Monthly Archives: September 2010

Chocolate Monday: Godiva Salted Caramel Bar

I’ve never met a chocolate bar I didn’t like. I’ve met some I was absolutely gaga about, but I always manage  to find something redeeming and tasty in every one. They are, after all, chocolate.

So, when I was browsing the Godiva website awhile back (yes, I am a preferred customer, so I get all those emails about new promos, and yes, when I get one of those emails, I find it impossible not to click the mouse button to take me to the actual site), I was more than a little excited to see all of the candy bars they were introducing. In the last few months they have expanded their large candy bar stock considerably. I was excited when I saw they actually had four new collections, each with five bars in it. A tad less excited when I saw there were only actually 9 new bars total and that two of the collections had repeats. Even less excited when I saw that of the 9 new bars, five were dark chocolate. It’s like they are trying to prove me wrong by making me dislike a candy bar.

Still, despite my small sadness, I was excited to see that one of the flavors was a salted caramel bar. In my opinion, this is one of the best chocolate combinations. Don’t get me wrong, I’m cool with chocolate and fruit, chocolate and nuts, chocolate and nougat and heck, I adore chocolate and chocolate, but there is just something about chocolate and caramel that makes me start salivating. Add some sea salt and I can hardly control myself. I was super excited about this one because one of my favorite treats at Godiva is actually these hand dipped sea salt coated chocolate caramels they sell. I’m not sure if they are a legit product or not, because I’ve never seen them at any Godiva but mine. But who cares? I say keep ’em coming!

Anyway, the prospect of caramel, sea salt and chocolate all wrapped up in bar form sent my head spinning and my feet running to my local boutique. It figures, the day I get there, they are having a special: three bars for $10, which is great since they are usually like $4 a piece. It was almost silly not to take the deal since I really wanted to try a couple of the others (I’ll admit, my interest was even peaked in two of the dark bars). I warred with myself for a while before biting the bullet and grabbing three bars.

Although I’m usually a best for last kind of gal, I couldn’t help myself this time. Before I could even think about the other bars, I had to try the salted caramel bar. My first thought as I popped it on my tongue was, “yep, that’s salty.” When I just let a piece melt on my tongue, the salt was a little overpowering. I found when I chewed the piece instead, the salt sort of got mixed in with the chocolate better and combined better, which disappointed me a little as I like to savor my chocolate to make it last.

I was also let down that the caramel was not a gooey one. The caramel on the truffle-like caramels they make in the store is gooey and I adore it. I think the gooey sweet caramel mixes perfectly with the salt. In the case of this bar though, that wasn’t really possible. Letting it dissolve in my mouth drowned out the caramel flavor, so I had to take small bites. The little caramel chips in it had the same texture as the salt, but even when chewed only gave a hint of the flavor.

This bar really just tasted like salted chocolate, which, don’t get me wrong, is good. I like salted chocolate, but it seems almost like false advertising. Yeah, I know, it wasn’t actually false advertising as there were caramel pieces in it, but the taste was a bit too subtle for me. I wanted more caramel to temper the salt.

One thing it really does have in its favor is that it is incredibly creamy. If they had just labelled it salted chocolate and not gotten my caramel hopes up, I would have been very satisfied with this bar. Since they led me astray though, I couldn’t help but pine for the caramel I was missing.

After eating the bar, I can still claim I’ve never met a chocolate bar I didn’t like, but this is one that definitely didn’t wow me. I wanted it to. I expected it to. And I was let down.


Taste: 6.5/10 (the chocolate itself is good)

Appearance: 6/10

Value: 7/10


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Chocolate Monday: Vosges Haut-Chocolat truffles

Every year my bff and I make bi-annual pilgrimages to Chicago. We make the round trip in one day, and it’s just far enough away that going more than that is not only exhausting, but also a bit extravagant. But we love the shops on Armitage so much that we just can’t go more than about 6 months without hitting them, credit cards in hand. If the draw of Lush, Art Effect, Aroma Workshop and the best damn Italian place around (I am totally spacing the name right now) weren’t enough, there is also a chocolate bonus for us: Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Actually, when we first started frequenting Armitage (and I’ll admit, it was the Lush that reeled us in), we actually came home twice as laden with cocoa treats as there also used to be an Ethel M’s at the end of the block. Sadly they are now gone, so we make up for it by spending more at Vosges.

