Category Archives: Rating: 8

Derry Church Artisan Chocolates

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I recently had the good fortune to be contacted by Chef Eric at Derry Church Artisan Chocolates. He wanted to know if I would like to sample his confections and review them on my blog. I'm glad I took him up on the offer, because these are some seriously good chocolates!

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I received a nice selection of the bon bons, which are named after famous cities and each reflect some culinary aspect of those cities. The chocolates are handmade and contain no artificial flavors or preservatives — they are fresh tasting and quite pretty.

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The flavors of each bon bon were well balanced, and I actually liked each and every piece I tried. Some of my favorites included: 

Burlington — Rich roasted flavor with the perfect amount of maple flavor. The silky ganache contrasted well with the crunchy pecan.

Dublin — Being a coffee lover, I am always quick to try coffee flavored sweets. This was a lovely combination of sweet and bitter, silky and satisfying.

Paris — Sweet and creamy with a jammy burst of flavor. The sweetness is offset perfectly with the bitterness of the dark chocolate shell.

Cairo — An unusual, bold and delicious confection which has a complex and full flavor. The intense molasses flavor subsides and is replaced by a nice tang from the balsamic vinegar and fruitiness form the dates. Smooth with a nice chew.

In addition to these, I enjoyed the Derry Church, a liquid caramel which has that nice burnt sugar flavor I crave in a caramel. And the Plymouth, a pumpkin pie flavored bon bon, was a wonderful reminder of Thanksgiving.

Derry Church Artisan Chocolates is located in Mechanicsburg, PA, but you can purchase their chocolates through their website.

Charbonnel et Walker Banoffee Truffles

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Recently I was contacted by Charbonnel et Walker about trying their new Banoffee Truffles.  I hadn't heard of Charbonnel et Walker, but when I discovered that they had been in business since 1875 and are "endorsed by the Royal Warrant as chocolate manufacturers to Her Majesty The Queen," I figured, if they are good enough for the queen, they are good enough for me!

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The chocolates arrived quickly and in lovely packaging from Saks Fifth Avenue in NY where there is a Charbonnel et Walker cafe.  Upon opening the box you are met with a wonderful, rich banana aroma.  It is clear that these are individually hand dipped as each truffle looks unique.

I had heard of banoffee pie before but never tried it — it is an English treat made with bananas and toffee and I've heard it is wonderful, but I'm guessing, quite sweet.  So I was expecting an over the top sweetness in these confections, but I am happy to say that they were quite tempered in their sweetness.  In fact, there was a rich, buttery and slightly smokey flavor that mingled with the fruitiness of the banana which seemed quite balanced to me. Both the chocolate and center are smooth and thick, lending to the rich taste.

The Banoffee truffles were delicious and I look forward to trying some of the other Charbonnel et Walker treats which include all kinds of truffles (I'm especially taken with the idea of the white chocolate and lemon truffles), orange sticks, drinking chocolate and rose and violet creams (my daughter loves violet creams).  Hopefully they will open a shop in the Chicago area soon.  And if you live in NY, it looks like they have some tasty things at the cafe.

Endangered Species Chocolate

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Recently I was sent a few bars of Endangered Species chocolate to try — 72% Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Toffee, 48% Milk Chocolate with Almonds & 72% Supreme Dark Chocolate.

I have tried several Endangered Species bars before and liked them, so I was eager to try these offerings, but before I talk about each of the bars, let me mention a little about the company.  "Endangered Species Chocolate donates 10% of net profits to help support species, habitat and humanity."  You can check out their website if you'd like to know what kind of organizations they support and why.  I'm happy to support this cause while having a treat because in this case the chocolate is good.  (I've tried bars that are selling miserable chocolate wrapped up in a fancy "green" message — thank goodness that's not the case here.)

So on to the bars. . .

48% Milk Chocolate with Almonds — Sweet and quite milky, the almonds are fresh and crunchy — although they are chopped up and I prefer mine whole.  I have managed to eat almost this entire bar — sneaking a piece here and there throughout the week.  That's what I like about this chocolate — it's not overly fancy, but quite satisfying.

72% Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Toffee — Rich and fudge-y, with a pleasant texture from the toffee.  This was my favorite of the three bars and while I wanted a little more salty, buttery kick from the toffee, I still found it quite enjoyable.  Although 72% cocoa, it is sweet, rich and not at all bitter.  Great for snacking and one square is enough to give you a nice chocolate fix.

72% Supreme Dark Chocolate — Sweet and rounded, a true chocolate with only a hint of fruit.  Neither too thick nor too dry, the chocolate has a slight graininess as it melts.  A middle of the road dark that even milk chocolate lovers can enjoy.

