Jelina Chocolatier – Espresso

Last year at the Sweets and Snacks Expo, I picked up two chocolate bars from Jelina Chocolatier, a Canadian chocolate company that was looking for a U.S. distributor. I loved those two bars and gave them high marks and kept hoping they’d make their way to the U.S. market. Unfortunately, they’re still looking for a U.S. distributor, so I’ll just have to keep hoping.

I saw Jelina again at this year’s Expo and was lavished with a few more free samples. I’ll cover the Espresso bar today and their Fleur de Sel on Friday.

Like all of their bars, the Espresso was organic and came rustically packaged in a simple cardboard box. I liked the little line drawing of the stovetop coffeepot that decorated it.

Inside, the chocolate bar came sealed in a separate silver package and was segmented into 15 striated rectangles. The bar’s texture was dry and thickly gritty, like Taza Chocolate or Mexican-style chocolate. You can see the grit in the photo below.

The chocolate tasted incredibly intensely of roasted coffee beans. Somehow, they managed to capture all the flavor of coffee while minimizing its bitterness. The bitterness was there but barely noticeable.

This was a perfectly balanced bar with just the right mix of sweet chocolate and robust coffee. An OMG.

See’s Assorted Chocolates Week 2 – Day 1

Back in 2009, I devoted a whole week to See’s Chocolates as I reviewed an assorted box that they sent me. This week will be another week of See’s Chocolates reviews, only this time, I’ll be reviewing a box that I bought and picked out myself in Seattle.

Today, I’ll go through the four Truffles that I bought. First up, the trademarked See’s Apple Pie Truffle, which they describe as rich buttercream with Granny Smith apples and cinnamon. This was a vaguely heart-shaped white chocolate truffle with a light brown center filling.

The white chocolate coating was sweet and took a backseat to the filling, which was quite the standout. It was extremely bright and fruity with a spot-on apple pie-filling flavor.

It tasted intensely of sweet cooked apples with just a smidge of cinnamon. I swear there was also some notes of toasted crust as well, or at least the crust of McDonald’s apple pie. It was basically a slice of apple pie distilled into a truffle. OM.

Almond Truffle was “rich dark chocolate buttercream with ground almonds”. It was a soft square of chocolate ganache covered in little bits of almond that were bound together with some white chocolate-looking butter thing.

The ganache center was sweet with a mild cocoa flavor, while the almonds in the coating were roasted and nutty. While the almonds were nice, I found them to be too tannic. They sapped all the moisture out of my mouth, so just an O.

Cafe au Lait Truffle was simply described as “rich coffee buttercream”. It had a milk chocolate coating with dark chocolate stripes for contrast.

The texture of the golden brown buttercream center was lovely – solid yet lightly fluffy. Its flavor started off strong with mocha coffee notes, lightly bitter but overall sweet, and the milk chocolate added a great caramel finish. OM.

And last for today, the Dark Chocolate Chip Truffle, “rich chocolate buttercream with chocolate chips”. This buttercream held its shape as I bit into the treat but then melted away on the tongue.

I didn’t notice any extra chocolate chips in that ganache; the texture was perfectly smooth.

It had an incredibly intense semisweet chocolate flavor which was redoubled by the dark chocolate shell. The chocolate didn’t have a terribly nuanced flavor profile, but it was deep and it was good. An OM.

Back on Wednesday and Friday with more See’s!

Perugina Chocolates – Cappuccino and White Chocolate

Finally! I’ve made it to the last 2 (of 8) Perugina bars that were generously given to me as free samples at Sweets and Snacks. Last Friday, I covered the “plain” chocolate bars, Monday was chocolate with nuts, and today are the last two, Cappuccino and White Chocolate.

Cappuccino was “crunchy grains of coffee enveloped in milk chocolate.” The subtitle called it “milk chocolate with cappuccino crispy,” so I thought maybe it would be full of cappuccino rice crisps.

Visually, it was obvious to tell that the bar was full of stuff, as its bottom was all bumpy. Somehow, though, that didn’t translate to its texture.

I didn’t feel any crunch; just a tiny amount of subtle starchy grit remained on my tongue after the thick and creamy chocolate melted away, and I was really working to try to find it. I guess the crispies just got dissolved in the chocolate?

The cappuccino bar smelled and tasted strongly of coffee. I had high expectations for a coffee-flavored chocolate bar from Italy, but alas, I found it to be too sweet. More Mocha Frappuccino than fine Italian espresso.

