Saturday, April 4, 2009
Saturday Sacrament, April 4, 2009
Today, Sisters and Brothers, I will reveal the nature of samples sent by a delightfully named company, Cowgirl Chocolates, and its potential as a Saturday Sacrament. It was delivered to me wrapped in lovely red tissue paper, as you can see, with this powerful company logo on it. The box itself is larger than the sacred dish, so I am anxious to see what is inside. Tissue paper tears so easily that I could rush my way through the unwrapping, but each step in our worship should be purposeful, so I go slowly, feeling the paper tear and slip between my fingers, my nose and eyes ready for any sensation which may be revealed to me.
Inside is a sturdy red box with a black ribbon, a metallic decal shaped like a cowgirl hat, and a blank gift tag that you could use to label it before giving it to someone else. Oh, Sisters and Brothers, there will be an extra photograph today, so you can enjoy this experience with me. It takes a few moments to figure out how to unwrap the black ribbon, and I discover that the decal can be saved, as can the ribbon and box itself.
Inside are 9 out of the 10 "Nothin' Fancy Truffle Assortment" flavors that they sell. There are two categories of truffles here: Spicy and Mild. Since I do want to reveal each flavor to you, this will be a long post written over the course of the entire day, so that you can get a feel for each one.
I'm going to save the caramel for last, since it is not a chocolate and therefore not of true use as a Saturday Sacrament. But which truffle flavor do I begin with? Since your Chocolate Priestess has not had Spicy truffles before, I'll begin my worship there, but I still have four choices: Raspberry Dark Chocolate, Double Dark Chocolate, Hazelnut Milk Chocolate, and Cappuccino. To focus on the chocolate itself, separating it from other flavors, I'll start with Double Dark Chocolate, which is color-coded in a metallic gold plastic wrapper.
The wrapper twists off easily, and the scent of dark chocolate strikes my nose as I open it. The piece is a simple half-globe, as you'd expect with a truffle, and there is an embossed floral pattern on the top. Bending closer, I breathe in more of the scent, trying to determine if I sense anything beyond the chocolate, and there is a hint of something I can't quite define. I could easily eat this in one bite, but our goal, Sisters and Brothers, is to fully experience each chocolate, so I will take it in two bites. The outer solid layer snaps under my teeth, and I let the bite rest on my tongue. At the front of my tongue it tastes bitter and slightly sweet, but as it melts the spice hits the back of my tongue and throat, making my eyes water. This is a rush indeed, but I can't tell if this is the cayenne pepper or habanero pepper they use in the "Spicy" truffles. The second bite's melting lets me determine that the spiciness is mostly in the semi-soft center of the piece, and as I work to let it melt more slowly, the bitterness, sweetness and spice blend together. Holding it at the front of my mouth also decreases the spicy sensation. If I don't drink water or rinse out my mouth, the spicy tingle mixed with lingering dark chocolate taste lasts for over 20 minutes.
I don't want to pass any judgements yet, so I'll try the copper-wrapped cappuccino flavor next. Warning: I'm not a fan of coffee, so I have to focus on the chocolate as I reveal this and not let my biases interfere with this report, Sisters and Brothers. The piece looks identical to the previous truffle, but this time the slight scent is more coffee than chocolate, but not overwhelmingly so. Breathing it in more deeply increases the coffee scent. Again I'll take just half the truffle in this first bite. The outer chocolate shell tastes like it has less cocoa content, and it crunches as my mouth is overwhelmed by the spice and coffee flavor, so I must chew it. The inner semi-solid truffle part is light in color and contains the greatest concentration of coffee scent and taste. The physical rush from this truffle is three-fold: first, the most mild is the chocolate itself, then the coffee, and finally the spice. This is very intense to your Chocolate Priestess, who has to drink some water after it.
