Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Iowa Chocolate #4

Simply Divine in downtown Cedar Rapids was another chocolate or candy shop your Chocolate Priestess visited during her spring trip through parts of the Midwest.  I was so disappointed by the lack of any chocolate shops all across Illinois on 74 and from the eastern edge of Iowa to my hometown of Vinton that I frankly bought too many of these -- the lady, Pete, who owns the store and helped me out saying these were the most popular items in their store.  She packed these in a box and then wrote out the flavors in their order so I could better review them.  This review is late because it took me several weeks to try these in a moderate fashion.

Our first group of four truffles we'll look at clockwise starting from the upper right hand corner of the photo to the right includes two cheesecake varieties and two alcohol inspired flavors.  "Blueberry Cheesecake" is two toned in color -- a light purple on top with a darker chocolate on the bottom both covered with white drizzle.  It has a medium blueberry scent to it.  The fairly solid chocolate center has pieces of berries in it but isn't very creamy like I'd expect cheesecake to be.  The pink with sugar pearls on top is "Pink Champagne" and has a strong creamy fragrance.  The semi-soft pink center has a sort of fruity flavor but no alcoholic sting to it, mostly white chocolate creaminess.  The medium chocolate covered in reddish drizzle is the "Cherry Cheesecake" but it has a primarily creamy scent that is unexpected.  The center is light pink and chewy with a nice cherry and cream balance of flavors but not much chocolate essence.  The "Amaretto" piece has a huge almond on top of a milk chocolate shell so it is easy to identify.  The semi-soft center is also milk chocolate and has a amaretto flavor to match it's scent.

The second set of four truffles, in the same order, clockwise from upper right hand side, has a pie, nut, candy, and fudge variation of truffles.  The "Key Lime" has a lime and cream scent.   The pale green center has a milk lime flavor however, much lighter than the fragrance suggested though it builds up with each chew.   The "Hazelnut" is two tones -- milk chocolate on dark -- with an appropriate odor.  Inside the firm center are pieces of hazelnut and a good balance of chocolate and nuttiness.  Oddly the "English Toffee" has no scent at all but it does have pieces of toffee on top.  It has a light toffee taste but mostly milk chocolate is the principle flavor in the semi-solid center.  Finally the only square truffle I bought was this "Fudge Supreme" which is covered in chocolate jimmies.  It has a light chocolate scent but a solid, flaky center that does have the creamy and butter heaviness of fudge.

A common Midwest flavor begins our next set of four truffles followed by another pie flavor, a coffee take off, and another alcoholic inspiration.  "Peanut Butter Buckeye" has the solid peanut butter center peeking out from the top of the milk chocolate.  This has almost no scent and oddly the peanut butter is almost tasteless with zero chocolate flavor -- very disappointing really for something I grew up eating homemade versions of several times a year.  The white chocolate practically dunked in yellow sugar crystals has a nice lemon scent as well it should for "Lemon Chiffon" another pie flavor.  The solid creamy center has only a hint of lemon so probably not the best choice for lemon lovers.  "French Vanilla Cappucino" is a darker chocolate covered with beige and white drizzle in an almost cross hatch pattern.  It has a coffee fragrance and matching creamy taste that should be pleasing to cappucino lovers with a nice bitter chocolate aftertaste.  the last piece is "Pina Colada" which is a dark shell with thick yellow drizzle over the top.  The off-white semi-soft center has a light pineapple flavor but little of the dark chocolate makes it through the creaminess of the truffle itself.

The next group of four truffles I want to review includes a white chocolate and three darker varieties. As before, I'll start in the upper right hand side and go clockwise around this quad of truffles.  The "White Triple Truffle" has an almost overwhelming cream fragrance and is a white shell with a splash of more white chocolate on the top.  Inside is more white chocolate in a semi-solid center that makes this a white chocolate lover's delight.  The next "Citrus Splash" is different looking in that is appears to be two dark chocolate cookies over a bright orange filling that turns out to be citrus flavored frosting.  It has only a light dark chocolate scent until I bite it to find these are not cookies but two flatter citrus filled truffles with a strong burst of citrus that almost overwhelms the cocoa essence.  "Cookies and Cream" has flecks of cookies and what is probably the cream filling of many cookies over the top.  This has an Oreo cookie sort of scent when I take in a deep whiff of it.  Inside is a clear center of a very creamy tasting truffle but not a lot of chocolate and only a slight crunch from tiny cookies pieces in this center.  Finally in this foursome we get to the "Expresso Bean" which I just honestly don't have time to get to our Mocha Acolyte.  It has a definite coffee scent to me and is topped by a chocolate covered coffee bean.  For me this has a solid coffee flavor tempered by chocolate and the result is a nice blend of the two tastes.

The last group of truffles I bought at Simply Divine is this set which has two raspberry flavors.   I'm going to review these four flavors in the same pattern -- upper right hand then clockwise.  The first one is "Tuxedo" because it has a white and dark chocolate coating on one half of it.  Overall it has a very good chocolate scent with a hint of vanilla; the white side actually smells  a bit like citrus. This is repeated in the flavors when I take a bite into the semi-solid truffle making it really two flavors in one.  The "White Chocolate Raspberry" has pink sugar crystals on top and a strong raspberry scent.  Inside the truffle is cream colored with pinkish and reddish flecks but no seeds.  Raspberry is the principle flavor as well since the white chocolate is mostly a creamy taste.  "Creme de Menthe" has the green stripes on it and very strong chocolate scent.  It has a strong, bitter chocolate semi-solid center that changes to a cooling sensation as I chew.  The flavors blend well and provide both the coolness of mint as well as the buzz of chocolate you'd want in such a flavor.  Finally, the "Milk Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake" has drizzles of white and pink.  This has a lighter scent than the previous raspberry truffle but the flavor is very much cheesecake and really doesn't allow much of the milk chocolate coating out when I take a bite and chew.

Four of the flavors of truffles they recommended to me at Simply Divine which I'll review on our Saturday Sacrament for April 17, 2010.  These are the "New York Cheesecake," the "Death by Chocolate," the "Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough" and the "French Silk".  Why am I reviewing these then?  Because the truffles I bought at this Cedar Rapids store were made at  Divine Decadents and they gave me those four samples thus earning a Sacrament.

Ultimately these truffles ranged the gambit from excellent to average in flavor and the amount of chocolate the extra flavors allowed through.  If you are ever in the store, Pete will be happy to help you as I witnessed with several other folks who came in.   The photo to the left is just the front 1/4 of the store inside.  If you want to check them out online they ship worldwide as well.  But please, what ever you do, watch how much you purchase or store them well and eat them slowly.  Too much of even the world's best truffles is still too much for you body and will dampen the wonderful effects we want from the Sacred Substance here in The Chocolate Cult.

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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