Archive for the ‘Bonbon’ Category

Recchiuti Fleur de Sel and Cardamom Nougat

February 22, 2009

Recchiuti Confections (smushed)

Whenever I’m near the Ferry Building in San Francisco, I have to avoid going inside unless I’m prepared to buy a few pieces from Recchiuti Confections.  Take, for example, a couple of weekends ago when I had gone downtown to buy some chocolate from TCHO (review coming soon!), and had some time to kill before a movie.  Since I’d just spent money on chocolate, I thought I wouldn’t end up buying more, but of course I was incorrect…

I picked out two pieces, which got a little smushed in my bag:

Fleur de Sel Caramel: Dark chocolate encases a dense, chewy caramel. As the caramel is flavored with salt, it comes out in small bursts.  Small, but complex in flavor.

Cardamom Nougat: Delicious chocolate ganache with subtle cardamom flavoring. I didn’t really taste the cacao nib nougat.  Looks like my piece didn’t get much dripped on top?  I still enjoyed it, though.

Both were solid pieces, what I expect from Recchiuti.

What really drove me to stop and purchase something at Recchiuti rather than stopping and checking out new products, like I did at the Scharffen Berger store, was the great customer service.  As soon we approached Recchiuti, we were offered hot chocolate, and the employees seemed friendly and approachable.  If I hadn’t been planning on buying Tcho chocolate, I probably wouldn’t have gotten any, because the employee there didn’t even look up from her computer when we were in the otherwise empty store.  I really appreciate how Recchiuti employees are always friendly, no matter how busy they are – chocolate and good feelings should always go hand in hand!

Christopher Elbow & J Chocolatier

January 26, 2009

Biagio Chocolate Box

Having missed good chocolate while I was in India, I was thrilled to receive this 4-piece box when I returned.  Riley’s sister Meghan picked these pieces at Biagio Fine Chocolate, a store in Washington, D.C.  They carry a range of bars and filled chocolates, and it looks like they host events like chocolate tastings.

The box contained one piece from Christopher Elbow and three pieces from J Chocolatier.

Banana Curry (Christopher Elbow): The chocolate covering was very delicate and smooth.  At first bite, I thought the piece might taste too sweet, but the banana flavor wasn’t overwhelming.  The curry spices came out and tempered the banana.  Nicely done.

Warm Clove (J Chocolatier): Very fragrant.  Tiny flecks of clove in the ganache make the filling a little granier than I would like, but not something that I would dislike.  I tasted black tea.

Ugly Butter (J Chocolatier): I had no idea what this piece would be like.  Based on the name, I guessed that it would contain butter, but I wasn’t sure why it had that bumpy shape.  It looked like it could contain a whole nut, like an almond.  It turned out that it contained a buttery ganache in the center.  Nothing really special, but I like the odd shape.

Fleur de Sel Caramel (J Chocolatier): Flakes of salt on the top of the piece gave it an immediate shock of saltiness.  The caramel within was nice and runny, and melded well with the salt and chocolate shell.  The dark chocolate complemented the caramel and salt.  After eating, the saltiness lingered on the tongue.

I enjoyed all of the pieces, but the ugly butter wasn’t as interesting flavor-wise as the others.  It’s not that a simple ganache isn’t good enough, but the subtle flavor combinations in the three pieces really worked for me.

Godiva European Dessert Truffles

November 16, 2008

Godiva truffles

I got a postcard in the mail to sample two truffles from Godiva’s European Dessert Truffle collection.  I don’t especially care for Godiva; their truffles are generally too sweet, and their fruity truffles taste like jam rather than fresh fruit.  Still, I can’t say no to free chocolate, so I stopped by a store today.

I asked the salesperson if she had any favorites in the group, which includes Creme Brulee and Bananas Foster, and she admitted that she didn’t.  She said she didn’t like fruity truffles (which I understand, if you’re selecting from Godiva pieces), so the only one she sort of liked was the Chocolate Souffle.  I picked that truffle, as well as the Caramelized Apple Tarte.

Caramelized Apple Tarte: Very sweet.  The filling is all right – tastes like caramelized apple, with sugar, apple, and plenty of cinnamon.  The milk chocolate shell is very sweet and creamy, and the chocolate flavor is barely noticeable.

Chocolate Souffle: The filling is mousse-like, though still a little dense, and not as fluffy as the Dutch bonbons I’ve had before.  Even though this truffle has a dark chocolate shell, it’s still overly sweet, as is the filling.

I guess if you like sweet bonbons and don’t particularly care if the taste of chocolate is prominent, then the caramelized apple tarte truffle might work for you.  The chocolate souffle truffle is more chocolatey, but boring in comparison, and not good enough at what it does to merit purchasing.  I’d recommend avoiding Godiva, unless you’re going for the G collection, created by Norman Love.

Coco-luxe truffles

August 10, 2008

Coco-luxe Confections, a Bay Area-based chocolate company, recently opened a retail store in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district.  Though it was too warm out to try a drink from their hot chocolate selection, when I stopped by this afternoon I picked up four truffles: German Chocolate, Double Cherry, Mocha, and After Dinner Mint.

German Chocolate: Tastes sweet, not chocolatey.  The coconut bits work well, though – they’re moist, unlike the dry pieces in some chocolate.  While it had all the elements – chocolate, coconut, pecan – my co-tester thought it needed more of a German chocolate taste.  I know that this isn’t what Coco-luxe was going for, but I think that a dark chocolate coconut piece would work better.

Double Cherry: Definitely the winner in this group.  Intense cherry burst, followed by dark chocolate during the melt.  I’m surprised that I liked this piece since I usually dislike cherry flavor.  However, while the cherry flavor is strong, the piece avoids a syrupy sweetness with a hint of tartness.

Mocha: Way too gritty, which is a shame, because the subtle coffee flavor might have worked with a smooth ganache.  Since both the coffee and chocolate flavors are subtle, the grittiness is overwhelming, but I doubt that bolder flavors could save this piece.

After Dinner Mint: Smooth, soft ganache, in great contrast to the mocha piece.  The mint flavor was strong in my first nibble, but mellowed out as a I ate more.  The dark chocolate is very present in the taste.  Good balance between the mint and chocolate.

Overall, the truffles varied from surprisingly good (Double Cherry) to mediocre (Mocha).  The truffles were attractive, and the outer layer was good, thin and soft, not hard to bite into.  However, in two out of the four pieces I tasted, the flavors in the ganache need tweaking in order to be successful.

[In the efforts of full disclosure, I was afraid that I might be predisposed to disklike Coco-luxe because of of something their founder, Stephanie Marcon, say in an interview: “Who has time to read?”  Really?  However, I take chocolate too seriously to let a statement like that sway my opinions.]

Random Dutch Bonbons

March 22, 2008
Dutch Bonbons My dad went to Utrecht recently and bought my family some chocolate bonbons from a woman at a window in the rail station. They mostly stayed intact during shipping from Atlanta to San Francisco, besides the atomic green white chocolate, which got squashed.Two of the bonbons were buttercream, but not like any I’ve had before – the fillings were much, much fluffier. The squashed white chocolate piece might have been pistachio (which would explain the color) and another piece was an orangey-brown and might have been hazelnut , but the light, airy texture stood out more than the flavor. The dark chocolate piece pictured below had a layers of buttercream and lemon filling, was an interesting combination and tasted much better to us. The two pralinés, white and milk, were our favorites. They each had a smooth chocolate ganache over a caramelized, nutty layer. I preferred the milk to the white, which was a little sweet for my taste.
dutch chocolate

Pretty interesting experience, and mostly pleasurable, though the colors used in some of the fillings scared me.

dutch chocolate