Sunday, February 14, 2010
Anyone who has visited this blog regularly knows my fondness for Caffarel, the Italian chocolate maker that invented gianduia. What’s even more remarkable about them is that they don’t just make little nuggets of the stuff, they fashion it into beautiful morsels in clever shapes & wrappers to look at before you gobble them up.
While at the Fancy Food Show I was happy to see the Caffarel booth. Caffarel is devilishly hard to find in the United States, but if they’re planning to distribute directly, maybe things will improve - wider distribution and perhaps the prices will be a little better.
These were simple little milk chocolate hearts, barely larger in diameter than a penny, the chocolate is silky smooth, sweet and milky with a cool melt on the tongue. As far as I’m concerned, the script Caffarel on any candy says I Love You.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Did you get chocolate or candy from your sweetie?
Saturday, February 13, 2010
I got these in a bulk bin at the mall candy shop because I thought they were pretty. I love the grape and banana-yellow ones - they taste nothing like nature. I haven’t actually eaten many of them, I have them in some unused spice bottles on my shelf. I suspect they’ll keep for 20 or 30 years that way.
Friday, February 12, 2010
I reckon there are some very excited people out there to find the new Q.Bel 70% Double Dark Wafer Bars. Not because they’re all natural, preservative free and free of hydrogenated oils. Nope, it’s because they’re vegan. No dairy, no honey, no glazes and no colorings.
The package doesn’t herald the vegan-ness (but the Q.bel website does). The package feels, to me, collegiate. I don’t know if it’s the colors that remind me of a library or a winter scarf (no, none of these were colors for the colleges I attended)
The bars are the same format as the Mint Wafer Bars and the Dark Wafer Bars. There are three layers of crispy flavorless wafers (like ice cream cones) with a chocolate creme between then. Then the whole thing is covered in 70% dark chocolate.
These are not a sweet treat, they are dark and a little bitter and all delicious. The chocolate punch is substantial. The bar smells like chocolate and except for the lightly malty crisp wafers, that’s really the only flavor. It has a dry and bitter bite to it, a good silky smooth texture, but probably a little too much on the smoky and bitter side for me to eat as a plain bar. But in this format with airy wafers and grainy sugary chocolate cream centers I found the perfect balance.
Q.bel gave me an insane amount of “samples”, full display boxes, again. And like the last time I put them on my bookshelf in my office and found that even the folks in my office who don’t normally go for dark chocolate liked them, and of course those who do love dark were enthralled by the textures and deep flavor. Now that I’ve found a source in stores (Whole Foods stocks them for $1.39 a bar) I will definitely buy them, now that my inventory is gone.
The only thing I’d like would be for the bars to be slightly bigger, maybe 1.3 ounces. However, the calories per ounce are pretty high, so keeping each finger below 100 calories is probably a good idea. (The package is 180 calories.)
Another example of something that I bought but never really ate. I loved the look of them, they’re about the size of playing cards and rather thin.
The assortment was two different dark chocolate single origin bars and one milk chocolate one.
What I loved about these was that I bought them right where they were made, at the Michael Mischer shop in Oakland, CA. So they were absolutely perfect, they hadn’t been shipped or knocked around by a stock boy. I didn’t eat them because I forgot I had them, not because they didn’t look good. I enjoyed everything I got there. I need to go back, buy some again and then actually write about it.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
The packaging is another iteration of their West African iconography in gold and red on a black background. The bars is 3.5 ounces (not available in a single serve size at this time) and is wrapped well inside the paper overwrap with a textured medium grade foil.
Divine bills itself as Heavenly Chocolate with a heart. They use mostly fair trade ingredients (in this case it was the sugar, vanilla and the cacao), are all natural and use non-GMO soy lecithin. Their dark bars do not use any dairy products and are considered vegan though are produced on shared equipment with milk, wheat and tree nuts.
The construction of the bar is simple. Dark chocolate with a layer of freeze dried raspberries sprinkled on the bottom.
Flipped over, the bar is quite beautiful, like all the Divine bars I’ve had. Nice gloss and snap, a rather red hue to it; I wasn’t sure if it was from the raspberry inclusions or just the natural state of the chocolate. It’s a moderately thick bar, thicker than a Lindt Excellence bar, but not as thick as something like Ritter Sport. The sections are 4 by 6 and pretty easy to snap apart.
It absolutely smells like raspberries with some woodsy and seed notes. The dark chocolate is strong, dark and slightly bitter. I was expecting a fruity chocolate, instead it had strong coffee and charcoal notes. The texture is silky with a dry finish and of course the raspberry bits created some texture. The raspberries are freeze dried bits, with lots of seeds. Chewing the seeds gives off grassy and sesame flavors while the pulp part is quite tangy and has great natural raspberry flavors.
Overall I liked the bold combination of flavors - this was not a timid bar. It was not a bar that I could munch on forever though. I had two pieces, then needed to rest for a while until I was interested in having some more. It wasn’t something I was craving at any point though. If they could do the same bar without the seeds, I think I’d prefer it.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.