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Monday, September 7, 2009

Lindt Excellence Toffee Crunch

Lindt Excellence Toffee CrunchLindt is an iconic name in the world of chocolate. Its founder Rodolphe Lindt invented the chocolate conching machine in 1879 and set the standard for “eating chocolate”. Today Lindt & Sprungli chocolate is a behemoth company which makes both solid chocolate bars, their consumer truffle line of Lindor products & their iconic chocolate rabbits but also owns the American chocolate company, Ghirardelli.

They have a multitude of lines of chocolate bars, each with different profiles. The Excellence line is often found at drug stores, grocery chains & even at airport shops. It’s a nice size & excellently designed package. The paperboard sleeve holds a 3.5 ounce chocolate bar - it’s thin but nicely scored into easy to break & eat portions. (Other lines include Classic Recipe, Les Grandes, Creation, Petits Desserts - at least 50 bars.)

Before I started writing Candy Blog I was a pretty died hard Lindt fan. Their darker bars were one of the first on the market that I was exposed to that gave the cacao content. I was pretty happy at 70%.

My experience with Lindt milk chocolate is rather limited, so before vacation I picked up this bar: Lindt Excellence Toffee Crunch.

Lindt Toffee

It is rather thin and I have to preface this review with the fact that I prefer my bars that have inclusions to be a little thicker.

It smells sweet & buttery.

The chocolate has a nice snap, even in the heat we were experiencing in Southern California. Inside each piece it was easy to spot the little toffee bits.

The chocolate is smooth and milky and though the texture isn’t quite as fine as I would have wanted, I’m not sure it would matter because of all the toffee bits.

The toffee was firm & gave a good little bite of salty burnt sugar and butter.

The effect was great, it was filling & satisfying without being too cloyingly sweet. Still, for my personal preference I might want bigger toffee pieces and a darker milk chocolate. But I can see that this would have lasting appeal for some folks and if I ate it with something to offset the sweetness it’d probably be gone by now. Also, I was a bit irritated that there were artificial flavors in there for a product at this price point - good toffee is not that hard to create and it doesn’t need artificial caramel flavor.

Related Candies

  1. Terry’s Chocolate Toffee Crunch Orange
  2. Ghirardelli Holiday Squares
  3. Moser Roth Chocolate
  4. Dove Silky Smooth Milk Chocolate Bars
  5. Sconza 70% Dark Chocolate Toffee Almonds
Name: Excellence Toffee Crunch
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Lindt
Place Purchased: Cost Plus World Market (3rd & Fairfax)
Price: $3.49
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 149
Categories: Chocolate, Toffee, Switzerland, Lindt

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:46 am     Comments (3)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Recchiuti Asphalt Jungle Mix

Recchiuti Asphalt Jungle MixSometimes I buy things that I think are insanely expensive. This little box of Recchiuti dragee are just such a purchase. I saw them mentioned on CHOW and filed it away in my head that I should pick it up when I saw it.

The assortment is called Asphalt Jungle Mix. It features a riot of burnt caramel hazelnuts & almonds, cherries two ways and peanut butter pearls.

So when I found them at a little gourmet shop in Los Olivos on the last day of my vacation, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. Partly because what I really wanted to try was the Peanut Butter Pearls. But this mix, besides having an awesome name, also featured hazelnuts & almonds ... but then there were cherries. I actually like real cherries and dried cherries are a pretty good approximation of the real thing ... so instead of getting the singular Peanut Butter Pearls I got the Asphalt Jungle.

The price online is $12.00 for 6 ounces. The price at this shop was $14.00. Yes ... insane. But I was also on vacation, and I’m also the Candy Blogger. Into the basket they went.

Recchiuti Asphalt Jungle Mix

The assortment is pretty and luckily it was easy to figure out what everything was at a glance.

Peanut Butter PearlPeanut Butter Pearl

A beautiful little sphere, about the size of a pea. They’re a dark milk chocolate and rich peanut butter and a teensy cereal crisp center.

The effect is quite addictive. They’re barely sweet and even have little pops of salt sometimes. This is excellent movie food. I will buy these in the separate box.

Burnt Caramel HazelnutBurnt Caramel Hazelnut

These were inconsistent, but it really didn’t matter because they were also great. Some tasted like dark chocolate covered roasted hazelnuts, but every once in a while I got one that has a bit of a toasted sugar crunch to it.

I preferred the sugared ones. In the end, though it was very high quality I think I prefer the really chocolatey ones from Charles Chocolates (also made in the Bay Area and also similarly expensive).

Burnt Caramel AlmondBurnt Caramel Almond

Like the hazelnuts, these didn’t always seem to have their burnt sugar coating.

