Saturday, April 2, 2011

Easter Gifts Life by Chocolate

The kind gentleman from Life by Chocolate sent The Chocolate a large offering of their Easter selections for 2011.  Easter is April 24, 2011, for non-Orthodox Christians this year so you have three weeks only to think ahead if you plan to do more than attend church services.


In total, for Easter,  they sent us two boxes and a chocolate bunny.  This is part of their rather large Easter collection you can see online.  We're going to look at each box but we'll start with the bunny himself since I think this will be of most interest to most of you, Sisters and Brothers, since you can give this sort of gift to any age group.



There are three varieties of Easter bunnies from Life by Chocolate this year: Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, and Vegan Dark Chocolate.  We have the "Dark Chocolate Classic Rabbit" which comes in a clear plastic bag closed by gold twisty tie and a cute pink ribbon with green eggs on it.  The bunny weights 1.75oz and is make of certified organic and fair trade chocolate with 73% cacao content.  It has no added oils or preservatives so this is the real Sacred Substance.  The bunny is fairly detailed by etching for the fur, eyes, nose and limbs.  From the base to the top of his ears he is 4.25 inches long, his base is firm enough for him to stand upright easily and measures 2.5 X 1 inches.  It has a nice dark cocoa scent as soon as I opened the plastic.  The bunny is very cool to my fingers and even starts to melt, a further indication of the purity.  I bit off one half his ears and immediately I get a cocoa buzz.  It is intensely bitter, I can taste the organic cane juice this has in place of solid sugar.  That creates a different aftertaste that I'm used it but the chocolate is the primary flavor.  You know how most Easter bunnies are solid or hollow?  This is both but mostly it is hollow -- the ears and parts of the hunches are solid, the rest is thick but definitely hollow.  I know because I pressed on it to determine this condition for you all, Sisters and Brothers.  I would suggest this bunny for only dark chocolate lovers out there which, remember, generally means not kids since their taste buds generally dislike bitter tastes but you could check out the milk chocolate for them.  Dark chocolate lovers are very likely to love this and it earns high praise from your Chocolate Priestess.

Next we check out the Orange Ganache Slice which are seasonal and currently still being sold. These are made of white chocolate and has a lot of natural orange ingredients and some other natural flavorings that should make this a unique treat.  When I think of orange slices I think of the sugar gelatin slices that my maternal grandfather used to love but I've never seen a chocolate orange treat in this form.  It is very realistic looking on one side and on the edge, the back is flat probably for packaging.  It has a strong orange fragrance and it cool to my fingertips but it doesn't threaten to melt even as it scents those fingers orange as well!  I take a bite that makes a soft snap through a thick shell to find a creamy center with actual pieces or orange pulp inside.  Very tasty, very sweet yet the white chocolate adds some cream doing exactly what we want from this type of our Sacred Substance -- balancing out flavors and never overwhelming them.  A very good choice for white chocolate or orange lovers.

The boxes do not list individually which chocolates are in them but online, the website has several categories you can check out to find the particular pieces.  I can't say though that I could identify everything so please bear with me as I try to describe each piece to my best ability.  The Mixed Chocolate Assortment box you'll see in this review is smaller than the one you'll find online in terms of the size. My box has a brown bottom half with pastel dots and a pink top, it is wrapped with a brown ribbon that is sealed on the bottom of the box.  The top has as see through section so you can see the top layer.  Inside are three trier of chocolate for a total of 12 pieces in 1.5 inch square sections though the pieces as you'll see vary in shape and include both dark and milk chocolates.  The box is quite hardy and if you can remove the stickers that label it, I think you could easily reuse this before recycling it.

