On first look, I thought this box of truffles I received from French Broad Chocolates was just another simple, handmade affair. The classic blue-and-brown-colored box has what I’m calling a country chic glamor, yet there is more to these six chocolates than fits into that term. There is a boldness, an ability to take an idea and pursue it with spark.
As if I shouldn’t have guessed that from the names. While “French Broad” is the name of a river in North Carolina, the shop’s “About” page admits to wanting to have that “great double entendre.” And an Aphrodisiac Collection, meant to combine mythical, traditional, and scientific aphrodisiacal ingredients, either has to be bold of a flop. My defense is for the former.
Cosmic Love Potion – A “honey-based elixir” in a milk chocolate ganache, covered in white chocolate and topped with a rose petal. In that elixir are things like ginseng, ginger, rose, and cinnamon. This is the gentle truffle of the bunch. It’s light and warm, while still allowing all those spices and flavors, in particular the ginger and vanilla. The texture of the ganache, too, is something. It is smooth, but not exactly in the silky way–it’s meatier than that (though also not thick).
Indian Kulfi – Rose and cardamom, another milk chocolate ganache, and a very small sprinkling of crushed pistachio. The rose is light, making it work with the milk chocolate. There are tiny seeds in here, which end up adding a welcome bit of texture instead of detracting from anything.
Theros, Orange, & Fennel – An “olive-oil based dark chocolate truffle, with a touch of essential oil in orange.” This one is the in-between chocolate. The orange is there in the flavor first, and then the olive oil comes in, complete and real olive oil there in my chocolate, though this somehow isn’t weird. Rather, it works to make the truffle smoother.
Fig & Port – 55% dark chocolate from Hawaii, with figs and port and a layer of 91% chocolate, all rolled in toasted almond pieces. You could call this a “gentleman’s chocolate,” as opposed to the more feminine Cosmic Love Potion. The thin layer of 91% adds just the right influence, with the fig and port adding the expected richness and flavor to the inside.
Canela Picante – Dark chocolate with cayenne and cinnamon, also sprinkled with cayenne. Especially if the first thing your tongue touches is the cayenne out the outside (and it’s nearly impossible for it not to), this is one spicy truffle, perhaps the strongest I’ve had in a while. But I think it’s also the best as the chocolate is also intense. The flavors don’t stand in contrast because each is capable of grabbing your attention. Rich and enveloping, it’s a truffle for the faint to stay far from and the rest to be tantalized by.
Cabernet & Anise – Red wine and star anise, under a decorative chocolate star. I remembered while biting in that I don’t like anise, but I need not have worried as it’s the wine that overwhelms. I say “overwhelms” even though, really, this chocolate is not so bad at all overwhelmed by wine. It is overwhelmed enough to make you think you just took a sip of the liquid. Hopelessly rich swirls of dark chocolate ganache add up to warmth, chocolate, cream, and smoothness. A worthy piece for an Aphrodisiac Collection
These truffles took hold of my taste buds and they took hold of my mind; for what more need I ask? (If you also ask for use of local-where-possible and organic ingredients, French Broad have you covered there, too.) There is enough variety that a box of them would be perfect to share over a Valentine’s Day evening.