Saturday, July 3, 2010

Trio of Cocoa Gifts from Harry & David

Have you heard of Harry & David?  They are a huge gift company that you can buy from online, over the phone, find in outlet malls, and whose products now also appear in Target as well.  For over 75 years they've been one of the biggest gift companies in the USA.  While they sell a wide range of food products and some kitchen gadgets to go with them, they also have chocolate and we're going to look at three of these products that were given to The Chocolate Cult when we found them in an outlet mall in Williamsburg, Iowa, in March 2010.

First up are these "Mondo Maltballs" in the "Triple Threat Chocolate Variety".  This is a 12oz box that sort of reminds me of a popcorn box you might get in a movie theater but I promised you can't pop these into your mouth at that same rate.  One serving is four pieces and as you will see in the next photo that is because these are huge ranging from 0.75 to an inch in diameter.  The actual maltball is average size but it is covered in three layers of chocolate from the outside to the maltball: Dark, White, Milk.

Each serving has 210 calories made up of 8g saturated fat, 5mg cholesterol, 30mg sodium, 2g fiber, 20g sugars, 2g protein, 6% calcium and 8% iron based on an average adults daily needs. Chocolate is the very first ingredient listed on the box made of chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, and cocoa.  For allergy concerns this has wheat, milk, soy, barley, and a warning peanuts and nuts though they are ingredients.

These maltballs smell like both malt and dark chocolate when you first pick one up.  The outer layer is smooth and cool but doesn't melt on my fingertips as I examine it more closely.  These are heavy and after I take a bite I discover why.  Of course they are a bit hard to take a bite of because of their size and because maltballs are, by their nature, hard.  I take a bite and the fragrances of chocolate and malt increase.  I see four layers in these: dark, white, and milk chocolate coatings over the chocolate maltball itself.  This is really more four instead of triple threat candies in that sense.  Each layer of chocolate has it's own unique flavor that is exactly what you'd want from them.  Both the Milk and White Chocolate Acolytes really enjoyed these as well though as the second pointed out: "These are too rich to eat many at once."

The second chocolate item the wonderful lady at the outlet gave me was their trail mix in the "Chocolate Banana Sundae" flavor.  This comes in a 12oz bag and contains bananas, chocolate, cherries, pineapples, peanuts, white chocolate, and strawberries.  The fruit is dried except for the banana which is covered in milk chocolate.  The peanuts are both uncovered and covered in yogurt while the white chocolate is in the chips  you'll see in the below photograph.  One bag has 12 servings -- one ounce a serving.  130 calories is made of 2.5g saturated fat, 35mg sodium, 1g fiber, 13g sugars, 2g protein, with 2% of the calcium and iron an adult needs daily.  You can easily get over 1500 calories, or almost 3/4 of the entire calories a woman should have each day, if you ate this entire bag so share it like I did.  You might want to share with friends, I shared at a science fiction convention.

The mix itself is very crunchy and each piece tastes like a sundae might.  Personally I wouldn't put pineapples on my sundaes but the good thing is that you can see each piece and easily remove it or any of the other things you don't like to make your sundae as you want.  Everyone who tried it really liked it and agree with my assessment.  It even smelled like a chocolate sundae when I opened the bag.  The down side is that the yogurt covered peanuts could easily have been white chocolate covered and the chips removed that would have made it less complicated and more chocolaty over all.  I wonder how many folks out there would be brave enough to add this to an actual sundae?  Let me know if you have.

Finally let's look at the "Nut Barrel Assortment" of chocolate truffles that Harry & David offer in this 12oz box.  Inside are three types of truffles -- Almond, Hazelnut, and Peanut Butter -- in three colors of foil.  However, there is nothing on the box or inside it to indicate which color represents which variety so what I reveal to you is based on what I taste and smell.  This has a $12.95  price and the product has a "best by" date of six month after I received it.  Remember if you keep your chocolate under moisture and temperature controls they can easily last up to a year unless the chocolatier states otherwise.

Inside I found 19 truffles in total; 6 gold-orange wrapped, 6 moss green wrapped and 7 silver wrapped.  Two truffles are one serving with 200 calories made up of 9g saturated fat, less than 5mg cholesterol, 20mg sodium, 1g fiber, 16g sugars, 2g protein, 4% calcium and 6% iron needed daily.  Obviously this has the two tree nuts and the peanuts so be wary of that if you have allergies but these also have milk, soy, and even coconut oil as well.  These truffles are big at 1.25 inches across and rising to 1 inch in height.

I'll try the silver wrapped first which has several almost evenly spaced drizzles of cream color over the top and sides.  It has as definite peanut butter flavors so let's see if the taste confirms the scent.  It has a very solid yet creamy peanut butter center that is sweet but not overwhelmingly so.  The chocolate shells isn't terribly thick so the principle flavor is the peanut butter itself.

The orange foil holds a truffle that looks dusted with something cream colored on the top.  The chocolate has a light almond scent so it will require a bite to confirm.  Inside is a thick and chewy chocolaty center that almost melts on my tongue.  The almond flavor is very light so the outer milk chocolate shell and this darker chewy center make for a much more intensely chocolate burst in my mouth.  With just one truffle I can feel a buzz start to build up.

That means that the moss green foil holds the hazelnut truffle.  The chocolate in here is covered in looping cream drizzle so you can tell the difference between the three should you unwrap them for serving or using as  decoration on a cake or something.  It does have a hazelnut scent to it and so I eagerly take a bite.  Inside is a creamy lighter chocolate and a huge hazelnut as well. Wow!  That surprised me considering the others didn't have nut pieces let alone an entire nut.  The flavors in the creamy sections are nicely balanced but unsurprisingly when you hit the nut itself, it's crunchy earthy flavor dominates.

It will cost more to get gifts shipped from Harry & David, it is just a fact and I know because I'd done it for years.  If you can find a store or an outlet mall that has them, shop there to stock up; there is a store locator on their website.  If you do order delivery, they will come in lovely boxes or bags, well packed and they will last a long time so don't worry about your loved ones taking a while to eat them.  One of our loved ones just adores the boxes that these gifts come in and routinely saves them and reuses them because they are sturdy.  Either way, you will get quality chocolate from Harry & David.

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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