Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, June 27, 2009

When your Chocolate Priestess says the name Spokandy, it makes her giggle, because it sounds like what they make: candy. In business since 1913, this company has a lot of experience in the ups and downs of the economy and the changing tastes of consumers. They sent me three types of products to try — see the right hand picture — and today I'm going to look at one of these.

Spokandy has a very interesting label. Sisters and Brothers, by professional training, I'm an ancient historian, so their icon reminds me of classical images, while their red and gold boxes are unlike any chocolatier's packaging I've seen before. The lighting from my camera and the Sacred Dish probably make this a bit more impressive than you might think, but there are two characters at the center of the emblem. Here we see an adult and child figure walking through some trees, perhaps by a river, looking at a bird. Their website doesn't go into why they chose this image or its meaning, so I won't speculate further.

This 8 oz. "Premium Assorted Selection" contains 13 different candies, so prepare yourself for a long and hopefully enjoyable revelation today so you can determine whether Spokandy offers you a worthy Sacrament for your own Worship. Each piece is clearly unique, as you can see to the right. On the back of the box there are a few pictures of the six types of candies you can find in these boxed collections. The website, while full of nice images, didn't have pictures of everything, so come with me, Sisters and Brothers, on my journey of discovery as I try them. Just a note: although I give you my five-sense descriptions, I don't eat the entire piece that you see above; I generally eat two bites, and if there is more, I share it, unless I think a third bite will reveal something new to us. Moderation, even on these Holy Saturdays, Sisters and Brothers, must be one of the guideposts on our journey toward the Divine.

Free from all other tastes and textures now for several hours, I approach the first piece from this selection. This is the first of two "Specialities" that are wrapped in gold foil. The first is a rectangular piece measuring 1.25 × 0.75 × 0.75 inches of dark chocolate that has an intense mint scent as well as the cocoa scent when I take a mild breath of it. The piece makes a light crack as I bite into the thick ganache to reveal a greenish-gray firm center that delivers a rush of mint flavor. This blends fairly well with the dark chocolate, but the mint is the overwhelming flavor when I chew. It melts rapidly in my mouth and actually blends the two flavors more this way as well as delivering a tingling sensation to my mouth and up into my eyes for many minutes after I've eaten it. Two bites is like eating several mass-produced patties of the same flavors. An excellent choice for the mint chocolate lover.

The second gold foil wrapped piece is much flatter (2 × 1.75 × 0.5 inches) and almost square. On top I see what may be almost pieces, though the scent reveals on milk chocolate. It cracks loudly when I take a bite, revealing a hard toffee center and a rush of almond flavors -- sorry, Milk Chocolate Acolyte, the nuts prevent you from sharing this piece today. The toffee center crunches with each bite, releasing a tangy and buttery essence that overpowers the milk chocolate. Any rush here is from the sugar and almonds of the toffee and not the cocoa, but if you love toffee this is a very good sample, as the hard center softens and becomes sticky in my mouth, providing a new texture to enjoy. I have to brush my teeth and rinse my mouth before continuing, since the toffee sticks to the tops of my molars.

Three pieces look to be "Butter Creams," with their colored icing lines on top of the chocolate ganache. They are all the same size, about 1.4 inches in diameter, and 1 inch high. Two are darker chocolate -- yellow and white lines -- and one is milk chocolate with pink lines. Let’s see if the colors of the lines give a hint as to the flavors, Sisters and Brothers. The pink one has a fruity scent to it, and the yellow does as well, but the white really only has the cocoa when I take a deep whiff of each.

The pink one makes a very soft snap when I bite into it to reveal a soft, bright pink center that is sweet with a little kick that tastes a lot like the strawberries we had last week, minus the bumpy textures. The brightness of the coloring makes me suspect an artificial coloring was added, but I taste no dye.

The yellow lined one makes no noise as I take a bite that reveals a light yellow center. It feels grainy in my mouth as I chew and has a definite lemon taste. A second bite and a mushing of it on my tongue makes me think this is a lemon zest or peel I'm feeling in the center. The lemon actually overwhelms the dark chocolate taste even if I let it melt, though that increases the cocoa flavor.

The white lined piece bites open with no sound to reveal very, very sweet, almost buttery white center. As you all know, I'm not a fan at all of coconut, but this has that the ending flavor I associate with coconut. Consulting with the Milk Chocolate Acolyte, he thinks it's marshmallow — he's wrong; the texture and chewiness is completely off for that, plus this is one of the butter creams. I'm left confused. If this is a coconut butter cream, it is very unlike what I'd expect, but it certainly is not vanilla flavored either. Whatever the flavor the intense sweetness immediately outshines the dark chocolate.

