Saturday, June 4, 2011


Oh hai there, fellow blog readers and chocoholics! I haven't updated in over a month, which means that it's time I clear out the empty chocolate wrappers on my desk and actually review some cocoa products.

I love raspberries, and I love chocolate, which by all rights means that I should love chocolate and raspberry bars. Right? Wrong. Although I love the raspberry flavoring in most chocolate/raspberry products, these sorts of bars also tend to include raspberry seeds. No matter how small they are, crunching down on one of those seeds drives me absolutely nuts. The biggest examples of this are Ghirardelli's Dark Chocolate and Raspberry squares. Delicious Ghirardelli dark chocolate? Check. Raspberry filling? Check. Raspberry seeds? Yep. Check.

Naturally, I was immediately wary when my mom gave me this bar of Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Raspberries for Easter. Unlike the Ghirardelli, the raspberry in the Endangered Species isn't a filling; it's a dark chocolate bar with small chunks of raspberries (and seeds). For this reason, the raspberry flavor isn't nearly as strong as it could be; it was more like eating a dark chocolate bar with a mere dash of raspberry flavor. Overall, not something I would buy again.

And then I bought this delightful thing. Lindt's milk chocolate bar has a super liquidy, cherry-flavored filling that may not be as au natural as the Endangered Species bar, but still tastes absolutely delicious. Keep in mind, for those of you buying this chocolate, that the filling is extremely liquidy; it's about the consistency of the filling in a Cella's chocolate covered cherry. It's also super sweet because of the milk chocolate; I actually felt sick after eating more than two squares at once. If only a dark chocolate version was made...

Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Raspberries: 2.5/5
Lindt Milk Chocolate with Cherry Filling: 4/5

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chocolate Orange Cake

I was asked to bring dessert to an Easter luncheon with my family this past weekend, and although I wasn't specifically planning on making a chocolate cake, after finding this recipe on Epicurious I just had to try it.

Here's the recipe in its original form:

Chocolate-Honey Tart

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
9 whole chocolate graham crackers (about 5 ounces)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons dried lavender blossoms*
12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom with nonstick spray. Grind graham crackers with 3 tablespoons butter and honey in processor until fine crumbs form. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom (not up sides) of prepared tart pan. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Cool.

Bring cream and lavender just to boil in small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Place chocolate in medium saucepan. Strain hot cream mixture into saucepan with chocolate. Stir over medium-low heat just until melted and smooth. Add cocoa powder and remaining 1 tablespoon butter; stir until melted and smooth. Pour chocolate mixture over crust in tart pan. Chill at least 45 minutes (chocolate will be slightly soft after 45 minutes and firm after 2 hours). Cut into wedges and serve.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

* Also called culinary lavender buds; available at many natural foods stores and some farmers' markets and from Dean and Deluca


I made one major alteration to this recipe; instead of the dried lavender, I substituted 2 tsp. orange peel. I also mixed the peel straight into the chocolate instead of straining it as the recipe suggests; you couldn't taste the peel at all when eating the cake, and it had just the right hint of orange to it.

The great thing about this recipe is that it doesn't call for many ingredients, so you can experiment with lots of different things when making it. Overall, it was a huge success with my family, so much so that the entire cake was gone within a very short period. Victory!

And I still have half a box of chocolate graham crackers left over, so I'll just have to make it again ;)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chocolate berries

Maybe I'm turning over a new leaf, because while I'm not a huge fan of milk chocolate or strawberry-flavored things, when I saw this at Walgreens a few weeks ago I couldn't resist buying it:

Ritter Sport is an excellent brand of German chocolate that never fails to disappoint. I've had quite a few of their other chocolate bars and have loved every one (with the exception of the marzipan, which I was tempting fate in buying because I dislike marzipan). So even though milk chocolate and strawberries wouldn't normally sound very appetizing to me, I knew that I was getting something sure to be appetizing.

In the end, this poor bar went through a number of hardships: first it melted in my car, so I stuck it in the fridge to solidify it again, and then it melted slightly once more at work. Despite all of this, I thoroughly enjoyed it; the chocolate ended up being not nearly as sweet as I thought it would be, which I was relieved about.

If you're looking to try this or other Ritter products, I suggest World Market, which is where I normally get my Ritter. Good stuff!

Speaking of chocolate at Walgreens, I spotted this recently:

And of course I just had to buy it. Not only was it delicious, but it was really pretty to look at!