They chocolate was salty and dark and the cocoa on top of that wasn’t too powdery. The crunchy combination of all the flavors was nice and more on the savory side than sweet.

CherryCherries Two Ways

This was one time when I was a bit disappointed in the package. While it was pretty snazzy, I liked the spare design and minimalism, I actually wanted more information. The entire back of the box is blank except for a little footer at the bottom that has the Recchiuti logo & location. This would have been the perfect spot to include this little tidbit of info that’s on the website: dried Michigan tart cherries and candied wild Italian cherries drenched in dark chocolate with a light dusting of cocoa powder.

Both versions were tart, chewy and intensely cherry. They were like the best most cherry-ish Raisinets ever. (You know, if Raisinets were made with good chocolate.) Not quite for me, but excellent.

I liked this opportunity to try four different products in one package ... it saved me a lot of money because now I know that I want to eat the Peanut Butter Pearls for the rest of my life - they straddle that perfect line between decadent sweet and tantalizing savory. Perfect for sharing and though completely munchable and addictive, the 6 ounce package and the size of your bank account will keep your waistline in check.

Finally, I don’t know why I have an issue with paying this much for panned chocolates. I’ve been the to Recchiuti shop quite a few times and bought chocolates there that are $55 a pound ... why should I take issue with a variety mix for only $32 a pound? Is it because each one isn’t handcrafted like a truffle is? I don’t know ... but I hope I can get over it because it is good stuff. It might be because I’ve had excellent stuff at half the price (or even smaller fractions of the price) ... but good is good.

Related Candies

  1. Brach’s Indulge Almonds: Coconut & Caramel
  2. Marich Easter Select Mix
  3. Trader Joe’s Espresso Pillows
  4. Sconza 70% Dark Chocolate Toffee Almonds
  5. Charles Chocolates
  6. Recchiuti
Name: Asphalt Jungle Mix
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Recchiuti Confections
Place Purchased: Los Olivos Grocery (Santa Ynez, CA)
Price: $14.00
Size: 6 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Peanuts, Cookie, Toffee, United States, All Natural, Chocolatier

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:19 am     Comments (3)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rogers’ Chocolates Victoria Creams

Rogers' Victoria CreamsWhile on vacation I spotted a new store in Cambria, CA called Sweet Offerings. Unlike many other candy shops in the area, they didn’t make anything of their own (no taffy pulling machine, no fudge). It’s just a well curated shop where they have a little of everything and some things that are pretty hard to find.

I was thrilled to see these little gingham wrapped creams from Rogers’ Chocolates of Victoria, British Columbia. I’d never heard of them before, but as you’ll see, it’s easy to see why someone would go through the trouble of importing them.

They come in a huge variety of flavors, at least 16 in the creams. Each wax paper wrapped piece weighs 45 grams (1.59 ounces) - which is like a candy bar. The price was a bit steep ($3.50 each), but I figured I was on vacation (and the Candy Blogger) so I carefully chose what I thought would be a good representation of their products. I got a Vanilla Cream, Coffee Cream, Rum Cream and then two of their other offerings, a Chocolate Almond Brittle and a Dark Empress Square.

Rogers' Vanilla Victoria CreamFirst, the wrapping is exquisite. It’s a simple pink gingham print wax paper. It’s carefully folded and then sealed shut with a little sticker that shows what’s inside as well as the expiry date.

The dark chocolate Vanilla Cream puck has lovely little ripples on top. The chocolate is thick and made the trip rather well (I think this one was actually dropped on the floor while in the shop and was only slightly cracked by it).

The white cream center is interesting. I wasn’t sure what these creams were and the Rogers’ website isn’t much help either. I didn’t know if it would be a fondant, fudge or buttercream.

It’s somewhere between all three. The main ingredient is but the second ingredient in the filling is cream, so it’s a buttery soft center. It’s not at all grainy but not so stiff that it doesn’t sort of “flow”.

The flavor of the vanilla cream is sweet and has a light touch of vanilla ... but mostly the dark chocolate flavor with its smoky semisweet flavor came through.

This is what I’ve always wanted a Cadbury Creme Egg to be.

Rogers' Coffee Victoria Cream

The dark chocolate of the Coffee Cream is well suited.

The center has a pretty mocha color to it. It’s smooth and has a toasted sugar and coffee flavor. The coffee isn’t that intense but comes out as a sweet and mellow flavor eventually. I enjoyed this one since it wasn’t as sticky sweet as the vanilla. 

Rogers' Rum Victoria Cream

The Rum Victoria Cream was quite lovely and had a great texture to the cream center, much smoother than the vanilla one.