The White Chocolate bar boasted that it was “enhanced by the delicacy of natural vanilla flavor.” The ingredients list was just sugar, milk, cocoa butter, whey, and less than 1% soy lecithin and natural vanilla flavor.

That’s impressively sparse – note the lack of palm oil or any other non cocoa-butter fat.

It had a light snap with a thickly creamy melt. It started off sweet, sweet enough to bring a tiny tinge to my throat, then took on a rotund fruitiness before finishing with a vanilla scent.

Both of these bars were enjoyable enough in small doses (half a square or less) but quickly become too sweet for me. I wouldn’t turn to them for regular snacking, but the remainder of these bars are going to make my next batch of cookies taste awesome. An O.

See’s Cafe Latte Krispy and Mint Krispy

Happy Friday the 13th! Great time to wrap up a week of See’s reviews (see Monday and Wednesday for previous reviews this See’s week).

I got today’s candies the best possible way: the mall See’s stand had a little basket of individually wrapped candies by the register, and the owner told me to help myself to as many as I wanted. I nabbed a Cafe Latte Krispy and Mint Krispy, along with a Butterscotch Square and Dark Butterchew.

Both pieces were squares of flavored toffee covered with a thin layer of chocolate. The Cafe Latte Krispy was a golden brown coffee toffee hidden in milk chocolate.

The toffee chip cleaved into shards with a great crunch. It had a bit of a tendency to gather as grit in my molars but mostly melted on my tongue.

The thin milk chocolate coating melted thickly and tasted of malt and caramel. The toffee had a nice coffee flavor without any bitterness. Combined with the chocolate, it had a nice mocha frappucino effect.

The toffee crispness kept the whole treat feeling light. It was a nice mix of texture and flavor and OM-worthy.

The Mint Krispy was a white mint toffee covered in dark chocolate. The texture of the mint toffee was the same as that of the Cafe Latte: light and crisp.

The minty center was powerful in flavor and scent. It tasted strongly of peppermint oil and was nearly spicy in how it set my mouth a-tingling, with just a hint of bitterness to the finish.

The strength of that mintiness overpowered the dark chocolate, which came through as just a hint of cocoa flavor undertone. I enjoyed the treat but it was too minty. An O.

See’s has long been one of my favorite confectioners for good reason. They make delicious treats at reasonable price points, and they may be enough impetus to get me back to the mall more than once every six months.

Javaz Dark

Here’s the second of the two bags of Javaz that I found at Cost Plus World Market. I reviewed the milk ones on Wednesday, and today’s review is of the dark version.

As I noted on Wednesday, Javaz are chocolate covered coffee beans that are then covered with a shiny sugar shell. The milk ones were lovely, and the dark ones even more so.

With their deep obsidian shells lightly flecked with bits of white, they could be little marble pebbles. Just check out that lovely sheen!

Thankfully, they’re much more edible than actual pebbles. The dark chocolate was a bit stiffer than the softer milk chocolate. Otherwise, the textural combination of sugar shell crunch and coffee grit was similar to that of the milk Javaz.

The chocolate had a lightly sweet fruitiness in its body and a slightly smokiness to the finish. I think the deepness of the chocolate made for a better foil for the bitterness of the beans.

Each complimented the other, so that the bitter astringency of the coffee was reduced and the fruitiness of the chocolate was amped up. For me, this was an addictive combination. An OMG.

Javaz Milk

I found two bags of Javaz candies at Cost Plus World Market. I’ll review the milk ones today and save the dark ones for Friday.

They’re chocolate covered coffee beans – a once novel treat that’s become fairly run of the mill these days – but with a twist: they’re also covered with a candy shell.

The beans are absolutely gorgeous to behold. The milk chocolate ones had smooth and shiny cream colored shells flecked with brown. If they were stones, they’d make gorgeous earrings!

The shell was crunchy and lightly sweet while the beans in the center were gritty. It wasn’t the most pleasing texture combination, but it wasn’t a deal-breaker for me.

The milk chocolate was sweet with a nice butteriness to the finish. It reminded me of a Hershey’s Cookies and Cream bar, thanks to some creamy dairy notes.

The coffee bean was doing the heaviest flavor lifting here. At times, I felt it overpowered the lovely nuance of the milk chocolate, but when you buy a coffee treat, you expect the coffee to be a star, so I shouldn’t complain. An OM for this version.


