This week I'm going to review truffles from Intrigue Chocolates, which have a use by date of May 15, 2009, so your Chocolate Priestess wanted to make sure she utilized them for a Sacrament at the height of freshness. The reason for this expiration date is that these are made in the French tradition which, instead of using a ganache coating over the truffle, only dusts it with cocoa. Thus it cannot remain good for as long as the hard-coated variations. The package these came in used very few unrecycleble materials, if that matters to you, Sisters and Brothers, as I think it should. The truffles themselves list no artificial ingredients or preservatives and have chocolate as the first ingredient; however, I do not know the amount of fats or cholesterol in each piece because neither the information I received nor the website offers nutritional lists.
Intrigue sent me 11 samples of the huge variety of flavors they offer -- I counted 68 flavors on this list. Look at them below; the beautiful colored foil makes them look like gems, and each color represents a flavor on this little list in each of the gift boxes. Of these, I'll try 11 of the flavors, coconut not being your Chocolate Priestess's choice for any flavoring, but I think trying 10 of 11 will give me ample time to reveal their nature as a potential Sacrament for you, Sisters and Brothers. This revelation, though, will take several hours again, so I can truly submerge myself in each truffle and allow the chocolate to fully enhance my connection to the divine to the degree it is capable.
Below you see two Cabernet-Merlot truffles, the only two matching flavors in offering. They came in merlot-colored foil so were easy to identify from the other flavors. Any discoloration here is probably because I could not try them as you would in the store. Since they are made from fresh and often organic ingredients without that hard coating, they can spoil. These are perfectly fine, but all chocolate and cocoa will discolor over time. Each measures 1 1/8 inches in diameter and is about .75 inches in height. The immediate scent when I easily unwrapped the merlot foil is of cocoa, pure and simple.
Your Chocolate Priestess has had nothing else to eat for over 4 hours and only water to drink as I put the Cabernet-Merlot piece into my mouth and bit it in half. It is soft and cocoa-like in substance, striking my tongue with its immediate bitterness as I chew. I let the second bite melt on my tongue, and as it does so I can start to sense that Cabernet or Merlot taste along with the graininess of the chocolate and the buildup of a general rush in my head. It is a very unique taste, and the bitterness and rush linger for several pleasant minutes.
I'm going to be bold and try the "Jamaican HOT Chocolate" next and see how Intrigue's spicy truffles compare to the Cowgirl ones I tried a while back. It's wrapped in bright red foil, and very dark, almost black, chocolate is revealed as I unwrap it. It melts on my fingertips, but other than the darker cocoa scent I don't sense much difference yet. It is very, very soft, melting quickly, and the spice kicks in at the back of my tongue, making my eyes water. Oh, yeah, this competes well with the previous spicy truffles we've seen on "Saturday Sacraments," and if those were too spicy, the Intrigue version does not linger as long in your mouth.
The third piece is the "Lemon Zesty" sample. It is also very dark in color and is melting a bit in the wrapper now that it has been outside the fridge for half an hour. Again only the cocoa scent meets my nose as I breathe it in. The lemon taste is there when I bite into it, and it intensifies a bit if I let it melt on my tongue.
But does the "Lime!" taste much different from the "Lemon Zesty?" First, it isn't as dark in color, but once more only the cocoa smell is available when I open it. Yes, as I chew it and let it melt, there is a difference that does indeed taste like the lemon versus lime difference, though I would not say it is so intense as to justify an exclamation mark in the title.
Now for a different sort of flavor: "Anise." If you are unfamiliar with this flavor, it may be similar to licorice, and is in fact used as a flavoring in many licorice candies. It came in cobalt-blue foil, and since this is now the fifth truffle to smell like nothing other than cocoa, I want to say that I am a bit disappointed. Part of the total sensory experience for us in The Chocolate Cult is to have something for all five senses to enjoy, and while cocoa is obviously wonderful to us, a hint of what was waiting inside would prime our palates. This piece melts very easily in my mouth, and the anise or licorice flavor is very, very mild.
I'm going to try the "Tuaca" flavor next; Tuaca is an Italian brandy that usually has vanilla and orange notes in its flavor. Your Chocolate Priestess has not had this type of brandy before, but it was an interesting flavor to let melt on my tongue, and it certainly gave me a little buzz.
The next truffle to meet my mouth is the "Cardamom," which in this case is Elettaria cardamomum, for those who know the difference between the two kinds of spice bearing this name. Ah, the intensity of this spice is so strong that it cuts through the normal cocoa scent when I open its silver foil wrapper. It is an intense flavor; I did like it, though I wouldn't want a second piece. It's very Eastern in its flavor, with a bit more kick than cinnamon, for example, as though it has a bit of pepper in it ... it's difficult to describe if you have not had this spice before.
I'll try something floral now with the "R. Valentino" truffle, whose flavor is rose petals. Don't let that worry you, Sisters and Brothers; cooks have been using rose petals as a flavoring for a long time, and most flowers are safe for humans to eat. I open the dusky pink foil but only get the cocoa scent again. Describing the flavor is difficult; it lingers on the back of my tongue and makes my right eye twitch a bit, but I wouldn't call it intense, though it does make me think of roses.
My second to last piece will be the "Fresh Mint" one, which comes in a bright green foil wrapping. This one does have an extra scent to it, though I wouldn't call it minty, which I'm expecting, and this makes me very curious. It's a very unusual flavor, very earthy, and it doesn't taste like any mint that I've ever had. I share it with the Milk Chocolate Alcolyte, and he agrees with me; mint is one of his favorite flavors, though he compares it to Chex mix. I think this might be a fennel flavor, and I don't like it much.
Rinsing my mouth out and waiting for several minutes, I end this "Saturday Sacrament" from Intrigue with their "What's the buzz?" flavor, which is honey. Biting off half a truffle, I let it melt in my mouth. I got a very nice cocoa buzz, but to be honest, as I always am in everything I write for you, Sisters and Brothers, I couldn't taste any honey flavor in this truffle; in fact, no hint of the sweetness that one would expect. Not that the taste was bad, but it wasn't what I was expecting from the label.
Overall, the texture was very interesting, and the truffles melted very easily in my mouth, each time delivering a bit of chocolate buzz, as we wish. However, the lack of other scents when I first opened the foils for most of the pieces was disappointing to one of my five senses. Some of the flavors were not to my liking, but that is to be expected with any assortment, Sisters and Brothers. I did really like the "Cabernet-Merlot," the "Tuaca," and the "Lemon Zesty" best of all of them.
This review is merely 1/7th of the possible flavors from Intrigue. If you want to try these or other flavors, you order them in boxes of 6, 20 or 48 pieces here. Flavors may change over the course of a year, so don't be surprised if the website is updated or be afraid to call them to find out what your choices are. Remember, Sisters and Brothers, if you get these eat them quickly and store them in a refrigerator, because without the ganache they will lose their full flavor sooner.
Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.