This bar was solid chocolate and didn't have any sort of filling, which I admit is not something I used to (I tend to be attracted to chocolate bars with filling). But it was a nice change from the caramel Godiva gems I bought at the same time as the Ritter Sport strawberry.

Fun fact, as a side note: if you type "Dove Raspberry Swirl" into google image search, you get pictures for Tori Amos' song "Raspberry Swirl." I love it!

Ritter Sport Milk Chocolate with Strawberry Creme: 5/5
Dove Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Swirl 4.5/5

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Extraordinarily belated Valentine's post

I made a point of hitting up Target the day after Valentine's to check out their Valentine's Day chocolate stash, which was discounted. After passing up the usual suspects - Hershey's, Dove, etc. - I chanced upon some boxes of Choxie.

I decided to try this box of "dessert cups," which are essentially large truffles. And although they sounded amazing, the box was surprisingly deceptive:

Because when you open it (by pulling a tab at the top, which causes the front to slide down), you get four chocolates.

Needless to say, I felt a little robbed. I kept poking around the other parts of the box, hoping that there were an extra four chocolates hidden somewhere. Had I spent full price, it would have cost me $4.99. That's $1 per chocolate!

The box contained the following: dark chocolate espresso (top right), milk chocolate butter toffee (bottom right), milk chocolate hazelnut (bottom left), and dark chocolate orange flavored (top left). The espresso and orange were fairly good, but the toffee was my favorite. It had flecks of what I presumed to be toffee on the top that added a slight crunch to it, which I greatly enjoyed. The hazelnut was my last favorite owing to the fact that the hazelnut flavor was, at least to me, a little overwhelming.

The truth is, I would have enjoyed these much more if the cups weren't so damn large, because the quality of the chocolate wasn't exactly Lindt or Ghirardelli-quality. Choxie, I am disappoint!

Choxie Dessert Cups: 3.5/5

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Choco Leibniz

What do you get when you take a rich, buttery cookie and add a thick slab of delicious chocolate to it? Choco Leibniz!

I discovered these things during my freshman year of college, when my mom sent me a care package containing a box of chocolate cookies similar to Choco Leibniz. In retrospect, I'm almost certain she had given me a box of Petit Ecolier, but that doesn't matter; the point is, a few months after devouring the box of delicious cookies, I spotted some Choco Leibniz Noir (aka, the dark chocolate variety) at World Market and just had to buy them. This was the beginning of my addiction to Choco Leibniz, which reached alarming heights during my junior semester abroad in England. Choco Leibniz isn't exactly a rare item in the US, but it's far more prevalent in British grocery stores. Basically, I bought a couple boxes of these every time I went to the market in England (which was about once a week). Yum, yum, yum!

An old photo of Choco Leibniz Noir from my time in England. The box design has since changed.

So what IS Choco Leibniz? Here, just take a look at this delicious photo:

My mouth is watering already.

If you've ever had Petite Ecolier, then you've got a pretty good idea of what Choco Leibniz tastes like. Personally, I prefer Choco because the chocolate to cookie ratio is more even; with Petite Ecolier, I feel like the chocolate overwhelms the cookie part. But to each his own; both are excellent cookies. The only complaint I have is that Choco tends to be a bit pricey (about $3) for a box containing only nine cookies. As a result, I tend to hide the box so that no one else knows I have them. (Luckily, I'm not alone - one of my coworkers has admitted to doing the same thing with the milk chocolate kind.)

So where can you find these? I used to get them all the time at World Market, though I haven't been to one of those stores in a long time (the last time I went, my local World Market didn't have them. Sad face!) If you're in Louisville, Doll's Market always has boxes, although they sometimes run out of the dark chocolate ones. Sadly, I've never found Choco Leibniz in a chain grocery store like Kroger's or Jewel-Osco.

Choco Leibniz: 5/5

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Choxie Part Deux

About a month ago, I stopped by Target to pick up some things and decided to see if anything was on sale in the chocolate section. As I started to head down the candy aisle, however, I found my passage blocked by a rather large woman and some small children, so I decided to hit up the chocolate (which was located at the other end of the aisle) by circling around and going down the next aisle instead. Unfortunately, the aisle next to the candy just happened to be filled with all sorts of Valentine's Day candy. And that's when I found this:

This Choxie Truffle Bar Trio contained three miniature Choxie bars: a creme brulee truffle bar, a dark chocolate espresso truffle bar, and a dark chocolate raspberry lemon biscotti truffle bar (which I already reviewed a while back).

