Friday, August 3, 2007

Candy Dump - International House of Chocolate

I’ve been accumulating chocolate bars faster than I can review them. (And faster than I can eat them, to boot!)

Here’s a selection of what’s been in my queue for a while with some brief thoughts on each. I don’t know much about the companies that make them, but all were tasty enough that I’m going to keep an eye out for the brands again.

Kilamanjaro Chocolate - MallorcaMy boss went to Spain and brought back three amazingly beautiful artisan chocolate bars from a company called Mallorca. Each bar was similar in format - 10 squares and wrapped in clear cellophane. The plain bar was wrapped face up, the nutted bars were bottoms up to show off the elegantly placed nuts.

The basic bar is called Kilamanjaro Chocolate and was an admirable middle-of-the-road 75% dark chocolate. It was smooth and creamy with woodsy notes and a bit of coffee in there. There was a slight grain to it and a later crisp dry finish. It was pleasant but perhaps a little too dry and acrid for me in the end.

Avellana Caramelizada Chocolate - MallorcaThis bar was by far my favorite. Called Chocolate con Leche Avellana Caramelizada it is a milk chocolate bar with caramelized hazelnuts.

The milk chocolate was creamy and had strong dairy notes, almost sticky and fudgy (but then again it was rather hot when I was eating it). The hazelnuts were dreamy little spheres - they were coated with a crispy sugar glaze of caramelized sugar with the nuts fresh and crunchy inside. They went so well with the chocolate I was often torn between pulling the nuts out and eating them whole and eating them with the blocks of chocolate.

I would love to get my hands on this bar again.

Almendra Marcona Chocolate - MallorcaThe Chocolate Negro con Almendra Marcona Chocolate features two blanched Marcona almonds in each square. The almonds are crisp and buttery (and are always more rounded than the pointy American almonds).

The dark chocolate here was not as strong as the first Kilamanjaro bar. It was sweet and bright tasting, some citrusy flavors along with light woodsy notes and a good buttery melt on the tongue.

The almonds were the star here, I love Marcona almonds, it’s like they’re a different nut from the almonds I usually get, they have an almost hazelnut/pine nut flavor to them.

Dark Angel from HaitaiThis bar came from a friend traveling in South Korea (thanks Kiele!). It’s almost like a greeting card in chocolate!

Since it was purchased in South Korea, I have not idea what the back of the package says except for the web address: which didn’t help me much in figuring out this bar. Sure, the front says stuff like “lighten up your day with dark angel dark chocolate” but I was curious about ingredients and stuff. The website is filled with cutesy images with butterflies and daisies but no sign of this bar. The character on the package, the spindly-legged princess with blonde hair is called Happy Girl with her even blonder Happy Guy. But the bar is called Dark Chocolate Dark Angel from Hatai and says it’s 42% cacao. Not too dark ... kind of in the middle.

The back of the package has some helpful pictograms that told me that the bar can be broken in half while it’s still in the package (the paperboard sleeve is scored). Then I think you’re supposed to share.

Dark Angel from HaitaiThe bar inside the package is quite cute (mine was a little broken, but I reassembled it). It features a large section with a butterfly in darker embossed chocolate and four smaller squares with a milk chocolate heart and potted flowers opposite a darker chocolate piece of wrapped candy and a rainbow.

The pieces have a nice snap (obviously, since they broke easily before I got the bar). The flavor is creamy and has a slight dairy edge to it. I wasn’t wild about it, but I thought the packaging was sweet (a little too sweet and immature for me, but fun for a tween or teen and the fact that you can get sheets or pillows to match just sends it over the top for me).

What I found in the end was it didn’t have quite enough of a chocolate hit to me, but it went well with a handful of almonds and pretzels as a snack.

French ChocolateFinally, I got three bars from Cacao et Chocolat in Paris shortly after Christmas from my father. Two of the bars (including the one shown) were dark chocolate. One was called Teculi and was 79% cacao. It was rich yet still buttery. The bar was crisp and glossy and really smelled glorious. It has some fruity cherries in there, maybe raspberry and plum along with the deep cocoa notes.

The second bar (which looked an awful lot like the first so there’s not another photo) was called Tobago and was 88%. This one I actually still have about 1/3 sitting around in my chocolate box. It’s very dark and really a lot of effor to eat. It’s like a riot of flavors in my mouth. Some acidic notes of citrus (grapefruit mostly) and dark woodsy tones of cedar along with coffee ... but then it’s just too dry for me. I miss the creamy cocoa butter to float it all around on my tongue.

The final bar in the set was a white chocolate one (which I didn’t photograph because it was broken). It was glorious ... it was so buttery and though sweet, it had some wonderful cocoa background notes (I don’t know if it was deodorized cocoa butter as a base or it just assumed some of the chocolate flavors from being shipped to me with the other strong bars).

