Archive for the 'nuts' Category

Chocolati Truffles

April 26th, 2013 by Rosa

While I was in Seattle last week for a conference, I stayed an extra day to do some sightseeing, which included a whirl around their awesome Central Library. It had crazy cool architecture, a spiral stacks, and, most importantly for this blog, a Chocolati stand.

The lady running the Chocolati stand was the nicest chocolate seller I’ve ever met. A companion and myself each got a free truffle because it was our first time visiting, and then when I couldn’t decide between which of two truffles that I wanted to buy, she gave me both for the price of one. Thanks, awesome Chocolati lady!

I ended up buying a Cinnamon Almond Aztec, a Pistachio Curry Truffle, and what I think was a Salted Vanilla truffle (my memory may be wrong, and it’s not listed on the website). They were pretty reasonably priced at $1.45 each, and I got three for the price of two.

Cinnamon Almond Aztec was described on the website as, “Milk chocolate couverture and semisweet ganache with almonds, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.” There were visible bits of almonds in the sparkling ganache – the sugar crystals mixed in were visibly light-catching.

It tasted strongly of cinnamon and sugar with a subtly acrid bite to the end. The ganache left a slight grit as it melted away. That combined with the powerful cinnamon flavor and astringency of the finish spoke to just how much cinnamon spice went into this truffle.

While I appreciated the cinnamon flavor, I found the truffle to be too sweet. I also didn’t get any nutty flavors from the almond bits, likely because the cinnamon sweetness was so strong. An O.

Pistachio Curry was “Thai curry mixed with a blend of our 71% dark chocolate and 50% bittersweet chocolate sprinkled with fresh pistachio nuts.” It was definitely a uniquely flavored treat.

The curry spices were right out of Thai takeout. They started off savory and then sweetened as the chocolate asserted itself, and the whole thing finished with just a hint of heat to the end.

Again, I felt this truffle to be too sweet for my taste, and I didn’t taste any nuttiness from the pistachio bits. An A for creativity, but an O for being too sweet.

Finally, what I think was Salted Vanilla was a dark chocolate ganache with a dark chocolate shell and a sprinkle of salt crystals on top. The ganache here was stiff with a fine grain to its texture.

It tasted lightly sweet with a great dry duskiness. The cocoa flavor was intense and was set off with a flash of salt.

This was my favorite of the bunch for its potent chocolate flavor. It was high quality but honestly, a tad boring, so an O.

I wonder if I just chose poorly from the Chocolati assortment? I tried a bite of their chocolate-covered sea salt caramel on site, and that was delicious and well-balanced. Their overall sweeter truffles weren’t as much to my liking. Clearly the best solution is to take another trip to Seattle and eat more truffles.

Category: chocolate, nuts, O, review | 2 Comments »

Guest post: Viba Mandel-nougat

April 24th, 2013 by Neil

Here’s another guest review from ex-pat Neil while I try to catch up from being out of town for most of last week. ~Rosa

Recent trips to Germany & Austria have refilled the never-empty pantry here. I’ve tried the Viba Mandel-nougat which came from one of those countries (sorry, I should take better notes while shopping!)

I was expecting a crunchy single bar from this. Instead, I got 3 mini-logs, each about the size of my thumb, with a flattened, patterened underbelly of the chocolate base. They looked dried out; this was fortunately not the case.

The texture is much softer than I expected. I think if I’d squished and poked any of the pieces before biting in, that would’ve been obvious. The majority of each piece seems to just be slightly hardened nut butter. While the label tells me that it’s almond-based, it never tasted overwhelmingly of almonds, more like halfway between cashews and peanuts.

This was a bit of a disappointment. There’s not a ton of flavor overall, and very little sweetness. It’s almost hard to know that the chocolate is there, except that said base is a bit more rigid than the nut portion. In each piece, I discovered some slightly crunchy bits that were either nuts or crystallized sugar, but more likely the latter.

The Viba Mandel-nougat was not my best find, but I’m sure it was inexpensive, probably less than a Euro or two. I wouldn’t buy it again. If somebody had just handed it to me and not told me it was almond, I would’ve been a bit happier. It wasn’t terrible, though, so I’ll give it a nice basic O.

Category: chocolate, European, guest post, nougat, nuts, O, review | No Comments »

Trader Joe’s Laceys Cookies – Dark Chocolate Almond

April 17th, 2013 by Rosa

Cookies? Why am I reviewing cookies on my candy blog? Because these Laceys Cookies are more or less made out of almond brittle and chocolate, so they’re basically candy. Plus they’re freakin’ delicious.

The Laceys were two rounds of thin almond brittle cookies, about 2.5 inches in diameter, sandwiching a generous layer of bittersweet chocolate. Flour was near the end of the ingredients list, and I really couldn’t tell that there was any flour in these at all in terms of texture or flavor.

