These new flavours are made using dark chocolate, but not as dark as some of the others. In this case, they are all 54% or 58% cocoa solids, depending on the flavour.
As you will gather – I’m impressed. Clearly, a properly trained chef knows all about flavours and it shows in these new additions to the range. Without further ado, let’s rip into a description of them.
F And N
A modern dark chocolate take on the old standby Fruit-n-Nuts. In this case, the Fruit part is Inca Berry, the nut is Pistachio, and the chocolate is 58% cocoa.
Anyhow, the F&N has a very nice crunch in the nuts and actually tastes of Pistachio. A common failing in fruit / nut chocolate is that the nuts are often soggy, not toasted properly, or perhaps are old and nothingy. This one is not like that, there is a decent crunch and a decent nutty flavout. I’m not sure about the Inca berries; because I don’t know what they taste like by themselves I don’t know what to look out for. There is a general kind of sweetness / fruitiness which seems to be more than just the chocolate, so I think that’s them. The choice of a 58% cocoa solids chocolate here is good – less cocoa and it would be too sweet; as it is there is a good balance of sweetness and bitterness.
This puts your standard big-brand supermarket fruit-n-nut to shame. I could eat the whole pack in a single sitting. But I won’t – I have to share it around or the family won’t talk to me for a month.
Soft caramel chocolates must be difficult to get right, because there are so many examples of bad ones. These days, it tends to be a flavour I avoid because many seem to lead to disappointment. Crunchy caramels seem to be the opposite – there are quite a few good examples you can buy cheaply in the supermarket. Of course, crunchy caramels are cheating, they make it easy for the manufacturer and last well in storage.
In this case, the chocolate is wrapped around a soft, luscious caramel centre that is sweet, and seems to be slightly buttery. Unlike some, this is soft but not sticky or horribly gooey, and it tastes really good. A common failing in caramels is some kind of unpleasant strange flavour, which I call “chemical”. That’s unfair to all the chemical process engineers out there, but many have something a bit harsh / metallic / unpleasant. This has none of that – it is really good example of a DECENT soft caramel centre. How you get it into these chocolate drops and keep it there is a mystery – where I don’t want to know the answer, just be amazed at the success.
This is definitely one for those with a sweet tooth. At 54% cocoa, I think it could have gone to a slightly higher cocoa amount, just to help offset the sweetness. But I’m a dark side dweller. Ignore me. This is good. Really good.
And although not for sale (yet), Casey also sent a version of this using a chocolate (not caramel) which is very lightly salted. This was stunning – all the normal flavours and then at the end, a small lick of saltiness to complete the flavour, enhance it and make it linger on and on. He should add this to the range as well.
Sour Cherry Brandy
I can only go WOW at this. I was expecting more sourness – from the name – but the flavours of cherry brandy are all there, the cherry inside is soft and juicy. The chocolate at 54% is just right, it has enough hardness and crunch to hold in the insides, and gives just the right chocolatiness (yes there is such a word… now) that the mix of flavours with the cherries and brandy scream out “Black Forest Cake”. I just need a big dollop of cream.
There won’t be any issues of these sitting around for too long waiting to be eaten. I think this one is a real winner, it’s really clever getting that soft juicy cherry inside the chocolate case, and the mix and progression of flavours is incredible.
Hint of Mint
I’ve written before about minty chocolate. Those 1980’s-and-beyond after-dinner-mints have left me fairly jaded when it comes to mint. I’ll take it if its really well executed, and want to run a mile from the ordinary or overly sweet muck. Apart from sticky goo, my test of a mint chocolate is: when the chocolate has melted and gone, how is the after-taste, about 2 minutes later? Many minty chocolates seem to have a harsh or slightly unpleasant taste after, the good ones don’t.
This is a good one. Simple as that. The mint is not too strong – there is no monster aroma to knock you over when opening the pack, and the flavour is restrained but minty enough to let you know it’s there. There is no nasty after-taste, it just lingers and slowly fades away. Oldest son (a harsh critic) keeps coming past and stealing pieces, which pretty much tells all you need to know. My faith in good mint chocolate is restored.