October 2nd, 2013 by Rosa
While I was in Pittsburgh for a conference, my former labmate and awesome Pittsburgh host took me to one of the best grocery stores ever: the Giant Eagle flagship. It was at least as good, if not better, than the flagship Wegmans in Pittsford, largely due to its incredible candy selection.
I picked up a few local confections from Sarris Candies. First up, this S’mores treat, which was described as “marshmallow & graham cracker covered in our creamy milk chocolate”.
I was nervous about keeping this bar intact and unmelted throughout my travels. Thankfully, this was a hardy bar, and I unwrapped it at home to find it unscathed, with all its chocolate drizzle ribbons intact.
The outer milk chocolate shell was thick and sweet and creamy. It featured strong caramel undertones to its dairy chocolate flavor.
Inside, the 1.5 oz bar held a bottom layer of graham cracker topped with a white foamy marshmallow. The marshmallow was sweet and softly squishy, adding a nice textural contrast to the cookie and the melting chocolate.
The graham cracker cookie was quite crumbly and slightly crunchy. Its graham flavor was mildly sweet, which did a nice job of cutting the sweetness of the chocolate and keeping the treat from becoming too cloying.
I ate the whole thing in one sitting (rare for me!), partly because it wasn’t that big compared to regular candy bars. It gets an OM, and I wish I’d bought more. The Sarris website recommends microwaving these for a few seconds to make them extra gooey, which I’d like to try.
Category: chocolate, cookie, marshmallow, OM, review |
September 30th, 2013 by Neil
Note from Rosa: Here’s another guest post from expat friend Neil. He wrote this in May 2013 but only just now found the photos.
I try not to subject you to reviews of candy I’ve let expire, but I’m making an exception for this. January 2013 wasn’t that long ago, right…?
This came from a German supermarket in summer 2012. I was intrigued by the notion of passionfruit panna cotta and the all-caps dictation to “ENJOY COLD!”
I thought it’d be a bar. The eighteen individual chocolate squares surprised me. Each had a Lindt logo on top and the chocolate appeared milky, though maybe a bit dried out by the unintentional aging.
My experience with passionfruit is limited to candies and juice, so whether or not these taste of the fruit off the vine is up to a proper produce-eater. The chocolate is quite satisfactory, and the passionfruit aspect is what really shines.
There’s almost a bright, sparkling pop in your mouth a few seconds after you finish a square, which is all fruit. An OM.
Category: chocolate, European, guest post, Lindt, OM |
September 16th, 2013 by Rosa
I picked up these Astor Belgian Chocolate bars as free samples at Sweets and Snacks. It looks like they sell a variety of their signature bars on their website; I was also told that they repackage these under other brands as well.
Both bars – Angel Food Cake and Devil’s Food Cake – were lightly scored into 6 rectangular blocks that broke easily into different segments. All were striated as well.
Angel Food Cake was a white chocolate shell with a white chocolate ganache inside. The white chocolate was sweet and creamy and thick, with strong dairy notes.
The ganache had a bit of a grit to it, like it was full of dried cake crumbs or cookie crumbs. They added some crunch, along with a birthday cake/vanilla flavor.
This bar was fun but too sweet for my taste. An O for this.
Devil’s Food Cake was a dark chocolate with a bit of chocolate ganache in the center. The dark chocolate had a bit of a snap, while the ganache was softer and creamier.
This was an intensely chocolatey bar. It make me think of fudgey cake batter or rich chocolate pudding. I loved the richness and depth of pure chocolate flavor that it provided, so an OM.
Category: chocolate, O, OM, review, white chocolate |
September 13th, 2013 by Rosa
Wednesday, I reviewed Jelina Chocolatier‘s Espresso bar. Today, I’ve got a review of another of their organic chocolate bars, the Fleur de Sel. Both were free samples that I picked up at the Sweets and Snacks Expo.
Again, this bar was comprised of 15 rectangles, which came sealed in a silver wrapper tucked inside a cardboard box. This one was cutely decorated with a line drawing of a salt shaker.
The chocolate had a dry, smooth, velvet melt that felt comfortably matte on my tongue. Sprinkles of salt could be found throughout the bar, adding a bit of crunch along with a salty hit.
