Archive for the 'coconut' Category

Vosges Truffles

April 23rd, 2008 by Rosa

As previously mentioned on Monday, my box of 9 of Vosges Exotic Truffles were samples sent by the company. I shared them with friends, which is the best way to savor fine chocolates. From left to right and top to bottom they are (the last two trio photos are slightly off, with the Ambrosia and Chef Pascal swapped):


Naga – sweet Indian curry powder + coconut + milk chocolate – I’ve had the Naga chocolate bar before and liked it, and I similarly enjoyed the curry dusted Naga truffle. The curry flavor is initially strong before it gets a bit mellowed by the coconut flavor coming through. The milk ganache balanced the two flavors well, and the truffle makes me think of Thai food.

Budapest - sweet Hungarian paprika + dark chocolate – Paprika isn’t really used in Chinese cooking, so I have no idea what its flavor profile is like. I found the Budapest to taste extremely, unpleasantly earthy. Even the more enjoyable dark chocolate finish wasn’t enough to make me like this truffle more. My friend Rita made a face and said it tasted like dirt, while my other friend Chris enjoyed it.

Gianduia - crunchy hazelnut praline + milk chocolate + praline bits – As I have said before, it’s hard to go wrong with the classic flavor combination of chocolate and hazelnut. The Gianduia’s hazelnut flavor was strong without being overpowering, and I found the nuttiness to be fresher and more genuine that anything Ferrero has ever made. The praline topping was also a nice, sweet, crunchy touch.

Black Pearl - ginger + wasabi + dark chocolate + black sesame seeds – When I tasted the bar version of the Black Pearl, I found its wasabi flavor to be absent. In the truffle, wasabi flavor is definitely there. It starts out tasting like ginger, and the wasabi rounds out the middle. I’m not a big fan of ginger and chocolate, but I can see why some people love it and how they would love this truffle.

Wink of the Rabbit - soft caramel + deep milk chocolate + organic New Mexican pecan – The top half of this interestingly named truffle is made of ganache, while the bottom half is made of a caramel that tastes like a soft toffee. I found it to be on the verge of sugar overload, and the organic New Mexican pecan (because pecan sourcing is soooo important, I guess) doesn’t add anything to the truffle or temper its sweetness.

Chef Pascal – kirsch + dark chocolate + dried Michigan cherry – This truffle has a strong liqueur flavor that I enjoyed. Eating this truffle is sort of like eating an uber fancy cherry cordial, except much better because the Vosges ganache is so rich and smooth and creamy.

Woolloomooloo - Australian macadamia nut + coconut + deep milk chocolate – The Woolloomooloo has a strong coconut flavor that tastes extremely and pleasantly fresh and a nice, dusky chocolate finish. I couldn’t taste the macadamia nut, but it was just fine without it.

Ambrosia - macadamia nuts + Cointreau + white chocolate – Like in the Woolloomooloo (man, is that fun to type!), the macadamia nuts are just too mildly flavored to stand out. The Cointreau (an orange liqueur) makes this truffle super sweet and fruity, and the white chocolate gives it a thickly sweet finish. I don’t particularly care for white chocolate, but I do appreciate the concept and flavor of this truffle.

Absinthe – Chinese star anise + fennel + pastis + dark chocolate + cocoa powder – I wasn’t expecting to like this truffle because I don’t like licorice or anise. I was right, sort of, as I didn’t like it, but I didn’t dislike it. The anise flavor is more reminiscent of Chinese five spice than of licorice. My licorice-loving suitemate enjoyed this.

I would not buy Vosges truffles for myself to eat because they’re so pricey, but I would buy them for others. The packaging is pretty, the truffles themselves are exquisitely gorgeous, the smooth and creamy ganaches are luxuriously indulgent, and the flavor combinations are unique and creative. An OMG, but only if someone else is buying.

Category: caramel, chocolate, coconut, nuts, OMG, review, Vosges, white chocolate | Comments Off

Madison Chocolates

October 22nd, 2007 by Rosa

I was in Madison, Connecticut a few weeks ago for a band event, and I had the chance to stop at Madison Chocolates, a local chocolate shop run by Chef Paul Staley, a C.I.A. (that’s the Culinary Institute of America, not the Central Intelligence Agency) grad and former high end pastry chef. His shop sells truffles, “magical confections”, chocolate bars, and molded chocolate “lollipops”.

My friends and I picked up two boxes of truffles at Madison Chocolates, one of 6 as a thank-you gift, and one of 4 as thank-you reward for ourselves. Because he was awesome, Chef Staley threw in 2 extras without telling us until he finished wrapped up our order, so we actually walked out with 12 truffles.

The truffles come in these gorgeous gold boxes tied with a ribbon that says Madison Chocolates, a wonderful touch.

Here’s the box we bought for other people:

Clockwise from top left, I believe it’s pistachio, Grand Marnier, passion fruit, Barbados rum, one I can’t remember, and either Hazelnut Frangelico or Amaretto. I wrote them down somewhere, but I was out of town and travelling, so who knows where that somewhere slip of paper ended up. I didn’t get to taste this box, but the people who got to eat them in front of me made pretty extreme, bordering on inappropriate yummy noises.

