When I’m not talking to Robin at Now Smell This about perfume, we might be chatting about tea (in which she is the resident expert) or chocolate, a subject dear to our hearts. We’re doing a joint post on chocolate this weekend – citrus for her, nicely-textured chocolate for me — so be sure to stop by NST on Saturday.
Let’s start off with me stipulating: I know even less about chocolate than perfume. Everything I know about its manufacture I learned on the fake “factory” ride at Hersheypark. If you want to know about chocolate liquor and cocoa nibs and what represents quality in chocolate, I’m sure there are plenty of websites devoted to the topic.
Taste is key in chocolate, everyone’s got their favorite flavors, but texture’s important too. It can be too soft or too waxy. It can be grainy or chalky. Goo-filled chocolate bars (like with caramel, or mint crème) are mostly not my thing, nor are super-dark chocolate bars that veer too close to being unsweetened. I’ve had the best luck sampling chocolate bars in the way I have sampled perfumes – I buy five or ten bars at once and rip them open. In a household of six, I’m not stuck eating the whole thing, and no chocolate winds up in the trash here unless it’s essentially inedible (those Hungarian puffed-rice bars were pretty bad; so were the mini-bars from Seoul).
Here are random thoughts and a couple of personal favorites in the chocolate-with-an-appealing-texture category. Please add yours.
1) Chocolove Orange Peel in Dark Chocolate. (55% cocoa, orange peel). I am not a huge fan of the chocolate/orange dynamic, no doubt scarred for life by those orange-flavored, waxy segmented chocolate “oranges” from my childhood Christmas stocking. (I ate one recently and they are even worse than I remember.) The Chocolove bar, on the other hand, is brilliant. It has bits of freeze-dried orange peel, crisp and crunchy between the teeth, a bit like a crisped-rice bar, and the flavor is extraordinarily addictive. The Fendi Theorema of chocolate.
Runner up: The Dolfin crystallized orange peel one is nice (sticky little bits rather than crunchy), the same with their ginger bar.
2) Dolfin chocolate in Earl Grey (52% cocoa dark chocolate with Earl Grey Tea). Robin turned me on to Dolfin, they make a passel of seriously strange flavors. If you’re intrigued they also make a handy sample pack (scroll to the bottom for the sample sets). The Earl Grey bar is a medium dark bar, a little waxy and grainy, with the definite crunch of tea leaves between the teeth. It’s something of an acquired taste. Honesty demands that I admit to eating five or six Earl Grey bars without having decided whether I even liked it. By bar seven, one reaches the inevitable conclusion that there must be some attraction there, yes? It’s the Dior Dune of chocolate bars.
By the way the Dolfin Sencha (green tea) was a murky disappointment to me, anyway. The lavender was exceedingly strange, borderline unpleasant, I want to retry it … maybe that’s the Dune of chocolate, since Dune itself has that inedible lavender-chocolate element. Moving on to…
3) Mo’s Dark Bacon Bar by Vosges. (62% dark chocolate, applewood bacon, smoked salt). Until I can buy actual chocolate-dipped bacon — and if I looked around online I probably can — I will amuse myself with this. The milk chocolate version is very rich and the chocolate is creamy veering toward soft; I prefer the dark version, which isn’t terribly dark at all. If you can eat more than a quarter-bar in one sitting you’re made of sterner stuff than I am. Also I gave this bar to two people who gave it back to me, pronouncing it disgusting and inedible. They’re wrong. The Kolnisch Juchten of chocolate bars.
4) Goji bar by Vosges. (Tibetan goji berries + pink Himalayan salt + 45% deep milk chocolate). The goji berries add a great texture to the chocolate, a bit like minced dried cranberries, and are pleasantly tart, and then the salt cuts the sweetness further. I literally cannot stop eating once I’ve opened it.
5) Cadbury Fruit and Nut deserves a mention (raisins, almonds) as my go-to bar for years when I was young and had less money, and a $2.50 bar of chocolate represented a special treat (often smuggled into a theater.) In a pinch I’d still rather be nibbling my way through one of these than most of the other chocolate bars available at our nearby CVS.
6) Toblerone. Seriously, I can’t even say whether it’s any good, but I’ve been picking those little bits of … white stuff out of my molars for so long I have to include this. Is that white stuff nuts? Dryer lint? Just kidding, it’s torrone, an Italian nougat of honey, egg white, sugar and almonds. A staple of our household at Christmas, when Santa buys the hilariously large bars at Trader Joe’s and puts them in stockings.
I’ve ordered from Chocosphere, any other recommendations for chocolate dealers? By the way, at least locally, my Cost-Plus World Market has a better selection of chocolate bars than anyone else including Whole Foods. They have a website but you can’t order the bars online, sadly.
I’d love a go-to pepper bar, with peppercorns or hot red peppers. I like the Vosges hot-pepper ones, as well as the Lindt dark Chili bar, which is an excellent value ($2ish locally. But they all have heat rather than crunchy texture. Any out there with freeze-dried minced peppers or peppercorns? Looking online I see the Dolfin Poivre Rose – the pink peppercorn, which I think I need to re-try.
All right, your turn!!! If there’s a chocolate bar with a flavor and/or texture you find particularly wonderful, please chime in. Links are good for shopping purposes, use tinyurl if you’re worried about winding up in our spam filter. (You paste in some giant multi-line gobbledygook link and it translates it to a much shorter link, just copy and paste that.) Also if there’s a soft-filled bar you think I should try, because I clearly just haven’t found the right one, throw that out there. I like Belgian chocolates (filled with ganache etc.), not sure what my problem is with liquid-center bars (raspberry, caramel, etc.), but mostly they put me off.
Very late to this, but my 2 faves now are the Chuao Panko bar and Chocolove Dark Chocolate with Almonds and Sea Salt. My husband is a chili/chocolate fan and the Lindt Chili is his favorite.
I grew up with Hershey’s milk chocolate and now can’t believe I ever ate it. Definitely go with the bittersweet (60%). Some purists only go with 70% or above which you would probably find too bitter. I’m sure if you ask someone at WF they’d be happy to break off a small piece for you to sample.