In that first tier we have one of the milk chocolate cordials, something that looks like one of the caramels or a another treat with lavender,  a marzipan, and a Milk Chocolate Rose.   The round piece with the swirl has a thick shell that snaps when I take a bite but inside is a dried piece of tart cherry and a white creamy section with a bit of cognac flavor which would identify it as milk Cherry Cordial.  rectangular pieces of dark chocolate have a strong essence of lavender when I take a whiff of them which suggests these are the Lavender Ganache Dark Chocolates.  This has a thick shell of dark chocolate but it doesn't make a sound when I take a bite probably because the inside is a smooth, semi-solid very dark and lavender tasting center.  The lavender here really over powers the chocolate leaving behind a very bitter taste in my mouth.  The Marzipan has a huge almond on the top covered in 73% dark chocolate as is the entire square.  The center is smooth and semi-solid, like a marzipan should, sweet yet still clearly almond in taste.  This blends well with the dark chocolate, balancing the two flavors well until I crunch into the almond which intensifies the nut essence.  This is a nice twist on traditional marzipan in all ways from the dark chocolate to the almond.  Normally your Chocolate Priestess is not a fan of marzipan, I find it far too sweet, but this is very good.  The Milk Chocolate Rose looks lovely  and even has a bud sticking out of one side so this isn't the normal face of a rose you may have seen in other chocolates.  It has a light chocolate scent and makes a soft snap when I take a bite.  The chocolate is smooth and creamy, with a little kick that attests to it's 38% cacao nature which means this could be more intense than what many Americans are used to.  I, however, like this extra cocoa flavors.

In the second tier we have another Lavender Ganache Dark Chocolates, another Marzipan, a heart shaped milk chocolate treat, another cordial.  The Milk Chocolate Heart is probably like the rose in that I expect it to just be milk chocolate.  It is!  Though for some reason it tastes more creamy and less cocoay than the rose one in the previous tier.  The cordial here is the Apricot Irish Mist one as I can see and taste when the top snaps off as I take a bite and dark yellow liquid leaks out over the white cream and dried apricot. The three flavors blend pretty well, the Irish Mist may be this type which is a kind of whiskey. 

The bottom tier has two more Lavender Ganache Dark Chocolates, a solid dark chocolate star, another cordial, and more of the Marzipans,  The star here is one of the many shapes that the 73% Solid Dark Chocolate can come in. This star reminds me of the Easter Rabbit in every way so think of it as a smaller taste of that intensity.  On this tier the cordial is Milk Apricot Orange one I believe since the liquid inside tastes more citrus than the previous one on the second tier. 

The Dark Chocolate Vegan Box is also different from the one you'll find online in terms of the size.  It is different in coloration of the non-vegan box with brown on the top, stripes on the bottom half, and a pink ribbon tied over it.  Inside are again three tiers of chocolate and all of the chocolate is vegan, organic and fair trade.  However there is also less variety here at first glance even though on the website there is an entire section dedicated to the vegan chocolates.

The first tier has a solid dark chocolate egg, a cranberry and almond square, a vegan cherry cordial, and a red dog bite which I was told would not be in the Easter boxes but instead a peanut praline would be and that is discussed after the three tiers.  The egg or the heart shapes in the next two tiers are like the star was in the first box just different shapes.  Ideally, if the chocolate is pure, dark chocolate is naturally vegan and I have no idea why someone would add any animal byproducts to it.  Life by Chocolate is offering pure chocolate so I'd say if it is dark, it probably vegan.  The Cranberry and Almond Squares are listed on the website at all that I could find.  It is a 1 1/8 inch square base which slopes slightly inward as it rises to just over half an inch.  It has deep diagonal treads on the top and an intense cocoa scent.  The other shells snaps when I take a bite to reveal an inner shell as well as a semi-solid dark center with dried tart cranberry on one side and an almond on the others. It is very interesting to try and get all three flavors into one bite and the result when I got that was a very intense flavor combination all around.  The Vegan Cherry Cordial appear in their descriptions to be only different from their non-vegan cousins in terms of the type of sweetener and for not having any alcohol.  They do have a lighter scent than the non-vegan but over all very dark cocoa again.  I snap the top off the cordial again to prevent any liquid dripping out and find a darker, thicker syrup that allows the cherry's sweetness and the solid dark chocolates base to really play off each other well.  I prefer this much more than the cognac version in the previous box.  The Red Dog Bites are described just like the peanut pralines but with added molasses so they should taste very tangy.  The remind me of a stylized daisy, with spokes coming inward toward a large smooth center on the top.  There is the dark chocolate but also a hint of sweet and peanut butter as well in the fragrance.  The shell breaks apart when I take a bite and I can tasted the roasted peanut butter but only for a moment before the intense molasses tang hits my tongue.  All these darker flavors together aren't that pleasing to me it turns out, they leave a almost sour aftertaste.  I was really hoping I'd enjoy these but the combination just isn't working for me personally.   I think you really need to like molasses in order to really like this bite.