Over the past few years, I’ve tried several pieces from their collection. While I don’t mind shopping their online catalog, the summer shipping (a whopping $19.95) is a bit too much for me to swallow. Plus, while I like several of the truffles in each of their collections, Vosges is a bit dark chocolate heavy for me, so I often find at least 1/3 of the pieces I’m not as fond of. The great thing about visiting the store is that I can put together my own custom box of chocolates with only milk pieces (and every now and then a dark one).

And that’s just what I did when my bff and I got our geek on at Comic Con last month. Yes, you did read that right. I am a geek on so very many levels.

In addition to my favorite caramels and the peanut butter bon bons my husband adores, I decided to make my own box of nine truffles. There were only seven I was super gung-ho about this visit (they do change their truffles out every now and then, which is fun when they have featured pieces from new collections), so I doubled up on two I knew I liked.

My personal collection started of with a Balsamico. This is the one dark chocolate piece I threw in. I was a bit wary since Vosges dark chocolate tends to be very dark, and often just a tad bitter. Since they are a rather upscale chocolatier, they are a bit snobby about their dark chocolate (as  a great many chocolate purists are). Over half of their pieces are done in dark chocolate and they are often paired with exotic spices that don’t hold much appeal for me (for example, one dark pieces incorporates wasabi, another a black tea). The Balsamico was definitely a bitter dark, but the center, which has more than a splash of balsamic vinegar (hence the name), really tempered the bitter for a sweet effect. There was no acidy bite like the actual vinegar, just the tangy sweetness you get when you reduce vinegar with a bit of sugar. I am a big fan of the center, just not the shell.

Next I opted for the Dulce de Leche. This one was a decidedly smoother chocolate, which was refreshing. It had a sweet liquidy caramel filling that oozed into my mouth with the first bite. It was a welcome addition to the milk chocolate shell.

Field Songs, which used to be in their “musical” collection was inspired by African tribal music. I’m not entirely sure what about it is tribally inspired, but the truffle itself has a sort of mousse-like filling. It felt spongy, which I wasn’t expecting, especially since the first two had fairly liquid centers. There was a millisecond of crunch from what I think are some sort of field grains on the top. That tiny crunch gave it a slightly peppery taste. I enjoyed it, although not quite as much as the last one.

I knew I was going to like the next one, because I’d tried the candy bar form of this one before. The Olivio is white chocolate, so I knew there was no chance it would be bitter (a real plus in my book). In every bite I got a hint of the bits of dried olives on the top of the truffle. Yeah, I know, it sounds odd. What they actually add is a rich, salty flavor, similar to any sort of salted chocolate (which do seem to be all the rage these days), but with the novelty of olives instead of pure salt. The white chocolate shell is creamy and delicate, just like I expected. Vosges prides themselves on their unique and sometimes extreme flavor combinations, which I think is why this one uses olives rather than just salt. It may sound odd, but it is surprisingly tasty. There is a slightly briny after taste, but I think it’s worth it.

Next I had a Woolloomooloo. I simply adore the coconut covered top! I know this one claims to be part of their milk chocolate collection, but in keeping with their love of dark chocolate, even their milk chocolate is about 6% darker than what most people consider milk chocolate. The slightly darker chocolate is very apparent in this one. However, the sweetness of the coconut helps make it creamy. This one was quite good.

While I technically had four truffles left, I only had two different kinds. I had a Wink of the Rabbit, which is a very tasty caramel. The walnut on top is not my favorite. I think they are boring, flavorless nuts and hate when they are used in candy making. Usually they go all soft and mushy. this one wasn’t too mushy, but it did nothing for the truffle. Luckily the caramel is rich and creamy, which actually made it one of my favorites.

My last truffle was the Naga. Now, I’ll admit, I was saving this one for last because I know I love it. Naga is a blend of chocolate and curry powder. Yep, another exotic and odd combination. I love the curry dust on top of the truffle. It makes it bright and lively. It also helps this truffle taste a bit like a spicier pumpkin pie. There is a definite curry smell, but it is surprising hint of sweet. They actually make an ice cream version of this truffle and I also really love it. I know, I know, curry chocolate sounds way out there, but it works, it really does.

