Posts filed under ‘nuts’

Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Cranberries & Almonds

It’s been a while since I posted a chocolate party review. I’m going to finish up the chocolate party posts next week so I can move on to covering my winter break candy tour. Consider these part of cleaning out my candy backlog.

Endangered Species Chocolate (BUY!) donates 10% of their profits”to help support species, habitat and humanity,” and they use their chocolate bar wrappers to raise awareness about endangered species. Some bars are organic, and I think all are fair trade. My bar was all about the wolf, and it was delicious.

Even though this dark bar boasts a high cacao content of 70 percent, it wasn’t bitter at all. If anything, I’d deem it bittersweet, and I found it surprisingly sweet for dark chocolate. The bar had an exceptional, heavy snap and a great dark finish. The almonds (in tiny pieces) added another smoky component to the bar, which worked nicely. Finally, the bar was visually gorgeous, with a deep, dark, rich color and a lovely gloss.

The bits of cranberry inside the bar were quite noticeable. You can see a piece of one poking out in the photo. They were dried pieces of cranberry, like raisins (or craisins, I guess). Usually the cranberry pieces melded nicely with the dark finish, but every once in a while a chunk of cranberry would be too big, too sweet, and too distracting.

At first I didn’t find this bar to be too exceptional. Sure, it was great dark chocolate, but so what? Yet I found myself reaching for more… and more… and more… It turned out to be quite addictive, enough so to earn a ZOMG! rating from me. Many thanks to my friend Katie for buying it for me. My friends’ ratings placed it 7th with a score of 3.5/5. I should note that the people who liked it really liked it.

My bar was just one of 15 varieties. I can’t wait to taste my way through more.

January 16, 2008 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

XOX Truffles

I’m in a quandary. On the one hand, I’d like to take advantage of my remaining 10 days of winter break to get into shape after reading and exam period (three weeks of being stressed out, getting free food at study breaks, eating through late night study sessions, and skipping the gym) and being on vacation (eating out every meal). On the other hand, I have sooo much candy deliciousness in the house, and the truffles need to be eaten soonish, as they’ll only keep for a few weeks. What’s a candy blogger to do?

Put the quest to fit back into skinny jeans on hold, of course! And enlist friends to eat my tasting leftovers. Unfortunately, when I tasted my XOX truffles, there were no leftovers… In my defense, though, they’re really small truffles, about the size of a nickel or quarter.

The XOX Truffles store is about a half mile from Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, definitely within walking distance. I expected a fancy looking boutique in the vein of Godiva. Instead, it turned out to be more of a funky coffee shop, as you can see from the picture. While I loved the chill feel, I wish the truffles had been more nicely laid out. They were arranged in mismatched bowls of different sizes, which was quirky and endearing, but the bowls were haphazardly placed, and some bowls obscured the views of others. You can see how there’s a little bowl hiding behind the big green one holding the noisette truffles. I had to crane my neck around the glass display case to see all the flavors, and I bet I still missed some.

The truffles are much cheaper if you visit the store in person than if you order online. They’re $0.75 each individually, $0.45 each if you buy 20 in a little takeout container, and continue to get cheaper the more you buy. I picked out four. Clockwise from the top left, they are liqueur de noisette (hazelnut), cinnamon, green matcha, and Earl Grey. And they were all pretty tasty.

Liqueur de noisette was rolled in sugared hazelnuts. While I liked the candied nuts, their sweetness, along with that of the liqueur, obscured the hazelnut flavor, which didn’t come through at all.

Cinnamon was dusted with ground cinnamon and tasted lightly of cinnamon sugar. A nice blend with the chocolate.

Green matcha was coated in some sort of green tea powder, rendering it slightly bitter. A light green tea bitterness in the ganache that was mostly covered by the chocolate’s sweetness.

Earl Grey was dusted with bittersweet cocoa powder. I didn’t get anything but dark chocolate flavor in the ganache, though it was still delicious.

XOX Truffles know their way around ganache. All the truffle fillings were smooth, creamy, and rich, and the surface of all the truffles had dried a bit, producing a nice, thin hard shell around the ganache. I wish that the various flavors had been stronger, however, so that the truffles would stand out more. Only the liqueur de noisette and the cinnamon obviously tasted of something other than chocolate.

I’ve made this type of truffle before, and I know how hard it is to get the ganache to take the additional flavorings. Perhaps the stronger flavors, like French roast, peanut butter, and the liqueurs would have stood out more. An OM, as the truffles are good, but no extra letters because I found the flavors to be too weak.

January 2, 2008 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Hebert’s Fully Loaded – Rocky Road

Bar number 2 from the Hebert’s Fully Loaded lineup. The Rocky Road boasts “Rich Milk CHOCOLATE with Walnuts, Dark Chocolate & Marshmallow Pieces.” Thank goodness the wrapper for this one is less frenetic than that of the Dark Turtle.