Here’s the box I got to taste:

Clockwise from top left, they’re coconut, Barbados rum (I think), passion fruit, Grand Marnier, Mayan-Aztec, and the same unidentifiable truffle that was in the last box. I had a hard time identifying the second and sixth one because we had our truffle tasting party a couple of weeks after we bought these (unideal, I know, but it was hard to coordinate busy college students’ schedules to find a mutually agreeable tasting time), so they were refrigerated, which probably dulled some of the fresh truffle taste, especially in the ganache fillings. They were, however, still deliciously decadent.

The coconut truffle was enrobed in a dark chocolate with light coconut flavors. The milk chocolate ganache inside was creamy and was so deep that I thought it was actually dark chocolate (the I got light caramel notes instead of coconut, but again, long term refrigeration issues, maybe.

The Barbados rum (I think; that flavor isn’t listed on the website or in the pamphlet I picked up, but I know there was a rum flavored truffle of some kind) didn’t taste like rum to me. That could be because it wasn’t the rum one after all. Still, the dark chocolate ganache was rich, creamy, and, like all the other Madison chocolate truffles, melted away beautifully in the mouth.

The passion fruit had a great dark chocolate coating and a wonderfully creamy white chocolate filling. I’ve had actual passion fruit in Brazil (maracuj√°), and I didn’t get any noticeable specifically passion fruit flavor, but it was lightly fruity and lovely.

The Grand Marnier was easy to identify visually because it was topped with candied orange rind. It was also identifiable because it smelled quite strongly of orange. I was nervous about the orange flavor veering into Terry’s Chocolate Orange territory, but no worries there. The orange flavoring in the dark chocolate ganache was subtle and just right.

The Mayan-Aztec was a chili truffle that definitely didn’t suffer from refrigeration. Unlike the others, this was rolled in bittersweet cocoa powder instead of being enrobed in more chocolate. It had the perfect slow chocolate chili burn that was noticeable without being painful. I liked this one better than the Mexican chili truffle I tried at Whole Foods. Chef Staley’s version packed a kick that grew, lingered for a few seconds, and faded beautifully.

Finally, the unidentified truffle was a white chocolate ganache coated with dark chocolate and topped with white chocolate shavings. It didn’t match any of the truffle descriptions on the web site or in the pamphlet, so I have no idea what it is. I usually don’t enjoy white chocolate much, but it was good in this truffle. I should also note that this truffle was the only one in which the ganache wasn’t perfectly smooth – it had a slight grain to it, but I probably noticed it only because I was tasting it very, very carefully in my ultimately futile attempt to figure out what flavor it was.

These truffles have earned my rave review of a ZOMG! designation. If I ever find myself in Madison again, I will be sure to pay homage to Chef Staley and his little chocolate shop. There are still several varieties of his truffles that I have yet to taste, and I still haven’t had any of his truffles fresh, the way they were meant to be enjoyed.

Category: chocolate, coconut, nuts, review, white chocolate, ZOMG! | 1 Comment »

Mallo Cup

October 5th, 2007 by Rosa

The final chapter of the 1/2 week of “chocolate marshmallow cup type candies” is the Mallo Cup (BUY!).

The Mallo Cup smells intensely of chocolate and coconut. Coconut? It doesn’t advertise coconut on the wrapper, but checking the list of ingredients reveals that the Mallo Cup does, in fact, contain coconut (incidentally, it also contains more corn syrup than sugar. Yikes!). I don’t mind that the coconut is there in the “whipped creme center”, but I think Mallo Cup should display the inclusion of coconut more prominently on the wrapper, as many people don’t like the taste of coconut. My second Mallo Cup went to waste when I happily bestowed it upon a friend to try, promising her that it was tasty. She took one bite and blanched – not a coconut fan.

I found the chocolate of the Mallo Cup way too sweet, and it’s coconut isn’t as nice and toasty as that of the Cup-o-Gold. I managed to finish one, but the sweetness made the thought of eating the second unbearable. The marshmallow filling (really whipped creme, I guess, but it was pretty similar to marshmallow), however, was quite nice, and wasn’t grainy like that of the Valomilk. The texture was perfect – fluffy, foamy, and sticky. The meant it wasn’t as messily oozy as the Valomilk was, though the Mallo Cup did drop little grains of chocolate that got embedded in my jeans.

My favorite part about the Mallo Cup was the inclusion of the cardboard “Play Money” voucher that the cups rested on. It just screams retro/nostalgia candy. Let’s do the math, shall we? If each package of Mallo Cup has 10 points, and 500 points earns you a $1 rebate, and I paid $0.75 at Economy Candy for my pack of Mallo Cups… 500 divided by 10 is 50, times $0.75 is $37.50… So if I spent $37.50, plus tax, on Mallo Cups, I could get a $1 rebate in the mail in 4-6 weeks. So I’m well on my way to becoming a millionaire!