The cookie portions were sweet and crisp with a solid crunch. I’d guess that they were about 50% chopped almonds and 50% butter toffee/brittle.

The generous proportion of almonds brought a wonderfully roasted nuttiness, and the cookies finished with a toasted butteriness from the toffee. That toffee cleaved and crumbled without any hint of doughy cookieness.

The bittersweet chocolate center had a great duskiness to it and a light sweetness that didn’t overwhelm the cookies. Instead, it complimented the nutty butteriness of the toffee cookies.

A delicious, quickly disappearing treat – OMG.

Category: chocolate, cookie, nuts, OMG, review, toffee, Trader Joe's | No Comments »

Dark Roca (and other Rocas quick-hit)

April 10th, 2013 by Rosa

Last year at Sweets and Snacks, the Dark Roca won a Most Innovative New Product award. I picked up some samples of the Dark Roca and other Rocas, and like the Albanese Rainforest Gummi Frogs, I just found my tasting notes in an old notepad.

The Dark Roca (second from the left) was a dark version of the classic Almond Roca: a piece of chocolate almond toffee coated in dark chocolate and decorated with a few chocolate squiggles.

The chocolate toffee center was lightly sweet with a buttery finish. It cleaved cleanly but then got a bit chewy and stuck in my molars.

The whole thing had a great cocoa flavor, while whole almonds hidden inside added a lovely nuttiness. The dark chocolate that covered the toffee had a great deep dark chocolate duskiness.

I loved the cocoa depth of this treat – from the dark chocolate coating to the chocolate in the toffee, the whole thing was infused with a great cocoa depth. An OMG.

I also picked up Peppermint Roca (dark chocolate decorated with white stripes; lightly minty against the buttery toffee; an O), a Mocha Rocha (toffee studded with bits of coffee beans that gave it a strong, roasted coffee flavor, also an O), and Roca with different types of nuts (I think cashew and macadamia? Each tasty in their own right). The Dark Roca was easily my favorite of the bunch.

Category: chocolate, nuts, O, OMG, review, toffee | 1 Comment »

Moonstruck Chocolate Bar – Milk Chocolate Sea Salt Toffee

February 18th, 2013 by Rosa

I first came across Moonstruck Chocolate Co. via their truffles. When I saw a selection of their chocolate bars at my local independent theater going for $3.75 (a bit less than their usual price), I snatched up the Milk Chocolate Sea Salt Toffee and the Dark Chocolate Chile Variado to try. I’ll cover the former today and the latter on Wednesday.

The Milk Chocolate Sea Salt Toffee bar was actually milk chocolate with toffee and almond bits. The bar was gorgeously decorated: lightly scored into segments and stamped with stars and the Moonstruck logo in the center.

The bar was surprisingly snappy for a milk bar and broke easily along the scored lines, exposing bits of dark brown toffee and white almond bits. The milk chocolate was lovely, with a rich, creamy caramel flavor.

The crunchy bits of roasted almonds added a great nuttiness and a hint of salt that played off the sweet milk chocolate base. The toffee bits added a crunchy crumble and extra toasted sugar sweetness.

This was one of the best balanced milk chocolate bars that I’ve ever had. The milk chocolate was sweet but not overly so, without any of the throat searing burn that milk chocolate can have, and the inclusions added a contrast of flavor and texture.

I would keep this bar around for snacking purposes. A solid OM.

Category: chocolate, nuts, OM, review, toffee | No Comments »

Perugina’s Baci White

January 28th, 2013 by Rosa

Baci’s big push at Sweets and Snacks 2012 was to promote their new Bacis Whites, which is how I got these free samples. They were basically a white chocolate-covered version of their regular Bacis, which I’ve previously reviewed.

Regular Baci come wrapped in thick white foil with blue stars, while the Baci White were wrapped in thick blue foil with white stars. A bit counterintuitive that the Baci White came in blue, but oh well.

The Baci White was a dome of gianduja paste, which was made of a dry chocolate ganache and chopped hazelnuts. The whole thing was topped with a whole roasted hazelnut and then covered in a creamy white chocolate.

That white chocolate made for a sweeter Baci experience, as it tasted of frosting with vanilla undertones. It was definitely a high quality white chocolate, with a nicely round flavor, but I found it to be too sweet.

The treat was sweet and crunchy and nutty. I loved the roasted nutty experience, but I found that I preferred the regular Baci, which were less sweet and more chocolatey than the White version. An O.

Category: chocolate, European, nuts, O, Perugina, review, white chocolate | No Comments »

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 | No Comments »

Sanders Favorites

January 2nd, 2013 by Rosa

I’ve reviewed a few Sanders treats on this blog already, including some of their individually wrapped Favorites that Duke’s hospital sells in its gift shop. I snagged what I believe is the rest of the line at Sweets and Snacks back in May and tasted them last November (hence the slight bloom on the dark chocolates).

