I like to refute the statement that you can’t judge a book by its cover: most of the time, there are certain assessments you can make from just a first look. So I was ready to write off Cero’s Candies as just another little candy company, if one with more expression than most. But the case is in fact more complicated. Cero’s is one of those candy companies with a history of family ownership; they make their base in Wichita, Kansas. But the chocolate in the nine piece box they sent me are not the usual output of small candy-makers.
Vanilla-Marshmallow – This is quite a large chocolate: its texture is not so much like a Valomilk, but more simply as a dark chocolate-dipped marshmallow. It’s pleasant.
Caramel – Usually, stiff caramels are poor quality, but this one nonetheless still tastes like caramel. That’s a positive.
Lemon Cream – The yellow dot on top gives the look of a miniature cupcake. The lemon center is soft, almost spongey. It tastes more fruity than lemony, which I don’t exactly mind.
Chipotle Chili Truffle – Now we move into the less standard (for candy companies) flavors. The dark ganache is fudge-like in nature, which I find suits the chili flavor well. Both have a quick peak and fade, yet this helps match the two together rather well.
Persian Truffle – This is the green round baby nestled in the center. Its coloration, like the other brights in the box, comes from swirls of colored cocoa butter. The list of flavorings is quite long: cumin, cardamom, Vietnamese cinnamon, pomegranate, tangerine, saffron, rose petals, crushed pistachios and almonds. Phew, is that all necessary? One thing is certain: the flavors give the cream-colored center a complex yet balanced taste that includes a little bit of spice, a hint of nuttiness, and a flowery sweetness. The finish is of fudge. An intriguing surprise of a truffle.
Passion Fruit Truffle – Orange spots against the milk chocolate skin transform this truffle into a sprightly dinosaur. The passion fruit in it is less in-your-face than in some offerings, tasting more like it does in iced tea. My anti-passion fruit perspective isn’t totally opposed to it.
Saigon Cinnamon Truffle – Enclosed in the golden-colored dark chocolate is a mix of milk and dark ganache. It tastes both dark and rich–at a medium level. The cinnamon is fresh-tasting and strong to the right extent. I find this one very enjoyable; I only wish it didn’t fade too fast for me to lose myself in it. Unless, of course, I take very tiny bite after very tiny bite of the fairly large truffle.
Lavender Truffle – With its modern, sculpture-like shape, this is one of the visual standouts. I think this is only my third lavender chocolate. The lavender here is flavorful without exceeding the tangy limit. As with the Chili Truffle, the fudge flavor of the chocolate helps keep the flavor tame.
Strawberry Champagne Truffle – While the “pearlized red sugar” makes for a pretty, sparkly look, I would be happier without its crunch intruding on the lovely experience that is this truffle. The soft pink reminds me of the Strawberry Ice Cream Parlor truffles from Godiva. Meld that with a champagne truffle and the result is girly and casually exquisite. Dark chocolate acts in balance to the sweetness of the flavored white ganache.
Overall, I’m quite pleased. Truffle boxes of this size sell for $7.50 from Cero’s, which is most reasonable. This company seems to know what it’s doing: these aren’t the same washed-out chocolates you can get anywhere. They’re more innovative, while still in the realm of casual. This is what I’m happy to discover from what I called “another little candy company.”