Vosges Habana

This little half ounce Vosges Habana bar was an A Southern Season find. These tiny bar formats are a nice size for a candy blogger on a budget – I get enough to get a taste, and while $3.25 is a lot for such a little bar, it’s still cheaper than their full-sized versions.

The Habana was “made with organic milk chocolate” and plantain chips. That chocolate was 45% cacao, so pretty high for a milk chocolate.

That “deep milk chocolate” had a thick melt. It was on the sweet side, with a light hint of cocoa powder flavor. The chocolate flavor was pretty pure, with no caramel notes.

The plantain chips were dispersed throughout the bar in small bits. They added a light crunch and the salty toasty starchiness of fried plantain chips.

This bar finished with a strong saltiness that danced on the delicious edge of being too salty. It makes me want to dip plantain chips in chocolate for a sweet and salty snack.

While it wasn’t quite as “ethereal” as the bar’s molding promised, it was a great mix of sweet and salty flavors and soft and crunchy textures. An OM.

Vosges Smoke and Stout Caramel Bar

I’m slowly tasting my way through Vosges’s many different bars – slowly because they run about $10 for each 3 oz bar. The Smoke & Stout Caramel Bar was comprised of “Rogue Ale’s chocolate stout beer, alderwood smoked salt, burnt sugar caramel” and 70% dark chocolate.

Like all of Vosges’s full-sized bars (at least the one’s that I’ve had), this was segmented into 8 squares, each etched with either “Vosges Haut Chocolat” or a cartoon girl. And like all of their caramel bars that I’ve had, each of those squares was filled with an oozy caramel.

Unfortunately, the bar didn’t easily split along its segments. More often, it broke open across the squares, releasing an oil slick of caramel. It was pretty to look at but left a sticky mess to deal with.

The caramel here was really unusual looking. It was completely opaque and so dark it was nearly black. It was liquid and flowy with no chew or pull.

It tasted sweet and smoky with a wheaty beery note from the ale. There was a salty hit to the end. There were no burnt sugar notes that I could detect – they all got swallowed up in the caramel’s sugary sweetness.

The dark chocolate was sweet and softer/less snappy than I would’ve expected for a 70%. It was thick and dark with a nice cocoa depth.

As a whole, the bar was too sweet for me. After a few bites, my throat began to burn.

I took more bites than I normally would have because of the messiness factor – I wanted to leave only sealed squares without exposed caramel, but as I nibbled, it kept splitting open and spilling more caramel.

The bar was nice enough, but at its price point, I expected more toffee notes and less mess. It had so much mess! An O.

Vosges Black Salt Caramel Bar

I picked up this Vosges Black Salt Caramel Bar at Cost Plus World Market, one of my favorite new candy sources. It contained “black Hawaiian sea salt, burnt sugar caramel”, and a 70% dark chocolate.

Like their Blood Orange Caramel Bar, the caramel here was oozy and runny. It definitely made the bar messier, but goodness did it have an intoxicating mouthfeel! The caramel sat limpidly on my tongue and was velvety in texture.

The caramel in this bar was extremely buttery with just a hint of saltiness and a nice smokiness. It paired quite nicely with the dark chocolate.

The chocolate here was divine, as expected from Vosges: it was super dark with a sharp snap and a smooth, matte melt. It tasted lightly smoky and dusky.

The combination of caramel and chocolate was addictively sweet and salty. For me, though, the caramel made this just a hair too sweet in the finish. An OM.

Vosges Blood Orange Caramel Bar

You can always count on Vosges to come up with something unique and intriguing. This Blood Orange Caramel Bar boasts hibiscus flowers, blood orange caramel, Campari, and dark chocolate (70% cacao).

This bar was comprised of a thin, chocolate shell filled with a liquid, limpidly oozing caramel. All of the flavorings resided in the caramel rather than in the chocolate.

The chococolate itself was quite fabulous. It had lovely, dusky cocoa notes, like chocolate distilled to its essence. The texture of the chocolate was exquisite as well – the melt was velvety smooth.

I’ve never been big on flower-flavored things, so I was feeling iffy about the hibiscus flowers. Fortunately for my taste, I couldn’t really detect their presence in the caramel.

Instead, the caramel tasted strongly of orange zest. It tasted like orange oil smells. There was a strong bitterness as well, which I attributed to the addition of the Campari.

The caramel had a brightly sweet finish, so sweet that it made my throat burn. For me, that was the only downside to the bar.

Otherwise, it was a nicely complex take on the usual orange and chocolate combination. An OM.

Vosges Bapchi’s Caramel Toffee Bar

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!

Vosges Organic Enchanted Mushroom

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.

Vosges Gingerbread Toffee

I have a soft spot for Vosges Chocolates and have reviewed them often in the past. They’re usually beyond my regular budget, but this Gingerbread Toffee bar was on sale after the holidays. Vosges at half off? I couldn’t resist!

The bar was described as gingerbread spiced toffee, dark chocolate, and 65% cacao. The box’s front had some nice glamor shots of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. All the spices that you need for gingerbread!

The bar smells deeply of cocoa with a light spiciness around the edges. The chocolate has nice spice notes, mostly of ginger with just a hint of nutmeg.