However, the flavor was odd. It was fake and was more like some sort of plastic aroma than the woodsy molasses notes of rum. The textures were great, but I couldn’t get over the less than true rum-ness of the whole thing. I ate it rather begrudgingly ... but finished it mostly because it was my last one.

It left me disappointed that I didn’t get a fruit flavored one instead (raspberry sounded nice).

Rogers' Dark Empress SquareThe next item, the Dark Empress Square really doesn’t explain what it is at all. The only thing I was pretty sure about with this light brown gingham wrapped piece was that it was dark chocolate (well, their dark chocolate isn’t completely dark, there’s some milk in it).

Upon opening it I was no wiser. The ingredients were vague enough that it could have been any number of things but it looked like either a toffee or a caramel.

So I was a bit tentative when I bit into it.

Rogers' Dark Empress Square

It was soft ... it was caramel!

The base is a short caramel (not quite grainy but not stringy & chewy). It’s studded with almonds. The flavor is a little on the rum side with good toasted sugar and butter notes and of course the pleasant crunch of crushed almonds. The dark chocolate keeps it all from tasting too sticky sweet.

Rogers' Chocolate Almond BrittleThe final one confused me several times. Black type on brown gingham? Was it some sort of color blindness test?

Chocolate Almond Brittle was at least clear enough for me to know that it was going to be a toffee of some sort studded with nuts.

This was by far the smallest of the pieces I had, though it probably still weighed about the same (there was no weight listed on the wrapper) it was dense and hefty like a chocolate dipped brick.

Rogers' Chocolate Almond Brittle

The brittle center was crispy, a little salty and had a nice buttery flavor to it. The almond pieces were nicely sized, not whole but big chunks that gave a texture variation to it. The dark chocolate went well with the whole thing. The only complaint I had was that the thick chocolate flaked off sometimes when biting it, and when I cut it in half most of it came off completely.

The distinctive and appropriate packaging were what drew me to these, but I appreciate that they are unique - I don’t know if I’ve ever had such good quality and large sized creams before. I’d like to explore the flavor versions a bit more, I have a feeling I’d like their ginger, peppermint and maple ones.

The other butter-based caramel/toffee items were also well done, but not quite as original ... but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t appreciate them and a good candy shop should always have a little something for everyone. (And it’s true that a lot of folks just don’t like creams.)

Roger’s Chocolates has quite a few locations through British Columbia including Victoria where their candy factory is located.

Related Candies

  1. Cadbury Dairy Milk Snack
  2. Sunspire Peppermint Pattie
  3. Koeze Cream-Nut Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cluster
  4. Ritter Sport Peppermint
  5. Cream Drops versus Creme Drops
  6. Cadbury Raspberry Bunny
  7. Cadbury Eggs: Creme & Caramel
Name: Victoria Creams, Empress Square & Chocolate Almond Brittle
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Roger's Chocolates
Place Purchased: Sweet Confectionery Offerings (Cambria, CA)
Price: $3.50 each
Size: 1.59 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Coffeel, Fondant, Nuts, Toffee, Canada, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:53 am     Comments (10)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Terry’s Chocolate Toffee Crunch Orange

Terry's Chocolate Toffee Crunch OrangeI’m on vacation. Or on my way to my vacation.

So this review will contain slightly more photos than normal ... so you get all your candy goodness for the day and I get a little bit of a rest (since I’m writing these reviews in advance).

In Europe folks get to enjoy different versions of the Terry’s Chocolate Orange quite regularly. In the United States we get a novelty version about every two years (I had the white chocolate version before). I heard about the Terry’s Chocolate Toffee Crunch Orange at the Fancy Food Show earlier this year and was hoping that I’d see it in stores in advance of Christmas (which is high season for chocolate made into slices of of fruit & reassembled into a sphere).

I picked out a smashed box in my haste, but was happy to see that it didn’t matter to the product inside, which was well protected with a plastic form.

Terry's Chocolate Toffee Crunch Orange

Inside the plastic form, inside the box, is a plastic wrapped sphere that includes directions: WHACK & UNWRAP.

Terry's Chocolate Toffee Crunch Orange

I’ve been around enough to know that’s a bad idea. Either that or I whack to hard and end up with a big handful of crumbles. Instead I just open the package and insert a knife and pull out a few slices.

Terry's Toffee Crunch Orange

This particular orange was very nice looking. The slices inside were glossy & had a good snap.

What surprised me was the orange scent. Honestly, I thought the “orange” part on this particular orange was just going to be the shape, not the flavor. For some reason I didn’t think they’d do toffee and orange.

It smells like orange frosting ... very sweet.

