredients. They were all tasty, but I find the truffles to be more exciting.

One exception, however, was the cranberry-pecan – that was a standout OMG. The rest get Os. And ooohs for being so pretty.

Category: chocolate, Hedonist Artisan Chocolates, nuts, O, OMG, review | 3 Comments »