Out of all the flavor sets I have come across, the 49-piece, 7 aromatic families Les Petits Richart set has the most impressive range. Because this is such an extensive collection, I moved through it much more slowly than the Valentine’s box that Richart Chocolates sent me last time.
The white box, which is the same style as before, is of average size, despite holding 49 chocolates. That’s because these chocolates are tiny. Not quite Lilliputian, they’re the size of rounded dice. If you like taking big bites, maybe this size would be a problem, but I find it just right. It’s direct and not superfluous. The chocolate is a consistent 73% Venezuelan Criollo throughout, furthering the focus on the individual flavors added to each chocolate.
Each aromatic family has a different color, and each flavor has a different design; these in turn match up easily to a flavor guide booklet that also describes the shared characteristics of each family. It would be helpful, however, if the flavors in each family were arranged in the box in the same order as they are in the booklet. I also found that I was missing a flavor from the Floral family and that a couple of the designs there were different from in the booklet. For such a serious collection, these details matter.
Besides Floral, the other groups are Balsam (meaning “smooth” instead of vinegar), Roasted, Fruity, Citrus, Herbal, and Spicy. Designed as a “tasting journey,” this collection is not a day trip but more like a week’s vacation. Given that there are 49 carefully selected flavors, I would hate to share any of them. And after the first day (when I had two rows), I never wanted to have more than one row a day. So it’s chocolate to take your time pondering over.
While most of the chocolates use a ganache, a few have either praline or coulis–the silky ganache remains my favorite. Almost always, there is only one added flavor per chocolate, the simplicity of which I enjoyed. While the strength of the flavors varies somewhat as is necessary, they keep mostly to a balanced level that puts the flavor into focus while staying in harmony with the chocolate. The only three flavors that didn’t work for me were the Praline Thyme, Pink and Red Pepper Ganache, and Curry Praline.
My favorite category was probably Balsam, which included the decadent Papua Cocoa Ganache and the soft/rich Vanilla Bean Ganache. Even the group, Citrus, that I was expecting not to care for turned out mainly pleasant. Many of the flavors, from Violet to Roasted Walnut, are familiar. But there are also some less common ones: Roasted Pistachio, Pineapple, Basil, Alpine Flower, and Cardamom among them. It’s a good range, instantly making you realize the flavors you personally enjoy and the ones that come less natural to you.
At $67, Les Petits Richart won’t be a casual purchase. If you want something smaller, you can get 16-piece sets of the individual families for $25, or a $25 box with a sampling from each family. But I think that if you’re going for it at all, try to get the full set: it’s the most fun. Or, if you happen to have piles of cash lying around, there’s an $850 version that comes in a hand-crafted Burlwood Vault.