Walnuts were a much better choice for a Fully Loaded bar than the pecan pralines of the Dark Turtle. While the sugary pralines overpowered the chocolate, the walnuts nicely complemented the sweet milk chocolate with their bland nuttiness and added a good textural mix.

The dark chocolate bits didn’t distinguish themselves in any way, and I didn’t make any note of marshmallow pieces in my blind tasting notes. Alicia tasted this bar and said that the marshmallow pieces were actually white chocolate. The milk chocolate base was pretty good quality, though nothing standout or exceptional. It actually came out of the wrapper looking pretty greasy but didn’t taste that way (thank goodness).

Like the other Hebert’s bar, I can see why this would be appealing, but again, it just doesn’t do anything for me. I just find it too busy, like it’s trying too hard. Another OM from me, another high rating from my friends: second place with a 3.86/5. I have two Hebert’s bars (Dark Apple Cider and Dark Margarita Lime) that I picked up after my chocolate party. I think they may be truffle bars, and I’m excited to taste them.

December 19, 2007 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Hebert’s Fully Loaded – Dark Turtle

After Dagoba Week comes Hebert week, a lower cost chocolate bar week where everything can be purchased at your local Walgreen’s.

I think Hebert’s Fully Loaded bars are a fairly new retail product from an old candy company. The wrappers are colorful and pretty in your face, just like the bars.

The Dark Turtle claims to be “rich DARK chocolate with PECAN pralines & TOFFEE.” I’d just like to pause here and mention how much I hate the disjointed way the words are spaced out on the wrapper. Someone’s trying too hard…

Wrapper design aside, I found this bar to be quite enjoyable. I noted the toffee bits and sugared nuts in my blind tasting, and all those random bits and pieces make for a nice blend of textures. Most of my friends loved this one because of all of the toppings. One wrote, “I feel like there is a party in my mouth!”

Here’s what the back of the bar looks like. See what I mean about in your face? It’s definitely Fully Loaded, and impressively so.

My friends who didn’t like it complained that all the nuts and toffee pieces overpowered the chocolate and made the bar too sweet. I completely agree. While all the Fully Loaded parts are nice, it’s just too much for the chocolate to compete against. Tasty, yes. Subtle, sophisticated, no. An OM from me, though I should note that I agonized about that last G because it’s so appealing. It came in 3rd amongst my friends with an average score of 3.79/5. Little kids would adore this, but if you give it to them, watch out for sugar rush consequences.

December 17, 2007 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Dagoba Organic Chocolate – Milk and Hazelnut

Dagoba Chocolate (BUY!) Week continues with the milk and hazelnut bars!

The milk bar is pretty straightforward. Milk chocolate, 37% cacao solids. According to Wikipedia, anything over 35% cacao can be called dark chocolate, so I appreciate that Dagoba still called this milk.

It’s a European/Cadbury-style milk chocolate with a yogurty finish (as opposed to the sour finish Hershey’s milk chocolate has). “Feels British,” wrote one of my friends. Others felt that the milkiness was too overpowering.

Like all Dagoba bars, the texture is smooth and creamy and wonderful. It’s good but unremarkable and a little too sweet (I’m a dark chocolate lover). An O for the Dagoba milk. A wonderful milk chocolate bar that suffered from my dark-bias. If you like milk chocolate, European-style, you’ll love this. It took 8th place with a 3.33/5.

The hazelnut bar was made from 37% cacao milk chocolate, roasted hazelnuts, and rice crisps.

Really, it’s hard to go wrong with hazelnut and chocolate, This bar was well studded with pieces of hazelnut, and it was wonderfully – you guessed it – hazelnutty. I found it a little too sweet, but most chocolate/hazelnut candies skew towards the sweet side, so it’s understandable.

I didn’t notice any rice crisps, and because it was a blind tasting, I didn’t know to taste carefully and seek the crisps out. Cybele’s review complained of too few crisps, so I’m going to agree with her. I give this bar an OM. Good, but uninspiring. This came in first at my chocolate party with a score of 3.96/5. I think it was so well liked because of the near universal appeal of chocolate and hazelnut.

December 12, 2007 at 8:00 am 2 comments

Dagoba Organic Chocolate – Dark and Lime

Welcome to Dagoba Week! This week’s 6 Dagoba bars were blindly tasted by 14 of my friends (and me!) at my chocolate party along with 7 other non-Dagoba chocolate bars. I had my friends rate every chocolate that they tasted on a scale of 1-5.

The New Yorker ran an excellent piece on Dagoba Chocolate in their Halloween issue this year. I read the fascinating article after tasting my way through the half a dozen Dagoba bars (BUY!) (they offer 18 classic bars plus 3 single origin bars on their website; I have a lot more tasting left to do!), and it only made the company more impressive in hindsight. Even if Hershey’s does now own it.