Caffex Coffee Marshmallows

I received a trio of Caffex‘s coffee marshmallows as free samples. They’re not something that I would’ve picked out myself, as I’ve been off caffeine for years and thus have no need for energy candies.

There was something slightly alarming about the warning on the package, “Not for minors and pregnant women.” But coffee marshmallows are a novel treat, so I was willing to give them a try.

The Mocca Mallow was labeled as a “cocoa espresso marshmallow snack” and contained 200 mg of caffeine, roughly the equivalent of a couple of cups of coffee.

It was surprisingly dense and looked more like a brownie than a marshmallow. It was fun to squish it between my fingers. When eaten, the texture was fluffy, like a sponge, but lacked all spronginess when chewed.

It tasted quite sweet and heavily of coffee but managed to lack bitterness. The chocolate flavor was deep and well balanced with the coffee. An OM.

The Coffee Mallow was a “double coffee marshmallow snack”, also with 200 mg of caffeine. It had a mild roasty flavor and a sweet finish. There was a slight bitterness to it that the Mocca lacked.

The texture had a bit of sugary graininess but was otherwise similarly fluffy. The coffee flavor was nice, but the treat as a whole lacked the complexity of the Mocca. An O.

Finally, the Java Mallow was a “double espresso marshmallow snack” with a whopping 280 mg of caffeine. As expected, the coffee flavor was even punchier here.

I think this marshmallow was even denser than the other two. Its finish was both bitter and sugary sweet. Another O.

I enjoyed the flavors and textures of these, but I think their caffeine wallop overwhelmed my usually caffeine-free system. I had a couple of bites of each, and a few hours later, I had an upset stomach and a caffeine headache.

Their caffeine content is not to be taken lightly! If you’re not as sensitive to the effects of caffeine as I am, they’re definitely a tasty way to perk yourself up. My ratings apply to their taste, not to their side effects, as I know I’m not Caffex’s target consumer base.

Ebidebby of Snack Love also reviewed these, if you’d like another take. She too, felt their buzz.

Cemoi Atelier des Gourmets

I bought this box of Cemoi L’Atelier des Gourmets at Whole Foods. They were half off in a post-winter holiday sale. There were four different chocolates in the box, each with their own hoity-toity name: Kheops, Evasion, Arabica, and Coupelle.

Kheops was described as, “crunchy gianduja and whole almond.” It came in a pretty flat-topped pyramid shape with Kheops etched into the side.

The center gianduja was rather dry and pasty. It had a light, almost airy crunch that made me think there were rice crisps inside.

The chocolate and hazelnut filling tasted sweet and fruity with notes of citrus. Hitting the center whole almond bought a nuttiness to the confection, but the finish was still too fruity for my taste. An O.

Evasion was a square “hazelnut and almond praline” with leaves etched on top. It had the same citrus fruitiness of the Kheops.

The almond praline was featured in little crunchy toffee bits. They would have been a nice addition to nearly any treat, but the cloying, cocoa finish of the rest of the Evasion was off-putting enough to outweigh any praline benefit. An .

Arabica was described pretty simply as “coffee mousse.” I thought it was the most visually striking, with the contrast between the chocolate brown coffee bean (not a real bean; it was made of chocolate) and the white chocolate coating.

Biting into the Arabica revealed even more contrasts – the inside ganache was milk chocolate. It tasted lightly of coffee with a slight, almost burnt bitterness. The whole thing made me think of Mocha Frappuccinos.

The ganache was thick and, like the other chocolates in this box, a tad too sweet for my taste. Another O.

Finally, the Coupelle, which was, “crunchy chocolate mousse.” It was a pretty little fluted cup of ganache topped with crunchy chocolate sprinkles.

This was by far my favorite of the bunch. It was made with dark chocolate. It was still sweet, but not as cloying as the others, and the cocoa flavors were deeper with red fruit notes.

And it had an amazing dusky finish that made it addictive. Furthermore, those chocolate sprinkles added a nice depth of cocoa flavor. An OM.

I’m really glad that I didn’t pay full price for these chocolates, as the Coupelle is the only one that I would want to eat again. Overall, not recommended, despite all the fancy packaging and hoity-toity names.

Bees and Beans Winter Line

I got a lovely assortment of Bees and Beans’s candy bars as a free sample. They’re “handmade from whole ingredients in small batches” using local ingredients from Portland, Oregon.

