Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ethel Holiday Assortment

Lest you think that my upscale chocolate heart is only in San Francisco, I was recently sent a box of ethel’s chocolate from Chicago by, you know, some of ethel’s peeps.


They sent along the new Holiday Collection, just in time for a Thanksgiving review. The sassy half pound + box includes four each of six flavors, all with a holiday sugar and spice theme.

imageCinnamon & Sugar -A dark chocolate shell with a cinnamon and sugar spiced butter cream. Though all the chocolates look a little “manufactured” to me because they were so crisp and regular, the tastes were definitely authentic with all natural ingredients as far as I could tell. The dark shell was silky smooth and mellow. It had a slight bitter bite with offset the supersweet but superbuttery center well.

imageCranberry - a milk chocolate shell with a cranberry buttercream center. I was surprised at how “cranberry” the center of this one looked when I bit into it. The buttercream has an immediate and sharp berry bite, but the heavily dairy milk chocolate balances is pretty well. Though the flavors feel realistic, milk chocolate doesn’t feel like a good match for cranberry, maybe it’s because the dairy flavors and the tartness of the cranberry make me think of spoiled milk.

imageDreamy White - I don’t know what this one is, I couldn’t quite figure it out from the brochure that came with it. As far as I can tell it’s white chocolate with a milk chocolate center. The center wasn’t up to the sweetness of the shell and felt a little greasy and flavorless.

imageEgg Nog - dark chocolate with a egg nog flavored white chocolate ganache. I’ve always been a sucker for egg nog, it’s like drinkable spiced butterscotch pudding. It’s usually too sweet as a drink and I used to cut it with milk (or sometimes half and half) but I love the nutmeg on top. The dark chocolate shell here combines wonderfully with the rum and spice of the center.

imagePecan Pie - a milk chocolate shell with a pecan and spice filling. This one worked surprisingly well. I was afraid with a milk chocolate outside it would be too sweet, but it’s not. The filling isn’t as sticky sweet as a real pecan pie is, this instead has a great pecan taste to it, with that nutty feel on the tongue and woodsy hit.

imagePumpkin Pie - white chocolate with a spiced pumpkin buttercream. As with the other pie chocolate this was surprisingly good. The buttercream wasn’t just those pumpkin spices (nutmeg, clove, cinnamon) but it also had that real pumpkin taste to it (pumkin is on the ingredient label) that gave it more of a custardy feel than a ganache.

Of the whole set it was just the Dreamy White that bugged me, the rest I ate without complaint with the first to be devoured Egg Nog, Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Pie.

ethel’s chocolate is part of the Ethel M company, which in turn is the upscale boxed chocolates company founded by Mars. The new line of shops and chocolate lounges are less fussy and perhaps more fun than the Ethel M company. Their aesthetic is spare but with a great deal of attention to detail and attempt at brand unification. The selection in this box bodes well for my actual visit to one of their Lounges (right now just in the Greater Chicago area and Las Vegas). Their other selections include traditional spherical Truffles, a set called American Pop which appears to take comfort candy to a new level, Cocktail which feature mixed drinks and wine, Fruit which contains chocolate and fruit combinations and Nuts and Caramel which appears to eschew walnuts, much to my pleasure.

If I can make an observation, it seems that many of the new chocolatiers are chefs of one sort of another. Instead of coming out of a candy manufacturing tradition or perhaps baking, I feel like there are more chefs out there dipping their toes into the chocolate pools. I don’t know if this was always so, or if it’s just the publicity machines make more of the culinary curriculum vitae of the creators. ethel’s chocolate creative voice is Jin Caldwell.

The price of ethel’s chocolates is kind of up there, at $27.00 for the assorted box of 24 pieces (8.5


ounces). More than See’s, less than CocoaBella or Vosges. I was pleased enough with this box to want to give the Nuts and Chews a go next time the opportunity presents itself. I also desperately want a chocolate lounge in my neighborhood.

Name: ethel's Holiday Collection
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: ethel's chocolate
Place Purchased: samples from ethel's
Price: $27.00
Size: 8.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 143
Categories: Chocolate, United States, White Chocolate

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:17 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. Uh, I think you may need to change pounds to ounces in that last paragraph…unless, you know, the chocolates are a little over a third of a pound.

    Comment by Alex on 11/18/06 at 7:26 pm #
  2. I got a certificate for a couple of free chocolates from ethel’s—I’m really excited about going over there now!

    Comment by eliza on 11/19/06 at 4:27 am #
  3. Those look great!

    Comment by The Candyman on 11/19/06 at 4:28 am #
  4. They’re so pretty, and they sound delectable! I gather they use some kind of machine to make the tops look that way?

    Comment by Tricia on 11/19/06 at 9:09 am #
  5. Cybele

    Just discovered your Chocolate Blog.

    I visited the New York Chocolate Show last Sunday and wrote a few pieces about it on ‘Serge the Concierge’.

    The last one is ‘Episode 3’.

    Have a good evening


    Comment by Serge Lescouarnec on 11/19/06 at 12:20 pm #
  6. There are ads for ethel’s all over the el trains prominently touting the ‘martini’ flavor, I thought it was an approritate product placement.

    Comment by Rachel on 11/19/06 at 9:50 pm #
  7. Those sound really good. I’m currently enjoying a box from Ethel M’s in Vegas that a friend brought back for me because I take such wonderful care of his cats when he goes away.  I’ll have to see if they have these in Vegas next time he goes there and put in a special request!

    Comment by g on 11/20/06 at 4:12 am #
  8. Oh, man.  I miss Ethel M, I haven’t been to Vegas in a while.

    I’m now extra wanting to try the ethel.  The original Ethel M. cordial chocolates are super tasty so I bet the ethel Cocktail line is to die for.

    *salivates in corner*

    Comment by ladysoleil on 11/21/06 at 10:16 am #
  9. Cybele's avatar

    Alex - thanks for the catch. Sometimes I get my portion sizes mixed up! (But always on the generous side, I am.)

    eliza -ooh! tell me what you get!

    TheCandyMan - thanks!

    Tricia - I think they have little transfer sheets they place on top of them when they’re still melted and then peel off after they harden.

    Serge - you’re so lucky! One of these days I’m going to make sure I’m in NY for it.

    Rachel - yeah, I was actually hoping they’d send samples of the drink box ... not that I’m complaining about this set.

    G - see, that’s how to treat a pet sitter!

    ladysoleil - they do seem to get the authentic flavor combos just right.

    Comment by Cybele on 11/23/06 at 7:10 am #
  10. They have one in Fashion Show mall in Vegas and they told us the next location is San Francisco when we were there in October. Most of the EthelMs stores are gone in Vegas. The only one on the strip is in the Flamingo Hilton. But Ethels is great. Their dark cholocate fondue was fantastic and they let us sample almost everything while we were having our fondue.

    Comment by Jami on 11/30/06 at 8:27 am #
  11. My personal favorite is the “Dreamy White”.  I actually tried one recently, and it’s definitely worth tasting if you’ve never had it.

    Comment by White Chocolate on 11/30/06 at 10:41 am #
  12. Oh My God!!! I love these new candies….they are delicious I tried them on a visit to Europe….thanks for the review for us here in North America

    Comment by Johnathan Silverberg on 1/19/07 at 9:36 pm #
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