Terry's Chocolate Toffee Crunch Orange

The first ingredient on the list is sugar, the second is milk ... so this is a very sweet & milky product.

The texture of the chocolate is smooth, but a little on the fudgy grain side. The milk was a bit overshadowed by the orange flavoring. Within the chocolate were little salty toffee chips. The texture combination is great - the chips were crispy and crunchy. However, the whole thing was just throat searingly sweet. I liked it, but after two slices my throat just ached. Better with some black tea or in combination with something like pretzels or nuts.

Since I picked this up in the off season (though it was very fresh), it was pretty expensive for what’s otherwise rather cheap chocolate. The novelty of the shape is great, and really helps with the portion when sharing, but of course a big 3 or 5 ounce bar is a much better deal. In this case the flavor combination was the unique selling proposition. For gifting chocolate, these are great ... for eating on an every day basis I think I’ll stick to a Scharffen Berger Milk Nibby or for a toffee chip experience I’ll review a new Lindt bar soon.

(Okay, so this review didn’t end up being as short as I thought it was going to be.)

Related Candies

  1. Seeds of Change: Dark Chocolate with Mango and Cashew
  2. 3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch
  3. Terry’s Chocolate Orange Confection
  4. Terry’s Peppermint Orange
  5. Terry’s Chocolate Orange
Name: Terry's Chocolate Toffee Crunch Orange
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Terry's (Kraft)
Place Purchased: Cost Plus World Market (Farmers Market)
Price: $4.49
Size: 6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 155
Categories: Chocolate, Toffee, Kraft, Poland

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:01 am     Comments (6)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Zingerman’s Zzang! Candy Bars

Zingerman's Zzang! BarsI’ve known about Zingerman’s classic candy bars for quite a few years, but finally found a local source for them a few days ago. I really wanted to see them in person, because while the Zingerman’s website is so fun & quirky with their little illustrations, I’d like more than a picture of a box when sinking $7 for a candy bar (yes, that’s what they are on their website).

I got the What the Fudge? and Ca$hew Cow Zzang! Candy Bars. The box heralds that they’re “taking candy bars back 100 years!” which I’m guessing they think that’s a good thing.

The boxes are smaller than I expected, 4.5” long and 1.25” high/wide. But the label says that the WTF? is 3 ounces. I looked at them out of the package and I thought there was no way it was 3 ounces, that’s more than a Snickers bar! (But sure enough, I used the postal scale at the office and they both came in at about 3 ounces even after I took out my photo-bites.)

So the fact that they’re sizeable almost makes up for the sticker shock - at least at the Larchmont Larder they were $3.95 each.

Zingerman's Zzang! What the Fudge?

The What the Fudge? Zzang! Candy Bar looks deceptively plain out of the wrapper. The box says: Milk chocolate fudge, Muscovado caramel, and malted milk cream dipped in dark chocolate.

Biting into it, I didn’t seem that complex. In fact, I didn’t think it tasted like much more than sweet, sweet fudge covered in chocolate.

The top layer of malted milk cream was smooth, but a bit frosting-like. The milky flavors came across distinctly when I pulled the parts of the bar apart, but I didn’t really get much malt. The milk chocolate fudge is sweet and doesn’t have much chocolate punch but has a melty smooth texture with a slight grain. The “caramel” isn’t quite a gooey caramel, it’s more of a grainy buttery layer with some distinct molasses notes of the Muscovado sugar.

Most importantly, because of these extremely sugary innards, the chocolate coating is a very dark, rather bitter bittersweet chocolate.

The package says the serving size is the full 3 ounce bar, which is far too much for me in one sitting. (The box also had the cryptic tally of 260 calories for the full bar, which is pretty much impossible for any candy that contains fat ... and chocolate was the first ingredient ... I’d go for something along the lines of 130 calories per ounce for this bar, bringing the total to 390.)

Zingerman's Zzang! Cashew Cow

The Cashew Cow Zzang! Candy Bar, as you can tell, was a little bloomed when I got it home. Happily the texture of the dark chocolate coating did not seem to suffer too much from the slight. The bar consists of Milk chocolate, cashew butter gianduja, cashew brittle & roasted cashews dipped in dark chocolate.

Though this bar is only reputed to be 2.5 ounces, it’s actually larger than the WFT? bar. (Also, when I weighed it after my bite, it still came in at 2.8 ounces, so their manufacturing process is a bit generous.)

It smells dark and toasty.

Instead of the layered order of the WFT?, the Cashew Cow is a muddled combination affair on the inside. The general look of it is a fluffed gianduja with some inclusions of nuts & crisped rice.