March, Whole Foods sells Callebaut in roughly one-pound blocks broken off and plastic wrapped from the larger block it comes in. At my store in Bethesda it’s sold by the cheeses, coffee, etc. I’m sure they would break off a piece for you to sample. Let a small piece melt on your tongue. I swear this is the best chocolate I’ve found, better than Scharffenberger, Valhrona, Vosges, etc. — and not unreasonably priced either.
I saw that and couldn’t decide between … something, milk and dark? So I left without any. Will remedy that. I’ve been shopping at the new one, btw, in Friendship, just for a change of pace. (I usually go to the Silver Spring one, which is more convenient for me than Bethesda.)
You know what I miss? Trader Joe’s used to sell those big pieces of breakup Ghirardelli.
Ooh! Do they have to be bars? My two favorite chocolate thingies are Bissinger’s Creme Mints (I refer to them as Giant Junior Mints) and Fran’s Gray Salt Thins. Also Fran’s various salt caramels, but once I found the Thins, I forgot the caramels. Oh, and Lindt mint truffle balls – refrigerated. I seem to be into the bite-sized chocolate thingies.
(I’m suddenly remembering that last night I dreamed about Moon Pies…)
Moon pies! I ate one a couple months ago, they still taste bizarre. Gray Salt Thins sound delicious.
March, I’ve been studiously trying to ignore that Chocolove orange peel bar, but I can see now that resistance is futile.
Funny you should mention black pepper: just yesterday at Marvelous Market a Salazon Chocolate Co. bar of organic dark chocolate with sea salt and organic, cracked black pepper LEPT into my basket. Of course, I had to take it home and eat it. :-)
The top of the bar has a scene in relief that matches the photo on the label, so it’s pretty. The sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper are on the bottom, so there’s a bit of crunch.
Not a creamy center expert – my staple chocolate is Green & Black’s organic dark 85% – but I used to be very fond of Perugina Bacis.
That … that’s it? You’re going to leave me hanging and not tell me how the Salt n Pepa bar was? Because it sounds wonderful.
You’re right – I think I hesitated to offer a judgement because I love some of the ones you’ve listed above and not others – so you might have a different reaction. Also I haven’t totally made up my mind. The Salzon bar is subtle – I enjoyed it, and I think it’s worth trying as part of the quest. I’m also curious to try chocolate and pepper without the salt – I’ve enjoyed that Lindt chocolate with salt that was mentioned above, but I find the salt-chocolate combo demanding. I think I’ll need to test the pepper separately, too, and in different strengths, perhaps, in order to make up my mind how well it works. But of course, I’m already wondering what a chocolate, raspberry liqueur and pepper bar would taste like – LOL!
Hey, there. Like perfume, chocolate invites individual preference. It’s all good, we don’t have to like the same things. :)>- Choco-salt seems to REALLY work for people (in chocolate, in brownies, in choco-pretzels) or it … doesn’t. FWIW in a general way I am not a fan of nut bars (textural thing?) and Cheese brought home a cherry bar to which I said, and I quote, ew.
A choco-raspberry pepper bar would taste amazing.
Nobody’s mentioned, for straight-up chocolate, Callebaut’s 60% bittersweet. Good for eating and baking. “Cook’s Illustrated” magazine rated semi-sweets a while back and I believe this was their top pick.
Maybe I’m just eating the wrong ones. Writing this one down.
Has anybody mentioned chocolate from Oaxaca? It is typically ground with almonds and cinnamon; it’s grainy and delicious and used to make mole, which is a sauce with about 20 ingredients, such as nuts, chili peppers, raisins, tortillas. Mixed with broth and then poured over turkey or chicken or enchiladas. The last time my husband visited our friends in Mexico, they sent me a football-sized chunk of chocolate from Oaxaca. Whenever I need a fix, I pry off a chunk and indulge. It makes really good hot chocolate, but it does not have that creamy smooth in your mouth texture of the above-mentioned chocolate bars.
I used to make mole……8-| SUCH a lot of work – yumolicious, though.
But I’m down to 318,000 lbs, so no mole for meeeee!
Oooh, mole deserves a big mention– though it’s savory, not sweet, so if the discussion is restricted to desserts we’ll have to skip it.
You can talk about mole ANY TIME YOU WANT. I love mole although I’m too lazy to figure out how to make it (for all I know it’s simple, but I’m the only one in this house who’d eat it.) I frequently order chicken mole in restaurants.
Sunset magazine’s website should be a good source for mole recipes, probably with many variations (ie, some simpler than others).
Mole. Is. Not. Simple.
True mole is a pain to create. Worth it. But a pain.
And there are as many different moles as there are spice combinations. My Tia Carolina makes (or used to make) a mole….:x
I lack the time and the impetus these days. There are enough good restaurant moles that I don’t miss homemade, thank Floyd!
Whole foods carries a wonderful dark chocolate with chili, cinnamon, and pumpkin seeds. I think the vendor calls it the Aztec bar or something.
As for your chocolate covered bacon fix, head down to CoCo Sala. If I remember rightly you’re in the DC area, so you should check them out. They are an all chocolate restaurant that has a beautiful prix fixe brunch that features chocolate covered bacon quite prominently. The also have great artisanal tea, coffee and of course hot chocolate selections.
An all chocolate restaurant? How did I not know about this? I need to get out more. Thanks.
Okay I am looking at the menu and this is a requirement.
Didn’t I make dark chocolate salted caramel brownies for Chicocoa?
A-can you please pop that recipe in the e-post??? I think it would make a grand dinner…
sure! give me a day – I’m off to paint the front door, etc and have to take advantage of the weather.
Send it to me puleeeese! I need that recipe….whenever you have time.
oh man, I just saw this. I’ll beg. Please? I neeed salted caramel brownies! I too would love the recipe. Whenever you get a chance. I have to go buy a new keyboard now because I drooled all over this one and shorted it out. :d
What DIDN’T you make for Chicocoa…but yes, your brownies were among the goodies. :)
Weren’t those amazing?