Bits of toffee are sprinkled throughout the bar. They are the best part of the whole thing! They’ve got a light, dry, brittle crunchiness with no stickiness that contrasts nicely with the smooth melt of the chocolate. And flavor-wise, they add awesome scorched flavors of toffee.

The chocolate itself has a light, coffee-scented burnt finish with a deep cocoa duskiness. I do believe there are sprinkles of sea salt in the bar as well, which add flashes of flavor intensity.

This bar was perfectly balanced in every way. It was a great mix of flavors and textures. An enthusiastic ZOMG!

Vosges Naga Bar

I’ve reviewed Vosges several times on this blog now, so it’s no secret that I love the brand but wish that it were more affordable. Then again, I guess it would be less special if it weren’t a splurge.

The Naga Bar, comprised of “sweet Indian curry powder, coconut flakes, and deep milk chocolate, 41% cacao,” is certainly special, thanks to its unique combination of ingredients. The blurb on the back boasts, “named and inspired by the tribes of Northeast India, taste the flavors of toasted milk, sweet Indian curry, nutty coconut, and an overall sensation of warm, rounded spice.”

Like all the Vosges bars in my mini library, this bar came sealed inside a silver bag inside the above box, which did its duty of preserving each bar’s flavors and preventing flavor mixing. Visually, the bar is quite pretty with all those abstract curves in its molding. The bar has a strong curry smell and a softish snap (it is milk chocolate, after all). There’s a slight graininess in the chocolate due to the coconut flakes, which are tiny and thin but still visually noticeable.

The curry flavor is definitely present, though it doesn’t taste as strongly as it smells. The coconut flakes pair well with the curry. I don’t know about the word “warm” to describe the spices, as I associate “warm” with the heat of chili spiciness, but I do get an overall mellow spice feel. It reminds me of Thai coconut curry.

Finally, the milk chocolate was on the sweet side but not overly so. I’d give this bar an OM. It’s nice, and I highly recommend it for the unique novelty factor, but it’s not a bar I would revisit for snacking purposes.

Calhoun College Chocolate Tasting Notes, Round II

After the success of my first chocolate tasting (notes here), I held a second one with the extra bars. Unfortunately, by the time the second tasting rolled around, most of the bars had bloomed thanks to New Haven humidity and temperature fluctuations and a lack of air conditioning. The Vosges chocolate bars were the only ones that survived because their wrappers are airtight. We tasted them anyway, and all the flavors were there; it’s just that the textures were all wrong. Sadness. Here’s what we tasted, with my notes:

  • Green and Black’s milk, 34% – sweet, yogurty flavor; tastes like a Cadbury mini-egg. Thick texture.
  • Dagoba milk, 37% – slightly fruitier than the Green and Black’s with a dusky finish.
  • Vosges Macha (Japanese macha green tea in 41% deep milk) – woodsy dirt flavor, brittle texture. Tastes like green tea, as it should. I don’t like the taste of green tea, but if you do, this bar is true to its name.
  • Vosges Woolloomooloo (roasted and salted macadamia nuts, Indonesian coconut, hemp seeds in 41% deep chocolate) – I’ve reviewed the truffle version of this bar. Nicely nutty, smells of coconut.
  • Vosges Goji (Tibetan goji berries, pink Himalayan salt in 41% deep milk) – fruitiness to the bar; goji berries just taste like red berries. Saltiness works, I think.
  • Vosges Mo’s Bacon Bar (applewood smoked bacon, alderwood smoked salt in 41% deep milk chocolate) – I bought another one of these bars because it’s such a great conversation piece for tastings.
  • Chocolove dark chocolate, 55% – nuttiness to the flavor, which starts off sweet and has a long finish. Vanilla notes? Thick texture.
  • Nirvana Single Origin Granada, 60% – fairly straightforward cocoa flavor with a strong roasted taste.
  • Scharffen Berger 62% semisweet – fruity notes, sweet finish

  • Vosges Calindia (Indian green cardamom, organic California walnuts, dried plums in 65% Venezualan dark chocolate) – strong spice flavor. Can taste the sweetness of the plums and feel where it adds texture.
  • Nirvana Single Origin Santa Domingo, 67% – strong earthiness, dirt flavor. Not at all well received (the wrapper promised herbal tones, which must have been the dirt flavor people complained about).
  • Green and Black’s Maya Gold (orange and spices) – on first taste, strong notes of pepper with a light orange finish. On second taste, orange flavor stronger. Many people said the bar tasted like marmalade.
  • Scharffen Berger 70% bittersweet – super fruity with a cocoa finish
  • Dagoba Conacado, 73% – nutty
  • Dagoba New Moon, 74% – sweeter than the Conacado with a dark fruitiness
  • Dagoba Xocolatl, 74% with chilies and nibs – slight fruitiness to the chocolate. STRONG chili flavor that wallops your taste buds on first impact. Not the way I like my chili chocolate.
  • Endangered Species 88% Extreme Dark (panther) – vanilla scent with a nice smoky flavor.
  • Ghirardelli 100% baking chocolate – completely dries up the mouth. Worse than the 100% La Maison du Chocolat bar.

Vosges Truffles

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.