The chocolate had deep, dark earthy notes that occasionally found themselves set off with a hit of salt in a burst of sweet/sour/salty. The finish was intensely chocolatey and lingered pleasantly on the tongue.
I thought this would make for a great snacking bar. Simple but wonderfully chocolatey and kept interesting by the addition of salt – an OM.
Category: chocolate, OM, organic, review |
September 11th, 2013 by Rosa
Last year at the Sweets and Snacks Expo, I picked up two chocolate bars from Jelina Chocolatier, a Canadian chocolate company that was looking for a U.S. distributor. I loved those two bars and gave them high marks and kept hoping they’d make their way to the U.S. market. Unfortunately, they’re still looking for a U.S. distributor, so I’ll just have to keep hoping.
I saw Jelina again at this year’s Expo and was lavished with a few more free samples. I’ll cover the Espresso bar today and their Fleur de Sel on Friday.
Like all of their bars, the Espresso was organic and came rustically packaged in a simple cardboard box. I liked the little line drawing of the stovetop coffeepot that decorated it.
Inside, the chocolate bar came sealed in a separate silver package and was segmented into 15 striated rectangles. The bar’s texture was dry and thickly gritty, like Taza Chocolate or Mexican-style chocolate. You can see the grit in the photo below.
The chocolate tasted incredibly intensely of roasted coffee beans. Somehow, they managed to capture all the flavor of coffee while minimizing its bitterness. The bitterness was there but barely noticeable.
This was a perfectly balanced bar with just the right mix of sweet chocolate and robust coffee. An OMG.
Category: chocolate, coffee, OMG, organic, review |
September 9th, 2013 by Rosa
Last Friday, I reviewed some truffles that I had received as free samples from Zoë’s Chocolate Co. They also sent along a free sample of “The Sports Bar”, which was described as “crispy puffed caramelized popcorn-like rice crisps mixed into luscious dark chocolate and topped with carefully roasted honeyed peanuts.”
The peanut studded bar was lightly scored into 24 rectangles that easily snapped apart. The puffed rice crisps brought a light crunch but otherwise weren’t really noticeable.
The peanuts were the main attraction here. They came in all sizes, from whole peanuts to halves to itty bitty bits (probably the little center peanut nibs, which is technically a peanut embryo).
They were honey roasted and coated in sugar, making them lightly sweet with just the slightest hint of salt. When paired with the chocolate, they made for the classic combination of cocoa and peanuts.
The chocolate base of this bar was a dream. Its melt was smooth and soft and left behind a slightly cool, fatty feel on my tongue as it disappeared. The flavor was sweet and purely cocoa, while the finish was a little dry and a little sweet.
I loved this bar mostly for the deliciousness of the chocolate base, and the honey roasted peanuts were a nice addition as well. An OMG.
Category: chocolate, nuts, OMG, review |
September 6th, 2013 by Rosa
I recently received free samples of some chocolates from Zoë”s Chocolate Co., a small artisan chocolate shop that’s only 6 years old. I got a pretty brown box, all tied up with a pink ribbon, that featured four truffles from their Chocolate Collection: Black Raspberry, Mediterranean Citrus, Apple Pie, and Pinot Noir Infused Fleur de Sel Milk Chocolate Caramel.
Black Raspberry was “white chocolate ganache blended with locally grown preserved black raspberries and topped in a rich dark chocolate.” The square truffle was visually striking, with its magenta dried fruit topper and violet ganache.
That ganache was incredibly smooth. It tasted sweet and lightly fruity with mild berry notes, and it finished with cocoa flavors from the nice dark chocolate. The dried fruit chip was crystallized and added a flash of sweet and intense fruitiness to this understated truffle.
Mediterranean Citrus was described as “white chocolate ganache infused with a sweet Mediterranean citrus topped in dark chocolate.” Its ganache was also perfectly smooth and was a creamy white in color.
It tasted of orange oil rather than orange juice or zest. It was a great citrus pairing with the dark chocolate that coated it, even though it lacked any juiciness or zestiness.
Apple Pie was a caramel: “Fresh, local apples cooked to perfection with apple pie spices and combined with caramel and roasted pecans.” The beautiful dome held a jammy filling with tiny bits of apple suspended within it.
It tasted like cinnamon and, well, apple pie! I didn’t notice any specific pecan bits or flavor, though there was a bit of tannic bitterness to the finish that may have been due to the added nuts.
