Archive for the 'white chocolate' Category

Whitman’s Soho

March 28th, 2008 by Rosa

I usually don’t finish the candy that I taste. Instead, I take a few bites and pass the rest on to friends, many of whom are happy to try my candy cast-offs even when my bite marks are on it. They’ll even polish off candy that I personally hated, so I almost never throw anything away. Note the “almost.” I found the Whitman’s Soho chocolates to be too terrible to inflict on my friends and tossed them after I tasted them. Individual, half-eaten chocolates aren’t that great for sharing in the first place, but I’ve done it before when the chocolates’ tastiness overrode the unappealing look of a chocolate with a bite missing. There was no redeeming the Soho line.

The “artist inspired” chocolates come in an attractive box, are prettily decorated, and have fancy sounding flavors: pear praline, sea salt caramel, madagascar vanilla brulee, pistachio nougat, cacao truffle, and raspberry ganache. Unfortunately, they all taste like blech.

The raspberry ganache, which I believe is the round dark chocolate one with the pretty gold swirls on top, had a creamy “ganache” that was way too sweet and tasted super artificial. I put ganache in quotation marks because the texture was that of a cream. I guess they called it a ganache because that sounds fancier.

The milk chocolate rectangle was pistachio nougat. It had absolutely no pistachio flavor, so I only managed to tell because it had little pieces of pistachio in it. A marvel of chocolate engineering. It just tasted generically sweet.

The milk chocolate square was the sea salt caramel, and the only one I managed to finish because it’s hard to make a terrible caramel. It is, however, easy to make a mediocre caramel, which was what this was: blandly sweet and chewy, with no saltiness, no butter or toffee notes, no anything.

I like my notes for the one with the white rounded top: “lemon – sharp acerbic lemon taste with horrific artificial aftertaste. Started out nice but EEK! Run away!” As you can see, there is no lemon flavored one, so I think it’s the pear praline.

The other flavor I was uncertain of was the dark chocolate rectangle. It was sweet and fruity with a slightly smoother, more flowy center than the others. I think it may be the Madagascar vanilla brulee. This one was okay, in that it was inoffensive.

And last but not least, the white, round chocolate with the flat top was the cacao truffle. Another inoffensively boring chocolate with a dry ganache and a slightly fruitiness to the filling that’s probably due to flavor mixing in the box.

I bought these for half off right after Valentine’s Day, and I still want a refund. I think we can extrapolate my notes from the pear praline and give the box a hearty EEK! Run away! They get an A+ for packing but an O (for offensive) for taste.

(Edit 10/25/09: Since my rating system’s changed, these now get a . But then I lose the lame joke…)

Category: --, caramel, chocolate, review, white chocolate, Whitman's | 8 Comments »

Michel Cluizel Truffles from Viva Chocolato

February 22nd, 2008 by Rosa

I saw a box of Michel Cluizel’s Champignon truffles at Cafe Moka in the Houston airport but didn’t buy them because they were so pricey. It was a choice I regretted. Thankfully, Viva Chocolato opened in Austin, and they carry lots of truffles by Michel Cluizel, including Les Champignons. Hooray! I bought one of the Champignons and a 99 Cacaoforte (the first and fourth in the lineup).

Les Champignons (French for The Mushrooms, by the way) are gorgeous and adorable. The cap is made of chocolate and filled with a crunchy toffee-like almond nougatine. It’s sweet and delicious. The stem is made of a soft, sticky, and super chewy caramel surrounded by white and dark chocolate. The caramel itself is not terribly sweet and instead tastes strongly of butter. They get an enthusiastic OMG, with a letter off for being so pricey.

I was nervous about trying the 99 Cacaoforte because they are made of 99% cacao. I’ve tasted a 100% cacao bar from La Maison du Chocolat (it was bitter, creamy, and good, but I could only handle a tiny bit at a time), and I’ve eaten raw cacao nibs before. Neither were entirely pleasant tasting adventures, so I was afraid the 99 Cacaoforte would be too much for my palate to handle.

The truffle was super dark, of course, but surprisingly enough, I didn’t find it bitter at all. It certainly wasn’t sweet, but it was far more palatable than the pure cacao I’ve tasted. The ganache was super smooth, thick, and almost paste-like. It had no grain, but it wasn’t exactly creamy, probably because there should be no milk or cream added to the ganache. It tasted of smooth, pure cacao, and it was splendid. I found it sophisticated, intense, and ZOMG!-worthy. Next time I come across one of these, I’m definitely splurging again, as it’s worth every penny.

Edit: According to Sera, I was misinformed about the nature of the Cacaoforte. The enrobing is 99% Cacao, but the filling is a ganache made with the 99%, meaning that there is cream in there.