Maple Pecan Butter Cream was the only milk chocolate of the five. That milk chocolate covered a maple-flavored buttercream that was full of chopped pecans.

I found it to be absurdly overly sweet. The sweetness tasted of maple syrup and brown sugar, and holy cow was it overpowering.

A few notes of caramel and cocoa from the chocolate and nuttiness from the pecan bits valiantly struggled to be noticed. If you like pecan (pronounced pee-can, of course, not puh-kahn) pie, you’d like this.

For me, way too sweet. It made my teeth itch.

Dark Chocolate Coconut Supreme was Sanders’ version of a Mounds. It had a thick dark chocolate shell around a dry coconut center.

I appreciated the greater amount of dark chocolate here (oodles more compared to Mounds), as that chocolate had a nicely mild cocoa finish, but I thought the coconut center could’ve used more oomph. It lacked nuttiness and had only a light coconut flavor.

Caramel Butterscotch was a chewy, sticky caramel inside a snappy dark chocolate shell. The caramel was sweet and buttery, and though I didn’t get the candied flavor of butterscotch, exactly, it was a still a nice mix of chocolate and caramel.

Cookies and Cream Cruncher was a disk of “ivory confectioners coating” full of little beads of chocolate cookie. It was certainly crunchy, thanks to the high density of the Oreo-flavored cookies.

The fake white chocolate was throat-burningly sweet. It tasted super artificial, like canned vanilla frosting, and was made of palm kernel oil. Thumbs down.

Finally, Mint Royale was the most strikingly colored of the bunch: a bright pastel green with a dark chocolate cocoa center. It snapped when I bit into it but also had a smooth and creamy melt.

The whole thing reminded me of mint nonpareils but with more chocolate flavor. The mintiness was mild with cocoa undertones – too mild, I thought. For something called a Mint Royale, it really needed to go for broke on the mintiness.

The Caramel Butterscotch is the only one of these that I’d want to buy and eat again, so it gets an OM. The rest were generally too sweet and/or not flavorful enough, so they get Os.

Category: caramel, chocolate, cookie, mint, nuts, O, OM, review | No Comments »

Ferrero Raffaello

December 10th, 2012 by Rosa

I’ve written before how, when I was a kid, Ferrero Rochers were the pinnacle of fine chocolate. These Ferrero Raffaellos are in the same vein as the Rochers, but without those golden wrappers and tiny stickers, it just isn’t the same!

Like Rochers, Raffaellos are spherical wafers filled with ganache and coated with chocolate. The wafer shell was lightly crispy and served as a great foil for the creamy white chocolate center.

The center ganache was sweet and rich with vanilla notes – very frosting-like. There was a blanched whole almond hidden in the center that added a great crunch and nuttiness.

The whole treat was covered with a thin layer of white chocolate and rolled in dried shredded coconut that made a mess. I found the coconut to be disappointing – it was too dry and didn’t add any flavor.

I don’t recommend deconstructing the Raffaellos during the eating process, as the inferior dried coconut really needed the creaminess of the ganache center to balance out its dried out flavorless-ness.

Popping one whole, however, yielded a reasonably tasty mix of flavors and textures, so an O.

Category: coconut, Ferrero, nuts, O, review, white chocolate | No Comments »

Perugina Chocolates – Milk Chocolate with Almonds, Dark Chocolate with Almonds, & Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts

November 12th, 2012 by Rosa

Today I’m reviewing three more of the Perugina bars that I got as free samples at Sweets and Snacks. I’d covered the three plain bars last week; today’s theme is chocolate with nuts.

Milk Chocolate with Almonds was described as “a crunchy almond caramel blend with the delicate flavor of milk chocolate.” Its break was soft, and like the plain milk chocolate bar, tasted of caramel and malt.

The bits of almond within the bar were super tiny. They added some crunch and a hint of nuttiness, but the overall effect of the additional almonds was subtle.

Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts, with the addition of “crunchy caramelized hazelnut pieces”, was similar in flavor and texture to the almond bar, only its nuts added a dryer crunch. I didn’t get the great roasted nuttiness that I expected from the hazelnuts.

Dark Chocolate with Almonds had a strong, sharp snap. The chocolate itself was already crunchy, and the nuts added more crunch and grit.

The dark chocolate base was deliciously complex: strong cocoa flavors with a light fruitiness and notes of coffee. The almonds added a subtle but noticeable roasty nuttiness.

I enjoyed the Dark Chocolate with Almonds enough to give it an OM. As for the milk + nuts bars, they weren’t nutty enough for me, so just an O.

Category: chocolate, European, nuts, O, OM, Perugina, review | No Comments »