Marc de Champagne Truffle Collection. This is one of the sseveral packages and varieties of truffles Charbonnel et Walker make. The box contained two matching layers of 1 inch diameter truffles for 4 Buck Fizz, 6 Pink, and 6 Milk Chocolate Truffles. Each Truffle was covered by what we in the USA call confectioners sugar, some of it colored or allowing the color through, over a solid shell that encased the truffle. They are made with milk chocolate that might taste a bit darker than most Americans are used to and in the case of one of them, white chocolate, too. The ingredients are all natural and, of course, there is the champagne but also some run and some brandy in these. We didn't get an alcoholic buzz though from the three we each consumed for this review. For those of you with allergies, it does contain milk and soy both. Now, Sisters and Brothers, let's look more closely at each of these three varieties.
Buck Fizz may sound funny to us Americans but it was my favorite of the three. The color of these is a bit like "sandblasted stone" according to our Acolyte and as I hope you can see in the photo to the right they have an orange tint to them; note that the degree of sugar and orange varies from truffle to truffle just as their shapes varied a bit as handmade chocolate normally do. The coloring references the fact that they have an orange flavoring to the truffle. The powder got on to both our fingers; this was true for all three varieties so I won't repeat this information. When we picked one up, we could smell the creamy chocolate but the main scent was a strong orange essence. Biting into it made a soft sound and revealed a firm shell and then a softer inner layer with a stronger cocoa fragrance. The shell is very sweet, very sugary as well as strongly orange. The inside is creamy milk chocolate first then it fades into the champagne and back to the chocolate; the orange comes out if you let it melt in your mouth more. This had the strongest cocoa flavor of the three varieties so none of you should be surprised that it was my favorite.
Pink Truffles are the iconic truffles from Charbonnel et Walker. Calling them pink may be a bit of an overstatement because as you can see they are more of a pale color though when we bit into them the pinkness was stronger on the inside of the white chocolate shell so perhaps the sugar covers some of the color. This shell made another soft sound when we bit into it and a milk chocolate semi-soft center was revealed. This had the least cocoa fragrance but that is the nature of white chocolate. Instead it had a very creamy, buttery scent with strong hints of the champagne and something fruity that might be the strawberry listed on the ingredients but it was too light to really determine. The shell had the strongest champagne flavor while the inside was much creamier and almost no flavor beyond a light fruitiness. Our Acolyte really liked this one a lot but as you all know, Sisters and Brothers, your Chocolate Priestess prefers the darker stuff.
Milk Chocolate Truffles are more complex in the flavor experience than their name may suggest. The amount of powdered sugared varied the most with these truffles as I hope the photo shows. Some of the orange from the Buck Fizz also got onto a few of these. When we took a bite of these, the shell's made the loudest sound but still it wasn't very loud and it shouldn't be; sharp, loud snaps are primarily the domain of darker chocolate with increased volume reflecting greater purity meaning fewer added ingredients. These had a medium cocoa scent that trailed behind the strong champagne scent but overcome the creamy undertones. The shell had a stronger champagne flavor as well while the center was very creamy, almost "buttery" our Acolyte pointed out, but also a hint of something floral in both parts. Letting the center melt brought out more chocolate but it didn't seem as strong as the Buck Fizz had been.
Each of the truffles was delightful if you take them for what they were -- milk chocolate and white chocolate with champagne as the main flavoring. While we didn't get any alcohol buzz, if you have an intolerance for such things, one of our Acolytes actually does, then you may want to steer clear of these. However this is only the first of the three possible Christmas gifts you could give to your loved ones from Charbonnel et Walker.
The Chocolat Charbonnel is a drinking chocolate which you mix according to the instructions on the tin. First you make a chocolate paste using equal measurements of the chocolate shavings or pieces and hot water until it is smooth but thick. The directions further say to "add milk to flavor" so I experimented with different amounts of skim milk added to the listed amount of chocolate and water paste each time. To the left you can see the chocolate in the tin inside a plastic bag.
Our first attempt was with the normal 6oz skim milk we always use for hot cocoa in my house and we mixed it by hand with a whisk. As you can see, not frothing really. The final result was tasty but a bit too much milk over all.