The center does have lots of textures going on: shards of brittle, cashews and crisped rice - all with varying degrees of crunch. The nutty background flavor is cashew with some buttery bits and the malty crisp of the puffed rice. And then the salt, there’s a lot of saltiness.

Sometimes I liked it, sometimes I found it a bit chaotic. It definitely wasn’t as sticky sweet as the WTF? bar, but this one seemed a bit too hefty for me as well.

The good thing was that both bars were distinct and unique ... I didn’t feel like saying “this is like a Milky Way” or “that’s like a Butter Brittle Hazelbar.” At $7 a bar, I’d be miffed ... at $4, I felt like it was a fun ride. I still prefer the BonBonBars as far as upscale candy bars go ... but again, these are nothing like those so it’s never going to be a one for one comparison and it might just all be about personal taste.

Here’s Victoria from Candy Addict’s review of these two bars, CPB Gallery reviewed & photographed the Original bar and Chocolate Ratings reviewed the Original and Cashew Cow.

Related Candies

  1. Q.Bel Crispy Wafer Bars
  2. Short & Sweet: Hazelnut Bites
  3. 3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch
  4. BonBonBars: Malt Ganache & Scotch
  5. See’s Awesome Nut & Chew Bar
  6. Lake Champlain Five Star Bar
Name: Zzang! What the Fudge? & Cashew Cow Candy Bars
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Zingerman's
Place Purchased: Larchmont Larder (Larchmont)
Price: $3.95
Size: 3 ounces & 2.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: package is simply wrong
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Nuts, Cookie, Toffee, United States, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:48 am     Comments (6)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Morning Glory Confections: Chai Tea & Cashew Brittle

Morning Glory Chai Tea & Cashew BrittleWhile picking up a birthday cake for The Man a few weeks ago at Lark, a neighborhood bakery, I also sampled some locally made artisan nut brittles.

Morning Glory Confections makes a short list of nut brittles in quirky flavor combinations: Chai Tea & Cashew, Cocoa Nib, Coffee Bean & Pecan, Fleur de Sel & Peanut, Indian Curry & Pistachio and New Mexico Chili & Pumpkin Seed.

I’ve tasted all of them, but chose to buy a little package of the Chai Tea & Cashew. It wasn’t cheap, the 2 ounce package that contained four slender planks cost $4.95. But the artisan name was supported by the tantalizing ingredients:

Cashews, sugar, corn syrup, butter, chai spice (it included a list), Darjeeling tea leaves, baking soda, Madagascar vanilla extract, Kosher salt.

Morning Glory Chai Tea & Cashew Brittle

The glossy and narrow bars are lumpy with the cashews within and speckled with the tea & spices.

It smells a bit buttery and like warm tea and spices ... a bit like carrot cake, actually. The cashews are toasted to a crunchy light brown and have a darker flavor to them than I would have expected. The salt comes forward first then a little kick of creamy butter and the crisp flakiness of a toffee.

The baking soda keeps the salt note a bit on the mineral side of things, but also keeps the candy from tasting too sickly sweet. The key with Morning Glory brittles, all that I’ve tasted, is that it’s not about the nuts. While the nuts are nice, it’s about the flavors imparted to the brittle.

While I really enjoyed my four pieces, the price is just staggering (oh sure, it’s not so bad when you buy a larger quantity at $32 per pound.) I appreciated that the inner wrap was actually a zip lock to protect my precious bits from evil, evil moisture.

(I would also take this opportunity to recommend Lark’s cakes. They have an impressive carrot cake that is both beautiful and fulfills my husband’s and my particular issues: he doesn’t like raisins and I can’t eat walnuts. So it’s all about the moist carroty cake with warm spices and a light, not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting. We’ve picked up this cake three times in the regular size and one of the itty two-serving size since they opened.)

Related Candies

  1. Ginger Chews: Hot Coffee
  2. Seeds of Change: Dark Chocolate with Mango and Cashew
  3. See’s Pumpkin Spice & Root Beer Lollypops
  4. Sanders Caramels & Titans
  5. Wha Guru Chew
  6. Dagoba Chai
Name: Chai Tea and Cashew Brittle
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Morning Glory Confections
Place Purchased: Lark Cake Shop (Silverlake)
Price: $4.95
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Nuts, Toffee, United States, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:15 am     Comments (1)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Kohler Chocolates Garden Ganache & Toffee Mountains

Kohler Cherry BarkTucked away in Wisconsin is a little chocolatier called Kohler Chocolates. It’s known mostly to the folks who vacation there at the Kohler golf & spa destinations north of Milwaukee near Sheboygan.

