Category Archives: Rating: 8

Ghirardelli Intense Dark Toffee Interlude

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Ghirardelli sent me some of their Intense Dark chocolate bars to sample and today I'm going to share my thoughts on their Toffee Interlude bar.

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The Toffee Interlude bar is dark chocolate with toffee bits and caramelized almonds.  As you can see, the bar is well tempered and nicely molded with the Ghirardelli logo on each square.  The thin, square sections include a generous ammount of small bits of almond and toffee.  The chocolate is bold, with a lot of fruit and a bit of tabacco at the finish.  The melt is smooth and satisfying.  I like the inclusion of the toffee and almonds which give it some nice texture and a hint of burnt sugar.

Through the end of the year, Ghirardelli has a promotion where they will donate to the National Breast Cancer Foundation when you enter a code found in specially marked boxes. 

Learn more at the Ghirardelli website.

Romanicos Chocolate

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Romanicos Chocolate recently sent me some of their bars and confections to sample, which I was happy to do since they are very allergen aware and clearly label which of their products are gluten free.  They also included a personal note reiterating that the products they sent me were all gluten free, which I found very reassuring.

Everything I have tasted so far has been fresh, tasty and high quality.  I'll focus on the three large bars here since those are what I've enjoyed the most.

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Salted Almonds — This bar was a clear winner, as it was the first that I completely finished.  (This is rare for me, as I get quite a bit of chocolate and often don't finish an entire bar.)  The bar is composed of Venezuelan Chocolate (65% Cacao), Honey and Roasted Almonds.  I found the chocolate here to be smooth, flavorful and slightly sweet.  The bar was well tempered and each section was perfectly bite sized.  The almonds were fresh and crunchy and well complemented by the sweetness from the honey.

Salted Pistachio and Nutmeg — A great combination of salty, sweet and spicy.  The nutmeg gave a warming bite to the bar, but was subtle enough to let the chocolate and pistachio flavors shine through. 

Walnuts & Honey –An interesting bar in which the honey appears to be swirled into the chocolate, but left in pockets here and there.  I loved the combination of nuts and honey here and felt that the overall creaminess was offset nicely by the crunchy nuts.

If you'd like to try these bars, you can visit the Romanicos Chocolate website for more information.

Julia Baker Confections

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This week I was sent some Valentines Day Truffles to sample from Julia Baker Confections.  My daughter and I were recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which means we can't eat any wheat or gluten containing grains.  When I raised this concern, they were happy to verify that the chocolates they sent were safe for me and Julia even included a personal note confirming that these truffles are all wheat and gluten free.  A very nice touch which impressed me greatly.

 

I believe this Valentines Day selection corresponds to their 18-Piece Window Box, which appears to be available year round.  As you can see, the confections are of two styles.  The top layer contains beautifully decorated, hand-cut chocolates.  The filling in these is somewhat dense, with a creamy and satisfying bite, and the chocolate surrounding them is thin and shatters nicely, contrasting with the creamy interior.  I especially enjoyed the Passion Fruit confection, which had a lovely brightness.  The milk chocolate confection, which had a lovely caramel note, was also very good.  Other flavors included dark chocolate, raspberry and Irish Creme — all quite delicious.

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The bottom layer consisted of 9 truffles, 3 each of caramel, coconut and hazelnut.  The caramel had a liquid center which contrasted beautifully with the crunchy, nut covered chocolate shell.  The coconut was fresh and sweet, paired with its white chocolate coating and the hazelnut had a smooth, flowing center with a subtle hazelnut flavor.

These were a hit in my house and my daughter was thrilled that I let her sample them with me.  You can learn more about Julia Baker Confections by visiting their website.

Vosges Exotic Holiday Candy Bars

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If you are looking for a special holiday treat for yourself, or for someone special — Vosges Holiday Candy Bars are the perfect thing.  Vosges sent me these delicious bars to sample and review here and I have to say that they are all delicious, but I do have my favorite.

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Peppermint has always felt like Christmas to me, and this bar is no exception.  The chocolate is deep, dark and rich with no bitterness.  The peppermint pieces are bright and give a pleasant texture to the bar, contrasting with the creaminess of the chocolate.  I loved this bar, as did my 10 year old daughter.

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The Gingerbread Toffee Bar is a 65% cacao chocolate with gingerbread spiced toffee pieces throughout.  The touch of ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg give an added dimension to the buttery toffee which shatters beautifully with each bit.  A well balanced bar that has a real holiday feel.

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The Marzipan Bar combines a lovely dark chocoalte with almond marzipan and amaretto.  The chocolate here is once again rich and smooth, and each square holds a pocket of creamy, but slightly textured amaretto infused marzipan.  The flavor is almondy without being overwhelming and it is certainly not boozy.  While I'm not a huge fan of marzipan, I was able to finish off this entire bar with no problem.

