As apart of my recent trip to Canada, I had to check out the local sweet shops. Luckily even though Stratford isn’t the biggest town (pop. about 30,000), they have three different chocolate shops. The first one we went to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is a chain, but I still reviewed it a few weeks ago. The second one is Chocolate Barr’s and it was convienantly located about three doors from our hotel. To sweeten the pot, during check-in at the hotel, we were handed a coupon for free chocolates at Chocolate Barr’s. For me, that sealed the deal!
Although it probably would have been smart to buy a box of prepackaged chocolates, when I see a chocolate counter full of delicious sounding flavor combinations, I can’t help myself, I have to create my own assortment. The problem with that is that when I actually sit down to enjoy my chocolates, I have no idea what I put in my box. Since there was no map to guide me through my purchases, I had to let my tongue (and my not quite as good as it was 10 years ago memory) try to sort it out for me.
Looking in the box, all I could figure out was that I’d gotten a variety of creams and caramels. The only piece that stood out for me was the one truffle I got. Not so much because the shape or size was any different from the creams, but because it had a really cool iridescent pink sheet to it. I won’t lie, I bought that truffle specifically because it was so pretty to look at. The flavor itself, a chili chocolate, is not usually a favorite of mine. It can be done well, and this one wasn’t too shabby. There was a slight chili taste that left a little burn, even after I’d had another chocolate. The chili flavor was embedded in a creamy chocolate center. Since it was in dark chocolate (as most chili chocolate is), it was a little stronger than I like. I’m glad I tried it though.
Looking back in the box, I was pretty sure the giant squares in the box were the peanut butter pieces. Having two of them helped me figure it out, since my husband is enamoured of peanut butter and I figured I should bring something special back from my travels for him.*Chocolate Barr’s peanut butter pieces were pretty big. They were thick and had creamy peanut butter inside, but it tasted a little artificial to me, and to be honest, not super peanuty, which made me a little sad. See, as part of my love for chocolate, I have several recipes of my own and put together my own chocolate treats for the holidays. My peanut butter chocolates are a favorite and I love how peanuty they taste. The ones I’d gotten at this shop tasted a bit too sugary for my taste.
I found the same was true for the coconut cream I tried. It had a mild coconut taste to it and a few flecks of real coconut, but for the most part, it was too sugary. And while the coconut caramel also had the flecks of real coconut in it, I didn’t think they added much to the flavor. In fact, the flecks were all that told me it was a coconut caramel.
The maple cream, which I figured would be a Canadian special, definitely had maple flavor to it, but didn’t exactly thrill me. It was decent, but not decadent.
On the flip side, the butter rum truffle was immediately identifiable. It tasted like a creamy, chocolatey butter rum lifesaver. Now, I know this is just one of the many things that made me kind of a wierd kid, but even from a very young age I have ADORED butter rum lifesavers. I would trade away my assorted flavors and even my cherry rolls for them whenever I could. There vanilla cream was also quite tasty. It was buttery and creamy and a bit like cake frosting. In short, everything a vanilla buttercream should be. Yum! The salted caramel is also pretty tasty. Then again, I really do like the satly sweet combo. There is just a hint of sea salt on the top of the caramel and it’s a nice balance. It’s also a really chewy, stick to your teeth kind of caramel, so if that’s not your thing, their caramels may not be for you. Oh, just a little hint, if you do get the caramels, make sure to bring them to room temperature if you want a shot at eating them without cracking your teeth!
Overall, this collection reminded me of pieces I could get in a Whitman’s sampler. Perfectly fine for snacking on, and capable of filling a chocolate craving, but not really of satisfying that craving. If I went to Stratford again, I’d stop in and buy more, but this time I’d get a smaller box with only my scattered favorites. The price was very reasonble though. I got a half pound box for about $12. That was about 20 pieces (about .60 each). I’d give Chocolate Barr’s a 6/10.
*I did bring him plenty of treats–fancy peanut butter caramel bars, giant peanut butter cups and a few peanut butter meltaways.