Saturday, November 27, 2010

DOVE Discoveries for the Holidays

I'm sure all of you have heard of DOVE Chocolate, Sisters and Brothers, especially readers in the USA.  DOVE Discoveries are these online kiosks where you can order a much wider range of products made by the DOVE company but sold by independent boutique owners.  One of these owners, Kimberly Lucak, sent me a few samples that I want to reveal to you all today.  Here is a link to her boutique so you can check out her products directly.

The first sample was a Smoothie Mix of the white chocolate made with cocoa butter but also with milk, soy and some added fats in it.  One packet is two servings of either a smoothie or a hot chocolate drink. Because of the current weather of late November in South Central Indiana, I made the hot drink recipe on the back.  I actually served it in 3 cups because it makes 16oz and 8oz is bigger than the hot cocoa we normally drink.  The nutritional value is entirely dependent on the type of mix, coffee or hot water you use but the packet itself has 380 calories made of 14g saturated fat, 150mg sodium, 22g sugars, 3g protein, with some vitamin C and 8% of the daily calcium an adult needs.

Upon cutting open the packet, the scent of white chocolate was intense.  The powdered substance mixed up very well and thoroughly in the warmed skim milk I used, frothy up a bit and releasing a very creamy essence that was matched by a smooth, white liquid.  If it wasn't for the scent, you wouldn't know this was other than milk though it was a bit thicker, like a quality cream.  The texture was very smooth and quickly coated my tongue and throat. It really didn't have a taste below a creaminess so you could easily add some flavor like a peppermint I imagine for a kick. Of course the only sound was us sipping or swallowing.  Most importantly, our White Chocolate Acolyte  reports "it is not rich but sweet and extremely creamy."

The other samples came in small quantities so I hope the photos come out fine for  you to see.  For most products this isn't a problem.  I don't need 100 1 inches pieces of identical bite sized candy bars for example to give you an honest review.  However, when the product is normally used for baking or making other items like candies, breads, cookies or cakes, as you know, I like to go all out and make some for you.  In this instance I have to go purely by the sample I received.  If any of you out there have used these products to make something with and you are NOT a member of the DOVE company in any fashion, please do leave a comment and let us know how they baked or melted or didn't melt as makes sense.


Single Origin Baking Bits from the Dominican Republic are the next sample we'll look at though I'm sad that I couldn't bake anything with them.  These are about 5/16th of an inch across and almost have a curl at the top of each.  They are very dark though what percent cocoa I don't know but they smell dark as well.  As we've discussed before, single origin chocolate is a great way to understanding how climate, soil, and agricultural methods can influence the flavor of chocolate just like it does with coffee and other fruits and vegetables. these have a very bitter start and then a surprise kick that is almost spicy at the end.  So keep that in mind for baking and be sure to leave a comment if you have used these but are NOT part of the DOVE family of chocolatiers.

The Peanut Butter filled Baking Bits sound like the sort of thing I'd love to make cookies with or add to brownies however I didn't receive enough so we'll have the opportunity to really see how much peanut butter is here and how the two flavors blend.  I turned two upside down in the photo so you could see that these look like tiny peanut butter cups you may be familiar with from check out lines.  These are just over 0.5 inches across and are 0.25 inches deep so a good size for baking.  They have a very milk chocolate scent but when I put one in my mouth the primary flavor is a roasted peanut essence that still allows a bit of the creamy chocolate through. If you eat more than one at a time, more of the chocolate comes through initially but the peanut but is the final flavor.  These are not smooth and shiny and they melt quickly in my hand so I wonder how well they hold their shape when baked; if you know, please leave a comment.
The malt balls covered in milk chocolate with crunch a light coffee flavor are called Cappuccino Biscottini.  Since I don't have a Mocha Acolyte handy this Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, I'll give you my opinion and later I'll update this review with his opinion as well.  These are small globe measuring about 0.5 inches in diameter, covered with smooth milk chocolate it looks like and they have a light coffee scent. The coffee flavor is light at first when I take a bite but with each chew it intensify to become the ending essence.  The milk chocolate is creamy but is overcome by the cappuccino.  The malt ball adds a bit of it's own flavor and a nice solid crunch that last for the entire chewing.  I think if you like cappuccino you'll like these but I'll let you know what our Mocha Acolyte says.
The Chardonnay Wine Brittle is made with California Chardonnay, peanuts and caramelized cocoa nibs. We've had other Sacraments of toffee before but not brittle and they are different.  First thing to note is that these have peanuts not tree nuts.  However they also have wine and cocoa nibs which I've tried to show in the photo again.  It has a very buttery scent as well as a hint of peanut and cocoa when I pick up the hard shiny piece.  The part without a nib is nice and crunchy, the tangy buttery tastes blends well with the peanut. The part with the nibs has an extra crunch as a burst of bitter, earthy essence.  I couldn't say if I tasted the Chardonnay or not but that might be good since it means all the flavors supported the nibs and the tangy buttery flavors.

Of these five samples, I have to say that I liked the Single Origin Baking Chips from the Dominican Republic the best.  That little kick at the end was unique and I hope they'd maintain that through baking. If they do, then they are definitely a worthy Sacrament for you higher class baking projects like the holidays coming up.  The others are good as well and will appeal to different people's tastes more or less based on what you like.  Remember, now your audience whether you are baking, sharing a drink or giving a gift for any reason.
 Kimberly lives in Ohio so for my Ohio readers, you may want to know that DOVE Discoveries has parties you can host where you and your friends taste their products, cook a bit, fondue a bit, and then have the opportunity to buy.   Sadly I don't live in Ohio so I can't really schedule such a party but maybe there is a similar boutique owner near Bloomington, Indiana, who might contact me in the future.

There are so many products from DOVE Discoveries that you can choose from.  So if these sounded good you can find them or lots of other things to help with your holiday treat and dessert preparation.  As Kimberly pointed out, supporting DOVE is also supporting an American company that is still family owned and operated which is decreasingly the case with big chocolate companies.

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