Those were incredible. Just thinking about them makes me bloat up. In a good way.
didn’t I post the recipe on this site? I’mo take a look back and see… I used Michael Recchiuti’s burnt caramel recipe, if I recall.
Cleaning out my Gmail and noticed this. Hmm brownies? Burnt Chocolate? I googled
but couldn’t find this particular recipe. IS there a recipe of his or did you just use
the burnt caramel w your own brownie recipe? WHAT do I care? Like I really need
a brownie. Oh, I wonder if you’ll even get this since it’s an old post.
Lucky you! I did get it.
yes, there is a recipe for his burnt caramel. and there is a recipe for my brownies (you will have to go back to the Chicocoa update; the post-Event one (or one right after that) for the recipes). But for his bc, go onto his site and click on recipes – beware, though – you will have to watch it carefully and keep a window open and a fan going – in order to make it correctly, you actually do burn the sugar! tho not a whole lot. oh noooes! it’s gone!! okay – here’s the deal: if you know how to make caramel sauce, just continue to cook the sugar until it’s a really dark brown – really dark. Then add the cream, etc. That’s the bulk of the difference. Be REALLY careful though – it’s even more molten than regular caramel sauce, if that’s even possible.
Then, when you make the brownies, swirl a little bit into the top of the batter. Done and done!
Ok, back to post-Event, then his site….wine drips down chin while reading.
sure, I’ve made caramel…hell, used to bake my life away. I’m watching an
old movie, How To Make An American Quilt. I need chocolate badly.
Wine, memories, kisses, water, rocks, chocolate. Sex in a bathtub.
If u don’t reply I unnerstand. :)
I’m totally with you – except for the bathtub part. My hip is oww and the idea of…well, you know…but the rest sounds good!
Mint aero, at any English food store and y childhood fave, froze4n 3 usketeers.
Oh, March, I just remembered: for your textured chocolate chile fix, try Poco Dolce Aztec chocolate tiles.
“Bittersweet chocolate with cinnamon, ground chiles, roasted pumpkin seeds and topped with grey sea salt.”
Also, for those of you in the Seattle area, the best chocolate thing I ever ate in my life is the chocolate fig from Chocolopolis in Queen Ann. It’s a dried fig stuffed with anise flavored chocolate ganache, which is then entirely coated in chocolate.
I am a long time chocoholic, and the best I’ve ever had is Chocolate Fetish in Asheville, North Carolina. Everything they do is great, but they specialize in these truffles with interesting combinations: basil/pictachio, wasabi/green tea, lavender/honey/lemon…fan-frigging-tastic!
Oh drool – I love the chocolove line.
March, Francesca and I will take you to Kee’s the next time you’re in NY – as the NYT said, none too hyperbolically, “Hands down, the best chocolates in New York. Maybe the world.”
You’re on. Perfume, chocolate and the two of you — sounds like the perfect weekend.
Sigh. I think I know why I need so many cupboards. There’s so much to stash. (Tea, chocolate, perfume, bitters…)
Okay, first I’m nodding along with things already mentioned: sea salt or ginger on/in dark chocolate, the Ritter Sport dark w/hazelnuts, the Recchiuti (blast Musette! got me hooked), and for cooking or baking, the Baker’s bittersweet baking bar. Adding for baking that I like Hershey’s baker’s chocolate (powder) or Guittard (semi-dark chips), though I’ve certainly paid more.
My entry to the nostalgia ring: Ice Cubes. Yes, I remember Chunky “bars” and trying to get my mouth around one. I also remember the crazy “melt” of an Ice Cube. Not haute chocolate, by a memory that won’t quit me.
I also find the Cost Plus World Market is a fabulous source for chocolate bars (and confections from other continents), but I have to add a plug for Trader Joe’s, too. Their dark chocolate hearts with truffle filling are more than serviceable, and there’s almost always a tin of Dark Chocolate Nibs (cocoa nibs in dark chocolate) in my bag. Their traveler’s tin of dark chocolate was a perennial favorite among co-workers in need of a nicely, and they did a nice [knock-off? re-packaging?] of the “dessert selection” of chocolates–the box with a lemon mousse, a creme brulee, etc etc. Shoot, is this supposed to be bars only? Should I stop before I mention the dark chocolate covered pretzels, and how a guilty pleasure is to put them in a bowl with peanut butter filled pretzels? (See how much I trust everybody by sharing that???)
The Jacques Torres shop has chocolate covered popcorn, which gives me a hit similar to the popcorn/Nestle’s Crunch bite of which I am so enamored. Never fell in love with chocolate pretzels, but the DH is very big on them.
Why can’t they put crunched up no-hull popcorn in a bar? This would be amazing. Like Milk Duds and movie popcorn memories…
Ice Cubes! In 7th grade we used to stop and buy all sorts of junk candy at a mom-and-pop grocery on the way home from school. An Ice Cube every day for me, but I went home and chilled it in the fridge first before I ate it. Such an unusual, in fact unique texture.
OK, thanks to you and your readers I made a special trip to the
store to get some Lindt Sea Salt chocolate. And you were right, it’s excellent!
I’m looking forward to the Saturday post.
Wah! I need to get over to the store.
Agree with all the Lake Champlain chocolates fans. They also make wonderful hot chocolate–the Aztec Hot Chocolate is great for spice lovers. Reese’s PB cups in Dark chocolate are a welcome development to grocery store offerings, but few things satisfy like a plain ol’ Hershey bar.
You pictured one of my favorites right at the top of the post. I say you need to work your way through the rest of the Chocolove list and the Dolfin list. I’ve tried a couple of good peppery Dolfins; can’t remember the names, but there was a white pepper and a pink pepper.
Santa Fe has loads of good chocolate shops. What’s the name of the place– Kakao?– that does spicy, non-sweet chocolate drinks?