Recently Kohler Chocolates has started selling online and appearing at trade shows to promote their products nationwide. (Which often means an appearance in Oprah Magazine. I’ve never read Oprah’s publications and don’t know much about her taste in candy and don’t usually follow recommendations of talk show hosts.)

Last year I got a hold of one of their bars via All Candy Expo, but it was a cherry one, so I didn’t think that’d be a good introduction so I waited. This year, just a few days before Valentine’s Day I got a nice selection of their boxed chocolates: Garden Ganache Truffles and Dark Mountain Toffees. They also make Terrapins (like Chocolate Turtles), chocolate bars, trail mix and a variety of barks.

Kohler Garden Ganache Chocolate Box

The Garden Ganache Truffles are stunning. The box is a large tray with huge dome-molded truffles in bright colors. It’s presented with a clear top for maximum impact. It’s one of the rare instances where the product looks exactly, if not better, than the photos on the website.

The website is a bit vague, however, on the array in their Garden Ganache. The ten piece set features flavors inspired by spices, tea, coffee, nuts and fruits.  The package is also maddeningly vague on the ingredients. It mentions the fillings, I believe, but none of them mention the actual chocolate ingredients. 

Kohler Garden Ganache - SpicesAsian Spice (Burnt Orange) - this was the first piece I tried because it smelled the strongest out of the box. The aroma of star anise was quite overwhelming, so I thought in order to preserve the flavors of the rest, it had to go.

It’s a wonderfully solid truffle, about 1.5” across and wonderfully tempered. The shell isn’t that thick, but has a nice snap and with all the truffles there was no sign of cracking or leaking.

Kohler Asian Spice Garden GanacheThough this was the first truffle I tried, I didn’t realize at the time that the center was different from the rest. It was thick and almost fudgy or like a dense brownie. Not quite grainy, it was a bit crystalline when I bit into it, but it melted quickly. The five spice was very pronounced, with the licoricey anise and fennel elements at the forefront. There was only a slight hint of cinnamon and cloves to it, and of course the chocolate flavors of smoke, cedar and coffee.

Creme Fraiche (White) - this was a wonderfully light truffle that allowed the flavors of the chocolate to come through. The ganache was very creamy and had only the slightest dairy tang to it.

Kohler Garden Ganache Fruit TrufflesRasbperry (Red) - though fashion right now seems to dictate lots of crazy flavors, I do love a classic raspberry truffle.

This was quite vivid. The center has a nice jammy raspberry component - no seeds but a good authentic berry profile with a slight tangy note and strong florals.

Passion Fruit (Light Orange) - this was one of the few white chocolate centers. It had a wonderful musky/herbal scent that reminded me of mango skins. The nice thing about passion fruit candies is that they always seem easier to eat than actual passion fruits.

This was a good mix of sweet and tangy with some strong zesty notes with just a touch of milk. I was really surprised by this, I’m not ordinarily a fan of tropical fruits mixed with chocolate.

Pear (Light Green) - this one seemed to be more themed like a pear liqueur than a pear puree. The center is a chocolate ganache with fragrant & fresh touch of pear flavor, it’s almost fresh fig meets banana.

Kohler Garden Ganache - TeasChai Tea (Green) - the spice flavors here were strong. It tasted mostly of gingerbread, the dark chocolate flavors subbed for the molasses notes and ginger with a touch of cinnamon & nutmeg dominated.

Earl Grey (Blue) - I’m definitely a bergamot fan. This didn’t disappoint. The chocolate is strong and the dark balsam zest notes blend well with it. The black tea flavors of Earl Grey are kind of missing, but I didn’t really expect them to make a strong showing (as they didn’t appear at all in the chai either).

Kohler Garden GanacheCoconut (Yellow) - this was a true truffle, not some sort of upscale Mounds bar.

The coconut flavor was deep and round, though it still had some dark rum notes to it, but it didn’t verge into Pina Colada territory.

Macadamia (Tan) - this was the other white centered piece. It’s also the only one with actual nuts in it. Macadamias remind me a bit of coconut, with its strong oily flavor and crispy crunch, this was rather similar to the coconut in that respect. The nuts were fresh and had a bit of a green banana flavor to them as well. Not too sweet, it was a nice change from the darker and spicier varieties.

Hazelnut Coffee (Brown) - this has a pleasant hazelnut liqueur aroma. The center was just bit firmer than the others, but quite silky once it melted. There is more than a touch of espresso flavors giving this a much better profile than that sometimes artificial quality that hazelnut flavoring can do. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get any real gianduia elements here (but that’ll be later with the toffees).

Kohler Dark Mountain ToffeeKohler Chocolates also has a bright & unique take on the traditional toffee & chocolate combination.