Tier two is basically the same except the solid here is heart shaped.



The third tier is identical to the second but I'll provide this little photo to prove it to you, Sisters and Brothers.

One type of treat not included in this vegan box that Life by Chocolate Wanted me to check out was their Peanut Praline that I'm told tastes much like the vegan version you could get in the larger size box.   It has snowflake patterns on it though I don't know what the pattern might be for Easter.  This has a light peanut scent but primarily it smells like dark chocolate.  This has the traditional wavy edgy on the circumference that you expect from a peanut butter cup.  The shell is very thick dark chocolate and it makes a loud snap when I take a bite.  Inside is very crunchy peanut butter with an unsweetened earthy taste.  This makes the over all flavor very dark and intense, the chocolate overwhelming the peanut essence quickly.

This has been a lot to think about from Life by Chocolate but I hope given the weeks left in April you will all check them out.  The Easter Rabbit is excellent for dark chocolate lovers and several of the flavors of chocolates we revealed today are unique and lovely.  If you are in Greenville, New York, you can find them at 11135 Route 32.  For their care about the lives of those who grow the cocoa trees, for their concern about organic and vegan customers, and for their variety and quality, Life By Chocolate Easter is a Worthy Sacrament.

6 comments:

Jill Colonna said...

Ooooh. Gosh, what a post. I want ALL of them! Now chocolate lavender has to be first on that list.... thanks so much for sharing! Gorgeous site. :-)

TheChocolatePriestess said...

Wow, Jill, you found us early today, less than an hour after this featured review went live. Thank you so much for commenting. I hope you keep reading and commenting in the future. Take a look around and enjoy!

Mark by Chocolate said...

Well, that's a lovely review. On the boxes, we tend to do 3 layers of the same four chocolates. On the Easter, we say we put in the apricot cordial, which could either be the Irish Mist or the Grand Marnier Apricot. The list of what is in the box, is on the barcode on the bottom of the box. But again, it may be any of the two apricot cordials.

We will be switching this year from our non-organic Swiss 38% milk chocolate, the best I've ever tasted, to a 42% organic Swiss chocolate from the same manufacturer. This has been a long time coming.

The white chocolate in the Orange Slice is also one of the best I've ever tasted. We mix that with orange zest and other natural ingredients. And yes, balance is our middle name, as you found out.

The Red Dog bite, the organic peanut praliné with molasses and agave syrup, is one of our most popular bites. We also have a Red Dog vegan bar which is our most popular vegan bar and our third most popular bar overall.

You are absolutely right that dark chocolate should never contain anything but chocolate, but that is not always the case. We strive to make that a reality by our strict sourcing and our strict processes.

We make our chocolates by hand and we do make both traditional flavors, plain caramels etc, as well as more unique flavors, such as our well loved banana saffron caramel or our unique cordials and various unique ganaches.

We sell our boxes wholesale and they will be going up on our retail website this week. Thank you for trying our chocolates. I'm glad you like a small sample of our handmade organic and vegan confections. We enjoy making them.

I should have sent you our other very unique flavor combination, hickory smoked peanut butter wrapped in our organic dark chocolate. '

Enjoy.

Yours,

Mark LaPolla
Chocolatier
Life By Chocolate

TheChocolatePriestess said...

This is first. The chocolatier commenting in depth on my review on the blog.

Confectionary Designs said...

Looks like some great offerings and flavors they have! Thanks for sharing.

TheChocolatePriestess said...

Hi, Confectionary Designs. Thanks for reading and commenting. We have a few more Easter treats to review including we must spill into the "Special Sacramental Review" category to cover them all this year. It's good to be busy!