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
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
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 Tracker Pixel for Entry    

Comments
  1. They do look rapturous.

    btw, 1/5? across is the same as 0.2” across?typo?

    Comment by bitguru on 3/05/09 at 2:45 pm #
  2. Cybele's avatar

    bitguru - good catch! It’s one and a half inches across, I got all hashed happy.

    Comment by Cybele on 3/05/09 at 2:53 pm #
  3. The truffles look like marbles to me - delicious chocolate marbles.

    Comment by Laura on 3/05/09 at 5:53 pm #
  4. I don’t think this could look any more appealing.

    Thank you for posting this!  Delicious ideas for my next gift… to myself. smile

    Comment by miss bliss on 3/05/09 at 8:31 pm #
  5. yum, chai candy!!

    Comment by Sweet Pursuit on 3/06/09 at 1:52 am #
  6. I really appreciate the way you pictured no more than 3 candies together followed by their descriptions instead of picturing the whole lot at the top and describing all of them in one big block of text…In my reader the pictures are all shoved to the left and followed by their text, so it means I can read the whole description and still glance back at the picture at the same time because I haven’t had to scroll it off the screen…does that make sense?

    LOVE this: “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.”  How fun to read that!  And I would like one of those RIGHT NOW!

    Comment by Kimberly on 3/06/09 at 2:36 am #
  7. Good call, Miss Bliss!

    Comment by Nani on 3/06/09 at 6:40 am #
  8. These look fantastic!  Will have toorder before the weather gets too hot to have things sitting in the mail box.

    Comment by Pam Walter on 3/06/09 at 6:41 am #
  9. Kohler, as in the company that makes those stylish faucets?? Wow, who knew they were in the chocolate business, too. But I see that they put the same artistic flourishes in their chocolates as they do with their sink-ware. Beautiful truffles!

    Comment by Carolyn Jung on 3/06/09 at 12:34 pm #
  10. I like your pics but they are often overexposed/details burnt out. can you diffuse your light a bit more?

    Comment by embean on 3/07/09 at 1:38 am #
  11. Talk show host?? No, no, Oprah is not a talk show host. She is a minor deity. But you’re right to not follow her tastes, they tend toward the pricey more than quality.

    These chocolates look incredible…

    Comment by dan on 3/07/09 at 7:01 am #
  12. those are so freakin pretty!

    Comment by sarah on 3/07/09 at 8:22 am #
  13. Kohler chocolates are my favorite and perhaps I’m a bit biased because the Kohler Chocolate Shop is about 5 minutes from my house. I’m a personal fan of the Terrapins and they make really yummy cakes at the shop.

    If your ever get a chance to go to the shop you should take it. They have all the different chocolates in cases and you can pick and choose what flavors and types you want.

    Comment by Allison on 3/10/09 at 5:26 pm #
  14. Aren’t these fabulous? They’re going to be my gift of choice for the year. They’re so pretty, they shine and gloss so nicely in person. They taste great too. I really loved the coconut, the only flavor I didn’t dig was the passionfruit.

    Comment by chocolate nerd on 3/11/09 at 8:26 am #

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