Category Archives: Rating: 9

Enstrom’s Almond Toffee

 

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I was recently sent some Milk Chocolate Almond toffee from Enstrom's for review here at the Chocolate Blog.  Enstrom's has been around for about 50 years, and they make things the old fashioned way.  The ingredients here are just what you would expect — Almonds, butter, sugar, milk chocolate, and salt.

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The toffee arrives in two large slabs and you can break it apart as desired, which is kind of fun.  Plus it means the box is completely filled with toffee — a full 16 oz in the box I received.

The toffee is generously dotted with almonds, and as you can see from the photo, the milk chocolate is completely covered in finely ground almonds too.  The toffee has a wonderful shatter and satisfying crunch.  The flavor is nutty, salty, sweet and ridiculously addictive.

If you want good, old-fashioned toffee, I highly recommend giving Enstrom's a try. 

H.S. Chocolate Co.

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H.S. Chocolate Co. recently sent me a couple of their artisan candy bars to sample, and I'm glad they did!  Since starting the Chocolate Blog and sampling all these gourmet chocolates, I find that your run of the mill candy bar just doesn't cut it anymore.  I've been craving a fancy candy bar that recalls my favorites from my youth, but kicks up the quality a couple notches.  That is exactly what these bars do.

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Peanut Butter Trance — Caramel, Peanut Butter Nougat and Dark Chocolate — This bar was amazing!  The peanut butter nougat was fresh and nutty with a solid, almost flaky, consistency.  The caramel was chewy and satisfying and it's sweetness was tempered by the rich dark chocolate covering.  There was also a nice salty note that really elevated the whole thing.  As soon as I finished this bar, I wanted another.

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Troop 652 — Sea Salt Caramel, Marshmallowy Coconut Nougat and Dark Chocolate — Another winner.  Here again the ingredients tasted fresh and decadent.  The coconut layer had a chewy, marshmallow feel and the caramel had a great salt hit.  A wonderful candy bar for the coconut lover.

H.S. Chocolate Co. also has some interesting looking Chocomels, which I have not yet had the opportunity to sample.  The Maple Bacon is especially intriguing and judging from the caramel in the two bars I sampled, I'm sure they would be tasty.  You can see more at their website.

B.T. McElrath Prairie Dog Chocolate Bar

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A while back I reviewed the B.T. McElrath Salty Dog Chocolate Bar and today I review it's cousin — the Prairie Dog Chocolate Bar which my husband purchased for me at an amazing sandwich/chocolate shop in Chicago — Hannah's Bretzel.

I enjoyed the Salty Dog, but found it a bit too salty — the Prairie Dog, on the other hand had a bit less salt which made it much more irresistible.  The Prairie Dog is a combination of milk chocolate, butter toffee and toasted almonds with a sprinkling of salt.

The chocolate here is smooth and sweet — a background for the crunchy toffee and almonds.  The salt brings it all together and completes the salty/sweet combination that is so delicious.

This bar was wonderful and I look forward to trying other chocolates and bars from B.T.McElrath in the future.

 

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Gail Ambrosius Parisian Praline Collection

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I was recently contacted by Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier in Madison, WI because she wanted to send me her latest truffle collection — The Parisian Praline Collection.  I had been sent some of her truffles for review last year and thought they were wonderful, so I was happy to be sent this new collection for review.

The collection consists of four different truffles, all molded and with dark chocolate shells.  The flavors are inspired by the chocolate shops of Paris. I sampled three of the four flavors (I would have happily sampled the fourth, but it was not gluten free.)  All the chocolates were beautiful, well tempered, had a lovely thin chocolate shell and were very fresh.

Pecan — This truffle contains pecan butter, candied toasted pecans, applewood-smoked sea salt and milk and dark chocolate.  This was my absolute favorite and I could eat these every day!  The pecans were fresh, very flavorful and nutty.  The salt was subtle and really brought out the flavor of the chocolate and the overall texture was crunchy and almost flaky.  This was not a sweet truffle, but rather beautifully balanced.

