Saturday, August 22, 2015

Let the Music Lead You to Chocolate

As a book author, not a blogger, I attend conventions during the year to meet readers and sell books. At Inconjunction in Indianapolis over the Fourth of July weekend this year, I was given several samples from Pied Piper Chocolates. We published an interview with the man behind this fairly new, small independent brand on August 19, 2015, that you can read here. In this first photo we can see the tray of goodies that Mr. Quigney gave me to try out but before we get to the chocolate, here's the background for what happened that surprising Saturday, July 4, 2015. I received no other compensation for our article beyond the free samples.

I came back to the dealer's room at the convention where I'm part of Creator's Ally for those of us who are selling only our own books, artwork, and other nicknacks you might find at a science fiction convention. My husband, the Milk Chocolate and Tea Acolyte, was watching my table and said that a gentleman came looking for the "chocolate goddess" and wanted to know if I'd accept some chocolate he made. I would never claim the title of "goddess" as you well know, sisters and brothers, but I was intrigued so I went and found Mr. Quigney who was displaying his creations at friend's table deeper inside the dealer's room.

We chatted for a bit and then he offered me a selection of his creations that you saw in our first photo. Here is a closer view of what he was selling at the convention. By the way, he told me that he sold everything so if you are a small chocolate maker and there are conventions in your town, try it out, you might get good sells and meet new customers. We'll look at his red velvet rats and mice in October for our Halloween Treat Challenge 2015, but just look at that table. Look how big that one rat is, front and center. Isn't that cool? Back to the chocolate itself.

Mr. Quigney gave us a Red Velvet Mouse (we'll be looking at that on October 3, 2015, as part of our 7th Annual Halloween Treat Challenge), Sugar Cream Pie Bon Bons, Irish Shamrocks, and pieces of various bars he makes. The pieces of bars were in one cup and so I couldn't really sort them out very well and I do have a concern that flavors and scents were mixed a bit. I thought the best combination of flavors were from the Cinnamon and Dark Chocolate Cherry bars but there were six different bar pieces in the cup. I will say that the flavors and textures were interesting and if Pied Piper Chocolate can get a better couverture chocolate, they will be able to make great products instead of just interesting chocolate bars.

I'm not an expert in Sugar Cream Pie, which may be the state pie of Indiana depending on who you talk with. But I was lucky that our Coconut Acolyte was also at this convention and she was willing to try these with me. These are a darker chocolate and the bon bons flavor is marked by a swirl pattern on the top. There is a strong darker chocolate and sugar scent to these which is not surprising given what is in a sugar cream pie. The chocolate shell makes no noise when I bite into one of these and inside is a semi-solid sugar cream center that oozes out just a bit. This seems like a darker milk chocolate to my taste buds but there is also a burst of the sugary cream so that might simply be dulling the intensity of the chocolate. As I chewed it there was an interesting caramel twist to the flavor. I really liked these a lot. Our Coconut Acolyte said it is very close to sugar cream pie with a little less sweetness... wow, just how sweet is a sugar cream pied?

The Irish Shamrocks are made with white chocolate, I double checked, and each leaf is flavored a different way -- vanilla (white), citrus (orange) and mint (green). I was able to break these up into their different colors and try them as well as one single piece to see how the flavors work together. First, I'm impressed that he got the colors to separate so smoothly; I struggle with that when I've tried with white chocolate. Together these three flavors/colors make an interesting fragrance that I could see as either Irish or simply springlike. The white has a strong vanilla and cream scent but is not as sweet as you might expect as it melts in your mouth. The orange has a strong citrus scent but this really cuts back on the sweet flavor of white chocolate so that I really got a creamy citrus flavor with an edge of tart to it. The green creates a cooling sensation in my mouth as soon as I place that piece into it then a little burning sensation before the creaminess of the white chocolate kicks in. I liked it because it didn't just taste like white chocolate and I think it would be very neat to serve up on St. Patrick's Day but I didn't want to wait to share it with you all.

Pied Piper Chocolate is on  Etsy so follow our links and check them out.  Are you one of the few folks out there who have tried Pied Piper Chocolate? Or maybe you've helped Mr. Quigney test out new flavors and ideas; a job his friends and co-workers suffer through happily. If so, leave a comment and let us know what you've tried. If you haven't tried them yet, leave a comment to let this new, independent chocolate and candy maker know what you thought about our words today.

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