The last time I was looking at Target's chocolate collection, I was curious about the creme brulee bar; but because I'm not a huge fan of creme brulee, I was hesitant about buying an entire creme brulee-flavored chocolate bar. So this mini collection turned out to be perfect in terms of sampling.

First, I tried the espresso truffle bar. I've already reviewed a few chocolate espresso bars, so it should come as no surprise to say that I greatly enjoyed this one too. I can't get enough of chocolate and espresso... Anyway, I will say that although this was a truffle bar, I still expected to find tiny bits of espresso beans on the inside, so I was a little disappointed when that turned out not to be the case. I should also point out that, in terms of chocolate quality, the dark chocolate used by Choxie doesn't quite compare to the richness of other bars, such as Chocolove. But for the price, it's not bad at all.

And then I cracked open the creme brulee bar. The description on the bar states that it is a "white chocolate truffle infused with vanilla, caramel, and a touch of toffee." White chocolate, caramel, and toffee? If it sounds like this bar contains 100% sugar, that's because it does. I thought my teeth were going to rot and fall off as soon as I took a bite of this stuff. Holy moly it was sweet! Way, way too sweet for my palate, which is used to dark chocolate.

But I persevered and ate the whole bar, though I still haven't come to a conclusion as to whether I liked it or not. I could only eat a square or two at a time, that's for sure. If you like white chocolate, I recommend checking this bar out. But if you're used to something a little less sweet, I'd stay away from the creme brulee.

BONUS REVIEW! A coworker of mine stopped at a Trader Joe's while on vacation a week or so ago (sadly, there are no Trader Joe's in Kentucky) and brought back a container of their dark chocolate covered espresso beans. Apparently another coworker of mine informed her that I have this lovely blog, so she gave me a handful to consume and review.

Yum. That's all I have to say. I could not stop eating these things! Buy them if you're near a Trader Joe's.

Choxie Dark Chocolate Espresso Truffle Bar: 4/5
Choxie Creme Brulee Truffle Bar: 3/5
Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans: 5/5

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Godiva Gems

Chances are, "chocolate" isn't the first thing you think of when Walgreens comes to mind... unless, of course, you're me. As I discovered in college, when I lived in close proximity to a Walgreens for four years, the pharmacy has a pretty baller chocolate selection. Godiva, Lindt, Ghirardelli... it's all there - and there's a lot of variety within those brands, too. The only thing Walgreens lacks is organic chocolate, but the average person walking into the store probably isn't looking for organic chocolate anyway.

Earlier this week I was at Walgreens for the sole purpose of getting some chocolate, and I saw that the store was having a sale on Godiva Gems: two bags for $6.

Okay, I'll be honest. This isn't much of a sale. I can get two bars of Ghirardelli or Lindt for less than $6. But it was a sale, so of course I had to partake in it.

First, I sank my teeth into the dark chocolate truffles. Although they are good, they lack the creaminess that other truffles (especially Lindt truffles) have on the inside. The chocolate shell of the truffle was absolutely exquisite, but the actual truffle part I found to be a little too grainy for my taste buds; that is to say, I felt like I could taste tiny bits of sugar in the truffle. I wish the inside was a just a tiny bit smoother. But if you're looking for some dark chocolate truffles that are smaller in size than the Lindt ones, you should definitely check these out. The relatively small size was a plus for me, since they pack quite a punch.

Approximate size of the truffles. These strawberry ones weren't sold at my local Walgreens :(

Even before I'd finished the dark chocolate truffles, I was filled with the urge to try the other kind I purchased:

I expected the caramel filling to be somewhat gooey, similar to how the Ghirardelli caramel squares are. Wrong! The caramel inside was not exactly hard per se, but it was much firmer than expected. And I loved it that way! The solid caramel with dark chocolate shell was heaven to my tastebuds. I think I ate about three of these gems in under five minutes. The aforementioned Ghirardelli dark chocolate with caramel squares is one of my favorite chocolate products ever, but these gems give them a run for their money.

Godiva Dark Chocolate Truffle Gems: 3.5/5
Godiva Dark Chocolate Caramel Gems: 5/5

Sunday, January 30, 2011

All natural chocolate post

A few weeks ago I picked up this bar of Valor, a Spanish chocolate company, at a local grocery store:

The cover is surprisingly deceptive. See those big blocks of caramel? Yeah, I totally thought this chocolate was going to have large chunks of toffee inside it. Now look at the chocolate squares. See those little flecks of toffee? That's what's really in the bar. Tiny bits of toffee. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I was hoping for something a little more... well, toffee-ish. As for the rest of the bar, the chocolate was superb - no complaints there. I guess I just felt underwhelmed because I was expecting more too it.

