Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Unique, Delicious Butter Cup

When I first saw this company, your Chocolate Priestess thought "What an adorable name for a chocolatier!"  Ococoa is based in Los Angeles and run by an incredibly friendly lady named Diana.  Not only did she send this lovely box of 9 flavors of her Butter Cups — think of these like sophisticated peanut butter cups — but she also wants to offer you, Sisters and Brothers, a special discount on orders.  I'll include those details at the end of today's Sacrament as well as at the bottom of The Chocolate Cult for future reference.

Inside this box were 9 of these unique Butter Cups, along with a black and white photo list of the varieties inside. You can also find color photos of the various flavors on the website itself.  I will try to cut these in half so you can see the layering inside each, but if that fails, please go to the website.  Each cup is 1inch tall and 1.5 inches across on the top.  The box had a list of ingredients but no nutritional information, so just keep practicing moderation and enjoy these slowly, and you should be fine.  There are no artificial ingredients in these, and the principal component is 61% dark chocolate.  There are also no animal products here — no dairy, no lard, no added oils beyond what comes from the Sacred Substance itself — so this is good for a wide range of people with allergies or philosophical beliefs that might otherwise curb their enjoyment of Chocolate.  Each chocolate shell is shiny, cool and smooth to the touch, so I won't repeat this observation over and over in the paragraphs below.

I'm going to reveal these in the order on the photo list, so we begin with "Macadamia Guava," which has a slice of nut on top of it. This has a good dark cocoa scent to it plus something else I'm not so familiar with.  Inside there are two layers, with the nut butter on top and the fruit layer on the bottom.  Once I cut the cup open, the primary scent is the guava.  The cup breaks when I take a bite, and after a burst of cocoa and macadamia, the fruit's sweetness takes over until the cocoa's bitterness rears up to be the final flavor in my mouth.  Very good, very unique flavor that makes me want to try some more guava in the future.

The "Sunflower Honey" cup has yellow edible ink on the top in a design of flowers and bees, which makes it just so cute I almost don't want to eat it — "almost" being the key word, Sisters and Brothers.  Inside is a semi-solid center with a nice balance of cocoa and honey scents.  It does not break when I take a bite, and my mouth is filled with sweetness that turns to the earthy sunflower flavor and again ends with the cocoa itself.  This, too, is an excellent and unique flavor.

A piece of sugared apricot tops the "Cashew Apricot" cup.  When I cut it in half, the apricot jelly on the bottom half oozes out.  The apricot has a subtle scent that blends well into the cocoa.  This has a complex flavor and texture.  The sugared fruit on top is chewy, the butter top is a bit salty, and the apricot jelly is a bit tart, but it all works well together.  There is probably more pleasure here to be had from sorting through these differences than just the flavors themselves.  Not a chocolate to be eaten quickly.

What would make more sense on the "Sesame Fig" cup than a dash of the tiny sesame seeds on top?  Inside, the fig jelly is in the center of the semi-solid butter filling, which is different from some cups we have seen so far in this revelation.  Sisters and Brothers, this impresses me, because it means that Ococoa is thinking about what their chocolates look like inside and out, appealing to more of our senses than simply smell and taste.  The scents are cocoa, a fruity fragrance, and a lot of sesame.  The cup breaks when I take a bite, and the principal flavor is the sesame, followed by the chocolate and the fig.  The fig jelly is a bit chewy, while the rest is quite creamy.  Another great combination of flavors.

When you think "chocolate cup," you probably think "peanut butter," and the next chocolate is Ococoa's version of this, coupled with sea salt on top.  This has a good peanut butter scent, but the cocoa is certainly there.  The center is semi-solid and looks like a combination of chocolate and peanut butter.  The salt overpowers both flavors immediately but then fades to let the creamy butter and the cocoa come out more.  The salt crystals are scattered across the top, so different bites will have different amounts of salt, and I think that bites with less salt have a better taste.  Overall this is a good peanut butter cup flavor that is not too sweet, as often happens with this flavor combination.

The "Marzipan Truffle" has a sliver of almond on top along with a few strips of chocolate.  Inside are three layers, a top creamy-looking white layer, a chocolate layer, and a bottom layer that looks like coconut to me.  Oddly I can't smell anything other than a light cocoa scent from this cup, even when I cut it open.  The marzipan upper layer is very sweet, and the coconut is crispy. The bitter cocoa competes well, but in the end it can't completely overcome the other two flavors.  I'm sure the Chocolate Coconut Acolyte would be pleased by the combination of flavors and textures, and if you like almonds this would be a great flavor for you to try.

A fairly large hazelnut sinks into the top of the "Hazelnut Chocolate" cup.  This breaks apart in a haphazzard fashion because the inside is fairly solid, with two layers — hazelnut butter on top and more chocolate on the bottom.  It has a very strong hazelnut fragrance, but surprisingly the chocolate competes very well when I eat it.  There is a rougher texture to the butter part than with the previous cups, making this worth lingering over and exploring.  Ultimately, though, the nut overwhelms the cocoa as the final flavor in my mouth.

More edible ink, this time in the form of white and dusky pink flowers, graces the top of the "Almond Cherry" cup.  Cutting this in half was fairly easy, since the inside two layers are relatively firm.  The fragrance is a nice cherry with cocoa and almonds.  The bottom cherry layer has a reddish coloration, as you might expect.  The cherry is tart, very tart, but that fades quickly when I take a bite.  The almond butter is gritty and has a strong essence that blends well with the dark chocolate, making this a very earthy flavor with a kick from the fruit.  Very intriguing; I like it.

Finally we get to the "Pistachio Date" cup, with a nut on top along with a  dusting of something.  In the photo you can't quite see the dusky green of the top pistachio layer but you can certainly see that it has two layers inside a hard chocolate shell.  The date layer on the bottom is a more solid gel than the the other fruit layers we've seen.  The scents all mix together when I cut this cup open, and this reflects the initial flavors when I take a bite.  However, the pistachio definitely becomes the primary flavor as I continue chewing, letting the cocoa fall behind.  Good for this particular nut lover.

Beyond the unique flavors of these wonderful little cups, Ococoa is offering all of the Sisters and Brothers here in The Chocolate Cult a 15% discount on purchases from now until December 31, 2010. Yes, until the end of the year! To claim this special offer, enter code CPR10 in the coupon section when you check out on their website. This applies only to the purchase price, not shipping and handling.

I was asked to review this for Valentine's Day, but given the simplicity of the box, I think that you could give this for all sorts of occasions.   On the website you can find five collections of these butter cups to choose from, so if only a few of these flavors appealed to you, you can probably find a selection of them here.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

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