Saturday, June 11, 2011

Abbott's Candy Collection Revealed

Very recently your Chocolate Priestess took a small group to Wayne County Indiana to check out their Chocolate Trail.  We've had a few reports on this the past week so I wanted to do a featured review of one of the shops who made a chocolate offering to The Chocolate Cult.

Abbott's Candy Shop, in Hagerstown, Indiana, is currently run by a wonderful lady named Bev Keiser who gave us this Special Assortment Box for a Saturday Sacrament.  While our visit with them on the Wayne County Chocolate Trail is fresh in our mind, we wanted to get this post out for you all to look at.  As you can see there is a lot of candy, both chocolates and caramels, in this one box.


Since we focus on chocolate, obviously, let's start by just making brief comment about the caramels -- large, soft, and very buttery.  Plain caramels are in the white, almost translucent wrappers while the yellow wrapped ones are pecan caramels.   What is really interesting to me is that the caramels from Olympian Candies we'll do a Saturday Sacrament with next Saturday is the same -- yellow = nut, white = plain.  They look very similar, too.  Maybe it's a northeastern Indiana thing?  Our White Chocolate Acolyte told this is how he thought handmade caramels were supposed to look and he's from northwest Indiana.

We're going to reveal the chocolates in this box starting with the left hand compartment, lowest chocolate, then moving clockwise fashion around the box until we've look at all 14 varieties so stick with me, Sisters and Brothers.  The owner, Bev, sent me a list of these flavors since a guide does not come with the box. Regular readers will know my concerns with this very common practice in candy and chocolate boxes so I won't repeat it and simply hope new readers look around at more Sacraments.

In the left hand section we find first a Light Chocolate Almond Cluster.  I hope you can see that there are little poked up areas on the surface of the otherwise smooth milk chocolate which I hope are pieces of almonds.  At the base this is a 1 inch diameter candy rising to a height of 5/8th of an inch.  It has a light cocoa scent with a good essence of almond. When I take a bite, this candy makes a nice loud snap not from the nuts, they crunch as I chew, but from the quality of the chocolate and its thickness.  The chocolate is very creamy but has a good cocoa taste as well though this fades a bit as the almond reveals itself more with each crunch.  Normally I see nut chocolates a larger, flatter chocolate covered nuts but this is a nice switch up to have the pieces of almonds incorporated into the chocolate and I'm guessing then poured into the white paper cups to firm up.

Dark Chocolate Vanilla Cream is the next piece in this section.  I really like how things are laid out in the box with light and dark offsetting each other and the caramels lining the top and bottom sections.  But back to this particular treat which looks a lot like most of the creams in this collection.  My guess is that all of them will be about 1 1/8th inch in diameter with a height of about a full inch and a swirl of chocolate on top.  If I see a substantial difference, I'll note it as I describe each piece.  This piece only has a light darker cocoa fragrance when I take a whiff before taking a bite.  The doom of the candy makes a soft snap but the bottom simply falls softly inward when I bite off about a third of it.  Inside is a semi-soft white cream that has a light vanilla flavor that is also a touch creamy.  At first the bitter darker chocolate and the light vanilla balance but at the end the chocolate wins out becoming the linger flavor on my tongue.  You know I like when the chocolate is the final essence we can sense so this gets my strong approval.

The Light Chocolate Chocolate Cream is the second milk chocolate in this section and it slightly shorter than the previous cream.  Again this has only a chocolate scent when I bring it to my nose but a slight creamy essence as well.  This makes a softer sound than the dark chocolate cream when I take a bite and that makes perfect sense because remember, Sisters and Brothers, the sound reflects the purity of the chocolate and dark chocolate has less added to it so it should always be louder than milk chocolates.  Inside is a semi-soft creamy chocolate center that is very sweet, much sweeter than I was expecting, and it blends perfectly with the shell leaving behind a creamy sugar taste in my mouth.

The last piece in this section is set off more toward the center of the box. It is opposite another piece so I want to mix things up and review them together. The more square piece is a Dark Chocolate Caramel which was confirmed as soon as I took a bite, the chocolate shell folding inward, the golden caramel sneaking out between my teeth.  This is the same buttery caramel of their hand-wrapped pieces but here it is the middle flavor with dark cocoa the first and final flavor.  The larger piece is the Dark Maple Cream that is a bit wider at 1.25 inches in diameter than the previous creams.  This has a strong maple scent and when I take a bite the doom part of the chocolate shells makes a good snapping sound while the bottom caves in to reveal a very semi-soft, very strong maple center that also has a good tang to it as I chew.  But the dark chocolate is indeed the stronger essence and it becomes the final flavor in my mouth making me smile in delight.  The smaller the bites, the more intense the chocolate, by the way, with these creams so consider that and don't pop an entire one in your mouth, Sisters and Brothers.

Let's get back to the layout I promised, Sisters and Brothers, so you can understand this Special Assortment Box.  The top section from left to right begins with a Dark Chocolate Cherry Parfait which suggests a layering of flavors awaits my mouth.  It is one of two pieces in this assortment that measures 1 7/8 X 1 1/8 X 7/8 inches.  Undercurrents of cherry and something creamy are found with the dark chocolate when I take a deep whiff of it before taking a bite.  Inside is a pink semi-soft cream center with a very intense sour cherry flavor and a strong sugary cream undercurrent, so intense that my eyes threaten to water.  The bitterness of the dark chocolate does reemerge if I keep the bites fairly small making it a good three bite candy.  Mush this around in your mouth a bit, too, and you'll feel some little piece of perhaps cherries as well in the creamy center.