My childhood go-to was Nestle Crunch, the milk chocolate with rice crispies, though nowadays I find it cloying. Plain M&M’s are always good, best when served straight from the refrigerator. Snickers are good when you’re skiing and need to cram calories, plus they’re also best when served cold (ie, stored in a pocket of one’s powder suit).
I’m there with the Nestle Crunch, it was my favorite too. (What is it about kids that makes them crave the super-super-super sweet?) And M & M’s. Still nature’s perfect food.
M&M’s are the bomb…plan and peanut. You know what is great with Nestle’s Crunch? Popcorn. The Perfect Bite.
Have you tried the M&M’s with pretzel centers? Sweet and salty – SO good.
OMG, yoou’ve just reminded me of a joke I heard back in the ’80’s about the working girl’s diet: popcorn and M&M’s.
I never think to buy chocolate bars…dunno why. Too many other pastries and other delectable edibles every which way you turn, I guess, and I probably get distracted by the flashier stuff. I have popped into Vosges on occasion for a bacon bar (or two) and I include them in my Christmas packages to family one year, but other than that I’m totally out of the designer choco loop.
Regular old bodega candy bars, however? I’m there! I love me some Milky Ways. Snickers were my faves for a long time, but now they’re too sweet, even for me. And I love those little round hazelnut chocolates, wrappted in gold foil, three to a package. What are they called again? Italian. Whatever they are, I like ’em.
my personal candy aisle favorite!
hazelnut, nutella and a caramel cup. perfect.
No, I think they’re called Rocher? Ferrero Rocher? Sort of like the Perugia Baci, only gold.
Yup, that’s them. And you can get a whole pyramid of ’em around the winter holidays.
I LOVE those!!!
I had to stop buying them–I can eat eight in one sitting. Had NO self control whatsoever!!Miss them dreadfully.
I drove past See’s Candies today withOUT stopping–it was very difficult!!
I know what you mean. I am always asking the DH to bring them back from the bodega on the corner late at night when he’s walking The Terriers, but he has stern instructions to come home with only one package of three. Then when he does exactly that I get mad at him for listening to me.
Cheap but satisfying, Trader Joes will carry-from time to time-caramel chocolates with sea salt. I hate caramel and am not tickled by milk chocolate OR cheap chocolate but (ssssshhhhhh!) I could eat half a box of these with ease.
Have tried the Vosges Bacon Bar-and find that it as well as all their chocolate makes me quote Peggy Lee-Is That All There Is?
I DO have to share this Elvis Truffles/Circus Freaks recipes with March, though. Might be nice for Hallowe’en…
YES! I’ve only found them once at my local Trader Joes, and I still search the store every time I’m in there just in case they’re back. My husband thought they were disgusting, but I could also eat a huge amount.
Amy, the TJ’s salted caramels tend to turn up between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I stock up then, but not too much-because I know what will happen….*urp*
I was going to say that! I’m pretty sure they’re a seasonal item.
Heh. We bought two of those salted choc caramels and then no more because we were making ourselves sick.
Same deal with their salted brownies, have you tried those? Those are delicious.
Oh dear Lord, no-salted brownies? Say it ain’t so!
I jazzed up Haagen Daz’s too sweet Dulce de Leche ice cream with a healthy dose of French sea salt on every spoonful. Dangerously good combo.
Man, that sounds good. And I don’t even particularly like ice cream.
(faints dead away)
( >-) thuds to the floor next to Carter)
(gets out sea salt pretzels…)
Oh, yes, the little chunky brownies with (sea) salt. Easy to make at home, too…
Toblerone does not get enough love — they’re wonderful, esp. the dark chocolate ones. And did not even know about the Dolfin Sencha, too bad it’s not good. But where did you find it, because maybe there are other Dolfins I don’t know about?
“Dolfin Chocolat au Lait au Thé Vert Sencha du Japon
The mellow flavor of green tea blended with rich milk chocolate.”
It’s on Chocosphere’s Dolfin page on the left, about halfway down… I want another variety pack, that was fun. And thanks again for pointing them out to me.
Toblerone, I feel like people look down on them (unjustly). Will have to go looking for a dark one.
It’s weird, but for a chocoholic such as I, I rarely delve into bars, preferring my chocolate in more liquid forms (ganache, I’m calling youuuu!) And dark, back-story baked goods, like Miette chocolate sables – the afterkick of deep, dark, Scharffenberger chocolate is moanably divine –
the closest I come to Bar Love is Recchiuti Fleur de Sel caramels – if he made those in bar form I would weight 320,000 lbs. Oh, wait! I already do! 8-|
Right now I’m battling a vicious sinus infection so chocolate is, thank Floyd, NOT on my list of delights. Bacon, however, is. And pepper.
Excuse me while I go find a farmer to pepper a side of :@)
Poor baby, Musette. Hope you feel better very, very soon. And when you do, here’s wishing you a boatload of Recchiuti fleur-de-sel caramels and those Miette sables you love!
Thank you. I miss them so. :((
moanably divine…must have soon. I read about Scharffenberger a million years ago and can’t believe I’ve not tried it. Is there a caramel that doesn’t stick in your teeth?
Hope you feel better soon, real better. Ever had those divine french cupcakes, can’t think of name, filled w ganache, dense dense dense w chocolate so dark and rich…
yes and do not mention them again. I’m trying to get down to 319,000 lbs!
Reine de Saba. :x
I still mourn the passing of the Caravel bar-not Haute Chocolate by any stretch, but the focus of my childhood chocolate obsession.
Chunkys! I do remember!
Fanny Farmer, Hersheys, Cadbury (still love em) to Sees to Lindt and Chuao, Vosges.
Bacon….I always feel I’m in the minority-I don’t like it, don’t like the smell of it cooking nor the fatty drippyness…sorry folks! No, I did not deprive my children. To even think of tasting chocolate infused w bacon gives me shivers. I suppose it’s a matter of time before we’ll see chocolate w scrambled eggs tossed in.
I’ve tried the Chuao Firecracker-I think it’s Chuao. Very good.
Chocosphere is a good place to shop.
My favorite-Belgian chocolates.
The Lindt w sea salt-excellent!