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Last, but certainly not least, is the Bapchi's Caramel Toffee Bar — a deep milk chocolate with sweet butter toffee, walnuts and pecans.  This bar was my absolute favorite and deserves a 10 out of 10!  The chocolate is amazingly smooth and rich, the toffee is buttery and salty and the nuts give the bar a rounded flavor and an added bit of texture.  The toffee shatters with each bite, releasing the caramel notes which enhance the chocolate.  This bar was not safe in my drawer — I couldn't stop breaking off just one more square — and all too soon it was gone.  I'll definitely be asking Santa for one of these in my stocking!

You can see all the Vosges Exotic Candy Bars at the Vosges website.  And as a reader of the Chocolate Blog, you can get 10% off your order!  Just use code "BLGF10" at checkout.  (Coupon good December 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010.)

 

Valrhona Chocolate Easter Eggs

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Valrhona sent me over some of their Chocolate Easter Eggs to sample and review.  As you can see, they come in a pretty little box and are wrapped in classic Easter candy colors. 

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The milk and dark mix, which they sent to me, contains three each of four different eggs. 

The chocolate egg wrapped in blue is a sweet, milk chocolate gianduja with a wonderful smooth melt and caramel flavor which surrounds a crispy, brittle of sorts.  It is a bit nutty and wonderfully flaky — a nice surprise!  

The other milk chocolate, wrapped in vibrant yellow-green, has a rich, smooth caramelly, chocolate filling.  Extremely satisfying. 

The green wrapped egg is dark chocolate with a wonderfully complex chocolate filling.  Bright, but with a earthy finish, there is a lovely ripe red fruit flavor on the tongue as the chocolate melts, leaving behind a slight dryness in the mouth.

Finally, the pink foil covers another dark chocolate egg, this time filled with raspberry filling.  The fruit flavor is sweet and bright, only slightly jammy.  The ripe fruit flavor pairs well with the dark chocolate, balancing out the sweetness.

These were a wonderful treat and of the high quality you would expect from Valrhona.  You can purchase them through Valrhona's online shop.

See’s Candies — Easter Edition

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Recently See's Candies asked if they could send me some of their Easter candy for review.  Being a fan of See's for many years, I was quick to say yes!

They sent over three different holiday items, pictured at the top is the Easter Egg Box which contains a nice selection of their chocolates, including the Easter only Lemon and Raspberry Truffles.  I loved the White Chocolate Lemon Truffle, which was sweet and tart, with a true lemon flavor.  (The ingredients list both lemon puree and freeze dried lemon.)  The Raspberry Truffle was also very good, with a bright, jammy flavor.  Also included are their famous Molasses Chips, as well as one of my favorites, the Bordeaux — a brown sugar buttercream.

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They also sent the Easter Assortment, which comes in such a pretty box, that I had to include it in the photo.  This assortment includes chocolate bunnies, assorted truffles, two of their Marshmallow Eggs and a Scotchmallow Egg, plus a few other little candies.  I have to say that the surprise winners in this assortment were the Marshmallow Eggs — I absolutely loved them.  The eggs are nice and plump with a wonderfully thick coating of sweet and creamy chocolate.  The marshmallow was fresh and delicious — they use honey in the marshmallow which gives it a unique flavor and color. 

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Since the chocolate bunny is such a big part of Easter (at least for a chocolate lover like me), I wanted to show off one of the two bunnies in the assortment.  To me this bunny, which looks slightly old fashioned, fits in nicely with See's image.  The "undressed" bunny has some nice detailing and looks to be well tempered.  The chocolate is exactly what I expect in an Easter bunny — sweet and mild with a hint of vanilla.  

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Finally we have the Scotchmallow Eggs.  If you've ever had See's before, it's likely you've had one of their Scotchmallows, which come in truffle form, but also various shapes throughout the year.  The Easter version is a plump egg that starts with a layer of the honey marshmallow that I mentioned before, topped with caramel and covered in dark chocolate.  The caramel is smooth, but holds it shape, and has a nice caramelized sugar flavor — sweet and a bit salty.  The texture and flavors here really complement one another.  The chocolate has enough flavor to stand up to the filling and the chewy caramel is wonderful against the bounce of the marshmallow.  These are a classic and I'm not safe alone in the house with a box of them.

If you haven't tried See's yet, I highly recommend them for that old fashioned taste that you will remember from when you were a kid.  You can purchase See's Candies at their shops or through their online store.

Gail Ambrosius Truffles

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Recently I was contacted by Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier in Madison, WI who wanted to send me some truffles to review.  I received 2 pieces each from the Classic Collection and as you can see, they are pretty chocolates — glossy, dark and with little extra bits sprinkled on top.  All truffles are made by hand in small batches, are preservative free and she uses single origin chocolate from South & Central America as well as Hawaii.

I sampled every piece in the classic collection and liked all of them.  In fact, I couldn't resist and had to eat the second caramel before I started this review.

Lucille's Vanilla — This is actually a chocolate truffle filled with a rich, thick ganache.  Very satisfying and homey.

Caramel Sprinkled with Grey Salt — Obviously I loved this one.  The caramel has a soft bite and a lightly caramelized flavor.  Wonderfully smooth and buttery, the salt gives it a bright pop which livens things up!

