Saturday, July 24, 2010

Van's Signature Assortment, Part One

After a very busy spring and summer it is time to go back to some of the wonderful chocolatiers who have sent in products for your Chocolate Priestess and her Acolytes to reveal to you all.  I hope you all remember Van's Chocolates because we looked at their Assorted Selection back in January of 2010.  Now we'll look at the huge sample they sent us of their Signature Collection which includes a wide range of chocolates they hand make.  Don't worry, these were tested long before this review was posted and they were kept under moisture and temperature controls.

As you can see, this Signature Collection includes 24 types of chocolates, some of them two identical pieces which made the Acolytes and our friends very happy.  However there was no guide included in the box  and I can only find photos on the website for some of the truffles so this will be a taste and guess adventure again for us, Sisters and Brothers.  This box contains various types of chocolate candies from their Turtles, Caramels, Meltaways, Nut Clusters, Butter Toffees and Creams selection but I also see Truffles here as well.  If the shapes are traditional, we can use that as a guide for us today.

The two pieces that are 1 inch cubes turn out to be Caramels in milk and dark chocolate varieties.  The milk chocolate variety has a very vanilla hint to it's fragrance while the darker one is more cocoa in scent.  The milk chocolate caramel is very tangy and chewy, the sweetness slightly overpowering the chocolate itself.  The dark caramel is firmer when I take a bite and the chocolate easily competes to balanced with the tangy, chewy center. 

Five rectangular pieces measuring 1.25 X 1 X 0.75 inches in shape come in three dark and two milk chocolate variations.  After trying these, I think these may be the Meltaways because they aren't creamy enough to be the Creams.  The milk chocolates vary by the design swirled on the top by the chocolate coating.  The one with a sort of curlicue on the top and the other with  two parallel drizzle trails.  The first has a sort of vanilla scent to it.  It is very soft when I take a bite to reveal what seems to be a very, very creamy peanut butter semi-soft center.  This is more chocolate and cream than strongly peanut nutty.  The other piece has a stronger vanilla flavor and a semi-solid second of more milk chocolate.

The three dark chocolate rectangles differ by drizzle pattern and color.  The one with a vertical drizzle smells only of darker chocolate.  Inside with a soft snap of the other shell I find a semi-solid, coffee flavored center.  The dark with four while drizzle lines across it horizontally has a hard to identify scent that isn't just the chocolate.  Inside is a semi-soft center with tiny nut pieces.  I try to decipher it and it isn't hazelnuts but I can't be certain what type of nut it is either though my instinct is saying walnut based on flavor, texture and crunch.  That leaves us with the dark chocolate rectangle with two parallel drizzles on the top.  Again I just smell the dark chocolate when I lift it to my nose.  Inside is a light, milk chocolate semi-solid center that melts in my mouth very quickly.  This piece can produce a slight buzz in just two bites so eat it slowly.

Our next two samples are probably the Toffee pieces because they came in a set of two each measuring 1.25 X 1 X 0.4 inches in dimensions and toffees tend to be smaller in height.  Plus they each have a definite toffee tang to their scent through both types of chocolate.  The milk variety is fairly thick over a toffee center that has pieces of almonds in it and which mights a nice crunch with each chew.  The butter tang is a good counter to the milk chocolate.  The dark version tastes more bitter because or the chocolate but the buttery toffee and nuts are still in good balance making these winners in the chocolate and toffee category among all the varieties we've seen so far on The Chocolate Cult.

Our final three pieces will be the three Turtles that came in this selection. Two of these are milk chocolate while one is a dark chocolate base.  According to their website the Turtles should be made with pecans but then I wonder why the two milk chocolate varieties?  We'll see when we get to them, Sisters and Brothers.  These measures about 1.75 inches across but vary in shape as a handmade turtle should be.  The first milk chocolate turtle has a very buttery caramel inside of it that sticks to my mouth and teeth as well as crunchy nut pieces.  The other milk chocolate turtle has a sweeter taste.  I think the first was a traditional pecan based turtle while the second is a cashew variation.  Both are a good mixture of the milk chocolate, the crunchy nuts, and a tangy or sweet caramel.   The dark variation turns out to contain a buttery caramel with pecan nuts.  It really sticks to my teeth as I chew making the caramel the final flavor overpowering the dark chocolate.

This very generous offering from Van's Chocolates was a delight to reveal to you all. In one month, on August 28, 2010, we'll post part two of this Saturday Sacrament for you to consider.  So one half pound revealed today, and the other half pound tomorrow.  I wonder how huge their five pound boxes must be!

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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