Here they’ve taken tiny chunks of toffee (most look like little cubes) and molded them with a touch of dark chocolate at the base. They call them Dark Mountain Toffee and they come in six varieties. Like the Garden Ganache, they’re boxed with a clear top to highlight the actual candies. They were a little puzzle to figure out which was which (and I successfully avoided the walnut one).

Kohler Orange Peel Dark Mountain ToffeeThe Orange Peel Dark Chocolate Mountain Toffee is an amazing combination.

Tiny little cubes of perfectly toasted sugar & butter toffee is mixed with chopped hazelnuts and candied orange peel and then drenched in dark chocolate with a teensy little snow cap of white chocolate.

While this sound like a riot of flavors, everyone has their part to play and it becomes more like a harmony. The dark and bass tones of the of the toffee and dark chocolate set the stage. Then the high citrus zest of the orange peel comes in followed by the spirited twinkle of the hazelnut crunch.

Cocoa Nibs was a very simple treat. The addition of the buttery crunch of cacao to the sweet toffee gave the whole thing a less-sweet taste, though I didn’t really get a lot of flavor from the nibs themselves because the chocolate is pretty strong as it is. If there was one that could be labeled the “plain” variety, this would be it ... not that there’s anything wrong with just having two elements: toffee & dark chocolate.

Kohler Dark Mountain Toffee - MintMint - ordinarily I wouldn’t think that toffee and mint would go together. This has dried mint leaves though, which adds a more “tea-like” flavor to it and less like the potent mint-oil blast that many candies employ. While I liked the leafy tannins, the dark burnt sugar flavors and the rich buttery chocolate, the actual leaves in there bugged me a little bit. Not enough that I didn’t finish it, mind you.

Coconut had a very strong tropical taste to it, even though there didn’t seem to be more than a dusting of coconut flakes on the white chocolate drizzle there were more flakes inside. I would have preferred a more toasted coconut vibe to it, as I think that would go better with the darkness of all the other flavors, I wouldn’t kick this out of my cabana.

Hazelnut was radically different than all the rest. Mixed into the tumble of toffee cubes was some soft and buttery gianduia. The hazelnut & chocolate paste was nicely highlighted by the toasted butter flavors and then the extra cocoa buttery chocolate. The bite on this one was much softer, almost like a granola instead of a cluster. (Which makes me wonder if anyone has made a hazelnut paste granola before ... as if granola isn’t fatty enough.)

I’m really impressed with the presentation, the unique styling of the candy that highlights the combinations and the bright flavors.

For folks who are lamenting the loss of Joseph Schmidt (news here), these are definitely truffles that highlight the silky quality of chocolate without being overly sweet or flavored and are generous pieces. (Though they’re also more expensive and can only be ordered online or purchased in a scant few shops in Wisconsin.) The array of Garden Ganache I tried retails for $24.95 for 7 ounces (making them about $57 a pound) . The Dark Mountain Toffees are also quite impressive, though I’d prefer being able to just order the Orange Hazelnut one by the box. The pieces aren’t quite as weighty as the truffles (and probably require quite a bit of handwork) - the box of six retails for only $9.95.

Related Candies

  1. Sterling Truffle Bars: Double Hazelnut Caramel Truffle & Cappuccino with a Twist
  2. Michel Cluizel 99%
  3. L’Artisan du Chocolat
  4. Valerie Lemon Hazelnut Nougat
  5. Joseph Schmidt
  6. Valerie Toffees & Nougats
  7. Vosges Truffles - Fall 2006
  8. Enstrom’s Toffee
Name: Garden Ganache & Toffee Mountains
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Kohler Chocolates
Place Purchased: samples from Kohler Chocolates
Price: $24.95 & $9.95
Size: 7 ounces & unknown
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Coffee, Toffee, Mint, White Chocolate, Nuts, Chocolatier, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:54 pm     Comments (14)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Valerie Confections: Pour Homme and Pour Elle

Valerie ConfectionsI check in with Valerie Confections from time to time, they’re about a mile from my house. The crazy little secret is that I go there for their teacakes. Especially in the summer, when I want something with a touch of chocolate but can’t bear a whole piece, the bottoms are dipped in chocolate. The cakes are moist, dense & lightly infused with flavors.

At the Fancy Food Show, however, Stan & Valerie were excited to show me their new Valentine’s collections. There are three:

The set called Pour Homme is for the gentleman. It has 11 pieces and comes in the dark brown box. Visually it’s dominated by large flat dark milk chocolate hearts that have fleur de sel and little almond toffee bits in them. It’s filled in with dark chocolate hearts with flowing caramel centers.