Raspberry — Smooth center with a true raspberry flavor.  Fresh and sweet, a bit jammy, the cocoa nibs on top add a nice texture.

Espresso — A strong, true coffee flavor, bright with a subtle tanginess — delicious!

Cognac — I'm not one for boozy chocolate, so this was a wonderful surprise.  The thick center hinted at the complex flavor of the cognac without being boozy.  The dark chocolate shines through here, with a wonderful fresh, spicy surprise from the candied ginger on top.

Cointreau — Dark and rich, the subtle orange flavor does not overpower the chocolate. 

These were quite good, and I'm looking forward to trying more in the future.  Gail has some seasonal truffles which I am longing to try — coconut and key lime in the spring, mint in the summer, chai tea and four spice in the fall and cardamom with orange, peppermint and chestnut in the winter.  I'm also intrigued by her "every now and then" pieces which include peanut butter, pepitas bonbon and pistachio caramel.

You can find out more and purchase Gail Ambrosius truffles at her website.

QBel Dark Mint and Double Dark

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A while back I reviewed some all natural chocolate wafer bars from QBel which I liked quite a bit.  So I was quite happy to accept when they offered to send me their two new dark chocolate bars — Double Dark and Dark Mint — to review.

The Double Dark is both all natural and vegan, composed of wafers with dark chocolate filling and a dark chocolate coating.  This bar was fresh, crispy and crunchy with a nice, slightly bitter chocolate flavor.  The flavor was a bit smokey and hinted at roasted coffee.  I liked it quite well, but not as much as the Dark Mint bar:

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Once again there is a dark chocolate coating, but here the filling is sweet and has a light, fresh mint flavor.  The crispy bar was so good that while I ate only one of the two bars in the package at first, I was unable to resist going back for the second before the day was out.

These are two great additions to the QBel line and I have a feeling I'll be seeking out the Dark Mint bars in the stores.

J. Truffles

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Recently I was sent a box of assorted truffles from J. Truffles to sample and review.  I should first mention that J. Truffles in a new brand by Seattle Chocolates who already makes truffle bars, which I believe I may have stumbled upon at some point in the past. 

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First of all, let me just say that these are some gorgeous truffles — shiny, well tempered and architectural.  They all arrived in perfect condition, nestled in their well constructed box.  I was sent 8 different pieces to try:

Magma 65 Dark – 65% cacao dark chocolate — probably my favorite, smooth and creamy with a rich chocolate taste.

Crème 40 Milk – high cacao milk chocolate and cream — another smooth and satisfying truffle.

Salt Water Caramel – firm, chewy caramel with dash of salt — just what a caramel should be, firm but yielding with a nice cooked sugar taste.  A real winner.

Pura Vida Coffee – Turkish ground espresso beans tempered with cream — nice coffee flavor, not overpowering, but not too sweet either.

Savory Hazelnut – gently ground hazelnut pieces, lightly salted — rich and nutty with lots of texture from the chopped hazelnuts.

Cherry Praline – fresh dried cherries ground with roasted pecans — not my favorite, but I'm not a big fan of cherries.

Crème Brûlée – rich vanilla custard with caramelized sugar crunch — quite sweet and rich with a creamy center.

Limoncello – white chocolate ganache and lemon zest — nice hint of lemon, but I wanted a bit more, also the texture of the center was not as smooth as I would have liked.

All in all, I thought these were very nice — beautiful to look at, rich and satisfying.  If I had one criticism, it would be that each truffle is a bit too large — perhaps 3 or 4 bites each.  I ended up sharing almost all of them with my nine year old daughter who liked them quite well.

You can find out more about J. Truffles and purchase their truffles at their website.

Sucre Sugar & Spice Collection

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This past week, Sucre sent me their holiday Sugar & Spice collection to sample and review.  I have to say that the photos I took just couldn't capture how pretty these confections are — glossy, sparkly and perfectly formed. 

The collection includes three different truffles:

Gingerbread Milk Chocolate — Delightfully spicy, this truffle had a thick, rich milk chocolate ganache filling infused with all the spices that say holiday.  The bite from the ginger gave it a special kick which I loved.

Candy Cane White Chocolate — This pretty, speckled truffle has a smooth, creamy, minty center.  A lovely balance here which keeps thing from tasting too sweet.  The mint wasn't overpowering — so important when you have mint truffles in the same box with other truffles!

Eggnog Dark Chocolate — Great eggnog flavor with a hint of nutmeg.  The sweet, silky center was offset nicely with a hint of bitterness from the dark chocolate shell. 

I thought this was a great collection — well balanced and with all the flavors I associate with the holidays.  Plus, these are so pretty, that they would make a wonderful hostess gift, or look very pretty set out on your holiday table.

Sucre is located in New Orleans, but you can purchase their truffles through their online shop.  And this holiday season, Sucre is donating a portion of their sales to the LA/SPCA to help animals in need.  Sweet!