Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sacrament April 18, 2009

Today, Sisters and Brothers, I have been challenged by Cerreta's Fine Chocolates to determine their worthiness as a Sacrament for The Chocolate Cult. Their offering came in this lovely white box with a pink ribbon, very traditional looking and not like the silver boxes in the flyer they sent along. Actually, your Chocolate Priestess is quite pleased, because so many company boxes are brown today that the white makes it stick out. The fact that it reminds me of traditional chocolates also suggests to my mind that what is inside will be something to stir my memories and fill me with pleasure.

This offering is a challenge not because of the quality of Cerreta's Fine Chocolates but because the ample selection of Deluxe Chocolate Assortment does not have labels for each individual type. Some are rather obvious because they stand out in color or shape from the others. But this is one general complaint I have about the vast majority of most boxed assortment: Lack of a clear label. Some companies have a map, and each piece is in a particular place. Others use different colors of wrapping to distinct the pieces. Others use a unique design for each piece or a particular embossed figure on the top of the candy. Given not only individual tastes but also the specter of allergies, such clarity is always helpful.

I did receive a "Nutrition Fact Sheet," which lists 38 types of chocolate this selection may contain. I can see 10 different pieces as you can see in this photograph, but some of these may only differ on the inside. You'll have to come on this journey with me, Sisters and Brothers, and see what Cerreta has to offer.

I approach this offering a full hour after consuming any other food or drink and after thoroughly cleansing my palate. This will allow me to taste and feel only the chocolate confections, untainted by anything else. Remember this is always how we must use chocolate when we use it as a method to connect to the Divine, Sisters and Brothers.

After cutting open the pink ribbon — I couldn't get it to neatly unknot — I found a large selection of confections. Each piece is wrapped in heavy plastic wrap or sealed in a plastic sheath, both easily unwrapped. I'm going to start with the "French Mint," the only labeled piece in the box. The scent of mint wafts up as I open it to reveal a 1.25 X .70 X .70 rectangle of green candy with two ridges along the top. Biting 1/3 of it shows that inside there is a chocolate center. The mint tingles in my mouth and tongue as I chew and overwhelms any chocolate flavor. The second bite I let melt slowly on my tongue, the top and sides melting first; it takes about 3 minutes for the entire bite to melt. I chew the third piece up slowly, letting it melt a bit. I think letting it melt allows the full chocolate potential out, but overall there is more mint than chocolate rush in this type. Five pieces of the "French Mint" came in my box.

Another piece I think I can clearly identify is the "Pink Pistachio." I'm not a fan of pistachio, so instead of letting that bias me, I'll just focus on what it looks and smells like instead of the taste. It is a bright pink, and on the bottom and sides you can see glimpses of the green of the nut. It doesn't smell like anything, really, other than generic candy covering, which may or may not be white chocolate. Three pieces of these came in the box.

The next type must be the "White Peanut Cluster," because the only similar option on the nutritional list is a yogurt raisin cluster, and I neither see nor smell raisins. This is the same size as the pistachio piece, 1.25 diameter and .75 tall, with a similar bumpy surface. It has that white chocolate almost-non-smell to it but no peanut scent. As I bite it in half I definitely taste the peanuts, which are salted and crunch with each chew. The salt and the peanuts are a nice mix with the white chocolate flavor. Letting the second piece melt in my mouth takes about three minutes ... this is very slow-melting chocolate. The melting increases the intensity of the white chocolate, but none of the rush we get with milk or better yet dark chocolate. The taste is smooth, and even after the coating itself is gone it mingles with the peanuts. Three of these candies came in my box.

There are three more pieces of white chocolate in my box, two 1.25 X 1.25 X .75 inches, and one odd shaped piece. Yet I see no more white chocolate listed on the nutritional sheet. So I shall just have to taste to try and figure them out. Other than the shapes, each piece has a dark chocolate drizzle over it, but neither has a particular scent beyond the white chocolate itself. I taste the odd-shaped piece first; it squishes down softly to reveal a caramel inside. Running my tongue over it, I taste the bite of vanilla, so this must be the "Vanilla Caramel" covered in white chocolate. To explore the flavors further I let the second bite melt in my mouth, and this time it does not take as long. There is a definite rush from my mouth to my eyes as the vanilla caramel slowly blends with the covering this way. The caramel itself is very sticky, adhering to my teeth.

The other white chocolate confection is also soft when I bite into it. The center is oatmeal in color and has a nutty cream taste that I can't place ever after a few bites. The bitter aftertaste seems a bit pecan-like in nature, but I can't tell from my list what these would be. Consultation with the White Chocolate Acolyte affirms this conclusion. Frankly there isn't a cocoa taste to this one at all. I will assume the second piece that looks like this is the same type.