In my package were also some truffles, which didn’t look photo-worthy after their world travels, but I found them quite nice, very simple. Creamy, toasted flavors and a good buttery melt. They have a nice website in both French and English (though I don’t know if they’ll ship to North America). It looks like the kind of place I’d definitely put on my list of shops to visit (along with everywhere else David Lebovitz tours).

I give the whole pile of chocolate a 6 out of 10 with the standouts of the Mallorca Chocolate con Leche Avellana Caramelizada and Cacao et Chocolat White Chocolate bar at 8 out of 10 (bars I would buy for myself). I have no idea of the price on these and of course none of them have nutrition labels on them.

Related Candies

  1. Theo Confections
  2. Michel Cluizel Les 1ers Crus de Plantation
  3. Cafe Tasse: Orange, Extra Noir & Noir Praline
  4. Pierre Marcolini Chocolates
  5. Nestle Carlos V Milk Chocolate

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:15 am Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyChocolatierReviewChocolateNuts6-Tempting8-TastyFranceSouth KoreaSpain

  1. Cybele, Thanks for reviewing something from Spain (so that I can actually go out and try something you’ve reviewed)!! smile I am right near one of the Mallorca shops in Madrid and they have some really fantastic chocolates & pastries.

    Comment by Karen on 8/03/07 at 11:28 am #
  2. I love the nut presentations on those bars! So simple yet very appealing.

    Comment by Heather on 8/03/07 at 1:42 pm #
  3. You often mention your co-workers but you never told us what it is you do! I’d love to know what your day job is, and how you manage to fit in all of your candy blogging adventures! btw, could you review (fruit) gushers? they’re the best smile

    Comment by Gail on 8/03/07 at 2:52 pm #
  4. Hi Cybele!
    I was sent the link here a few days ago, and have been reading non-stop since then.
    I have some candy suggestions for you.
    One is Macintosh’s English Toffee, made by Nestl?. I’ve been eating it since I was young, and it always brings up great memories. From what I can tell, it’s only very common here in Canada. They have small individually wrapped pieces, but the best way to eat it, in my opinion, is to hit the bar over the edge of a table to break it, open the box and enjoy. I’m not sure of where to get it online, sadly. 
    The other is Edinburgh rock. This stuff is delicious, and really interesting in texture. I believe you can order it here. If they don’t ship to you, you may be able to find it in import stores. We have a British bakery here that stocks imported treats, which is where I get mine.

    Love the blog. It’s almost as addictive as the candy. ;D

    Comment by Lauren on 8/04/07 at 10:09 am #
  5. cacao et chocolat is lovely.  i think i spent 15 euros there or something when i was in paris, just on a chocolate bar and some truffles (which were quite good, i can’t speak about the chocolate bar, as i sent it to my friend in florida).  my favorite parisian chocolate encounter though was la maison du chocolat.  they also have a couple stores in nyc, except i think their products are much more expensive in america than they are in france, even after the currency conversion is taken into account.

    Comment by erin on 8/04/07 at 11:46 am #
  6. Those hazelnuts look amazing! I think it’s terrible that you can buy plain, honey-roasted, and sugar-coated peanuts, walnuts, pecans, and almonds, but hazelnuts only come buried in a Ferrero Rocher.

    Comment by Rosa on 8/05/07 at 6:39 pm #
  7. love the packaging at the top. classy

    Comment by liz on 8/06/07 at 10:32 am #
  8. Cybele's avatar

    Karen - when I was in Spain when I was a teen I ate at a bar called Cibeles (that’s my name in Spanish) the whole time I was there. It was a large bar (5 ounces or so) and was gold & brown. The bar itself was chocolate with crispies. Not bad, and rather cheap.

    Heather - yes, the OCD-person inside me that likes to line up her Skittles loves perfectly distributed nuts.

    Gail - I’m afraid I don’t talk much about work, as I have a friend who was fired for talking about work on his blog. But here’s my account of the job from a few years ago ... I’ve been promoted a few times in between but the job is still the same (feel free to just skim it and be bored).

    Lauren - my husband brought me some MacToffee when he came back from Canada. I promptly gobbled it up before taking a photo! I’m going to a British import shop in a couple of weeks, hopefully they carry rock. Thanks for the suggestions.

    erin - I tried Maison du Chocolat when I was in NYC last year and had a dreadful time, I think it was just a bad day and the annoying Dutch fellows with their coarse conversation about female anatomy put everyone on edge. I’ll give them another try.

    Rosa - definitely try Charles Chocolate triple chocolate Hazelnuts if you ever get a chance.

    Liz - the chocolate is the star! (And they know it.)

    Comment by Cybele on 8/16/07 at 2:13 pm #
  9. Well I’d just like to add to the write up on White Angel chocolate.  Some of the teachers where I work were given some on valentines day and since then I have been hooked.  It took me a while to source it because I’ve never seen it in the main shops or the 7 11 style shops so I figured that maybe a 7 11 near a uni would have it.  Bingo!  this is fantastic chocolate especially for the price - at 70cents it is a bargain.

    Comment by Felicia on 3/07/09 at 9:16 pm #
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