October 16th, 2014 by Rosa
It’s fall, and here in the U.S., that means pumpkin-flavored EVERYTHING. Seriously, Trader Joe’s October Fearless Flyer is about 90% pumpkin stuff. One of their seasonal pumpkin products includes these Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramels.
The box described the caramels as “dark chocolate with a smooth pumpkin spiced caramel filling sprinkled with real Hawaiian sea salt.” Each shiny dark chocolate square was covered with a little squiggle of milk chocolate, then topped with a generous sprinkle of rust-colored sea salt.
That dark chocolate shell shattered as soon as I bit into the caramel, revealing a limpid viscous caramel center. The chocolate had a thick melt and lots of caramel notes.
The smooth caramel looked liquid but didn’t quite flow. It had a slight grain to the texture and a strong pumpkin spice flavor that was nutmeg dominant. Though the caramel was sweet, it was nicely countered by the saltiness of the crystals it was topped with.
These were tasty, but I don’t think they needed the extra pumpkin spice hit. If you’re a pumpkin spice fiend, however, you’ll love these. An OM.
Category: caramel, chocolate, OM, review, Trader Joe's |
October 13th, 2014 by Rosa
When I saw The Impulsive Buy‘s “Spotted On Shelves” feature on these Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups, I had to zip out to Trader Joe’s and get some to try for myself. I had previously loved the chocolate bar version of these, so I was excited to try them in cup form.
The cookie butter cups came in a plastic tub of about 27 cups (I only have an approximate count because I’m not sure how many cups my boyfriend snuck after I opened the tub). Each was individually wrapped in gold foil, which was good. I needed something to slow me down so I wouldn’t plow through them all at once.
The dark chocolate shell was stiff and of an uneven thickness around the edges. It melted smoothly and fattily in my mouth, with a barely sweet dark chocolate duskiness to the flavor.
The speculoos cookie butter paste in the center was dry and lightly cinnamony. It took, had just a hint of sweetness with a strong oat-y cookie flavor. It tasted more like the imported speculoos cookies I bought once, rather than like Biscoff’s or Trader Joe’s sweeter, more crumbly version.
I loved these. They weren’t too sweet and had lots of flavor complexity, with the cinnamon oatiness playing off the dark chocolate. I’d take them over a traditional peanut butter cup any day. An OMG.
Category: chocolate, cookie, OMG, review, Trader Joe's |
October 2nd, 2014 by Rosa
Shangri La is a tea company that makes tea-flavored chocolate, of which I got free samples to review. I covered the Earl Grey and Masala Chai on Tuesday, and today, I’m reviewing the remaining two bars: Chamomile Mint and Black Currant.
Chamomile Mint had the same 38% milk chocolate base as the Earl Grey and Masala Chai. Its back was a riot of different tea leaves and flower bits: chamomile, licorice, spearmint, orange peel, and peppermint.
The milk chocolate took on an entirely different flavor profile with this different tea blend, and the base milk chocolate’s caramel notes were lost. Instead, it tasted minty, with some of the sharp bitterness of anise and some floral notes from the chamomile and orange peel.
While I appreciated the flavor complexity, the texture was a bit off for me, as the larger flower bits and other crunchy parts didn’t melt away, and I had to spit them out. Like the Masala Chai, this gets a demotion to an O because of the texture.
Black Currant was the only one of the set that had a dark chocolate base, a 66% cacao. It was flavored with black tea and “natural flavor”, which gave it a brightly fruity scent.
The dark chocolate snapped easily and sharply. It didn’t melt with any noticeable texture so much as just disappeared, leaving behind the crunchy tea leaves.
The “natural flavor’ added a noticeable dark red berry fruitiness, while the tea leaves made the chocolate finish with a noticeable astringency. I liked the flavor but didn’t like the lingering dryness. An O as well.
I imagine these would be great gifts for tea-drinkers. If only tea tasted as good as these chocolate bars!
Stay tuned tomorrow for something fun about these Shangri La bars!
Category: chocolate, O, review |
September 30th, 2014 by Rosa
Shangri La is a tea company that’s now making inroads into tea-flavored chocolate. They sent me free samples of their line-up to review. I’ll cover the Earl Grey and Masala Chai today, and the Black Currant and Chamomile Mint on Thursday.