The set called Pour Elle is geared towards the gals and comes in the classic ivory box. This features large flat white chocolate hearts with rose petals and the small bittersweet chocolate hearts filled with rose petal and passionfruit ganache.

Both have 11 pieces and retail for $30.

For folks who want to share or prefer a different assortment there are boxes of various sizes (9, 18 & 36 pieces) that hold the bittersweet ganache hearts, gianduja rocher, and bittersweet chocolate with almond toffee bits.

Valerie Confections Valentine's Collection

I’ll just run down a few of the items I tasted:

Bittersweet Chocolate with Almond Toffee Bits (the smallest dark chocolate hearts shown above) - a simple pleasure. A mix of smooth bittersweet chocolate that has a glossy and smooth melt with little toffee chips and almonds. Sometimes I felt like I wasn’t getting enough toffee ... but then again, if I wanted chocolate and toffee, I could just order the chocolate covered toffee, so this piece is more about chocolate.

Valerie Confections - Fleur de Sel CaramelBittersweet Chocolate Hearts filled with Liquid Caramel - a little taller and wider than the other filled hearts, this one has a wonderfully thick and gooey caramel. Lightly salted, it has all the flavor of a toffee but the smooth texture of a custard. Lightly salted, the dark chocolate lends the perfect container and dark woodsy sweetness.

Bittersweet Chocolate Hearts filled with Rose Petal Passionfruit Ganache - a little petal graces the top of these pieces, but just sniffing it I could tell from the fragrance that it was the rose. The center is a white butter ganache with the tangy and tropical bite of passionfruit. The slightly soapy rose took some of the passionfruit earnestness away. There is a bit of a lingering aftertaste, kind of like jasmine. I suggest eating these last. Your dessert’s dessert.

Large Rose Petal White Chocolate Hearts (shown in a small version in the picture above) - this one was a little bland for me, and I did eat it first in my tasting session because I know that white can be a bit delicate and finicky. The white chocolate was smooth and not overly sweet, with a slight malty taste of cocoa. But the floral infusion didn’t quite hit me, but did leave a fresh aftertaste.

Valerie Confections - Toffee & Gianduia HeartGianduja Rocher - a sweet milky explosion of salt, buttery toffee chips and creamy sweet chocolate. It’s not a pasty, sticky gianduia. It’s a solid form that gives a soft and silky melt to the chocolate and a punch of roasted hazelnut flavor. It is sweet though, luckily the toffee chips and the salt cut through that.

Darkened Milk Chocolate Hearts with Almond Toffee Bits and Fleur de Sel - I want this in bar form year round. The “darkened milk chocolate” tastes like a cross between bittersweet and a European dairy milk chocolate. The dairy notes are complemented well by the toffee chips and the whole thing is set off by powerful zaps of salt in liberal reservoirs throughout.

Valerie Confections - Dark Chocolate GanacheBittersweet Ganache in Bittersweet Shells Finished with 23 Karat Gold (the picture here is of a round version of the same truffle - the uneaten one is above). Delicate mix of flavors, as this is all about the chocolate. The ganache is soft and smooth. There’s an immediate acidic bite that gives way pretty quick to some dark charcoal and alcoholic notes like fine cognac and tobacco. The gold version has a bit more chocolate to it, because of the geometry ... the gold flakes do nothing for me, except distinguish it from the toffee chip dark heart.

The attention to detail in the items, with their perfectly placed decorations and well tempered chocolate is exquisite. No bubbles or voids, everything glossy and gorgeous. On the personal side of things, I go all weak in their knees for their nougat and am a little disappointed they don’t have it again this year for Valentine’s (as that’s what my Man gave me last year). But I like it when they try new things and enjoyed the darkened milk with toffee chips most of all. (So I guess I’d have to opt for the Pour Homme ... luckily the box doesn’t say anything about it being geared for fellas.)

Valerie Confections - Petit FoursI like supporting a local business and that everything is made fresh ... not last year and has been sitting in a warehouse. If you go to the store you can get the petits fours and the tea cakes by the piece.

Valerie Confections
3360 West 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA

(213) 739-8149

Related Candies

  1. BonBonBars: Malt Ganache & Scotch
  2. Mori Ex Cacao Gift Set
  3. L’Artisan du Chocolat
  4. Valerie Lemon Hazelnut Nougat
  5. CocoaVino
  6. Valerie Toffees & Nougats
Name: Pour Homme & Pour Elle Valentine's Collections
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Valerie Confections
Place Purchased: samples from Valerie Confections
Price: $30
Size: unknown
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Toffee, White Chocolate, Nuts, Valerie Confections, United States, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:45 am     Comments (6)

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Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.





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