It would appear that every visit to my doctor results in some kind of chocolate inspiration thanks to the magazines she keeps in the waiting room. I’d like to think that she is specially picking them out for me, but it might just be a coincidence. Anyway, this last time it was an article in Consumer Reports (the North American version of Which?) where they had a list of the best boxed chocolates in America. There were plenty of familiar names, but among the new ones was Woodhouse Chocolates.
Based in California in the middle of wine country, Woodhouse Chocolates is a family-run business that involves three generations. Tracy and John Anderson founded the company back in 2002 and in that time have managed to catch the eye of many celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, suggesting I might be a little late to the party. Nevertheless it was a party which I wanted to be part of so after a few emails, a box arrived with all kinds of goodies inside although I thought I should start with their signature box of chocolates.
First up, this is a really lovely looking collection. From the stylish blue box to the impressive selection of different chocolates nestled away inside, this is the kind of gift I’d love to receive because of the way it looks. There are a lot of chocolates packed into the relatively compact box – it is about 7 inches in diameter – meaning that the 24 chocolates inside aren’t huge; bite-sized I’d say but definitely in a good way. Very elegant.
After working my way through a few, it became really obvious that Woodhouse’s preference for fresh ingredients had a huge impact on how the chocolates taste. That was particularly true in those with a cream centre because they were some of the lightest and creamiest I have ever tasted. And, for the most part, the centres are definitely the stars of the show meaning that the chocolate plays more of a supporting role, albeit an important one from time to time.
Here’s are some of the highlights from the box:
Raspberry Chambord – A very light and fluffy whipped cream centre which comes with a double hit of raspberry via Chambord liqueur and some raspberry puree. This one just melts away with no effort at all. Really lovely.
Fiori di Sicilia – With both orange-scented marzipan and Fiori di Sicilia infused cream, this one was good on paper and even better in practice. A really rich citrus flavour with some almondy undertones and lots of cream. Yum.
Pecan Caramel – A wonderful gooey, sugary, nutty bite thanks to a candied pecan and some very sweet caramel. It might be pretty close to being too sweet for some, but it worked exceptionally well for me.
Fresh Mint – Really nice minty flavour thanks to the fresh mint infusion through the ganache. More like a peppermint tea than your usual run of the mill mint chocolate.
Wild Cherry – Dark chocolate ganache with bits of wild cherry mixed through and half a wild cherry sitting on top. I also tasted some alcohol right at the end, making me think there was a shot of Kirsch in there too.
Pistachio – Apparently the thing that every other pistachio chocolate in the world is lacking is almonds. They stop the combination of pistachio cream and pistachio gianduja from being too one-dimensional and give the chocolate some marzipan-like undertones. Every pistachio chocolate I consume from this point on needs some almonds.
Gianduja – Like a chocolate Christmas tree with a candied hazelnut on top, this is a spectacular looking chocolate. It thankfully also tastes as good as it looks – smooth and creamy hazelnut paste that benefits from a thin disc of dark chocolate at its base
Heart Of Darkness – Dark Columbian chocolate ganache with a bunch of nibs thrown in for an additional kick. Strong flavours, especially when compared to some of the delicate, creamy chocolates that Woodhouse are very fond of.
There were a few weaker moments in the box, such as the Bananas Foster which was a little light on the bananas and a Brown Butter Ganache which was rather ordinary, but for the most part it was a collection which tasted just as good as it looked. Very impressive indeed, and I hope the rest of the things they sent are equally tasty.