Category: caramel, chocolate, European, Michel Cluizel, OMG, review, white chocolate, ZOMG! | 3 Comments »

Choxie Key Lime Pie Truffle Bar

January 18th, 2008 by Rosa

Choxie is Target’s house brand of chocolate. While Target purports to sell stylish clothes for less, Choxie promises fancy chocolate for cheap. The back of the box sums up their philosophy nicely: “crafted with the finest and purest ingredients, it’s intended for the most sophisticated of chocolate palates. we suggest you keep it hidden from mere amateurs.” Sorry, Choxie, but you can’t fool me with your fake trendiness and refusal to use capital letters. But I do like the bright and vaguely retro packaging. Great color scheme!

The key lime pie truffle bar is “key lime-flavored white chocolate and graham biscotti bits enrobed in dark chocolate.” What I got was a way too sweet bar with a strong limey finish. I swear I tasted grains of sugar in the filling along with the scattered chunks of graham cracker.

The graham “biscotti” (I guess that’s fancier-sounding than graham cracker) bits were just crumbs. I think the bar could have benefited from slightly larger bits of the graham to make the texture more interesting and to balance out the sweet white chocolate.

The filling was too sugary, and the dark chocolate enrobing was too bland or too weak to balance it out. My bar had bloomed, which was unfortunate, and it gave the chocolate a greasy feel and an unappetizing look (though bloomed chocolate is perfectly safe to eat). The dark chocolate didn’t have a great melt – it was nowhere near as smooth or as creamy as the Dagoba and Theo bars – and the snap was rather weak and brittle.

Some of my friends liked the flavor combination (many of them thought it was lemon) but found fault with the texture. Others were not fans of the citrus addition and thought it was too weird. It did fairly well in the taste ratings: 9th place out of 13 with a score 3.17/5, placing it higher than many fancier, more expensive bars. From me, an O. I may have been too hard on Choxie because I was tasting it alongside other, nicer bars, so I haven’t completely written off the brand yet. I’d like to try some of their other truffle bars and see if they can redeem themselves.

Category: chocolate, Choxie, cookie, O, received as gift, review, white chocolate | 4 Comments »

Hebert’s Fully Loaded – Rocky Road

December 19th, 2007 by Rosa

Bar number 2 from the Hebert’s Fully Loaded lineup. The Rocky Road boasts “Rich Milk CHOCOLATE with Walnuts, Dark Chocolate & Marshmallow Pieces.” Thank goodness the wrapper for this one is less frenetic than that of the Dark Turtle.

Walnuts were a much better choice for a Fully Loaded bar than the pecan pralines of the Dark Turtle. While the sugary pralines overpowered the chocolate, the walnuts nicely complemented the sweet milk chocolate with their bland nuttiness and added a good textural mix.

The dark chocolate bits didn’t distinguish themselves in any way, and I didn’t make any note of marshmallow pieces in my blind tasting notes. Alicia tasted this bar and said that the marshmallow pieces were actually white chocolate. The milk chocolate base was pretty good quality, though nothing standout or exceptional. It actually came out of the wrapper looking pretty greasy but didn’t taste that way (thank goodness).

Like the other Hebert’s bar, I can see why this would be appealing, but again, it just doesn’t do anything for me. I just find it too busy, like it’s trying too hard. Another OM from me, another high rating from my friends: second place with a 3.86/5. I have two Hebert’s bars (Dark Apple Cider and Dark Margarita Lime) that I picked up after my chocolate party. I think they may be truffle bars, and I’m excited to taste them.

Category: chocolate, Hebert's, marshmallow, nuts, OM, review, white chocolate | No Comments »

That Popcorn Place Decadent Gourmet Popcorn

November 23rd, 2007 by Rosa

Earlier this week, my friend Cassie took me to That Popcorn Place on the downtown Drag near UT. What a wonderful food find! They’ve got dozens and dozens of flavors of popcorn, from the savory (ranch, cajun, sour cream and onion, bacon and cheese) to the candied (caramel, vanilla, orange) to the decadent gourmet (s’mores, cookies and cream, dark chocolate), and oh man are they good!

In accordance with Austin’s Keep Austin Weird philosophy, That Popcorn Place is a literal mom and pop operation. Mark, the “Pop” of the business, was in the shop when we stopped by, and he’s the most gregarious proprietor I’ve ever had the pleasure to come across. He gladly answered all of my questions about the shop and the popcorn and was incredibly generous with the free samples (the portions of which were also generous). In fact, I had to stop him from bringing out even more flavors for us to try because I couldn’t finish it all. I think if we had asked, he would have let me taste every one of his 50+ flavors. Believe me, I felt bad about turning down free samples and leaving popcorn behind on the counter.

I walked out with a small sized (about 9 cups) mix of some of their savory flavors (ranch, loaded potato, and cajun) and a snack sized (about 3 cups) bag of three of their decadent gourmet flavors: s’mores, dark chocolate, and cinnamon roll. Each bag was only $4.50 (the decadent gourmet is more expensive because it’s loaded with chocolate), a popcorn steal. For the record, the snack sized bag was packed full to the brim when I bought it; I ate a bunch on the way home because I just couldn’t resist.