Of the remaining 7 pieces of this boxed selection, two are dark chocolates so I'll reveal those next, Sisters and Brothers. One looks like it probably has nuts and the other probably has coconut based on the uneven tops. Each piece is 1.25in in diameter and about 0.75in tall round shapes. Each smells only of deep, dark cocoa when I inhale their scents.

I take a bite of what I think may be the coconut candy and I am very surprised that it is indeed coconut but it's crunchy mixed in with a hard cocoa center. Still not a fan because it's definitely coconut -- here's to wishing for applications to the Chocolate Coconut Acolyte position -- but it is certainly unique of all the coconut candies I've had to try thus far in The Chocolate Cult.

Several minutes later I try the other dark chocolate and discover it has nuts; I think they are cashews by their taste, which crunch in a solid piece of intense dark chocolate. These two flavors are great together, and the cocoa definitely wins out and offers a nice buzz by the second bite. I think there are at least 10 cashew halves in this, so no skimping on the nuts for this candy.

The last six pieces then all appear to be milk chocolate candies of various forms. I'm going to try the long thin piece first, which measures almost 2.5 × 0.8 × 0.6 inches in dimensions. It has a strong fruity scent when I bring it to my nose that could be raspberry. Biting in silently reveals a dark chewy, jellylike center with a light taste which is either raspberry or cherry; it is hard to tell even after several bites. This is a really unique texture to feel for chocolate candies; it almost bounces in on my teeth as I chew and mostly disintegrates as I let it set in my mouth. I like it — it's unusual — but I like it as the fruit blends well with the milk chocolate.

After a few hours’ break — too much chocolate is not moderation, Sisters and Bothers, even if I'm only having a bite or two of each — I return to the last five candies from Spokandy's selection. The most visually interesting of these pieces is a round one covered with mini chocolate chips that is over 1.25 inches in diameter. The ganache makes a gentle snap when I bite. Inside is a very soft, almost flowing, very grainy center with a strong cocoa flavor. This is a triple chocolate threat candy that provides a rapid mild rush through my head.

The next round piece is just over 1 inch in diameter but 0.75 inches thick. It has a sweet scent to it, almost no scent at all. There are some bumps on the top, suggesting it may be a nut candy again. Nope, instead this is a solid milk chocolate candy, and it makes a loud snap as I struggle to bite into it. The chocolate is smooth and creamy, a touch of bitterness suggesting that this is on the higher cocoa content end of the milk chocolate continuum. Another bite reveals that there is something inside: raisins. There are only a few; I counted only four in the entire thing, and the cocoa completely overwhelms their flavor. Normally raisins have a unique sweetness, but not in this case, so it was disappointing.

The next piece is identical externally, so I just bite into it. It crunches not from the chocolate but from the peanuts buried inside. There are probably 8 or so whole peanuts, and if they are salted it's only very lightly. The peanut and milk chocolate flavors blend almost perfectly as I chew. This is a good choice of flavors for anyone who likes both peanuts and milk chocolate.

A square piece measuring 1 × 1 × 0.75 inches with two raised chocolate lines on the top is the next one I'll reveal, Sisters and Brothers. I take two big whiffs before the first sniff hints at something sweet under the milk chocolate. It smushes as I bite, revealing a caramel center that as I chew it sticks to my teeth and becomes increasingly buttery to my taste buds. Very interesting, and the aftertaste lasts and lasts, overpowering the cocoa.

Finally the last candy is sort of oblong in shape at 1.75 ×1 × 0.5 inches. This is a "turtle" -- chocolate, caramel and pecans -- as I discover when I bite into it. The caramel here is just as buttery as the previous piece's, but it's blended well with the nutty flavor to create three levels of texture and taste in my mouth. The result is a rather surprising bitter aftertaste to this candy, which I do like, but which I was not expecting.

It happens to be a very hot and humid day where your Chocolate Priestess lives (air conditioning only does so much when you are trying to save energy and money), so the pieces melt a bit on my fingers. The label of the box indicates there are some preservatives in these, but primarily the ingredients are natural, confirmed by the scents and the textures of the candies in my hand.

Spokandy offers a lot of very interesting and even unique products, including Huckleberry flavored chocolate coated candies. Take a look around their website, and you'll be delighted. They do not take orders directly over the Internet, but they have a printable order form you can fill out, or you can phone or email them. One thing I would love to see on their website beyond the pictures of each type of candy they offer, especially for their selection boxes, is a nutritional guide. Overall I am pleased by their website and by their offering today. I look forward to revealing their other products in the future.

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

If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST.

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