One of the many companies I spoke to at the All Candy Expo were the extremely friendly people over at Chuao Chocolatiers. I was so impressed with the quality, taste and creativity of their chocolates, but also how enthusiastic they all were about their craft and products. They were also sweet enough to participate in the Candy Addict Birthday Giveaway we held earlier this month.
Chuao (pronounced chew-WOW) is an artisan chocolate company founded by chocolatier Michael Antonorsi in Southern California, and they have an impressive array of chocolates that not only look beautiful, but taste amazing.
Chuao wants to awaken your senses with chocolate, using only the finest ingredients in unusual, unexpected and delicious ways. They start with a strong base by sourcing El Rey Venezuelan chocolate and then combining it with the finest ingredients to make such flavors as strawberry pulp and balsamic vinegar caramel, Hawaiian macadamia praline spiced with smoky chipotle and ginger ganache infused with green tea. A few months ago, David got to sample these unique flavors in Chuao’s Chocopods.
Chuao was kind enough to send me some samples for review and amongst all the wonderful treats they sent, one was a “Tease” sized box with nine of their gourmet bonbons. To stay that these are simply beautiful is an understatement. The packaging is simple and sleek: chocolate brown box with a golden colored belt, both displaying the Chuao logo. Inside, the nine bonbons sit in a delicate clear tray atop a vintage map of the world that adorns the interior of the box. Chuao knows design well and they clearly use it to their advantage; a feast for the eyes and the taste buds.
Grignottine: (Roasted and caramelized almond slivers, mixed with finely chopped pistachios and orange peel, blended together with dark Venezuelan chocolate.) Very chewy and makes a mess in my teeth. It tastes very nutty and a tad sweet, but it has this amazing citrus-y bitterness from the orange peel that really rounds out the flavor of the nuts. Despite the annoyance of the teeth thing, I enjoyed it very much.
Mendiant: (Milk chocolate studded with nuts and raisins.) Smells very milky and immediately melts on your tongue. The nuts provide a necessary texture variation and saltiness. A nicely thought out version of a classic combination.
Heart Parchita: (Fresh passion fruit blended into a soft caramel, covered with Venezuelan milk chocolate.) Smells milky and fruity: the passion fruit is intense and you can smell it right through the chocolate exterior. Extremely soft and breaks apart when bitten into. The passion fruit caramel is heavenly. Rich, flowing, intensely fruity with a nice tartness to it. The flavors work so well, and I can only wonder what the dark chocolate version is like.
Modena: (Dark Venezuelan chocolate Bonbon filled with a soft caramel de-glazed with strawberry pulp and balsamic vinegar from Modena.) This was interesting because I’ve already had experience wit the Modena ChocoPod. But this is WAY more intense. The balsamic vinegar is much stronger here and much more tart. It levels out the dark chocolate and brings it to a new level of sweetness I never tasted before. And just when you think you have it all figured out, the strawberry comes in and cancels out both the tart vinegar and the chocolate, leaving a hint of fruitiness on the palate.
Picante: (California raisin fondue and Napa Valley Cabernet caramel, spiced up with pasilla chili and cayenne pepper covered in dark Venezuelan chocolate.) Whoo, this one certainly has that alcoholic buss to it. I can feel it tingling all through my mouth. I’m sure the spices have a hand in that too, but I couldn’t distinguish them from the burn of the Cabernet. Despite the fact that I’m not a fan of alcohol, I did enjoy this.
Olivet: (Dark chocolate with olive oil and sun dried tomato.) This was the one I was the most wary of in the whole box. I’m not a big fan of olive oil, and I was wondering how its flavor would affect the dark chocolate. Thankfully, and much to my relief, the flavor wasn’t strong at all, but instead was quite faint and just added to the smoothness of the ganache. The tomato adds a nice fruitiness. The orange peel pieces add a lovely bitterness and chewy texture.
Rio Caribe: (Artisan made almond and hazelnut praline covered with Venezuelan milk chocolate.) Oh, the texture of this one is out of this world. It’s soft and dense, but the praline bits give it this lovely little crunch to each bite, although the pieces are really too small to detect right away. It’s lovely, like a mini grit in the chocolate, and I mean that in the best way possible. The most seamless texture I’ve ever had in chocolate. The praline is not too sweet and is a perfect marriage of almond and hazelnut flavors; neither dominates or cancels the other out.
Le citron: (Whole lemon pulp blended in a soft caramel, with fresh mint-infused cream, covered with Venezuelan milk chocolate.) I am lost for words on this one. The lemon filling is so intense and pure that for a split second I thought I was in France eating a fresh lemon tart. Incredible, just incredible. I want a box that’s just full of these.
Framboise: (Double layered bonbon, one of hazelnut almond praline and one of raspberry “Pate de Fruit” covered in Venezuelan dark chocolate.) I was looking forward to this one the most. The dark chocolate coating is thin and cracks when you take a bite, opposed to the others that molded more with their fillings. The inside is beautiful to see, a thick dark layer of raspberry with a stripe of praline at the bottom. The raspberry pate is not too squishy, but had a nice firmness that works well with the chocolate and delivers a nice fresh raspberry flavor. I hardly noticed the texture or the taste of the praline, since the raspberry is such a dominant and strong feature. Most enjoyable.
Overall this collection just blew me away. The flavors and the combinations complimented the chocolate so well and really opened me up to how many ways chocolate can taste. I highly recommend this to anyone who’s a chocolate lover. Tasting this box of bonbons only increased my excitement to review the rest of the samples they sent, so I will have those reviews for you soon. In the meantime, go order yourself some Chuao chocolates. You’ll thank me later.