You can purchase Endangered Species Chocolate in lots of places — I've seen them everywhere from my local Walgreen's to the specialty candy shop we visit.


Seeds of Change Chocolate

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Seeds of Change recently sent me their certified organic chocolate bars to try and I have to say that they were all quite good. They come in a wide variety and their packaging is wonderful. You get three smaller bars in one big package — each individually wrapped. The bars are the perfect size for a treat and this way the rest of the chocolate stays fresh and protected. I also love the little resealable folder, or pouch, that they are packaged in.

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But enough about the packaging — here are my thoughts on each variety:

Organic Milk Chocolate — A nice respectable 43% cacao gives this milk chocolate a good chocolate flavor. The melt is smooth and creamy and I tasted caramel and a bit of salt here. Overall a very comforting bar.

Organic Milk Chocolate with Puffed Grains — This bar was great — a real flashback for me! I remember eating and loving Nestle Crunch bars as a kid, but having one now does nothing for me. This was like a super-improved version of that bar that I liked so much as a kid! The same smooth 43% milk chocolate is used here, but the puffed grains give it a wonderful crunch and lightness as well as a bit of a malty flavor.

Organic Dark Chocolate — A moderate dark at 61% cacao, this bar has the same smooth and creamy melt but with a fudgy flavor. There is a hint of tropical fruit — specifically banana — and smoke, but no harsh bitterness, in fact, the bar is quite sweet.

Organic Dark Chocolate with Coconut — When I first saw the Seeds of Change bars, I though this would be my favorite since I'm a coconut fan. While it is made with the same smooth and creamy chocolate, I wanted more of a toasted flavor with the coconut. I did like the bit of texture from the coconut, but overall it was a bit too sweet and lacked a little something for me.

Organic Dark Chocolate with Cherries and Vanilla — A nice combination of fruit and chocolate. The tangy cherries were a nice compliment to the dark chocolate and gave the bar a good chew.

Organic Dark Chocolate with Mango and Cashew — This bar was a complete surprise for me. I never thought of myself as a mango fan, but it totally works in this bar. The cashews give the bar a nutty taste and aroma as well as a wonderful crunch while the dried mangoes subtly enhance the tropical fruit flavors in the chocolate and give the bar a bit of a chewiness. This is a real winner and my favorite bar of the bunch!

Seeds of Change Chocolate is available at many health stores as well as Whole Foods. You can find out more at their website.

Kallari Chocolate

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Kallari Chocolate comes in three varieties — 85%, 75% and 70% cacao content — and while each bar uses the same organic, Ecuadoran chocolate, each is unique.

I started by tasting the 85% cacao bar and found it to be quite complex — smooth and inviting with a slow melt that was a bit dry, but not overly so. Fruit is present here, along with a nice earthy bitterness akin to coffee or smoked wood. The finish is clean and a touch sweet.

After that I moved to the 75% bar and here, the fruit really popped! Fresh, tropical fruit, vanilla and a comforting hint of caramel. The finish was fudgy and rich. Really lovely.

The 70% bar was sweet, bright — even more vanilla and caramel flavors shined through.

I think my favorite of the three bars was the 75% Cacao — a nice ballance between the bitterness, fruit and sweet caramel flavors. I’m very impressed by these bars and glad to see that organic, sustainable chocolate can be really excellent chocolate too.  You can find out more about Kallari Chocoalte at their website.

Amy’s Organic Chocolate Cake

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I've been a fan of Amy's products for a while now, so when they contacted me about trying a new product, I jumped at the chance. A few days later an Amy's Organic Chocolate Cake arrived on my doorstep.

Why do I like Amy's? Well, this cake is the perfect example. First of all, it is made with organic ingredients. Secondly, it's vegan but doesn't taste like a substitute for a non-vegan cake. It's the real deal. Thirdly, there are no weird things in this cake — no trans fats, no preservatives, no GMO's or bioengineered ingredients. The ingredient list contains only things that I have in my own cupboard — shocking, I know!

The cake is available in the frozen foods section of the grocery and you defrost it in the fridge for a couple of hours before eating it — very simple. So before dinner I popped it in the fridge and it was ready at dessert time.

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The cake is dense and quite moist — almost like a cakey brownie or a chocolate muffin. The taste is fresh, sweet and delicious. My husband, daughter and I all tried the cake and loved it. In fact, Maddie liked it so much that she had 2 pieces last night and one today, I had a piece this morning with coffee and it was great the second day.

I'm sure this will be available in most grocery stores — I know our Dominick's and Jewel carry Amy's products. And if you want more info, you can always visit the Amy's Kitchen website.