Both the Early Grey and Masala Chai were made with a 38% cacao milk chocolate base. The 0.85 oz squares were imprinted with the word Organic, even though the packaging doesn’t note organic certification or organic ingredients anywhere. Not sure what’s up with that…
The back of the Earl Grey bar was flecked with black tea leaves. It smelled earthy and woodsy.
The milk chocolate broke easily with a soft snap. It melted in my mouth with a velvety, matte texture. The tea leaves had a dry crunch before they, too, melted away.
The milk chocolate base had lightly sweet caramel cocoa flavors, while the black tea and bergamot added a subtle woodsiness with a lightly floral finish that paired wonderfully with the chocolate. An OM.
The Masala Chai had a warm, spicy scent, thanks to its infusion of cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom in addition to the black tea it contained. Cinnamon came through the strongest and paired well with the chocolate, though it also made it taste sweeter.
While I enjoyed the flavors of the Masala Chai, I had some problems with the texture. The black tea crunched and melted away, but there were also tooth-breaking bits of cinnamon bark that I had to spit out. An O because I don’t like having to pick chocolate bar leftovers out of my mouth.
More Shangri La reviews to come on Thursday, and something fun for you readers on Friday!
Category: chocolate, O, OM, review |
August 11th, 2014 by Rosa
I’m lucky enough to have recently returned from a trip to Switzerland. We were mostly hiking the Alps, but I made sure to make some time to buy Swiss candies, including lots of chocolate.
First up, this fancy Lindt Passion Chocolat – Caramel & Fleur de Sel. It was described as “accord parfait du chocolat noir et du pur caramel,” which my rusty high school French translates as, “a perfect agreement between dark chocolate and pure caramel.”
The chocolate had a prettily artisanal look about it, with a little cellophane windowpane through which to view the bar. The top side was generously sprinkled with caramel and fat grains of sea salt, while the bottom was imprinted with the scripted Lindt logo.
The dark chocolate was creamy with a smooth and thick melt. It had a nice cocoa depth with a slight fruitiness that was highlighted by the occasional flash of salt.
The caramel bits were plentiful and brought a nice, clean crunchiness to the texture of the bar. They tasted sweet, with buttery toffee flavors that took on a slight toasted scorchiness as they melted away.
I found this to be a well-balanced treat that was surprisingly well-made for a mass-produced bar. An OMG.
Category: caramel, chocolate, European, Lindt, OMG, review |
July 28th, 2014 by Rosa
Last week, I covered Alcove Chocolates‘ mimosa, red velvet, fleur de sel, and fleur de pretzel chocolate bars. Today, I’ve got a rundown of their Brownie bar, another free sample from Alcove Chocolates.
My boyfriend loves brownies – he can easily pack away half a pan in one sitting – so he was super excited to try the Brownie bar. Alcove Chocolates describes it as, “dark milk chocolate blended with traditional fudge brownie,” which I took to mean that it would chocolate blended with chewy brownie bits.
Instead, the bits of brownie in the bar were dry and crunchy, so more like cookies or brownie brittle. You can see them in the pebbled back of the bar above.
The texture of the brownie bits made me think of that airy crunch you get from freeze dried fruit, or the little chocolate cookie balls you can get at some Fro-Yo places. They added a soft crunch to the texture of the bar, which snapped sharply but crunched softly.
I’m not sure how something can be both dark and milk chocolate. This guy definitely looked dark – and glossy and well-tempered.
At any rate, the chocolate had amazing depth of flavor. The dark chocolate tasted deep, with rich, fudgey notes, like the best hot fudge I’ve ever had (from The Parlour, of course).
The crunchy brownie bits only served to amplify the intensely rich chocolate wallop of this bar. I loved it, and my brownie connoisseur boyfriend did too. An OMG.
Category: chocolate, cookie, OMG, review |
July 25th, 2014 by Rosa
On Monday, I covered 3 flavors of Alcove Chocolates that I had received as free samples. Today, it’s time to write about another Alcove treat, their Fleur de Pretzel bar.
They described it as “rich milk chocolate paired with crunchy new york [sic. They seem to be allergic to the shift key on their website.] pretzels and enrobed in swirls of fleur de sel sea salt.” I didn’t know that crunchy New York pretzels were a thing – I always thought they were soft – but whatever. This bar was awesome.