Almond Butter Toffee with milk chocolate it looks like to me.  We've tried a fair amount of chocolate toffees here on The Chocolate Cult and generally the chocolate cannot compete with the toffee but those were large piece while this is a 0.25 X 0.25 X 7/16 inches in form.  This square has a light buttery essence under the chocolate scent.  Of course it makes a good snap when I take a bite because the inside is solid but it also reveals pieces of nuts in the buttery substance we normally think of as toffee.  The milk chocolate blends well at first then it bows out to the toffee.  Maybe toffee is just too strong to really allow chocolate to be the dominant flavor?

Dark Chocolate Coconut Cream which Laura, our secondary Acolyte for all matters Coconutty, said: When I pick it up, the chocolate starts to melt on my fingers almost instantly. The scent of chocolate is predominant but the coconut scent is not overwhelmed by it. My teeth sink slowly into the soft chocolate and through the coconut filling. The texture is not as chewy as I'd expected. The filling has a very high coconut content which leaves it a little dry. The quality of the chocolate coating is good, not too sweet and a bit softer than I expect from dark chocolate. The flavor of the coconut is excellent since it is not saturated with the syrup that most confectioners use with this type of candy.










The right compartment starts off at the top with Light Chocolate Orange Cream.  In terms of scent, the orange is very very light but when I take a bite my mouth is flooded by a very sweet yet definitely orange flavor that borders on the tang that I associate with more intense varieties of oranges, like blood oranges but this has a very bright almost sorbet orange color to the semi-soft center.  Orange and dark chocolate works well because the chocolate can compete but here the milk chocolate just barely comes back at the end though to taste it at all after the orange bursts in my mouth demonstrates this lighter chocolate must have a good cocoa content to it.  A touch too sweet for me but still I like it.

Ah, raspberry, arguably the most common flavor added to chocolate after the basics for milk chocolate.  In this collection this common variety is in the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream.  The fragrance is certainly raspberry with a hint of the cocoa.  Even though it isn't bigger than any of the previous creams it feels a bit hefty in my fingers.  The doomed part of the chocolate shell makes a soft snap when I take a bite while the bottom breaks inward to let a very intense burst of sweetly sour raspberry onto my tongue.  The dark chocolate though is the first and final flavor so I think this is a great piece for lovers of this particular candy variety; an opinion the one member of our little traveling troop agrees with since he tried this candy as his store freebie with the passports for the Wayne County Chocolate Trail.

Like the previous nut cluster that started off our chocolate part of this Sacrament, the Light Chocolate Pecan Cluster shows a rougher texture to our eyes though not nearly as ridged as its predecessor.  The scent reveals the more mild pecan essence as oppose to what I feel is a much stronger almond fragrance these tree nuts naturally have.  Just like that previous nut cluster the nuts here are integrated into the chocolate though here the pieces are bigger.  These pieces crunch fairly loudly and add a little flavor kick to the creamy milk chocolate.  Good for milk chocolate lovers who like pecans as well.  In this case, I think a bigger bite is better to get the full and most positive blend of flavors and textures.

The bottom section then from right to left begins with a Mission Mint in milk chocolate from the looks of it. This is the second longer candy that I mentioned before and it is the same size.  It has a light mint fragrance but primarily my nose gets a creamy chocolate scent.  The candy makes no sound when I take a bite.  It reveals a chocolate cream center which surprises me since a lot of mint candies are green but mint does not necessarily make something green depending on what it is added to.  Here the milk chocolate is the primary flavor then a hint of mint and then a rush of cooling sensations over my tongue and through my mouth. The cocoa returns at the end of a bite but that cooling sensation lingers and lingers which in the weather we've been having (90s in June?!) is a wonderful feeling to have. I really loved this Mission Mint a lot.

A Dark Chocolate Honeycomb candy is at the center of that row. Unlike the toffee is this rectangular in shape at 1.25 X 1 X 0.25 inches.  When I smell each piece I get 90% dark cocoa and 10% sweetness, approximately.  Oh, I wish I had a better camera, Sister and Brothers, because when I take a crunchy bite inside is a honey formed center, with the little lattice pattern that I haven't seen yet in a chocolate honeycomb candy.  The flavor is an unsweetened honey with a sharp sting of bitter dark chocolate.  It feels like probably because of the air pockets in the honeycomb that make if feel much lighter than I expected.  I have to say that is the best chocolate covered honeycomb candy I have yet had in my work for you all with The Chocolate Cult.

Finally we end the chocolates in this collection with a Light Chocolate Butter Cream.  This is a full inch high and it feels hefty in my fingers and it has a creamy buttery fragrance.  Inside is an off-white very soft center with a buttery flavor that blends with the milk chocolate but does end up being the primary flavor at the end.  Good for milk chocolate lovers who really do not want even a hit of cacao's natural bitterness.

Abbott's Candy Shop is a bit out of the way in Hagerstown so put the address in your GPS if you want to go visit in person.  It was a nice big shop as our report last Wednesday showed so take some time to look at it all.  Or check them out online because they do ship though remember in hot and humid weather you must pay extra for cold shipping or quality chocolate and caramels, too, will melt long before they reach your mouth.

4 comments:

briarrose said...

This box would make me one happy camper. :)

TheChocolatePriestess said...

It did me, briarrose. Thanks for reading and leaving us a comment.

CakeWhiz said...

The candys look so good and the box makes them more awesome and yummy...

TheChocolatePriestess said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, CakeWhiz. I think they did well with the box design and layout. Most family candy shops or chocolate shops use very generic boxes but I know that Abbott's candy was all over Wayne County so while still family owned they seem to have moved into the middle sized range.