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 |
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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 |
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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 |
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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 |
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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 |
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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 |
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August 9th, 2013 by Rosa
Escazú Chocolates is another chocolatier that’s practically in my backyard. How did I not know that there were so many local chocolate makers right here in the triangle?
I’d seen them before at Whole Foods and the coffee shop by my gym, but I’d never picked them up because I already have a sizeable chocolate backlog. Fortunately, a friend decided to thank me for some pet-sitting by giving me this Chipotle Chile & Vanilla bar.
The 74% cacao bar was segmented into 24 rectangles. The chocolate broke easily but without a true snap. Its melt was thick for a dark chocolate, velvety in texture but not tongue-coatingly thick like milk chocolate.
The dark chocolate had a fruity flavor with strong, plummy raisin and fig notes that lingered in the finish. The chipotle sting melted into a tingling burn that also lingered on the tongue and in the back of my throat.
I loved the complex intensity of this bar and am now eager to try the rest of their line. An OM.
Category: chocolate, OM, review |
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August 7th, 2013 by Rosa
Mars was working hard to promote their new M&M‘s Chocolate Bar at Sweets and Snacks this May. They kept a never-ending supply of them in the press room, and I snagged one for review (plus a few more as gifts; free candy is the only payment I get for all this blogging).
The bar is basically a milk chocolate bar embedded with mini M&M’s. M&M’s had tried selling something like it back in 2004 as the M-Azing bar, but it never really caught on then. I guess they think the market is ready now?
The chocolate was scored into 8 pieces and imprinted with the same image of Red being swallowed by melted chocolate that’s on the wrapper. I personally find it a bit morbid and not nearly as cute as M&M’s pretzel effort.
The milk chocolate of the bar tasted just like the milk chocolate center of a plain M&M: dusky and thick with a sour tinge that burned my throat. Plenty of mini M&M’s were distributed throughout the bar and revealed themselves by staying whole when the bar was broken apart.
The mini M&M’s crunchy little shells were a nice addition to break up the texture. I also appreciated the nice splash of color that they brought.
I enjoy milk chocolate M&M’s because you get the fun of melted or crunching away the chocolate shell, but I don’t find it to be high enough quality to prefer to eat it in giant chunks like in this bar. An O.
Category: chocolate, M&M's, Mars, O, review |
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August 5th, 2013 by Rosa
I got this Chuao Popcorn Pop mini chocolate bar as a free sample at their booth at Sweets and Snacks. I mentioned to the chef that I really liked their Firecracker Pod, and he handed me this, saying that I would love it.
He was right! It was described as being “inspired by that familiar flavor you love, with a surprising POP in milk chocolate.”
It started off with a salty hit of toasted popcorn flavor and crunch, then gave way to a popping sensation as the embedding popping candy exploded in my mouth, all while being set off by a smooth milk chocolate.
According to the ingredients list, the popcorn flavor came from corn chips and puffed amaranth. The corn chips gave the proper corny flavor, while the amaranth gave the textural feel of the fluffy white portions of popcorn.
It was fun how the crunchy grit of the “popcorn” seemed to turn into the popping sensations. It was a whimsical, well conceived, and well executed treat. An OMG.
Category: chocolate, OMG, review |
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July 31st, 2013 by Rosa
On Monday, I reviewed the new Klondike Caramel candy. Today, I’ll cover the other flavor that it comes in, Mint Chocolate Chip. Both flavors were free samples that I talked my way into at the Sweets and Snacks Expo back in May.
The Mint Chocolate Chip was described as “mint chocolate chip center covered in a dark chocolate flavored coating.” Like the Caramel, “chocolate flavored” coating means that the coating features palm kernel oil rather than cocoa butter, making it mockolate rather than real chocolate.
Semisweet chocolate, however, was next on the ingredient list after palm kernel oil. My guess is that the chocolate bits inside the mint chocolate chip filling are real. Honestly, why not just go real chocolate all the way?
The Mint Chocolate Chip Klondike candies didn’t travel as well as their caramel brethren. They got a bit squashed because their filling was softer.
That filling was an unnaturally bright shade of green – as you’d expect for Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream! The texture was like a fondant. It was very thick and solid, yet gave instantly when bitten into and melted in my mouth like buttercream frosting.
It was quite pepperminty and tasted so sweet that it burned my throat but also had a slightly bitter aftertaste. The chocolate bits inside the filling were few and far between (note how they’re missing in that cross section), and any true chocolate flavor they could have brought was pretty effectively masked by the intensity of the mint.
I love mint chocolate chip ice cream, but I didn’t particularly care for these. I wasn’t a fan of the texture of the filling, and I found the whole thing far too sweet. An —.
Category: --, chocolate, mint, mockolate, review |
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