I wonder if anyone bothers to send the “Play Money” in anymore. I also wonder what’s included in the catalog, and I love how you have to send away for it because they don’t have a website.

I’d give these an OM. I may buy them once more, but I think that would be enough Mallo Cup to last me a good while. Guess I’ll never get that $1 rebate.

Category: chocolate, coconut, marshmallow, OM, review | 1 Comment »

Cup-o-Gold

October 4th, 2007 by Rosa

Next on board for the 1/2 week of “chocolate marshmallow cup type candies” is the Cup-o-Gold (BUY!). Unlike the Valomilk, which came two cups per pack, the Cup-o-Gold is one giant cup.

The wrapper promises “creamy milk chocolate, toasted almonds, that hint of coconut, and the signature creamy center.” The chocolate of the Cup-o-Gold has a good snap to it. It’s a super sweet milk chocolate, but the overly sweet taste was redeemed by the promised hint of coconut and almonds that imparted a nice toasty-ness to the chocolate cap.

While I liked the nutty taste, there is such thing as too much of a good thing. There was way too much chocolate and not enough of the creme filling. In fact, there was so little of the creme filling that I couldn’t really taste it, and it was completely overwhelmed by the chocolate and coconut.

I usually don’t like coconut in my candy because I find the texture unpleasant. In the Cup-o-Gold, the last thing you’re left with is little bits of chewy coconut. Yet it works for this cup, possibly because the coconut is too finely chopped to feel funny against my teeth.

I liked this candy and would eat it again. I bought it at Economy Candy in New York City, so it’ll be a while before I get the chance to buy another, which is often enough for me. A tasty OM. OM+, in fact.

Category: chocolate, coconut, marshmallow, nuts, OM, review | Comments Off

Asian candies II

September 24th, 2007 by Rosa

As promised, more Asian candies!

Juice hard candy

I don’t what these guys are actually called – the wrapper just says Juice and has some pictures of fruit on it – but I love them. I realize that’s not very helpful if you want to try to find them yourself, and I apologize. All I remember is that they came in a red bag that was square and rather flat, and I bought it at Asia Market in Austin.

The flavor is difficult to describe; I’d call it a light, citrusy fruit punch that’s the perfect amount of sweet. The texture is perfect, as it’s crunchable and cleaves cleanly if you choose to chomp on it, but it melts beautifully in your mouth if you choose to savor it. Though I’m usually a hard candy chomper, I always try to force myself to savor these because they’re so good, and I usually succeed. An OMG on the ZOMG! scale.

Coco Coll

This coconut milk candy has the look and mouthfeel of a Werther’s Original (BUY!), and it melts and cleaves in the same way. While I have negative to ambivalent feelings towards coconut itself, I love coconut milk, and I love this candy. It’s lightly sweet and milky, with just the hint of coconut essence. Another OMG, if only because it’s managed to undo a lifetime of Mounds induced coconut-candy prejudice. And isn’t the wrapper gorgeous?

Li Hing Sour Patch Kids (BUY!)

These are courtesy of Catherine, my chocolate-hating (!) suitemate from Hawaii, who brought them from, you guessed it, Hawaii. I adore Sour Patch Kids (BUY!), so I was excited to see how the Hawaiian version would stack up.

Visually, the Li Hing version is already at a disadvantage. While regular Sour Patch Kids are bright, glittery, and covered in sugar, these guys are darker and kind of slimy. They’re also not shaped like regular Sour Patch Kids, but I prefer the Li Hing as they make me think of long-haired girls in hula skirts.

The texture is also not that of a real Sour Patch Kid. It’s much too firm, like Dots, and got horribly stuck in my teeth. The Li Hing Hula Girls also aren’t bright and fruity like real Sour Patch Kids, and as far as I can tell, they’re not sour. So basically these candies neither look nor feel nor taste like Sour Patch Kids, which makes me think that the Aloha Gourmet company may be treading on copyright issues, but they seem to be a rather small company, and I certainly don’t want to get them in trouble.

The Li Hing part of the candy is the rather unattractive brown coating (you can kind of see it in first the picture). The taste reminded me of the salty-sweet Asian plum candies my parents love so much, and lo and behold, Wikipedia says that li hing mui is a salty, dried plum (while I speak Mandarin, the name didn’t register because it’s in Cantonese). I don’t mind the li hing taste because I ate it as a kid, but I agree that it’s an acquired taste that not everyone would enjoy.

I think these Li Hing Sour Patch Hula Girls suffer because of the underlying gummi rather than the Li Hing flavor. A quick search shows that other companies seem to make versions using actual Sour Patch Kids, which would probably taste much better and be more texturally pleasing. I like the Li Hing flavor enough to want to try the other kinds of Li Hing coated gummis that I never knew existed. I give these an O for the execution, but I think a version with real Sour Patch Kids or other gummis would warrant an OM. The only logical next step would be to go to Hawaii and taste for myself – for the sake of this blog, of course.

Category: Asian (China, Japan, and Korea), coconut, gummi/gummy, hard candy, O, OMG, review | Comments Off