Lake Champlain and Kinder are on my list.
Great post, March and looking forward to the weekend w Robin!
Greetings from Brussels. Here would be my recommendations.
From the Belgian chocolate scene:
Pierre Marcolini http://www.marcolini.be/
The Chocolate Line http://thechocolateline.be/
And full credit to the wonderful San Franciscan enterprise
On individual flavours, Godiva’s raspberry and dark chocolate truffels are divine.
Oh almost forgot. A square or two of Baker’s unsweetened chocolate adds something dark and mysterious to a pot of chili. Cook’s Illustrated once did a test of chocolates used to make (I think it was) brownies, using everything from Bakers to the most artisanal chocolates, and guess who won. Apparently the Baker’s delivered the “chocolate punch” the testers were looking for.
Skyline Chili, a Cincinnati favorite, supposedly contains both chocolate and cinnamon. The recipe is a big secret but the clone recipes contain both items.
as with mole chocolate is, imo, an essential ingredient in chili. Just a square, as Olfacta says, amps the flavours of the chilis and takes the raggedy edge off the salt.
ps. and they’re right. Baker’s is just GREAT!
Most of my chocolates are Memory Lane because I just can’t eat much of it and prefer to have it in ice cream. But remember Chunkys? They still make them, but they’re not as good — cheap grainy chocolate. Here’s the thing though; you used to be able to buy a square Chunky about 1 1/2 inches on all sides, just enough to satisfy the chocolate jones which is the only earthly reason for ever eating a Chunky. But now you have to buy this huge thing with maybe 3 or 4 times as much! Typical American more-is-better marketing. (I still eat them occasionally, though.) And See’s chocolates, from California. Um, Rasinettes at the movies. Guess I’m lowbrow.
As for bacon though: Dredge strips of it in brown sugar, generously. Bake on cookie sheet until crisp. The sugar melts and forms a crust. Chocolate sprinkles optional. Heaven.
Oh, those old Chunkys! I really loved those things. I also love Junior Mints, which are still pretty damn good to this day, if you get a really fresh box.
I’m a stale Milk Duds gal myself.
Ooooooooooooohhhh. We dip bacon in syrup at our house, I’m loving the brown sugar idea. (we bake our bacon anyway, rather than pan-fry it).
I’m not knocking raisinettes! Although there’s another health-store version I think tastes a bit better.
Sarris Chocolates in Canonsburg, PA makes wonderful quality, silky rich chocolate–not too pricey. Their white chocolate (especially difficult to find good white chocolate without paying a fortune) is great. I like their chocolate pretzels (only 70 calories) with black coffee for dessert. They’re family oriented and have a huge assortment of kids’ novelties for every holiday.
Hi Ann! Just a heads-up, La Maison du Chocolat is celebrating their 20th anniversary w/ free tasting of their cakes (& macarons I hope)on Nov.3, from 7pm til midnight.
I agree w/ Ann N. on Michael Recchiuti’s chocolates & I recommend the burgundy box, w/ six people in your household there surely is something for everyone. I also love La Maison du Chocolat, Debauve & Gallais, Mariebelle, Kee’s, Pierre Marcolini, Christopher Norman…..I could go on forever!
Hi Pamela, thanks for the reminder on La Maison du Chocolat, another of my faves — absolutely amazing, but oh-so-pricey. I treated myself one year to their Initiation gift box and it was heavenly! I’m not familiar with the others you mentioned, but I’ve heard good things about Christopher Norman’s line, just haven’t had the opportunity to try it yet. So much wonderful chocolate, so little money!! :((
Love chocolate, tea and perfume, too! (I’m sipping Tazo Lotus decaf green tea as I write and read.) My favorite chocolates include Godiva for fancy boxes or Ghiradelli squares with raspberry, mint or caramel fillings or just plain dark ones. I’ve come to like dark chocolate more as I get older and as I taste better quality ones. I’ve had some chocolates by the Lake Champlain company mentioned by several posters due to relatives that live in Vermont, and they are yummy. I need to try some more of the ones you all have mentioned to broaden my horizons.
Great topic! Love chocolate. I have bars beside me while I work, and always have a small piece in the middle of the day. Go-to bars used to be Whole Foods store brand – 365 organic dark chocolate bar. It’s only at 52%, though, and after having the 70% Lindt dark bars for a couple of weeks, the Whole Food bars seem too sweet! I definitely prefer dark over milk.
Love the sea salt bars, but have only tried Lindt. The Lindt ones aren’t dark enough – would love to find a darker one.
As to chili and chocolate, Black Dinah Chocolatiers here in Maine makes a 61% dark ancho chile bar with “carmelized Ancho chiles, apple-smoked Maine sea salt and roasted pecans.” I’ve had it – it’s good. But unless you want to purchase a truckload or give them your first born child, the shipping is not worth it.
Chocolatiers I’ve discovered online but haven’t yet tried are: Byrne & Carlson (they have some interesting bars!) and Mast Brothers.
Oh, and I have to promote my favorite local chocolatiers – Harbor Candy Shop in Ogunquit, and Monica’s Chocolates in Lubec. Both are INCREDIBLE! Both also have online ordering on their websites. :-) If you want a box of chocolates, Harbor Candy Shop puts Sees and Godiva to shame. Monica of Monica’s chocolates is from Peru, and she uses recipes from her dad – stays up late every night making chocolates. She’s a one-woman operation. Everything she makes is HUGE and delicious!!!
Doesn’t Harbor Candy make those little chocolate/white chocolate, possibly caramel filled sailboats? Am I remembering that right?
I’m wearing my ripped and battered old “Maine” t-shirt as I type…
Need a new one? :-)
Yes, Sweet Sloops! They’re delicious.
Hi Karin, had to visit Cost Plus World Market after reading this post and I picked up one of their Sea Salt Dark Chocolate bars. You mentioned that the Lindt sea salt one wasn’t quite dark enough for you, so you might like this one. It’s definitely a bit darker and smokier, though not quite as creamy as the Lindt.
Smoky. That sounds so good.