Will I go there again? Without a doubt. I’ve been doing it for about three years now, and they keep introducing new tasties to peek my interest. In fact, I just got a catalog in the mail yesterday and if it weren’t for that outrageous shipping, I’d have placed an order after only one look. But, as it will cost me about that much in gas to get there and spend the day shopping with my bff, I think I’ll wait a month or two until we can both take time off.


Taste: 8/10

Appearance: 9.5/10

Value: 6/10 (at $26 for 9, they are about $2.80 a truffle, which is steep, especially since they are much smaller than Godiva)

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Chocolate Monday: Almond Joy Pieces

I know, I know, I’ve once again been away for awhile. This time it wasn’t work or even pure exhaustion, but rather a complete and total loss of all things internet. Turns out that the DSL we’d been paying for for something like 3 years, was not, in fact entering our house at anything near the speed we were promised. I don’t know (or care about) the actual connection speeds. What I do know is that according to the phone company tech who came to check our line, in the past 6 months, our top speed has been 20% of what we were paying for.

We were a bit miffed.

So, we got ahold of U-Verse and started crunching numbers. Turns out we could get a pretty decent deal with them so we said, “sign us up!” The only catch was that we had to completely disconnect our lame ass DSL before they could even schedule the appointment for us. We dropped them immediately, only to find out we’d have to wait two weeks to get hooked up. A tremendous sigh (and possibly some cursing) echoed throughout our home.

But I’m back and with a cocoa vengeance. Just because I haven’t been able to write doesn’t mean I haven’t been collecting all sorts of yummies to blog about. Fear not dear readers, I’ve got new tasties to prattle on about. I’ve also got a stack of grading nearly as tall as I am (and True Blood to watch), so I thought I should come back with something simple: Almond Joy Pieces.

I’d seen the commercials for them several months ago and was intrigued. I thought it was cute the way the candy bar burst into little pieces when the hand reached out to grab it. Since I find Hershey bars a bit boring and I’d kind of kicked my desire for York, my choice was obvious.

Besides, I love Almond Joys. Every year at Halloween, I got to Sam’s Club and buy the jumbo bag of candy to pass out. Somehow I always manage to over buy, so I figure I might as well get treats I like so they don’t go to waste. My favorite pack has Almond Joy, Kit Kats, Hersheys, Whoppers, Rolos and Heath in it. I always sock the Heath and Almond Joys away, giving them out only when I have to (for this reason I always buy a sweet mix with Skittles, Twizzlers, Starburst and something else out too–more leftover chocolate that way, and my husband gets Skittles, which he can’t live without). I always save a Rolo or two as well.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I opened the pack. I saw the three different colored pieces and wondered if one would be coconut, one almond and one chocolate. I tried each color individually to check. Nope, they all tasted the same. Which, honestly, makes a heck of a lot of sense. After all, Reese’s works that way, and if you got a handful of only chocolate and almond or one of only coconut and chocolate, it wouldn’t be the same experience.

Much like Reese’s Pieces, these had a light candy shell. They seemed less crunchy than M&M’s. More of a melt in your mouth sort of feeling. I’m not disparaging M&M’s here, as I also adore them, but I’ve always found pieces to be a bit softer. I have, in fact, had them melt in my hands lots of times.

Each little piece was a fairly decent blend of coconut, almond and chocolate, which really surprised me. I actually felt the little bits of coconut in my teeth, so it wasn’t even just a coconut extract. For me, that was a pleasant surprise. While I didn’t get any real nut texture, there was a subtle hint of almond in each piece.

Since they were pieces, the texture obviously can’t be the same as the bar. And, neither can the flavor. Just like Reese’s Pieces don’t taste like their bar counterparts, neither do these really. I did miss the extremely thick layer of coconut, which is my favorite part of the bar. I also missed the crunch of the almond. Just like Reese’s, I like the bar better. However, these will do in a pinch. Especially since it’s pretty hard to snarf down a candy bar between classes (or when students are in the room taking a test), but it’s easy to snag a couple, pop them in my mouth and have no one the wiser.

Overall, they are fun candies, but since they come in kind of big bags, portion control can be a problem. At least with a candy bar I know exactly what I’m getting in to and stop when it’s gone. These are so small, that I lose track of how many I’ve had and am in danger of popping way too many. I actually made myself a little nauseous one day.


Taste: 6/10

Appearance: 6/10

Value: 6/10

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