Monday, August 29, 2011

European Bars in Brief

In my recent travels abroad I picked up a lot of chocolate bars. Here’s a brief little run down of three of them:

Mark Antoine Chocolatier Edelbitter Absinth TruffleAs a little reminder, I went to Amsterdam and Cologne earlier this year. There are flavors there that just aren’t very well known in North America. One of the new flavor trends that I noticed was Absinthe (I’ve seen a little of it in the United States but its influence in The Netherlands was a lot more ubiquitous).

So when I spotted this bar from the Chocolatier Marc Antoine called Edelbitter Absinth Truffle, I though it would be a perfect item to pick up as it would probably travel very well.

The box was stiff and nicely designed with the sickly green swirls of anise & wormwood liqueur. Inside the bar was in a simple cellophane sleeve but remarkably unscathed by its journey.

Mark Antoine Chocolatier Edelbitter Absinth Truffle

The bar was big and the pieces were chunky. The dark chocolate was glossy with large reservoirs of the dark chocolate truffle filling inside. The truffle was smooth and creamy and very soft, almost like a caramel sauce. The scent was definitely on the grassy fennel side of things, even before I bit into it. The dark chocolate was smooth and bitter though had a lot of cocoa notes mixed with a sharp and tangy anise. The truffle center had a lot of licorice flavors, very soft and fluffy notes that were sweet along with a little hint of eucalyptus and some other botanicals.

I wouldn’t call it a hallucinogenic experience, but it was a wonderful, strong herbal bar that I enjoy quite a bit. There as a little alcoholic burn to it but it was more like tequila.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Cuorenero Smoked ChocolateOne of the best bars, by far, was the unique one for me. It was called Cuorenero Smoked Chocolate and was made in Italy.

The package was a big, flat square, about 4.5 inches. The box was pretty and featured raised and gold embossed lettering for the logo and the image on the front of a clay oven. The chocolate is described on the front a little more puro ciccolato fondente con fichi affumicati or “pure dark chocolate with smoked figs” - so it’s the figs in it that are smoked, not the chocolate itself.

The back of the package is in a bunch of different languages and featured notices about recycling but most importantly that Cuorenero does not use any dairy products other other major allergens, that means no gluten, no eggs, no soy, no peanuts, no nuts with hard shell (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc.), no celery, no mustard, no sesame seeds, no sulfur dioxide, no lupines, no shellfish and no fish. On top of that, all their ingredients are GMO-free. 

The ingredients were: cacao mass, sugar, cocoa butter, smoked fig pieces, sunflower lecithin and flavours.

Curenero Smoked Chocolate

The bar is beautiful, a thick circular slab sectioned into 16 wedges. The bar smelled like molasses, deep and sweet with a lot of notes of smoke, leather and pipe tobacco. The chocolate flavors were tangy and had notes of coffee and charcoal. The figs were little bits with the occasional seed. There were notes of dark rum, raisins and the grassy fresh notes of figs. The smoke flavors were like cognac and fine whiskey.

If you’re a chocolatier and looking for a new flavor combination, please try smoked, dried fruit in dark chocolate. Then let me know how I can buy some from you.

The bar was 60 grams (2.1 ounces) and I think I paid about $6 for it at the Cologne Chocolate Museum Gift Shop (I think it was 4 Euros). Cuorenero Website.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Zotter Mandel - RosenZotter is a popular maker of fair trade candy bars in Austria. They’re crazy. If you think smoked figs are off the beaten path, you have not explored the uncharted wilderness of Zotter. I’ve had two of their bars before, Banana Curry and Zitrone Polenta. They’re fair trade and organic.

This was another bar that I picked up at the Cologne Chocolate Museums Gift Store (which was a phenomenal chocolate store, if you hadn’t figured that out). It’s Zotter Mandel - Rosen which is almond and rose. (I passed up the Peanuts & Chocolate bar.)

Zotter Mandel - Rosen

The bar is about 4.5 inches long and about 2 inches wide and weighs 70 grams (2.47 ounces). It’s thin, for a filled bar but rather dense.

Inside there are two fillings layers. The base is a creamy but rather solid almond paste and sandwiched in between two layers of that is a rose petal jelly (which seemed to have a touch of raspberry in it). This was a great flavor combination, classic and sure, a bit Victorian in sensibilities. I liked the delicate almond flavor (no screaming Amaretto here) and even the rose was light and had less of a soapy taste than some other floral flavors I’ve tried. It was fragrant and sweet with that light touch of berry to it.

It wasn’t as crazy bar but like the others I’ve profiled here, it’s unusual for American tastes. It’s not the kind of candy you can get addicted to, it’s hard to find and the flavors come in and out of production. Check out their website.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Related Candies

  1. La Higuera Rabitos Royale (Chocolate Truffle Filled Figs)
  2. Nory Rahat Locum
  3. Eat with your Eyes: Kopper’s Absinthe Cordials
  4. 3400 Phinney: Fig, Fennel & Almond and Hazelnut Crunch
  5. Zotter Candy Bars
  6. Caffarel Figs & Chestnuts (Fico & Castagna)
  7. Dolfin: Anise and Red Pepper
  8. Vosges Haut-Chocolate
  9. Figamajigs

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:58 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     All NaturalCandyReviewChocolateEthically SourcedNutsOrganic8-Tasty10-SuperbAustriaGermanyItaly

Comments
  1. That almond and rose bar sounds like something I’d really like to try. I love rose jelly (formed from a childhood of eating Fry’s Turkish delight).

    One thing I was wondering was can you get Koko Black chocolate over there? They’re one of the better Australian chocolate makers and my personal favourite.

    Comment by Leigh on 8/29/11 at 7:06 pm #
  2. I have relatives in England and Ireland. So Fry’s bars, Crunchies, Smarties, and Maltesars have been a staple of my growing up!!!!!!! No American or Swiss chocolate beats these!!!!! Or so I thought. Just came back from Greece. While there my sister discovered this little gem called Kiss. It strawberry and white marshmallow. It comes in a pink and white wrapper! I would kill for one of these.

    Comment by maureen allenza on 10/17/13 at 3:47 pm #

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