As you can probably guess, I absolutely loved the decadent gourmet popcorn. I tried the cookies and cream (vanilla popcorn tumbled with oreo pieces) in the store and didn’t like it enough to buy it, but even that was good enough for me to polish off my handful of free sample. I ended up choosing cinnamon roll because Mark said that was his favorite and the one he was most proud of, s’mores because the three other customers in the store at the time ordered it, so we figured it had to be good, and dark because Cassie wanted to try it. Mark was wonderful about letting us mix flavors in the bag, so don’t be afraid to ask for that if you’re able to visit them in person. And if you order online, it couldn’t hurt to try and ask for that same accommodation. Or you could just buy a bag of each flavor – it’s worth it!

The cinnamon roll is their caramel bliss popcorn with a hint of cinnamon and drizzled in white chocolate. It has just the right touch of cinnamon – strong enough to make its presence known but not so strong that it overpowers the caramel. The white chocolate is a great evocation of cinnamon roll icing, and it’s good quality chocolate too. The caramel layer is perfect – thick enough to get stuck in your teeth a little, but no so thick that it stays stuck there. The thinness of the caramel layer also gives the popcorn a little bit of a chew and a crunch without making it difficult to bite down, like some other caramel popcorn gets.

The s’mores was their caramel popcorn plus mini marshmallows, graham cracker crumbs, and a heavy drizzle of milk chocolate. At first I thought the mini marshmallows were just bits of white chocolate, but nope, actual marshmallow bits. The texture was dry and almost styrofoamy, but the pieces were too tiny for the texture to be noticeable unless you very carefully nibbled apart a marshmallow bit on its own, and the marshmallow taste was spot on. I couldn’t really taste the graham cracker crumbs through the heavy chocolate coating, but every once in a while I’d get a large piece of cracker, and then I could taste it. It couldn’t hurt for them to use larger bits of graham cracker. Finally, the milk chocolate was really good – sweet, smooth, and creamy. I wish I’d thought to ask Mark what brand of chocolate they used.

We asked Mark to throw in just a few pieces of dark, and I didn’t really notice any in our bag. I think that’s because the milk chocolate of the s’mores was so nice that it approaches what some companies try to pass off as dark, because the sweetness of the caramel probably undid the lower sugar content of dark chocolate’s flavor, and because I tore through my bag of popcorn pretty quickly. An enthusiastic ZOMG!!! for the lot. Extra exclamation points for top notch customer service.

I hope That Popcorn Place will be open on Saturday so I can buy more to bring back to New Haven with me. If not, they’ll be one of the first places I visit when I’m home for winter break. They also offer online ordering, though it means missing out on the in store experience! I may resort to that if I need a popcorn fix in the spring semester. The shipping and handling gets a little pricey, but the popcorn is so well-priced that I think I could afford the splurge. They also have cute gift tin options, and I personally would be delighted to receive this popcorn as a gift.

In case you’re wondering, the savory flavors were incredibly, ZOMG!-worthily delicious too. I won’t write about them here because they’re not candy-related, but they’re gooooood, and you should buy some. I especially like the cajun, and the dill pickle is weirdly intriguing.

Category: caramel, chocolate, marshmallow, not candy, review, white chocolate, ZOMG! | 1 Comment »

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 »

M&M’s Pirate Pearls

September 6th, 2007 by Rosa

I’m super late to the game on this one, but oh well. I picked up these M&M’s Pirate Pearls (BUY) at a local dollar store. They were released to promote the Pirates of the Caribbean movie that came out back in May, so they’ve of course been relegated to dollar stores and the like.

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I enjoy white chocolate even less than I do milk chocolate. I just don’t understand why it can be called chocolate if it’s flavored with vanilla and has no cocoa solids (thanks, Wikipedia). And, of course, it’s on the cloying side of sweet.

The packaging on the Pirate Pearls was uninspiring, but I can’t be too critical because Johnny Depp/Captain Jack Sparrow is the main attraction, and ARRR! he be attractin’ alright! I also like the cute little pirate insipred designs on the M&M’s themselves. Way to go, Mars, for doing more than just changing the wrapper and the M&Ms’ colors. I appreciate that extra mile. Finally, the bag is slightly smaller than your standard bag of M&M’s, I guess because it’s a novelty tie-in product, so Mars figured they could get away with selling smaller portions.

As far as taste goes, the M&M’s Pirate Pearls were okay. They’re just like milk chocolate M&M’s size-wise and shell-to-chocolate ratio-wise, only they’re made of a sweet white chocolate instead. I managed about a half dozen or so before I’d reached my white chocolate limit. These would be good in trail mix or something along those lines, where there’s something salty to mitigate the cloying. If you’re a white chocolate fan (do those exist?), you’ll like these a lot.

If I see these again, I might consider buying another package to stash away as a collector’s item, but probably not. If they stuck Orlando Bloom on the wrapper, however, I could be persuaded to reconsider.

Category: M&M's, Mars, novelty, O, review, white chocolate | No Comments »