Unlike the tiles from Monday, I am reviewing the full-sized, 3 oz. version of this beauty. It was segmented into 4 x 5 rectangles and broke easily along the divisions.
The milk chocolate base of this bar was sweet and dusky, with a nice complexity to it. Its matte melty texture was frequently interrupted by crunchy bits of pretzel and sea salt.
The pretzel nicely balanced out the sweet milk chocolate by adding a darker toastiness that kept it from being cloying. The occasional flashes of salt also helped offset that sweetness while adding flavor and texture interest.
I thought this bar was an excellent bar for snacking. After all, it included a snack food right in the bar. I found it it interesting, well-balanced, and tasty. An OMG.
Category: chocolate, OMG, review |
July 21st, 2014 by Rosa
Alcove Chocolate, a So-Cal chocolate brand that has now expanded beyond California, recently released 12 (12!) new chocolate bars. I got sent free samples of the full-sized bars, plus 3 of the flavors in miniature square version (they call them mini tiles), for review. I’ll start with the mini tiles, Fleur de Sel, Red Velvet, and Mimosa.
Fleur de sel dark chocolate was a “64% cacao complimented with natural sea salt.” The thin 1.5 x 1.5-inch square had a sharp snap. It started off slightly sweet, then took on a salty smokiness from the added sea salt. The melt was smooth and only broken up by the crunch of the salt crystals.
Red Velvet milk chocolate was described as “velvety, smooth red milk chocolate layered with flavors of cheesecake frosting and chocolate cake.” It had the same red-brown tinge of a red-velvet cupcake (which, at least in cupcakes, probably comes from food coloring).
The Red Velvet square had a soft break and a thick and creamy melt, as milk chocolates should. It was quite sweet, with cocoa powder notes to start, then took on a slight sour tang. I thought it did an excellent job of capturing the flavor of red velvet cake + cream cheese frosting.
Finally, Mimosa dark chocolate was loquaciously billed as, “the ultimate ‘choctail’… 64% dark chocolate with essences of fresh orange juice and sparkling champagne.” Its melt was creamy but slower to start.
Mimosa tasted sweet for a dark chocolate, with strong citrus flavors from the start. The citrus notes were those of orange oil rather than orange zest – mellow and rotund rather than sharp and zesty.
So far, a tasty assortment of chocolate bars that do a great job capturing exactly what they promise. I can’t wait to try the rest! An OM.
Category: chocolate, OM, review |
July 9th, 2014 by Rosa
Lindt Lemon is the newest chocolate bar in Lindt’s Excellence line-up, billed as “dark with citrus pieces and almond slivers”. I received a free sample from Lindt for review.
Alas, the overnight shipping, cold pack, and insulated bag couldn’t stand up to the North Carolina heat, so my sample arrived melted and not as photogenic as it could be. Fortunately, it still tasted awesome!
The dark chocolate had a thick, matte melt that was broken up with a slight crunch from the thin almond slivers. I also came across the occasional piece of lemon zest covered in a grainy sugar.
At first, the bar was sweet. Then, a bright, effervescent lemon zestiness came through, tempered by nuttiness from the almond slivers. It finished with a cool, citrus sweetness.
This bar was incredibly well balanced in both flavor and texture. I loved how the bright fruitiness played off the dark chocolate, resulting in a refreshing treat. An OM.
Category: chocolate, Lindt, nuts, OM, review |
July 7th, 2014 by Rosa
These British Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons were a surprise international treat in the free sample MunchPak that I received a while ago and am still slowly munching my way through.
The buttons were little thumbnail-sized disks with a flat side and a domed side. Their flat side had the scripted Cadbury logo imprinted on it.
They were the perfect size and shape to slip onto my tongue and smash against the roof of my mouth. Doing so caused the buttons to dissolve into a tongue-coatingly thick and creamy puddle of milk chocolate.
The Cadbury’s milk chocolate was quite sweet, with dusky caramel flavors amidst the cocoa. As far as mass-produced milk chocolate goes, I much prefer Cadbury’s to the sour milk tinge of Hershey’s.
The buttons were a fun diversion that were well-sized for slow savoring. An O because I probably wouldn’t buy them for a snack – there are better milk chocolates out there, especially if you’re willing to spend an extra buck or two – but I wouldn’t turn them down if they were offered to me for free.
Category: Cadbury, chocolate, European, O, review |