Last time I wrote about chocolate I promised another article about Chuao Chocolatier, mostly because I had eaten up several of the products too quickly to properly review them. So I did another order, and made myself slow down in the interest of science. Happily, in the interim Chuao had introduced two new chocolate bars, unhappily, they introduced yet another (Coffee & Anise) a couple days after I made my order. Oh well, next time.
First up: Chuao's new CoCo bar. I'm a huge fan of coconut in chocolate, in fact, I still love a Mounds bar every so often. But let's face it: the dark stuff covering a Mound's bar only vaguely qualifies as "chocolate" these days. Chuao's version, with coconut, almond, cinnamon and coriander, might be a Mounds for grownups: it's sweet but not deadly sweet (it's a 60% cacao bar). There's lots of coconut interspersed with small bits of toasted almond; the bar is more chewy than crunchy. The spices are mild — much milder than in the Chinita Nibs bar. I found the CoCo bar very enjoyable, and a far cry better than the Seeds of Change Playa del Coco. I would definitely buy it again, but there's a lot of competition for the best bar over at Chuao, and as much as I like this one, it isn't my absolute favorite. They are sold in sets of three bars, 80g each, for $18.
The second new bar is Honeycomb (dark chocolate, 60%, with caramelized honey). The bits of honeycomb sprinkled throughout the bar give it the perfect crunch, and despite the addition of a sweet ingredient, the overall bar is not at all too sweet. Chuao says "the honeycomb chunks take on a slightly savory role that creates a luxurious balance in the overall flavor experience" and that's exactly right. This is a truly fabulous bar, and along with the Chinita Nibs and Panko, it's now in my top 3 from Chuao. The Honeycomb bar is also $18 for three bars.
Gingerettes are small disks of caramelized ginger (the texture of the ginger is very like that of jellied fruit slices) covered in dark chocolate and sprinkled with chipotle chili. They are seriously addictive: there is just enough chipotle to make the first touch on the tongue a surprise, but not so much as to overwhelm the also-strong spicy ginger. I went through the 6 oz package ($7) in very short order. Highly recommended.
ChocoPods are individually wrapped pod-shaped "mini chocolate bars" with flavored fillings. They come in "matchboxes" holding six 11g pods for $6. The Modena ChocoPods, filled with strawberry caramel and balsamic vinegar, are simply outstanding (they are one of the products I ate too quickly last time to review) and sadly they were out of stock when I reordered. I can now see why: they were by far my favorite of all the ChocoPod flavors.
The Candela ChocoPods, filled with "spicy macadamia praline", are very good. If you're a huge macadamia fan I think you will love them as the macadamia flavor is quite strong. I'm not a huge macadamia fan, and wanted more of the "spicy" part — I found them a bit too bland, and probably won't order them again. The Banana ChocoPods, filled with "banana brown sugar caramel" were likewise very good (and the banana tastes surprisingly fresh), but not outrageously so. Just good. I had no trouble finishing them, but again, they're probably not something I'd go out of my way to get my hands on. The Passion ChocoPods, which are filled with passion fruit caramel, were slightly better: they have a bright but intense flavor, fruity but not too sweet. But none of these have the unusual combination of flavors that make the Modena ChocoPods so attractive.
The Picante ChocoPods were closer to what I'm after: they are filled with a smooth, creamy cabernet wine caramel lightly spiced with pasilla chile and cayenne pepper. The chile and pepper are subtle but lend a slight kick, and help cut the sweetness of the fruity wine flavors. They can't beat the Modena, but they're my second favorite of the ChocoPods.
And now of course I have a slight stomachache. If you've tried any wonderful chocolate lately, do comment!
Note: you can find all of the products mentioned above at the Chuao Chocolatier website. You can also find a (very limited) selection of their products at selected Whole Foods and Wegmans stores.