Taraluna is the red box of Sjaak's "Soft Centers," which includes another nine flavors, all different from the "Nuts & Chews" your Chocolate Priestess revealed in the previous Sacrament. This box is the exact same price as the vegan version, and it also has two nuts listed on the ingredients, so be wary if you are allergic to nuts, dairy or peanuts. Luckily this box has the pictures of the truffles on the back, so you can find the ones you want easily.
I'll go in order across the three rows to reveal these to you, with an insight from our Mocha Acolyte added in when I receive it. Three pieces are listed as a serving size, with 270 calories, 11 grams of saturated fat, 21 milligrams cholesterol, 13 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber (most likely in the dark chocolate), 18 g sugars, and 2 g protein, with 3% of the calcium, 5% of the Vitamin A and 7% of the iron an adult needs daily. Don't eat these for health reasons and you won't be fooling yourself, but remember, indulgence in moderation and with a purpose, such as to celebrate a holiday or appreciate a gift, is fine; it's daily overindulgence that can become a real problem.
The next truffle is "Mocha Creme" and our new Mocha Acolyte tells me that it is: ""
The final truffle in the top row is a "Dark Butter Creme," which is a half globe of dark chocolate with raised matching drizzles of chocolate over the top and sides. It starts to melt in my fingers as I take a whiff of its dark scent, which makes my eyes flutter a bit. Inside is a semi-solid dark chocolate cream, and together with the ganache shell it creates a very mild buzz that I imagine would build up if I ate these quickly, which you know I will not do, Sisters and Brothers, so I can reveal each flavor in its full glory without crossing the essences of one truffle to another. One thing I do want to mention is that the scent changed after I took a bite — the inside cream is more bitter than I expected both in flavor and smell; it tickles my nose a bit, making this more interesting to eat than you might suspect a cream truffle could be.
The seashell is a "French Vanilla Creme," and it has scents of both the bitter dark chocolate and the smooth white chocolate along with a very strong fragrance of vanilla as I just hold it in my hand and take a breath of it. Inside is a solid white chocolate cream that almost overwhelms the dark chocolate of most of the outer shell, which is very thin compared to the other pieces I've revealed thus far today. I think white chocolate lovers will like this truffle better than those who want the darker cocoa, but it is an excellent white chocolate.
The next truffle is "Green Tea Creme," and has the leaf on the top that I mentioned earlier; it's the central piece in the above picture. I can smell the tea along with the milk chocolate coating on this half globe chocolate. Inside is a sort of grayish solid cream with a very light cocoa flavor but also oddly not much of a tea flavor. Now, of course, green tea should taste different from black tea, but if I didn't know this was supposed to be tea, I'd think this was just a light milk chocolate truffle, frankly, that melts on your fingers or in your mouth if you let it sit for more than a few seconds.
The piece with a spiral of white chocolate on top of the dark chocolate shell is a "Blueberry Creme," a flavor I've never had with chocolate, though I have had cream and blueberries before as either a breakfast or dessert item. The piece has the bitter cocoa along with a tart berry scent when I hold it up to my nose, and I'm intrigued. While I don't find blueberries and chocolate together all that often, I've made a few desserts with the combination and always liked them, though you have to balance the essences well or one easily overpowers the other. This is an interesting flavor dance when I take a bite. At first it is only the bitterness of the shell and the semi-hard center, then in a few seconds a burst of the blueberry tart and sweetness that fades into a good blend with the cocoa. It also feels as if there are little berry pieces or something as I let it melt on my tongue, but they are very tiny. This chocolate is a very nice surprise and convinces me that chocolatiers need to do more with blueberries and less with raspberries, which seem to be everywhere, including a truffle I'll soon reveal today.
Because of his nut allergy I can't share this with the Milk Chocolate Acolyte as I'm doing with most of the pieces I've mentioned today — again, Moderation. On the top of this milk chocolate globe is a very light dusting of nuts with one decent sized piece. All I can smell is a light cocoa scent, and this isn't as strong a milk chocolate fragance as I got from the "Peanut Butter and Jelly" or the "Green Tea Creme," suggesting this truffle has the lowest cocoa content of the milk chocolates I have revealed so far today. Inside is a semi-soft, light green cream that has a light pistachio and white chocolate flavor that drowns out that of the milk chocolate shell. Again, for the white chocolate lovers reading, this is an excellent choice for you, though you wouldn't guess that from looking at it.
The bell-shaped piece, "Soft Creamy Caramel," has a windmill on it, perhaps referring to Dutch cocoa, but I'm not sure. It does have a different smell than the previous dark chocolate truffles in this box, a sort of toned-down bitterness to my nose. It looks so cute that I have to make myself take a bite. The coating is very thick, especially on the bottom, and it snaps lightly when I take a bite to reveal very sweet caramel, which oozes out. "Wonderful" is the first word that pops into my head. The caramel itself has a very light tangy flavor that is also very sweet and mixes well with the lighter bitter chocolate. I have to say this is my favorite piece in this collection. A box of nothing but these and "Blueberry Cremes" would make my week with a delightful traditional flavor and a wonderful new taste.
The last truffle is a "Raspberry Cream with Raspberry Bites," and it has a light dusting of red sugar or powder on it. It has a very strong raspberry scent to it that blends well with the dark chocolate coating. Honestly, I'm getting a bit tired of all the raspberry flavors, Sisters and Brothers. There are so many types of fruit out there — not all are great with chocolate, that is true — but a little variety is nice, or even a return to strawberry, which as you know can be amazing with chocolate of all varieties. But I'll set aside my tiredness with this flavor and take a bite just for all of you — the things the Chocolate Priestess must do. The bite reveals a semi-hard chocolate center that explodes with tartness from the raspberry; the dusting on top is even more sour on my tongue. Taking a bite with less of this powder decreases the tartness dramatically, so unless you like it very tart, I suggest you eat it from the bottom. The actual raspberry flavor is mild, and I don't find anything I'd call a "bite" of raspberry, unless it is that powder, which I do not like.
Once again, Taraluna offers us good quality products from Sjaak's that we know are fair trade and organic at a reasonable price. The red Christmas box has a good variety of flavors, several of them new, but also classic flavors that should offer something to almost anyone on your list. And remember, if you order today, Sunday or Monday (that's through November 30, 2009) you can use the code "Gobble15" to get 15% off the price on purchases. This is true for all their merchandise, not just the chocolates. Thank you, Taraluna, for sending The Chocolate Cult more of your products to reveal to the world.
Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.