Don’t think we have a Cost Plus in Maine!?
Oh dear, that’s not good. I’d be glad to send you a bar if we could figure out how to do it (but will have to wait until after this week with highs in the high 80s or you would have chocolate soup). Maybe March can help us (can send one her way, too, if she likes).
Ha! That’s so sweet of you, Ann! No need to send me a bar. Plenty of chocolate here to keep me happy. But that dark sea salt bar sure does sound good. ;-) Weird – just looked at the Cost Plus website to see if there was one in Massachusetts, and believe it or not, there isn’t one in all of New England! Or New York, for that matter. I know there used to be one here in Portland not too long ago, and I know there was one in Newton, MA, too. Wonder what happened…
OOohhhhhh:* Chocolate and SALT baby! That’s the combination for me. There are two bars that stand out for me in this category…..one is Vosge’s Goji Bar ) with Goji berries, pink Himalayan sea salt in a 45%cocoa base SO YUM!
The second is a locally made bar (here in RI) from a company called OceanState Chocolates that is just a sheet of sea salt enrobed in handmade milk chocolate. Too good!!!
The Goji’s up there on my list … that Ocean State sheet of sea salt sounds incredible.
I love chocolate and orange and I must give yours a try. And thanks for the reminder on Dolfin–haven’t had one in quite a while, and I don’t think there was a flavor I didn’t like. I’m ashamed to admit I can’t remember the name of one I used to love, also orange and chocolate. But I’m more of an individual-filled-chocolates fan, and for those—Kee’s Chocolates on Thompson St in Soho.
You and Tim Gunn can take me to Kee’s. It’s a date.
And as for soft filled bars, how about looking into some of Lake Champlain’s Five Star Bars? They are named Five Star for a reason!
March, Roni Sue in NYC makes the most outrageous Pig Candy…crispy strips of bacon dipped in fabulous dark or milk chocolate. She’s a genius. And very bad for my waistline. :)
I have a recipe for that somewhere. Also bacon fudge. Also bacon peanut brittle.
…. do you not have my address? Let me send it to you again… (eyebatting emoticon). Baking me some bacon stuff would do wonders for your hip. Uh, probably will do something to my hips too…
I’ve got your address…and your number;) And your email, to send the RECIPES to. I cannot be held responsible for your hips.
Are you going to ride Arianna Huffy’s free bus down here or not for the Orgy of Fear? I’m thinking no, but I wish you would.
If my hip will permit, but right now I don’t think it can hack the bus for that long; it’s not likely to be anywhere near “normal” (whatever that is…I honestly don’t remember) for at least a few months, probably longer. But I am thinking the train might be doable, and if I manage that I’d really love to see you!
Well then I will just have to come up there and see you. Maybe we could get ourselves thrown out of a bar. 😕
Heh-heh. We’ll have to get Francesca to show us how it’s done.
Oooh, ahhh. Great subject!
I had to check current inventory to verify current favs-
Several Fleurs de Sel basr-wrapper tore off, believe one to be Vosges another Nestle Pointe de Sel-not available stateside, I think. Suggestions for the Best of Salt?
Ritter Sport dark with hazelnut. This one always gets me at check-out at Balduccis. Just dark enough, love me some hazelnuts/filberts (Oregon-style).
World Market Chile and Lime Dark. Speaks for itself.
Lindt-I know, not so gourmet, but my darling French neighbor brought me some outstanding filled bars-Praline Noisette and Mousse au Chocolat Noir.
Cadbury-I still love the F and N-but I think it’s been reformulated !!!!
And since Halloween is howling-best of junk-Kit Kats-I can eat these for breakfast. In, fact, I will, hah!
Happy Weekend to All ; )
dang…current, current-oh, wait-is there a dark bar with currants…? Love those lil critters.
Hi Louise, I think I see a trip to Cost-Plus World Market in many of our futures!
oh, my, yessss!
I clearly need to make another trip to World Market. Right now. I think I missed the Lime Chili? Do you go to the one in Friendship or is there another?
Also I love currants so much and they’re so hard to find in prepared goods! Currant scones are amazing, so much tastier than raisin.
The Dolfin Pink Pepper bar is fantastic (but then I also like the lavender….)! Chocolat Frey here in Switzerland makes a chili bar that has the Lindt looking decidedly wimpy, it’s very hot and very, very good. Lindt, on the other hand, does a seasonal Christmas spice chocolate to die for. And I don’t even particularly like chocolate (I don’t object to it in cakes or cookies, though)…..
See, I’d love a really hot one. That sounds so good.
The best chili choco I have found is the one Dagoba does. Has little bits of cocoa nib thingy in it so it’s a bit crunchy, good texture and it’s just hot enough.
Yeah? Yeah? Writing this one down…. nibs sound excellent.
Last week here in the UK they launched a chocolate bar with MARMITE flavouring. Can’t bring myself to try it yet, but I guess it’s not so very far removed from chocolate with salt flakes. Current favourite (another British bar) is Montezuma’s Chilli with Lime; at first you think it’s a nice lime-flavoured chocolate, then the warmth of the chilli spreads over your tongue. And after all chilli has been paired with cocoa for zillions of years.
LOL marmite, you should see me squirm. I think I just let out an audible ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.
Chili Lime sounds amazing.
Marmite tastes to me like someone put a pot of really dark beer on the back of the stove, on medium heat, and just let it sit there for hourrrrs, until all the liquid boiled off. What’s left is the Marmite.
But chili lime does sound great.
Isn’t that what Marmite is– some sort of yeasty by-product of brewing?
Gretchen, you are absolutely right! It is the yeast that is leftover after brewing beer, so Mals is also spot on. Over the last few years the company has been bringing out limited editions made from yeasts from specific brews, eg Guinness (beer), and Champagne! Yep, that’s right, Champagne. To be honest,I have a love/hate relationship with Marmite, but of course had to try the LEs. Can’t actually say they tasted much different from the ordinary versions, but the jars are cute.