Pistachio Bomb — A wonderful combination of sweet and spicy — lime zest, white chocolate, chili verde salt and a whole toasted pistachio make up the filling here.  Fresh, tangy and with the perfect hint of heat.  This truffle was a close second for me.

Orange Almond — A much more solid filling, this truffle consists of crushed candied almond, marzipan, chopped orange peel and spices.  The solid center is nutty, with a hint of orange and a background of warm spice.  A lovely addition to the collection.

The only flavor I did not sample was the Hazelnut, which has a center of hazelnut butter, crushed buckwheat crepes and milk chocolate.  I'm sure this one would have been a hit with me!

This collection is wonderful and all pieces I sampled were beautifully made and wonderfully fresh and flavorful.  You can read more about this collection at the Gail Ambrosius 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.)

 

Michel Cluizel Eclats Caramel Beurre Sale

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I get a lot of chocolate to sample, so it is rare that I finish a bar myself.  So the fact that I ate the entire Michel Cluizel Eclats Caramel Beurre Sale myself means that it is darn good.

This bar is a salted milk chocolate with crunchy bits of butter caramel — more commonly called toffee in the US.  The milk chocolate is creamy and contrasts well with the wonderful crunch of the caramel bits.  The salt is light-handed, brightening the flavor without making it taste salty.

While the bar I was sent by Michel Cluizel arrived a bit broken up, the chocolate was beautifully tempered.

This is a delicious bar which I could not resist — sneaking a square here and there over the past few days until it was gone.  Find out more at the Michel Cluizel website.

Michel Cluizel and Champignons and Macarolats

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Michel Cluizel sent me some items from their current collection to sample and review.  First up is their Champignons, or caramel Mushrooms.  As you can see, these are quite pretty, and each of the mushrooms has its own personality.  The caps are a crunchy almond nougatine covered in chocolate, and the foot or stem is buttery caramel covered in white chocolate with dark chocolate details.  The chocolate is rich and full flavored, the nougatine gives the top a satisfying bite and the caramel is nice and chewy with a good caramelized flavor.  The combination is a winner.

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I also received two of their Macarolats — the green one was lime and I believe the other was Praline.  These are a fun take on the wildly popular macarons and consist of a thin chocolate shell filled with a thick ganache.  As with the Champignons, these were high quality, very pretty to look at and tasty.  The lime was subtle and enjoyable and the praline was sweet and satisfying.

If you are looking for fun, high quality, delicious chocolates, check out their website.  

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.

Michel Cluizel

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I love really good dark chocolate.  The kind of chocolate that is rich and smooth with a perfect melt and wonderful creaminess, but which also has a complex flavor — each piece unique.  Michel Cluizel single origin chocolates fit this profile and I was lucky enough to have some sent to me recently for review.

A box of tasting squares is a great way to try different single origin chocolates to find out what you like best.  The Michel Cluizel squares are small and thin, just about two bites each.

Grand Lait Pur Java — This 50% cacao is a darker milk which retains a bit of milkiness, tempering the complex, smokey flavors of the chocolate.  It finishes with a caramel sweetness. 

Los Ancones (Santa Domingo) — At 67% cacao, this dark chocolate was smooth and rich with the flavors of tropical fruit and a slight bitterness that tasted of coffee.

Concepcion (Venezuela) — A 66% cacao chocolate with the distinct flavors of red wine and berries.  It finished with a citrusy brightness.

Maralumi (Papua New Guinea) — A lighter dark at 64% cacao, this was my absolute favorite!  A complex chocolate, the flavor of caramel is the first to appear, followed by tobacco.  An exotic bar — rich and spicy.

Vila Gracinda (Sao Tome) — A slightly darker bar at 67% cacao.  The flavor of banana and spices shines through followed by a smooth finish.

Finally, there was one square of milk chocolate, which in retrospect, I should have saved for another time.  It was smooth, sweet and milky with a wonderful caramel flavor.

Try a single origin tasting some time — I think you will be surprised at how different each chocolate tastes!