One of the really wonderful things about hanging out in Montreal hunting for chocolate (apart from simply getting lots of chocolate) was discovering all kinds of Canadian companies I was unfamiliar with. And I had never heard of Laval’s Praline & Caramel before although it was hard to miss their bars on the shelves because of their unique look.
The boxed bars are square – something that might not make them stand out on Thorntons’ shelves, but is reasonably unusual in these parts – but the real clincher is the bar itself which is decorated with a rather lovely transfer. Of course, most people have seen those transfers on individual chocolates, but seeing an entire bar covered in one is pretty dramatic and it was hard to pick out just one bar from the half dozen or so in the shop.
I settled on the Cinnamon and Cayenne Pepper bar which looked like it was covered in red and gold fireworks. It was almost too pretty to eat, but that feeling passed and I jumped right in. The initial aroma was all chocolate – perhaps not surprising since this was a 70% bar, but I was still a little worried that it was going to be one of those subtle spicy bars.
I needn’t have worried though this is not a half-hearted bar. It starts with a healthy dose of cinnamon which probably never goes away, but it becomes hard to tell because of the cayenne pepper which builds up slowly before taking over your entire mouth. And then it keeps going, making it hard to each much more until the heat settles down again. Or to put it another way, this is a chocolate to savour slowly rather than munch quickly – it demands it.
The downside is that cayenne does overstay its welcome, with a bitter aftertaste that is best remedied with some more chocolate. Maybe that was their plan all along…