Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Path to Becoming a Chocolate Connoisseur is Made Easier with a Bounty of Chocolatey Gifts

I was blessed to receive a lot of chocolate this past holiday season. This is becoming the usual tradition since I started expressing to my husband and family that I really only want gourmet chocolate as gifts at holidays. Since my goal is to become a true chocolate connoisseur, which can be an expensive endeavour, any gifted chocolate helps me reach that goal. So I feel happy and lucky to have received such a bounty at Christmas.

I liked all of the chocolate that I received, but my absolute favourites included:

Vosges Haut Chocolat's Organic Peanut Butter bonbons which have a milk-chocolate and peanut butter center and are enrobed in more of Vosges' "deep milk chocolate" (it is considered 'deep' because it has 40% cocoa solids, which is very high for milk chocolate!).  This is not smooth and not sweet and definitely salty, since the top is sprinkled with "pink Himalayan salt", but overall it is a delicious treat when you want something filling and tasty with minimal sugar guilt. This is a great organic and all-natural alternative to Reese Peanut Butter Cups. And any Vosges chocolate is usually a favourite of mine because of their usage of high quality ingredients and interesting flavour combinations. Who can forget Mo's Bacon

Bovetti Artisan Chocolatier's Milk Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt is a 100 gram milk chocolate bar sprinkled with crunchy and chewy caramel bits. Although a wee bit hard on my delicate teeth, this milk chocolate bar was not too sweet and was made with natural vanilla, flavours and colouring. This is a product of France, but was bought for me at the Fromaggerie in Sudbury, Ontario (Canada). However, Bovetti is sold in more than 35 countries and you can likely find Bovetti chocolate at a retailer near you. They make many artisan chocolate bars and the full range can be found here.

Christophe Morel Pure Nacional Pérou 68% bar is made from a cacao bean that was thought to be extinct, and made with a 60 hour conching giving it an extremely smooth texture. The flavour is said to have fruity, floral and hazelnut tones; I am still just beginning to savour this chocolate and nursing a sinus cold, so I cannot yet comment on the flavour. But even with the cold and no sense of smell, the flavour is strong and wonderful and has a well balanced bitter and sweetness. This chocolate bar cost about $20 CAD (plus taxes and shipping), and is the most prized chocolate gift that I received this Christmas.

Michel Cluizel Mangaro bar has 65% cacao solids and is made from beans of a single plantation in Madagascar.  Single-origin Madagascar chocolate is quickly becoming my favourite type of chocolate overall, since I love the tropical fruit flavours often found in Madagascar beans.  Michel Cluizel also makes unbelievably smooth chocolate with an unparalleled flavour. I enjoyed every single square of this chocolate bar.

Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Raspberries is a very interesting 72% dark chocolate bar because the chocolate makers have used unbleached water-filtered beet sugar.  This is a sugar that I have not seen  used in any other chocolate and I am a big believer that all of the food we consume should be 'unbleached', so I am looking forward to researching endangered species reasons for using beet sugar. There are not a lot of raspberries in this bar and I haven't decided yet if I like the flavour, but I do love what the Endangered Species brand is all about.

I was also blessed to received some cacao nibs and a new, larger coffee grinder, to assist with my hobby of making chocolate from the bean at home. So all-in-all, 2013 has started off just right.  I am still on my path to becoming a true chocolate connoisseur!

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