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.

In the press…

I was recently contacted by Woman's World Magazine and asked to recommend some chocolate for Valentine's Day.  I recommended Vosges' Exotic Candy Bar Library and they included me in the piece.  It hits checkout stands today, so I'm looking forward to having a look!

B.T. McElrath Salty Dog Chocolate Bar

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I love a salty chocolate bar — especially one that contains toffee pieces — so when Pete spotted the Salty Dog Chocolate Bar from B.T. McElrath, he decided to bring one home for me.

The bar was beautifully tempered, shiny and smooth with lovely raised sections.  The chocolate is dark, containing no milk, and has a very firm bite.  It's melting point is a little higher than I like, making it feel just slightly waxy, but the flavor was well rounded with a hint of tropical fruit — namely banana.  The toffee gives a bit of texture to the bar, but not much.  In fact, I felt there wasn't quite enough toffee.  There was, however, plenty of salt, which was liberally sprinkled on the back of the bar.  On most of the pieces, the overwhelming flavor was that of salt.

Overall this was a good bar.  I ate the entire thing over the course of a couple weeks, having only one section at a time (because it was so darn salty).  If there was a bit more toffee and a bit less salt, I think this would be an excellent chocolate bar.

It looks like B.T. McElrath also makes a Prairie Dog Bar which adds almonds and uses milk chocolate instead of dark — I'd like to try that one as well as their truffles someday.  You can see more at their website.

Mast Brothers Chocolate

I have a Mast Brothers Chocolate bar to review soon, but I wanted to share this wonderful video with you before I forgot.

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.

Lake Champlain — Grace Under Fire

 

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Lake Champlain Chocolates recently sent me one of their Grace Under Fire bars to try, and while I was a bit hesitant at first — not liking a bar that is too hot and spicy — I'm glad I tried it. The rich, sweet chocolate is well balanced with the red pepper, making it a subtle and enjoyable heat that makes you want to take another bite.

This bar is dark chocolate with pistachio and red pepper according to the front of the box, but looking at the ingredient list, you see there is also cinnamon in there. I think this sweet, but warm, spice bridges the gap and gives a nice added dimension to the overall taste profile.

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If, like me, you like your spicy chocolate restrained but flavorful, this bar is for you.  And as is always the case with Lake Champlain, the bar is simply beautiful, glossy, well tempered and in great condition upon opening the package.

Find out more at Lake Champlain Chocolate's website.

New Chocolate Reviews Coming Soon!

Summer is the off season, when it is just too hot to ship chocolate without expensive packaging to keep it from melting.  Autumn is on its way and I expect to start up reviews again soon.  I would love to hear about your favorite chocolate bars, as I'm always looking for new, wonderful chocolate to try!

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.