The Dagoba dark 59% is a dark bar with 59% percent cacao (duh). The ingredients list is pretty incredible: Organic Dark Chocolate (organic cacao beans, organic evaporated cane juice, organic cacao butter, 0.5% non-GMO soy lecithin). Impressive, no?

The bar had a strong snap and a beautifully dark gloss. The melt and mouthfeel were incredible – soooo creamy and smooth – and it had a great finish. I thought the mild sweetness was perfect, though one of my friends, an admitted dark chocolate hater, found it too bitter. Others loved it. A couple found rum or alcohol notes, which surprised me, as I didn’t notice any.

I give it an OM. It’s delicious and the best plain dark chocolate bar I’ve yet to taste, but there’s no gimmick to the bar to make it special enough to really stand out. Still, it is now my go-to dark bar for slow savoring, provided that I have a little extra to spend (Dagoba bars are expensive!). The Dark 59% tied for 5th at the chocolate party with a 3.533 out of 5.

The Dagoba Lime bar is dark chocolate (59% cacao), lime, and macadamia nuts. The chocolate is smooth and creamy, which is unsurprising. I expect it’s the same chocolate base as the dark 59% bar.

I broke up the bars into small pieces for tasting. The piece I got must have not had any macadamia nut pieces in it because I have no macadamia nut related notes on this bar. I can’t imagine they would have made a huge taste difference, and macadamia nuts are pretty bland, though buttery. The lime component of this bar is subtle but definitely present. Overall, the bar was good, but I personally didn’t care for the limey finish. Another OM from me. This placed 10th in my friends’ ratings with a score of 3.133/5.

December 10, 2007 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Emily’s Chocolates Wrap Up

Dear Emily’s Chocolates,

I am terribly sorry it took me so long to write this review. You were generous enough to mail me soooo many delicious chocolate covered things, and though I immediately got up a review of the cookies (OMG and ZOMG!), that was nearly two weeks ago, and I still haven’t written about your limited edition gift boxes. In my defense, the last two weeks of class are always hectic, and now I’m smack in the middle of reading period trying to write final papers and study for final exams. But now I’m procrastinating starting my 20-pager music cognition paper, so here’s the long overdue review. Photos of the packaging are from Emily’s Chocolates’ website.

2pc_dc_mixedberries_giftbox.jpg

Dark Chocolate Mixed Berry Box

Dried strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries covered in dark chocolate. The biggest ones are the strawberries, while the blueberries and cranberries are visually identical, as far as I can tell.

Because the strawberries are the biggest, they have the brightest fruit flavor. The blueberries were also surprisingly sweet. Only the cranberries, I felt , weren’t assertive enough to stand out against the sweetness of the dark chocolate coating. They were listed in the ingredients as “sweetened” while the strawberries and blueberries were not. I wish they had been a little more tart, which may have kept them from being overwhelmed by the chocolate.

Overall a nice fruit assortment. Nothing groundbreakingly delicious but good, and incredibly addictive. An OM.

2pc_giftbox_cranalmond.jpgLimited Edition Chocolate Covered Cranberry Almond Holiday Mix

Dark chocolate covered cranberries and almonds. In case you couldn’t guess that from the name.

The cranberries were the same as those of the previously reviewed mix. What made this stand out was the almonds. They had a wonderful roasted almond flavor, and almonds are strong nuts that balance well with chocolate. You can see from the picture how generous that chocolate coating is.

Like all the stuff Emily’s sent me, these guys were addictive. An OM.

Dark Chocolate Covered Cashews

These came inside an adorable snowman. He’s no longer on the website, but a penguin version of him is. I think cashews are to bland to balance dark chocolate, so I just gave these an O. My least favorite of the group. But the adorable snowman gets props.

2pc_giftbox_cherryhzlnut.jpg

Limited Edition Chocolate Covered Cherry Hazelnut Holiday Mix

I saved the best for last. Dark chocolate covered dried cherries and roasted hazelnuts. Soooooo good! The cherries were perfectly tart and super bright against the chocolate. They’re listed as “dried red sour cherries”. Good choice on letting them be sour! And the hazelnuts! Whole roasted hazelnuts covered in shiny dark chocolate – it really doesn’t get any better than that. I shared the rest of these mixes with my friends (mostly to keep myself from eating them all), but the hazelnuts and cherries I hoarded for myself. An enthusiastic ZOMG!

Emily’s Chocolates does good work. As I said before, I was surprised at how affordable their products are, and they’re prettily wrapped for convenient gift giving. Order by December 10 and get free ground shipping if you spend at least $40. I’d stock up for gift-giving to teachers, coworkers, bosses, and to bring as hostess gifts.

December 8, 2007 at 4:28 pm Leave a comment

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