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Candy Review: Chuao Chocolates Dark Chocolate Assortment

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Chuao Chocolates box
I have been a fan of Chuao for a while, but the shipping charge to get their product to the East Coast is fairly mind-boggling. Fortunately, I have a friend in Southern California who couldn’t think of anything else to buy me for Christmas.

You’ve read about Chuao here before, but these folks don’t rest on their laurels, and are always coming up with new fillings. The little flier that comes with the box of chocolate asserts that they are “unusual” and “unexpected,” and I am interested in pushing the boundaries of the usual bonbon fillings. I was afraid, though, that they’d gone a little too far with a couple of these. One of them turned out to actually be OK, but the other – well, I will leave that for the end, because a little suspense is a good thing, right?

Pan con chocolate: described as “Roasted panko bread crumbs and olive oil ganache with a touch of sea salt.” This is one of the flavors I was worried about, because don’t those sound like ingredients for veal cutlets, not a bonbon? But this was surprisingly good. The effect of the bread crumbs was similar to crisp rice – which all sensible people agree is a good thing to put in chocolate – but without large, obvious pieces.

The olive oil flavor was very mild – I could have lived without it, but it didn’t ruin the experience. Still, it was really no asset, and while I was raised on Italian cooking and bow to no one in my devotion to olives and their oil, I think it would be best if this trend to put olive oil in sweets would stop now. There’s even a frozen yogurt place around here that offers it as a topping. It’s time to cut this out, people.

Pucker Up: “Tangy and sweet pomegranate pate de fruit filled bonbon.” You know those chocolate covered jelly rings that they sell for the Jewish holidays? Imagine if those were actually REALLY REALLY GOOD. Oh, yes. A+++ WOULD EAT AGAIN.

Framboise:Raspberry pate de fruit layered over almond hazelnut praline.” I got all excited over more ‘pate de fruit’ after the Pucker Up, but… eh. The fruit taste is not as strong and tart, and there’s the praline at the same time, although the praline is quite good… it’s too many different things at once for me. I would probably have been happier to divide the two layers and eat them separately, but by the time I thought of that it was too late.

Mulato: Almond marzipan. No crazy imagination here, just a traditional thing done nicely.

Black and White: “Creamy white chocolate with almond hazelnut praline.” I am not that big a fan of the whole hazelnut thing, but this is soooo good. Like the best hazelnut flavor with like a ton of extra creamy fat. Note to Chuao, though: We really don’t need a pronunciation guide for the name of this one, OK?

Advertised on their website in ALL CAPS as “DECEMBER’S DARE TO BE DIFFERENT BONBON: CANDY CANE: Soft peppermint caramel in a dark chocolate shell painted with red.” This is really nothing daring compared to bread crumbs and olive oil, nor compared to the last and weirdest selection I’ll review here (isn’t the suspense unbearable?). I can usually take or leave the combination of chocolate and mint, but this is nice. It’s got that strong mint oil taste that you get in those pillow-shaped mint candies, if they’re very good, or imagine a very good version of the mint in Thin Mints cookies.

Chevre: “Goat cheese, Pear Williams and crushed black pepper buttercream.” Another one that sounds like a terrible idea, but mostly, you taste fruit, not cheese. It’s chocolate-colored inside so there must be chocolate in the filling too. Unfortunately the pepper is in rather unpleasantly large pieces. Black pepper is not as good as chile peppers in chocolate, and while it was possible to spit out the pepper and enjoy the rest, well, a chocolate that’s this expensive, I don’t expect to have to dissect it in order to enjoy it, you know?

Candela:Macadamia nut praline spiced with smoky chipotle.” I don’t really taste the chipotle in most of this, it’s just a good rich nut filling. I get a bit of heat in a bite here or there. (I suppose if you’re the sort of person who eats a whole bonbon at once, you’ll get more of the general effect they intended but after how much it cost to ship these and how many days I was checking for the package at the door, I like to make them last, you know?)

Parchita: “Fresh passion fruit blended into soft caramel.” OMG OMG. Wow, they just do fruit flavors really well. I can’t even imagine how they do this one, unlike the pate de fruit flavors which actually look like concentrated fruit. You don’t taste caramel in the sense of burnt sugar here at all – it has a soft caramel-sauce sort of texture but tastes like intense fruit. OMG. Can someone please send me another one of these right now?

Uh… there were a couple of others here that seem to have disappeared before I could write about them. One was a plain chocolate truffle, one was just a little slab of chocolate with nuts on it, and one was called Picante, with “California raisin fondue, Napa Valley cabernet caramel and spices.” I seem to recall it was interestingly alcoholic, tasted better than raisins, and didn’t involve dipping anything in cheese or hot oil with long forks so I don’t know why it’s called ‘fondue.’

Finally: The Firecracker Truffle, described as “caramel fudge with chipotle chile and salt, enrobed with a layer of popping candy.” Yes, you read that right: this is a box of chocolates that cost 31 dollars for 16 pieces, and it contains Pop Rocks.

Now, OK, this is a cute idea. But, I have led a sheltered life, and also, I think Pop Rocks were invented after I was finished being a child. I am pretty sure this is the first time I ever had them and seriously, this experience bordered on frightening. Food is not supposed to do this in your mouth! I thought candy was my friend!

I ate a small piece, and had to give away the rest to my Technical Staff, who didn’t even notice the phenomenon till I pointed it out. So, your mileage may vary. In any case, as far as I can recall, the filling, before it started to make me fear I had some undescribed neurological disorder, was chocolaty and smooth and spicy.

In sum: This is very good high quality stuff and the fruit and nut flavors are excellent to amazing. Definitely worth the splurge for a special occasion and most definitely worth asking someone else to send to you! But I’d be happier if they’d rein in their imagination a little bit; I think that adding Pop Rocks to their chocolate pushes the envelope off the deep end – yeah, well, you might mix your metaphors too after that experience.

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6 Responses to “Candy Review: Chuao Chocolates Dark Chocolate Assortment”

  1. 1
    Kia says:

    Some of those sound horrid, but the Firecracker? Really? You lost it over Pop Rocks? I’m sorry, but that makes me laugh hard. That sounds absolutely amazing. 8D

  2. 2
    Nicky63220 says:

    The firecracker is actually my favorite, except for this one they used to have which was olive-oile with sundried tomato and basil with dark chocolate. Luckally I live in southern california because the shipping rates are expensive

  3. 3
    Nicky63220 says:

    i mean orange peal not basil, it was called olivet

  4. 4
    Cadence says:

    Ok, the whole section on the pop rocks almost made me spit my coffee out my nose laughing. Thank you for sharing! I had a sensory flashback to eating them as a kid and wondering when the exploding was gonna stop. I’m usually a bit tentative about putting fruit filling in my chocolate, but you make me want to try those Parchita and Pucker Ups.

  5. 5
    Brian says:

    Don’t let Linda fool you. The Firecracker is fantastic!

  6. 6
    Jim says:

    There are Pop Rocks in Bruster’s “Cotton Candy Explosion” ice cream and it’s outta this world! Linda, you’d lose your mind.

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