Last summer, my husband and I decided we needed a little break from the real world. As much as we love our son, we needed a bit of a vacation and decided to spend it in the ultimate adult playground: Vegas!
Now, neither of us are gamblers, so it seems a bit of an odd choice, but my husband had never been and I remembered having a blast when I went right after college graduation with some of my friends. We figured the money we saved not gambling could be spent on Cirque du Soleil tickets, fancy dinners and shopping…lots of shopping.
We stayed at Bally’s, right next door to Paris and across the street from Ceasar’s Palace. We spent our mornings sleeping in, eating leisurly late brunches and walking along the strip. Since it was June and hot as hell, we found ourselves ducking in to every casino along the way in order to cool down, see the sights and get a drink or two.
One day we ducked into Ceasar’s. We almost didn’t go in since we’d gone over there the first night and thought we’d seen it all. But we found another “mall” section and thought some window shopping might be fun (as most of the shops were just a tad out of our price range). Once inside, I honed in on a little chocolate shop all decked out in purple and white: Vosges Haut Chocolat.
Eager to try anything new and chocolatey, I headed in. I’d already made my husband stop in Ethel M’s and M&M World, so he was not quite as thrilled with me wanting to stop in and sample more sugary treats. I was a woman on a mission though.
The shop was sparse. The simple white cases were not brimming with their wares, which was odd to me. I’m used to Godiva, where the cases are packed full of several dozen of each type of chocolate bauble. Instead, these cases held a single sample of each of their truffles. Posed two to four truffles to lucite pedestal, the store definitely fit the Roman theme; it was quite spartan. I didn’t quite know what to think of odd names like “wink of the rabbit,” “naga” and “wollomooloo,” I felt out of my element. I don’t exactly remember what I tried. I do remember I bought two of the spicy Aztec collection for one of my friends.
I didn’t think much else about Vosges until I was in Chicago on a shopping trip with my best friend. As we were walking down Armitage, I passed a door that looked just a bit familiar. When I walked back toward my car, I realized it was another Vosges store. Since I was on a shopping trip, I figured I might as well stop in and try something new.
Now, this is a rather long build up to my current review. One of their products I tried early on was their Exotic Caramel collection. There are actually 8 exotic caramels, but since 5 of them are dark chocolate and I’m usually only a fan of the dark stuff if it contains something really sweet, I went for collection flight B, which is mostly a milk collection.
There are four rectangular caramels in each little purple box. My first caramel was the Sunshine which is described as “tupelo honey + milk chocolate + bee pollen.” There are little clumps of bee pollen on top of a milk chocolate shell. The pollen is a bit grainy, but it’s a neat taste. The caramel has a hint of honey, which I really like. It’s not so overwhelming that it loses the caramel taste. It’s a chewy caramel, but not the tooth breaking kind. I am usually a fan of the liquidy caramels, but sometimes those can be too sweet. This one is a nice blend. It’s not overly sweet, but tempered perfectly.
The second one was the Maple, which Vosges describes as “Canadian maple sugar + maple syrup + walnuts + dark chocolate.” Since this one is a dark chocolate piece, it does have a little bit of a bitter after taste. This one has a bit more texture since the caramel has walnuts inside of it. Personally, I don’t walnuts have that much flavor, so the inclusion of them inside and the dusting on the top seem more for texture than anything else. Much like the honey piece, this one has subtle hints of maple to it. It’s fairly tasty, but like just about all non-tart pieces, I think it would be better in milk chocolate.
The third piece was Crema, which is “Argentinean dulce de leche + Costa Rican cashews + milk chocolate.” This piece actually has a cashew on the inside, which give it a slightly salty tasty. But since it is a cashew, it is also a bit sweet. At room temperature, the caramel is the perfect consistancy. Since it’s a soft caramel, there’s not risk of breaking your teeth like with the cheap Brach’s version. It also doesn’t have that overly sugary sweet taste many caramels ahve. The sweetness doesn’t come from an abundance of sugar, but rather from the flavors paired with the caramel.
The final piece, and my favorite, is Tarte, which is “blood orange + Campari® + dark chocolate + hibiscus powder.” The dusting of blood orange is, in fact, tart and oh so tasty. I first discovered blood oranges about three years ago and have been obsessed ever since. I would drench everything in this sweet powder if I could. Since this is a dark chocolate, the blood orange powder fits it perfectly. It takes any hint of bitter out of the caramel and replaces it with just a hint of sweet. I want to be clear, there is not enough of the powder to overpower the actual caramel taste. It is creamy and leaves a wonderfully sweet taste in my mouth. I would love to get an entire box of these to snack on, because three bites just isn’t enough.
Vosges packages these as bit-sized soft caramels, but I’m not sure I could pop them in my mouth in one bite, even if I didn’t want to savour the flavors, they might be a bit more than I can chew. They are caramels after all. And pricey ones at that. A box of 4 runs $9.50, which is about $2.35 each. When I get them at the store I never feel quite as bad since I don’t have to pay shipping. But since Vosges ships next day to ensure freshness, it makes them even pricier. Luckily I bought them during a promotion and got 15% off which made them a bit easier to swallow.
Still, overall for taste, I’d say a 9/10