As a side note, check out Valor's website. I saw the link on the back of the bar and decided to check it out, but I was unprepared for what looks like a porn site for chocolate lovers. "Chocolates Valor: adult pleasure." "Over a century dedicated to the pleasure of working for pleasure." I know chocolate is good, but I honestly thought I had typed in the wrong address when the page loaded.

Now on to something a little better.

I LOVED this chocolate. Despite being a little expensive (I think I paid about $5 for it), the flavor in this bar was incredible. The chocolate was deliciously smooth, and the cherry chunks were bigger than the tiny toffee specks in the Valor bar. It's also comforting to find a bar of chocolate that has only three ingredients, all of which have pronounceable names (semisweet chocolate, cherries, evaporated cane juice). In addition, all of the ingredients are listed as organic, which helps explain the price. If you want to support organic chocolate, buy a Seeds of Change bar.

I was also quite taken with the packaging of the bar. Like the Dolfin chocolate I reviews a few months ago, Seeds of Change comes as a pouch with three mini-bars of chocolate inside.

This helps keep the chocolate fresh, and also doesn't make you feel as though you're scarfing down large portions of chocolate in one go. Instead of eating 1/3 of a bar (which would make me feel guilty), I had no problem devouring one of these smaller squares in one sitting.

My only complaint is that I couldn't really taste the vanilla. Since the package has "Dark Chocolate with Cherries and Vanilla" on the front, I expect to be hit with the immediate flavor of vanilla. Not so. If the vanilla was there, it was far too subtle for my liking.

Valor Dark Chocolate with Toffee: 3.5/5
Seeds of Change Dark Chocolate with Cherries and Vanilla: 5/5

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ultra mega super late Christmas chocolate post

Ahoy, mateys! I come to you from 2011 with a large-ish post of some of the chocolate I've received over the Christmas/New Year's holidays. Hold on to your seats, cause it's a delicious ride!

First up is Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Deep Forest Mint. Remember when I tried the Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans, and it kinda sucked because it was expired chocolate? Well, this time I went to Kroger, which has a much larger ES chocolate selection. I chose the mint because I love a good mint+chocolate combo, and this bar did not disappoint. Usually when I get mint chocolate it's Ghirardelli's Dark Chocolate with Mint squares, which have mint filling in them. In contrast, the ES bar was far more simple: literally just a bar of dark chocolate (72% cocoa) with mint flavor.

And it was great! The chocolate was just the right amount of dark, and the mint flavor was strong, but not enough to make it overpowering. The bar was a little thick, though, so it made sinking my teeth into it more of a task than I would want it to be. But, all things considered, it's a minor complaint.

As a side note, a quick perusal of the Endangered Species website tells me that there's also a special Christmas edition of this chocolate with a penguin on it! I feel robbed!

Guess I didn't save any penguins this year :(

Next up is a box of amazing truffles a good friend of mine gave me for Christmas:

These organic truffles from Whole Foods are absolutely scrumptious; each truffle is a round ball of intense chocolate with a light dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder on each. I can't get enough of these things! Luckily, they're packed with so much chocolate that I've only been eating one or two at a time.

What the truffles look like inside the box.

The unsweetened cocoa powder on the outside and the sweet chocolate on the inside make for a great combination, although it would be a mistake to have any more powder on each truffle because there isn't any sugar in cocoa powder.

In short, if you're at Whole Foods and you see a box of these things, grab one!

Finally, here's a box of Hershey's chocolates someone at work gave me for Christmas:

I don't like Hershey's, but that doesn't mean I won't eat a free box of chocolates. The different kinds of chocolates in here include butter cremes, milk chocolate truffles, pecan caramel clusters, chocolate caramels, and truffles with almonds. I've yet to try them all, but I did have some of the truffles and chocolate caramels and was pleasantly surprised. Don't get me wrong though; I haven't had a conversion regarding the amazingness of Hershey's. But they're not bad - not bad at all. I'd be curious to see how the dark chocolate collection compares.

Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Deep Forest Mint: 4.5/5
Whole Foods Chocolate Truffles: 5/5
Hershey's Pot of Gold Milk Chocolate Collection: 3.5/5