Serious Eats has a great interview with Wisconsin chocolatier Gail Ambrosius. I reviewed her chocolates last May and absolutely adored them, so it was nice to hear more about the lady behind the magic.
Come back tomorrow for my review of her new Parisian Praline Collection!
I am the queen of buying things on sale, hence this post on Valentine candy over a month after Valentine’s Day. I bought the Dots in a post-holiday sale, of course!
The box calls them “cherry, vanilla, and passion fruit flavored gumdrops”. They had translucent pink or red tops with white bases. All of them smelled just like red Jello: sweet, artificial, and red!
I like Dots when they’re soft, as these were. Their center was like that of a jelly bean but even softer. I could bite through them quite cleanly, with just a tiny amount of stickiness.
Red tasted slightly of dark red fruit with a medicinal cherry tinge. It was pretty classic artificial cherry flavor. I’m not big on red candies, but these were at least reliable.
Pink had a mild, sugary fruit flavor, with no sourness or passion fruit brightness. While cherry was as expected, passion fruit was a barely-flavored let-down.
The vanilla flavor was in the creamy white bases. It added a creamy undertone to the fruit flavors while also somewhat muting them.
They weren’t bad by any means, but these Valentine Dots were rather boring. At least they got the seasonal coloring correct! An O.
Valentine’s Day was over a month ago, but it’s still not too late to try out this Serious Eats recipe for raspberry liqueur chocolates!
The recipe looks a little complicated – if you start practicing now, they’ll be perfect for your sweetheart for next Valentine’s Day!
I bought two Tom and Sally’s 100% Organic Skinny Bars at a little chocolate shop near the Berkshires in Massachusetts. I tried to look up more about them, but Google seems to think there’s something scary about their website.
First up, a Belgian 41% milk chocolate infused with cocoa nibs. The chocolate was dark for a milk bar and scored into 6 even sections.
It had a weird plasticky, moldy undertone that was rather off-putting. The melt was mostly smooth, except where it was broken up with the crunch of the cocoa nibs.
While I wanted to like this bar for its organic-label, the chocolate was far from scrumptious, thanks to that weird undertone. An O.
The other bar was a Belgian 41% milk chocolate infused with cinnamon and nutmeg.
It smelled amazing! Sweet with the undertone of cinnamon spice. I wanted to mix it into tea and drink it up.
Unfortunately, the heavy spice scent was the result of an overly spiced bar. The strong presence of spices made the chocolate extremely gritty and astringent.
I found it unpalatable and couldn’t manage a second bite. A —.
I bought these Bai Nuo chocolate bars while I was in China last fall. Bai Nuo Foods is located in Shanghai… and that’s about all that I know about them.
The picture of the treat on the wrapper is absolutely luscious: a dripping liquid chocolate center surrounded by a crispy cookie/wafer roll, all covered in chocolate with rice crisps and/or peanuts.
The reality? Well, see for yourself:
Not quite as appetizing as the wrapper photo but still not bad. My chocolate center had solidified and the roll of cookie wafer wasn’t as visible, but the rice crisp-studded chocolate shell looked good.
The roll had a great crunch when bitten into. It was dry and crispy with an undertone of nutty peanut butter toastiness.
The chocolate flavor was understated throughout. I think this confection was all about the crisp and crunch. I enjoyed it, though it was a tad too dry for my taste. An OM.
Did you know that this week (March 20-26) is American Chocolate Week? To help us celebrate, the National Confectioners Association (NCA) is sponsoring a giveaway on ZOMG, Candy!*
They’ve just launched a new website, which looks like a good resource to learn more about how chocolate is made, where it comes from, and how to savor it. The website is called The Story of Chocolate, so this giveaway is all about your chocolate story.
To enter, leave a comment about your personal chocolate story, whether it be a chocolate memory, a family recipe that uses chocolate, or just an ode to your favorite chocolate. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a Chocolate Gift Pack from the NCA’s Chocolate Council (example above; actual assortment may vary slightly).
Only US readers are eligible to win. Make sure you leave a valid email address in the form, where only I can see it, NOT in the content of the comment, where anyone, including spammers, can see it. Entries close at 11:59 PM EST on Friday, April 1. Good luck!
*Note: I have received no monetary compensation for this post. The NCA has supplied me with my own Chocolate Gift Pack for future review.
Edit: This contest is now closed. Congratulations to Jen!
I bought this Vosges Bapchi’s Caramel Toffee Bar along with the Organic Enchanted Mushroom that I reviewed on Monday. It’s made of 45% deep milk chocolate, sweet butter toffee, walnuts, and pecans.
The first, immediately noticeable thing about this bar was the toffee. Holy cow was it delicious!
The toffee cleaved cleanly with a great, satisfying crunch. It tasted deep and scorched with a light hint of saltiness that really highlighted the sweetness of the toffee and chocolate.
The chocolate was thick with caramel notes. There was a light nuttiness from the walnuts and pecans that was sparsely distributed. The nuts weren’t in every bite, but their presence, when it was there, was appreciated.
If my boyfriend hadn’t been sitting next to me while I tasted this bar, I would’ve polished off the whole thing on my own. Instead, I had to share it – and the two of us polished it off within minutes.
The combination of sweet and salty crunchy toffee and dusky, thick milk chocolate was irresistible. A ZOMG!
Oh David Lebovitz, I love your blog so much, but I hate how it makes me want to frivolously empty my savings account, jet to Paris, and eat everything in sight. If I ever make it back there, I’m totally hitting up Un Dimanche à Paris. David made it sound too delectable to skip.
It’s not every day that you run into chocolate with mushrooms, so I just had to pick up this Vosges Organic Enchanted Mushroom. Even if it did cost a bit more than regular Vosges bars (already expensive) because of its organic-ness.
This bar was comprised of Reishi mushrooms, walnuts, and 66% dark chocolate. Its texture was lightly gritty, which I attributed to the Reishi mushroom powder. I didn’t notice any textural contribution from the walnuts, though they did add a light nuttiness.
The chocolate tasted dark and woodsy with a strong fruitiness and a lightly astringent finish. I got strong flavors of sweet, genuine, Ceylon cinnamon, though it wasn’t in the ingredients list.
It was unusual and interesting but not tasty enough for me to want to buy it again. An O.
After writing about the illegality of Kinder Surprises, I realized that I should review them. If customs asks, all Kinder Surprise consumption for the sake of this review was conducted outside of U.S. borders.
The Kinder Surprise was a thin-shelled hollow egg. Inside the egg was a sealed yellow cylinder containing a toy. That combination of toy and food is what makes them illegal in the U.S.
The chocolate managed to squeeze two layers into its thinness. The outside was milk while the inside was white.
The chocolate had a thick melt with a dusky, sweet finish that had a bit of fruitiness. It was a bit too sweet for my taste, but the chocolate was so thin that there wasn’t enough of it to be overwhelming.
The chocolate was unexceptional and gets an O. But really, no one buys Kinder Surprise for the actual candy. It’s all about the toy – check out surfing Daffy Duck up there! And remember, don’t eat that toy!