A lonely 1 x .75 x .5 inch piece is the next I want to try and identify. The coating is slightly darker than the milk chocolate pieces but not nearly as dark as those I'm sure are dark chocolate. It has a sort of fruity scent when I bring it up to my nose to sniff. It is soft and has that vanilla bite to it, so this must be the "Milk Chocolate Caramel." As with the vanilla variety, the chocolate coating melts quickly in my mouth for the second bite and leaves behind the sticky caramel. Chewing slowly allows both flavors to mingle deliciously.

Three hours after I started today's "Saturday Sacrament" I am now ready to try these little boots; the box had three cowboy boot shaped chocolates from Cerreta's "Arizona Western Collection" of products. These are finely detailed; the etched lines of leather show up on one side of the candy, and it measures 1.25 inches across the foot and rises to 1.9 inches from heel to calf. This has the unmistakable bitterness of darker chocolate when I breathe it in. It also melts a bit in my fingertips, suggesting a higher, purer, chocolate content. I bite off the toe of the boot to find simple, pure dark chocolate that, as it melts on my tongue, immediately kicks my mind and senses into high gear. The boot is easily four bites, each one's bitterness building on the aftertaste and each rush increasing as my breath quickens and my eyes flutter in delight. Oddly, just letting it melt as I do with the second bite does not increase the flavor or the rush — I'm not sure why; I can only reveal what the chocolate does for me as I meditate upon each bite, each piece. Ah, this, Sisters and Brothers, this is the rush we look for here in The Chocolate Cult.

Shaped exactly like the "French Mints" were four milk chocolate bars in the box. These have a very milk chocolate scent them, with no hint through the brown covering of what might lie inside. Biting makes a soft snap, and I find a firm inside exactly like the mint ones. I think this is milk chocolate over more milk chocolate, perhaps the "Just Chocolate" type on the nutrition sheet. It melts quickly, releasing enough of the Sacred Substance that it tingles my mouth and eyes for a moment until it disappears to slip into my body. Each of the three bites that make up this piece taste the same, though a bit of a sweet aftertaste lingers. The slight buzz here may be useful to those of us who prefer milk chocolate in our Sacraments.

I received 5 dark chocolate mounds measuring 1.25 in diameter and .6 inches tall. Remember, Sisters and Brothers, I'm doing this sampling to help you choose appropriate Sacraments, and since I can't tell if these are different flavors, I'm only going to eat one — I must also practice moderation or risk being a heretic in my own cult. This piece has a sharp fruity scent to it, so I take a small first bite to try and suss out what it can be. Inside is a dark cream that does not have much of a fruit flavor but a deep, rich bitterness. I take a bigger bite, letting it melt. Has my nose misled me? The other taste is very subtle, so subtle that I can't decipher it, so I must simply enjoy the mild rush of the dark cocoa as it melts on my tongue. Whatever this mystery flavor is, it cancels the normal bitter aftertaste.

8 milk chocolate mounds of the same size as the above confections were also in my box. This one has a sort of nutty taste so I'm glad I choose it rather than let the Milk Chocolate Acolyte try it — he has a tree nut allergy. Ah, but Sisters and Brothers, what smells like a nut but is not a nut? A peanut! I believe this is the "Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Piaaza" on the list. The peanut butter is smooth and creamy; it blends neatly with the milk chocolate and squishes between my teeth and onto my tongue with ease. The peanut butter taste, though, overwhelms the chocolate, and this, your Chocolate Priestess has noticed, is often the case when the two flavors are combined.

There may be other flavors in the little milk and dark chocolate mounds, but honestly I am floating so much now that I do not think it wise to continue with the sampling at this time. Perhaps in the future I will reveal more flavors from Cerreta's.

(There is one single caramel in the box, but it could be pecan or walnut according to my list — I think it's the walnut, though, based on the flavor. Very sticky like the "Vanilla Caramel" was. No chocolate, so not really of interest in this review for The Chocolate Cult.)

Overall these confections from Cerreta's Fine Chocolates are smooth to the touch unless purposely textured, not greasy, and also have a slow melt to them, suggesting something may be added to increase their heat resistance. The company website says they get their chocolates from Guittard Chocolate, so you may want to look there for further information. Per piece this selection has very little cholesterol, 0 mg for most of them, and very little sodium, though a good amount of saturated fat, as we might expect in chocolate. One more reason to practice moderation with the Divine Substance. I think these are fine candies, and some of the types of chocolates I sampled could serve you well as Sacraments to help you along your Path to the Divine. Your Chocolate Priestess feels like she is floating after this five and a half hour journey through Cerreta's Fine Chocolates.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

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