I love chocolate! One of my faves is dark chocolate with tarragon and juniper berry. Yum!. I also like the spicy Lindt ones. And I just remembered that there are some tiny Dolfin bars at my local stores, must try them someday.
Tarragon and juniper?! Now that’s weird.
It’s actually delicious, honest! :d
The tarragon is quite dominant and the final effect is just creamy, spicy goodness. I need to go to bed now before I visit the chocolate cabinet.
At the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, my daughter managed to zero in on the chocolate-dipped bacon. I wouldn’t-couldn’t -didn’t taste it, and could not bear to watch her eat it. But, she loved it. Why don’t you throw a piece of bacon in a measuring cup with some chocolate chunks and make your own? I mean, why, besides not wanting to cope with he clean up, smell and guilt? I re-discovered chocolate and coffee this year. There is a local cafe called bittersweet, with wonderful mochas, and which had a chocolate espresso baked thing. Together, they seemed like food for the gods. There was a Lindt cherry chili filled bar at Grocery Outlet for a while (probably a discontinued prduct)which was out of this world– gooey and rich, with some heat behind it. Life is too short for bad chocolate :)>-
Hi Mary, I’m with you on the bacon and chocolate!
I can’t remember the name of the place– I’m up in the Bay Area, but had to take my kids to the Boardwalk– they are the perfect age right now. My son found a flight simulator in the arcade, and re-made history–Pearl Harbor would have had a very different ending with him in the sky, let me tell you. My daughter stood in the middle of the walkway, eating her treat– she caused a run on the chocolate coated bacon. :)>-
Mary- if you are in Santa Cruz have you tried Richard Donnelly’s Chocolate? http://www.donnellychocolates.com/ikorb.php?func=catalog Wonderful! Chinese 5 Spice is incredible.
I second the 5 spice! The only reason I didn’t mention it above was because it isn’t really “textured.”
……….. yeaaah, but it sounds amazing and I don’t follow my own rules, so you don’t have to either. :@)
OOh–will check it out!!Thanks!**==
We had a Lindt store at the mall but it closed. Will have to hunt down the salted, and their Chili was great.
Try a big Target. That’s where I get my Lindt Touch of Chocolate and Chili.
Hi March, try a Publix supermarket (do you have them in D.C.?) for the Lindt sea-salt chocolate bars. I’ve seen them in Publixes here in Georgia, also in Florida and Alabama, so it’s worth a try.
I dunno, I’d probably cook the bacon and then DIP it. We do that with pretzels…
I would compare my love of very dark chocoIate to that of good chypre perfumes. Especially my love of candied ginger and very dark chocolate. I find most bars too sweet so I create my own with a bite of good candied ginger and a half square of good 70% dark chocolate like Scharffen Berger or Schmerling’s. And it’s medicinal – ginger for the digestion and dark chocolate for the heart. That’s my story and I’m sticking too it……
Yes! Good dark + candied ginger = something I love, too!!
Your story is exactly why we store them separately; two different remedies. ;)
I’ve just recently started trying more unusual chocolate bars in the hunt for something delicious (bacon bar was interesting but not something I could eat often; I also had a curry chocolate bar that was revolting). My favorite plain chocolate bar in terms of taste and texture is Kinder Chocolate. It’s milk chocolate on the outside with a thin layer of white chocolate in the middle. Yum! I used to buy bars in bulk when I visited Germany, and then I discovered them at my local World Market.
The curry ones I’ve tried are revolting, but I keep trying them. 🙂
For a hot pepper chocolate bar with some crunch, you might try Lake Champlain Chocolates Grace Under Fire Bar with dark chocolate, hot pepper, pistachios and traces of vanilla and cinnamon. Yum.
I read about the Mo’s Bar and I wish I knew what the big deal was. I remember getting my bar and barely finishing it. I love bacon + chocolate but the bacon… the bacon is just the wrong texture. It’s like char; crumbly and gritty. I wonder….
And I was just thinking, Vosges Goji Bar is the best one of the bunch by FAR. Then it was your next choice and I smiled. I LOVE these things. I wonder though, do your teeth start to hurt after it? I think the salt makes my teeth “softer.” Maybe I’m just weird.
I work currently in a store that has a whole half-aisle of gourmet chocolate and I’m trying to get through them all without hurting my perfume budget. It’s fun. :3
I like that bacon texture! Char = good! :d
Seriously, I wound up with the Goji BY ACCIDENT and then ate the whole thing, moaning obcenely.
I first got to Vosges through the Mo’s Bar, which I didn’t like, but that’s already been discussed. But the Black Pearl bar caught my eye next (the green of the box is the color of my room) and I loved it. So I expanded. Goji’s definitely my favorite, though.
And I spend my day around uncooked fish so my appetite is smaller at work than anywhere else. Which is fine because I have the typical college student budget. No need to be tempted….
Also if I worked around food I would weigh 300 lbs.
Chuao Spicy Maya Dark Chocolate bar. I’m sorry, but I find something incredibly disturbing about a bacon chocolate bar. You’re an adventurous soul for trying it.
Those Chuaos are like Bigfoot — lots of sightings but I never find them where they’re allegedly located.
where are they allegedly located?
My WALMART has Chuao. Srsly.
(Well, it’s not like there’s a lotta gourmet outlets out here in the flippin’ boonies. No Trader Joe’s, no Whole Foods, no nothin’ except the Asian shop in the nearby college town.)
I like the Chuao Firecracker, which has spicy Pop-Rock-like bits embedded in the dark chocolate. My kids like it – they say it’s like a party in your mouth.
okay…..I’m coming to YOUR Wal-Mart. Of course, the Wal-Mart in Princeton has Mallomars, so….ya nebber know…
If you have a Pier 1, try there. That’s where I get the Chuao Firecracker–I can’t help myself, it’s fun to eat.
The Chuao Maya is at my neighborhood overly complicated Harris Teeter supemarket (they’ve got the dried fruit in SIX different locations). I really like it the Maya. The cinnamon is more noticeable to me than the chili, and I never thought before about how nicely cinnamon complements chili. I don’t usually like chili in sweet things, but this chocolate-cinnamon-chili combo really works.