Donsuemor Madeleines

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Something a little different today — madeleines! Now usually I try to keep my reviews focused on chocolate, but when I was contacted by Donsuemor, I couldn't resist trying their chocolate madeleines. First of all, my daughter is named Madeleine — and I've always wanted to try making these because of that, although not having the fancy madeleine pan has stopped me.

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Donsuemor sent me both their chocolate and chocolate dipped varieties and since they arrived this morning before I had my coffee, I decided to try them right away. These little cakes — for that is what they are — are all natural, contain no preservatives and are trans-fat free. They taste rich and moist — somewhere between a brownie and a piece of cake. The dipped variety are covered not in chocolate, but rather a cocoa icing of sorts which worked well with the madeleine.

I have to say that I was very happy with these and think they make a great accompaniment to coffee. They taste very fresh, rich and definitely a bit decadent.

You can purchase Donsuemor Chocolate madeleines at Amazon or through the Donsuemor website. They are also available at specialty stores.

Vosges Organic Enchanted Mushroom Bar

To tell you the truth, when I saw that one of the new organic Vosges bars contained mushrooms, I wasn’t sure what to think. I like mushrooms and I love chocolate, but together? Time to give it a try. . .

The Vosges Organic Enchanted Mushroom bar is 66% cacao with Reishi mushrooms and walnuts. Upon opening the wrapper, the aroma is earthy and a touch fruity.  The bar is nicely tempered, shiny and dark. 

I bit off a piece and placed it on my tongue and the fruit flavor burst through.  The bar is slightly grainy as there are not large chunks of either the mushroom or walnuts, but rather mushroom powder and finely chopped nuts. 

The back of the box explains that the Reishi mushroom is valued in traditional Chinese medicine as it promotes longevity. In addition, they are believed to have “analgesic, anti-inflammatory antioxidant and anti-viral properties.”

This bar has a winey finish and a lingering earthiness.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and no longer have a fear of the chocolate-mushroom combo, and if it comes with added health benefits — all the better!

(Sorry, still no photos.  Moving to a new computer has me flummoxed a bit!)

Vosges Barcelona Bombalina Almonds

Okay, I could no longer resist trying the Vosges Barcelona Bombalina Almonds which I showed off the other day. I'm a huge fan of the Barcelona Bar, so these looked like they would hit the spot.

On first opening the package, I have to say that they were a little messy. Each almond is covered in chocolate and then finished with cocoa powder. This keeps things from getting too sweet — a good choice and something that differentiates them from the bar. Upon putting one on the tongue, the first sensation is earthy and dry form the cocoa power. As things warm up, the salty-sweet taste of the chocolate begins to shine through and is quickly replaced with the smokey flavor of the hickory smoked almond. The nuts are crisp and tasty,

I think that when I'm in the mood for something more on the savory side — more nutty and less chocolaty — I would reach for these. However, they won't replace the Barcelona Bar in my book.

Lake Champlain Organic Bars

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Lake Champlain has a line of four organic bars that they sent me to taste — Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate Sea Salt and Almonds and Dark Spicy Aztec.  The bars are 1.25oz. each — a really nice size and break into 6 little rectangles.  All bars were nicely tempered and broke with a lovely snap.

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I have to say that I really enjoyed these bars!  All were rich and creamy, melting wonderfully on the tongue.  Here’s a bit of what I thought about each one:

Milk Chocolate — At 34% cacao, this was a very sweet bar — creamy and smooth.  There was a lovely caramelized flavor to the chocolate that won me over.  I tasted a hint of salt and a rich baked chocolate flavor like a decadent brownie.

Milk Chocolate with Sea Salt and Almonds — My absolute favorite of the bunch!  I love chocolate and salt and this was a perfect combination of the two — the caramel flavor in the chocolate and the salt played perfectly with one another and the almonds added a bit of texture and a fresh crunch.  I could eat one of these bars every day!

Dark Chocolate — Much like the milk chocolate, but with a deeper flavor.  Another winner.

Dark Spicy Aztec — With 55% cacao, this still had enough sugar to help offset the heat from the cayenne pepper.  There was a bit more graininess here, most likely from the addition of the spices, but it was still quite smooth and rich.  I’m not a fan of cayenne in my chocolate, but I liked the cinnamon and really enjoyed the crunchy little pumpkin seeds that were added.  If you like spice in your chocolate, this is the bar for you!

As I said, I really enjoyed these bars and if I’m in the mood for milk chocolate, this is they company I would look to in the future.  You can find out more and order chocolate through their website.