Fine Milk Chocolate Selection from Charbonnel et Walker to share with you all. If you need to take a bit of a break, I know we are covering so much chocolate in today's Sacrament, just stand up and stretch for a moment, get some water, stretch some more, but then come back. These are lovely and I hope our photos can do them justice. Let's start off with the entire box to look at. If you get some it should come with a little pamphlet that will identify the pieces you see by their form; two (the crowns) are pretty much identical though listed for two different varieties so we'll see what these are when we get to each. We'll be looking at these two at a time in each photo in order from upper left hand to the lower right hand. While you see 16 chocolate in our photo there turned out to be 12 different varieties so I won't repeat the information for the second piece of the same flavor. I have shared these with various Acolytes to get their help. Moderation and Purposefulness after all, yes?
The Marzipan Amande is a diamond with 1 inch sides and a depth of 0.75 inches. You can see the wave pattern of chocolate on the top as well in our photo above. Through the cocoa there is a strong marzipan scent which I think of as a sweet almond fragrance. The bite makes a sound soft and inside is the uniquely marzipan texture I'm used to feeling which is a little like very fine coconut but very different tasting. This is much less sweet and more earthy almond that most marzipan's I've had in the past and frankly I'm thrilled because this allows the chocolate to come out more especially on the narrower ends.
This crown piece above turns out to be the Milk Crown which has coffee, walnuts, and hazelnuts -- reads like a complicated taste experience, doesn't it? At the widest point, this measures 1.25 inches across, 1 inch from the top to the bottom of the crown, and then 0.75 inches deep. The scent is strongly coffee so this is what gives the identity of the chocolate. However our Mocha Acolyte reports: There is not much coffee flavor, the hazelnut and walnut flavors are more dominant and mix nicely with the chocolate. I like it.
So what can this heart shaped piece be? It has a simple creamy chocolate scent and measures 1.3 inches at the width point with a depth of 0.6 inches making this smaller than most of the other pieces in this box. This makes a soft snap when I take a bite because it is a solid piece of milk chocolate. It melts in my mouth, hints of vanilla but primarily the cocoa and some creaminess coming out. Our Milk Chocolate Acolyte agrees with my assessment. I'm not surprised that it is a solid chocolate but I think another shape in this box is also that so we'll just have to see when we get to in four more pieces of this journey. You still with me, Sisters and Brothers?
The other is more round with scalloped edges on about 70% of the sides with a wild rose on the top which identifies it as the Butter Fourré which is a butter and chocolate ganche under the chocolate shell. It has a butter essence in the scent under the milk chocolate. This makes no noise when I take a bite and the inside seems darker than the shell in both color and taste. There is butter here but the chocolate is happily the primary flavor. If you let it set in your mouth the cocoa essence increases but it is very buttery and creamy at the same time. I loved it! This is probably my favorite the Selection so far, Sisters and Brothers.
The Rum Fourré has scalloped sides and is oval in shape as you can see above. This has a strong rum scent under the milk chocolate when I take a whiff. This is over 1.25 inches long and an inch across at it's width but 0.8 inches thick making this the second largest piece in the box I believe, Sisters and Brothers. The bottom is thicker than the top and sides and makes a soft snap when I take a bite. Inside is a very smooth, darker, and certainly rum infused truffle quality center. The center melts and releases more and more of the sweet rum flavor but it also blends well with this darker center and the milk chocolate shell to make this my third flavor chocolate from the Milk Chocolate Selection.
The next pair is a repeat of two flavors we've all ready looked at: Heart which is a creamy milk chocolate and the Barrel which is layered and has a full raisin inside of it. Please look above if you want a description.
If you are one of our readers in the UK, we know there are a fair number of you out there, you can order from Charbonnel et Walker easily or find them at three London shops plus one shop in Leeds. In the USA they are sold at SAKS along with a lot of other wonderful looking desserts I've love to try. For a full listing of all their locations and the retailers that sell them, you can check HERE. For their long history and current holding of a "Royal Warrant" as "Manufacturers of Chocolate to Her Majesty The Queen," for their all natural ingredients, very reasonable prices for the quality and beauty, and their simple elegance in chocolate shape and packaging, Charbonnel et Walker meets our criteria for worth Sacraments. We'd welcomed sharing some of their darker chocolate with you in the future to see if they do that type of chocolate as well as the milk version.