The only other one they had was Panko, though – no Firecracker.
Check out Charles Chocolate from Emeryville (East Bay), CA. This would be niche chocolate, if you want to compare it to perfume. One guy with an inspired tongue(?).
I love the Bittersweet Carmelized Crisped Rice Bar (super gourmet version of a Crunch Bar). Talk about texture! Also love the Salty-Sweet Bars (Cashew and Pecan Cherry), but they are very pricey.
Interesting bars are also available from Theo chocolate in Seattle (which is Organic and Fair Trade). My favorites are the Phinney bars with baguette (Bread and Chocolate–that’s a textural adventure), nib brittle (glazed cocoa nibs), Fig and Fennel, etc. Vanilla Milk chocolate bar is also great (though not textured).
How come everyone has a fancypants chocolate place but us? ::sulks::
Ah, but you DO have a fancypants chocolate place. It’s on 14th, near Logan Circle. Kingsbury Chocolates has become ACKC in DC and Artfully Chocolate in Alexandria, on Mt. Vernon, in Del Ray. Robert Kingsbury once did a chocolate tasting at the Cheestique (also in Del Ray) and created an extraordinary truffle: Triple-cream brie dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in black sesame seeds. It was incredibly wonderful. Worth it! http://www.thecocoagallery.com/index.htm
Vosges Peanut Butter Bonbon. filled, yet not squishy and with the delight of sea salt on top.
And on Memory Lane, the GIANT Hershey’s with Almonds bar my dad would buy and have in the cupboard to be slowly nibbled away.
Aw! Teared up over here …. for years and years I got my dad the giant Hershey’s chocolate almond. He loved it.
I wished they hadn’t messed up the Hershey’s. I’m not too highbrow for Hershey’s but it doesn’t taste the same.
I love the Lindt bar with Sea Salt. Small fleur de sel flakes in dark chocolate. Many other people seem to like it, too, as I often find just one bar sitting there (very lonely!) at my local Target. I haven’t been to Cost Plus World Market in a while, but a trip before Christmas is definitely warranted for great chocolate stocking stuffers.
I love the sea salt Lindt bars, too!
Hi March, what a super post! Chocolate, perfume and tea, three of my most favorite things (but rough on my wallet)!! I love me some Vosges, too, but just couldn’t get behind the Mo’s bacon bar, though I did try. And the Earl Grey and chocolate combo is mighty fine.
Also, a shout-out to you, Dana, on the Lindt sea salt bar — nothing finer in the candy aisle of my local Publix. It just seems to melt in your mouth and then you get the little crunch of the salt — divine!!
Now that cooler weather is coming and those warm-weather shipping charges will be going bye-bye, I’m hoping to order some Michael Recchiuti Chocolates out of San Francisco (waves to Musette). Not cheap, but some very nice stuff, including their burnt caramel piece, their fleur de sel caramel and several lovely sauces for ice cream. And on the less expensive side, there’s good old See’s Candies. Some nice flavors there (love those butterscotch squares — winks at Claudia). Looks like perfume purchases will have to take a back seat this month …
And I’m winking back. (or maybe it’s just the odd twitch my right eye-lid has developed lately).
Now I want chocolate AND perfume AND well, coffee, not being a tea person.
Hi Claudia, I was just looking at the See’s site and saw that you can get a whole box of butterscotch squares by themselves and it’s cheaper than what I was doing — ordering the custom box and filling it with (mostly) butterscotch squares! (DUH! Bumps head against wall.)
I definitely feel an order coming on. They will have kiosks here in Atlanta starting Nov. 13 but not sure I can wait that long, and I don’t think the squares are part of their inventory.
The Recchiutis are also on here several times. Must investigate. 😉 Maybe a holiday gift for El Queso Grande…
Hi March, I was just on the Recchiuti site and saw that they list several locations in D.C. that stock their items. Might be a good way to let you take some for a spin without ordering them.
They are: Biagio Fine Chocolate (202-328-1506) and Dean & DeLuca (202-342-2500). Hope this helps!
If they have the Fleur de Sel caramels…….Dios mio, baby – DO IT!
Thanks! Their stuff is $$$$$, I thought, what if I order it and don’t feel the love? (probably a good thing, actually) Then I got distracted with someone else’s — David’s? That looked good.
I missed your first post! We should talk. Click on my link.
Hi Musette, sorry to be so long getting back to you but had a major project to help my son with. Wasn’t sure where you meant for me to click for your link. Anyway, was just on the Recchiuti site and saw that they have a retail partner in Barrington, Ill. — Pair Chocolates (847-277-7980). Is that anywhere near you?
No but I can make it be 😀 (I’m in the middle of the state but go back to the western ‘burbs with some regularity) – CRAP! Ann! They are CLOSED! :((
– what I meant was, click on my name and you’ll go to my site, etc. I was thinking, if you are anywhere near me, we should figure out how to maximize shipping options – I’m very much a hater-of-shipping-costs, even though I understand the necessity. But it still chaps my cheese. Let’s chat, if you want to get Recchiuti.
Oh no, Musette! “It’s closed”: two of the most awful words in the English language (or any language). So, so sorry. I would love to go in on some Recchiuti with you, but unfortunately, I live down near Atlanta. But if I head up Chicago way, I’ll be glad to truck along some.
you know, this is the Universe’s way of saying [-( “I thought you wanted to drop those 2 dress sizes, not add two more”
If you are coming this way, let me know – we’ll do a no-calorie sniffage!
OOOooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh—- kay. I guess since so many of you mentioned it, I’ll be digging up the Lindt sea salt bar!
Y’all beat me to it! The sea salt bar is indeed fabulous, and so forehead-smackingly simple (and relevatory) you wonder why no one’s packaged it before. You’re going about your business, eating a nice Lindt dark chocolate bar, when suddenly these sea salt crystals pop into your mouth and make the chocolate taste 100x better and make the world seem that much righter, and more solid, for a few fleeting moments. Salt, man. It gets stuff DONE.