There are three bars in the winter line: the Coffee bar, the ‘Bert bar, and the Honey bar.

The Coffee bar was “coffee caramel with toasted walnuts hand-dipped in 70% dark chocolate. It smelled dark and roasty, just on the delicious side of nearly-burnt.

It tasted dark and deep upon first bite. The caramel had a light pull to it and tasted of roasted coffee with a light bitterness.

The walnuts were mixed throughout the caramel. They added a serious crunch and a nutty, oily aroma. Finally, the chocolate added a layer of deep cocoa. An OM.

The ‘Bert bar was “milk chocolate, filberts, peanut butter, and crispy rice hand-dipped in 70% dark chocolate.” Its filling was a mix of milk chocolate embedded with large chunks of filbert nuts and crunchy, crispy rice.

There was a hint of peanut butteriness to the flavor as a light undertone. It mostly tasted of toasty crisped rice and the nuttiness of the filberts. There was noticeable sea salt sprinkled throughout that added a nice sparkle. An OMG.

The honey bar was my favorite of the bunch. It was “honey caramel with filbert nougat hand-dipped in 70% dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt.”

The bar was comprised of a thick layer of a soft, not-at-all sticky caramel topped with a filbert-studded layer of sweet and soft nougat, all covered in dark chocolate with a sprinkle of sea salt crystals.

Holy cow was it delicious! The nougat had a wonderfully light roasty nuttiness from the filberts, but it was the honey caramel that set this bar apart. It was absolutely limpid, with a pure honey tinge and a light hint of deep butterscotch to the finish.

The chocolate took a nice supporting role here, while the sprinkles of salt highlighted the caramel and chocolate. It was a perfectly balanced mix of flavors and textures. A ZOMG!

If you don’t live near Portland, Oregon, where these bars can be found in stores, you can get them from Etsy. They don’t come cheap, at $20 + shipping for a set of 4 bars, but those Honey bars are totally worth it!

J. Emanuel Classic Truffles

This box of J. Emanuel Classic Truffles also came as free samples from J. Emanuel via

From left to right, the top row is Marzipan, Mocha, Peppermint, and Gianduja. The bottom row is Paris, Raspberry, Amaretto, and Champagne (which was identical to that of Monday’s wine truffle collection).

Marizpan was dark chocolate contrasted against a dry and crumbly marzipan center. I could feel the bits of almond in it, which makes me think it could have been homemade.

The marzipan was sweet and grainy. It wasn’t as sweet as marzipan can get, but it was still on the sweet side for me. And it had a light residual mintiness from the Peppermint truffle.

Mocha was made of milk chocolate and topped with a little roasted coffee bean. Most of the coffee flavor came from the bean, though if you look closely, you can see little black flecks of bean in the ganache.

The ganache was sweet and tasted of fruit and caramel. As one of my friends put it, it would be great if coffee could taste like this truffle!

Peppermint was a dark chocolate shell cut with a white chocolate slash and filled with a dark chocolate ganache. The filling was mild and understated, sweet with a light freshness. It was like a quietly sophisticated and much-weakened York Peppermint Patty.

Gianduja (below) had a milk chocolate shell with a nutty gianduja (chocolate and hazelnut) filling. The filling was amazingly genuine – I could tell that it was made with real hazelnuts, as it had that hint-of-astringency edge to it. It was definitely a cut above Nutella!

Paris was the ambiguously named one of the lot. Its center was a smooth, fatty, buttery caramel-flavored ganache with a savory finish. Think sophisticated butterscotch.

Raspberry was sprinkled with the red dust of crushed, dehydrated berries. Its ganache had a thick and sticky texture.

This truffle packed a powerfully bright punch of genuine raspberry fruit flavor, like a whole flat of berries concentrated into just one bite. It also had a great tanginess to it, and just a hint of manageable astringency to the finish.

Finally, Amaretto, easily identifiable by its topping of crushed almonds.

I love the taste of Amaretto, especially drizzled over vanilla ice cream. I loved the smell of this – just like uncorking a bottle of the actual liqueur.

Its ganache and flavor was smooth and buttery and tasted of sweet, almond extract. The liqueur was nicely highlighted with the crushed almond bits.

The Amaretto, Raspberry, and Gianduja were the standouts of this bunch. They get OMGs, while the box as a whole is OM-worthy. I really enjoyed it, but not as much as I enjoyed the wine truffles.