How intense are Cowgirl Chocolates' other spicy truffles? Wrapped in metallic red plastic is a Raspberry Dark Chocolate, which is two-tone in color, the bottom part dark and the upper part lighter. There is a definite raspberry scent that is more apparent in the lighter chocolate section when I breathe in the scent closely. A light snap reveals the dark purplish inside, and this one is not as spicy as the others. I'm thinking the fruit calms it a bit, but it is still intense on the back of my tongue and my throat. The final spicy truffle is Hazelnut Milk Chocolate, which comes in a dark blue wrapper. The chocolate here is a light color, of course, and the scent is really more hazelnut than chocolate. The taste is like the coloring and scent — light chocolate, nutty, then a smack of spice. It's like Nutella that kicks you in the head.
A bit too much spice for your Chocolate Priestess, Sisters and Brothers, so I grab some skim milk to cut the pepper flavor down in my mouth and throat, then rinse it all out with water again before turning to the "mild truffles." I have one of each of Cowgirl Chocolates' four flavors: Double Dark Chocolate again, Milk Chocolate, Ivory Orange, and Raspberry Lemon. I'll start with the flavor I'm least attracted to and work my way to the greatest attraction.
The Raspberry Lemon is in a metallic fuschia red wrapper that is easiest to differentiate from the spicy version's wrapper under good lighting. The raspberry scent even comes through the foil before I unwrap it. The truffle is dark in color but lacks the embossed floral design at the top. The fruit overwhelms the scent, and that remains true of the taste if you just chew the truffle. The interior purplish cream is less firm than the spicy variety's as well. When I let the second bite melt in my mouth, the fruit and dark chocolate mix, the chocolate sending tiny tingles up my sinuses and into my eyes, making me sigh in delight. No unpleasant or lingering aftertaste, but I rinse my mouth out with water and wait 20 minutes before the next piece.
Next I try the Ivory Orange piece, wrapped logically enough in an orange wrapper — again, compare it in the light to tell it apart from the Cappuccino's copper wrapper, but this also has a lemon scent, even in the wrapper. This piece is tri-colored, with a milk chocolate top embossed with the floral symbol, 80% white chocolate, and a milk chocolate bottom. The orange-lemon scent is light, but there isn't much chocolate scent. The outer layer of chocolate is thin, making no noise when I bite into it. The inner truffle layer is the same color as the milk chocolate outside. Overall this piece has a very mild taste, lacking in much beyond the light orange-lemon flavoring.
Silver metallic plastic covers the milk chocolate truffle, and unwrapping it, 20 minutes after I've tested the previous piece, reveals a piece of chocolate identical in appearance to the Raspberry Lemon piece, but without the fruit scent. The chocolate scent is very, very light, even when I breathe it in deeply. Oops, be careful, or you might discover it melts a bit from touching the tip of your nose. Biting into it makes a very soft snapping sound. The flavor is simple, the semi-soft center and the shell matching perfectly. Letting it melt in my mouth does not add to any rush that we hope to get from chocolate when we use it for Saturday Sacraments.
This leaves me with the aqua-wrapped Double Dark Chocolate. In general, darker chocolates offer us a more intense rush, a greater push down our path toward the Divine, Sisters and Brothers. Opening the foil reveals a dark piece with the floral-embossed symbol again. The dark chocolate scent is subtle and strengthens when I bite into it with a snap. The center is as dark as the coating, and both melt in my mouth, the dark flavors building, making my eyes flutter a bit. Ah, this, this, is the rush we have been looking for, Sisters and Brothers. Not quite as strong as other chocolates we have had, but definitely worthy of consideration for the Saturday Sacraments in your own worship.
(As an aside, the Habanero Caramel is both creamy and spicy; the caramel taste is very light, but sadly it is not chocolate.)
Cowgirl Chocolates offers a good deal of variety in this one box at a price that seems average for the chocolatiers in my own hometown for truffles of this quality. In terms of our journey, Sisters and Brothers, I think the mild flavors are more useful. It is true that the spice adds an extra kick, but it also is a different physical sensation than what we are looking for when we attempt to use chocolate as a method of connecting with the Divine. When you consume chocolate for other reasons, and I know that you do, then the spicy variety is certainly a unique experience you should try at least once.
Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.