Finally, the one with a mouthful of a name, Pinot Noir Infused Fleur de Sel Milk Chocolate Caramel, was “a bit of creamy milk chocolate … mixed with our liquid caramel and amplified to a delicious intensity.” The liquid caramel was smooth and limpid with an intense buttery sweetness.
The generous sprinkle of jagged sea salt was just right to set off the sweetness of the caramel and milk chocolate. I didn’t notice the addition of the pinot noir, but I still loved this caramel.
Zoë’s chocolates were gorgeous to behold and delicious to indulge in. I give the Pinot Noir Caramel an OMG, while the rest get OMs.
Category: caramel, chocolate, OM, OMG, review, white chocolate |
August 26th, 2013 by Rosa
Last May at Sweets and Snacks, I snagged a couple of beautiful chocolate bars from Splendid Chocolates. One was Milk Chocolate with Toffee and Sea Salt, and the other was Milk Chocolate with Ginger and Pink Himalayan Salt. I’ve got the first one on deck today, and I’ll save the second the review for Wednesday.
The Splendid chocolate bars immediately stood out because they were visually striking. The Milk Chocolate was prettily swirled with a white chocolate, and the whole thing was sprinkled with toffee bits and salt crystals.
While the underside of the bar was all swirly and pretty and allowed to peek through the packaging, taking the bar out of the cardboard box revealed that the other side of the bar was segmented into 24 rose-stamped rectangles.
The white chocolate swirl turned out to be superficial. It was just a drizzle on the underside of the bar rather than swirled throughout.
The milk chocolate’s melt was thick with a slight graininess. To me, it tasted uber sweet and on the edge of cloying, but I don’t like super sweet chocolate.
There were great caramel/toffee notes to the milk chocolate, even in the bites without toffee bits. I’m not sure if they were from the milk chocolate base itself, or if maybe the presence of the toffee managed to infuse the chocolate with its flavor.
Giant sea salt crystals were relatively sparsely sprinkled on the underside of the bar. You can see how the majority of the sprinkled ingredients was toffee bits. I didn’t get any in the bites that I took, and I gave away the rest of the bar before I realized that I’d missed out on a key ingredient.
At any rate, I’d already made up my mind that this bar was nice to look at but too sweet for my palate. An O from me, though I should note that no one with whom I shared the bar complained about its sweetness.
Category: chocolate, O, review, toffee |
August 19th, 2013 by Rosa
After my last experience with Escazú, I had to have more. Fortunately, there’s a great coffeeshop right by my gym that sells some of their line, so I nabbed this Escazuú bar with a mouthful of a moniker: Goat’s Milk Single Origin Carenero Venezuela.
Like the last bar, this was divided into 24 rectangles. This one easily and sharply snapped along its scores and melted with a matte mouthfeel.
The chocolate started off lightly sweet, then developed edgy caramel notes while also intensifying with a fruity, cherry sweetness.
The finish was absolutely incredible. It was slightly tangy and almost savory, I think because of the goat’s milk, but it didn’t have any of the unctuous funkiness that can sometimes accompany goat cheese.
That finish lingered for quite some time after the chocolate had melted away. I couldn’t get enough of this bar, as evidenced by the fact that it’s half gone. An OMG.
Category: chocolate, OMG, review, single origin |
August 12th, 2013 by Rosa
I inherited the remains of this box of Hokkaido Pumpkin Chocolate from Emma, who got them from a friend. I was amused that pumpkin-headed mascot appears to be named Yukky.
The pumpkin chocolates were all individually wrapped with a little window through which you could see the pumpkin shaped candies within. Some were jack-o-lantern shaped, while others were just pumpkins.
The pumpkins were made of orange-hued white chocolate sprinkled with bits of crisp rice-like objects. Those bits gave the chocolate toasted puffed wheat notes that were immediately present from first bite. They eventually gave way to a grittiness when the chocolate was gone, from their husks perhaps.
The white chocolate had faint notes of roasted autumn squash. It was just lightly sweet and mostly vegetal in flavor. I missed the spices that usually come with pumpkin desserts in the U.S.
While I appreciated the beauty of the treat, the flavor wasn’t my thing. While I usually complain that U.S. sweets are too sweet, this Japanese one wasn’t sweet enough. An O.
Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), chocolate, O, review |