Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chocolate Cherries and Nuts for the Holidays

Today is our last big pre-Christmas review because by next Saturday it will be Christmas.  Don't worry, what we are looking at today, Sisters and Brothers, you can still find or order if you hurry.  Plus don't forget Chocolate for New Year's Eve!  But first, I want to introduce you all to a new member of our Faith.

As you may recall, in order to practice Moderation and Purposefulness, your Chocolate Priestess has enlisted Acolytes to help her.  All of them know more about the products they review than I do and all of them volunteer their time.  Two are just members of my family who have very strong opinions about what chocolate is best.  Some of them won contests on this blog to earn their positions.  Others have, through their volunteer work with me, proven they can handle the task with the seriousness and fun we want here on The Chocolate Cult.  So everyone, welcome Rene our new "Chocolate Fruity Acolyte".

We got together for her trial by fire you could say to do this review for Chukar Cherries together.  Chukar sent us two boxes, the 12oz one you saw at the beginning of this post and the 5oz box to the right.  As we contemplated the large amount we realized that everything in the small box was also in the larger box.   We'll touch upon the small box later in this review.

In order to do this, we followed my normal and recommended process that I ask all the Acolytes to follow.  Sit down, no distractions of music or TV or others unless you are working with me.  We each had a glass of water that we refilled a few times during this process.  Then we got organized with paper for Rene to write on and a camera to take pictures as we went along.

It was very helpful that inside each box was a paper insert that told you which pieces were which.  This can be very important not only for allergies but simply because putting something which you really dislike into your mouth can turn you off from a chocolatier because it makes you not trust that that next piece won't also be something you dislike.

As you can see the pieces were laid out nicely so we could easily divide them to sample and reveal to all of you.  This is the "Original Assortment" that you can see on their website but let's talk about each of the 11 flavors that were in this box.

We'll start at the top and work our way through the box.  Ready?  Got your water handy so you can make it through the review?  Good.  Let's go.

White Chocolate Raspberry Truffles have a rouge color and measure 3/4 inch in diameter.  Watch out though because the red dusting on them will get on your fingertips.  They have a distinct cocoa scent with fruity undertones.  The powder on top is sour but it fades to the very creamy white chocolate flavor.  There is real dried fruit inside that has no seeds yet the raspberry flavor is very mild at first only to kick up in the aftertaste.

The Dark Chocolate Cabernet Cherries made us wonder if doing this before lunch was a good idea but we soldiered on.  This 3/4 inch piece has a smooth glassy finish that reminded Rene of old-fashioned bridge mix.  There was a nice bittersweet chocolate scent.  When biting into it, it had a soft, crumbly texture with chewy dried cherry in the center.  The rich chocolate taste blended very well with a very tart cherry essence that finished bittersweet chocolate.  However there was not wine flavor really so we're not sure if Cabernet is for wine or simply the name of the type of cherry used.

The Classic Cherries have a milk chocolate glossy finish but is lighter in shade which we hope you can see in the photo.  The chocolate smells sweet this time.  Again the piece has a crumbly texture but a mildly tart dried cherry inside that overwhelms the chocolate flavor.  Rene thought there was also an almond flavor that turned up in the aftertaste with the cherry.

Milk Chocolate Cherry Bings were next in the box and they looked and smelled basically the same as the previous treats.  The chocolate layer was thinner while the cherry inside was much larger and more chewy.   Interestingly the chocolate flavor was stronger, less sweet than the previous, but still the cherry was still dominant.

Almonds should be in the flavor of the next type, the Amaretto Rainiers, and yet neither of use could taste it suggesting that these are types of cherries, not descriptions of added flavorings.  These are more round that the previous treats and had only a faint chocolate aroma.  To our surprise the dark chocolate flavor was very strong and it competed well with the cherry that had a smoky essence to it. 

Milk Chocolate Truffle Cherries have a matte cocoa powder over them that comes off on your fingertips and tastes very sweet.  These are larger, about an inch in diameter and they smell very chocolaty sweet.  The chocolate shell is thin and covers a large dried cherry.  The chocolate burst at the beginning gives way to a rich cherry flavor that balances very well with the continuing sweet chocolate.  

Black Forest Cherries are covered with a dark chocolate that is topped with bittersweet cocoa that will get on your fingertips.  It had a strong bitter cocoa scent as well.  These are about 3/4 inch in diameter again.  The chocolate is very strong and very bitter making the semi-tart cherry seem almost sweet in comparison.

We get to one of the two chocolate covered nuts in the 12oz box: Vanilla Almonds covered in dark chocolate.  The chocolate is dark and glossy but the shape reveals their almond nature even though the scent is only chocolate.  The whole almond inside is nicely earthy and it must be the vanilla that makes the dark chocolate much sweeter than either of us expected.

Not all these treats have only one layer of chocolate as we saw with the Black Forest Cherries.  Another of these two layer chocolates was the Cherry Blossoms which has a glossy, pinkish color to the white chocolate layer that is very creamy and overwhelms the inner milk chocolate layer's essence.  The cherry inside is moist, not crumbly, its tartness comes out at the end.  An interesting journey for your mouth.

Milk Chocolate Cherry Rouge have a glassy exterior that is reddish in tint perhaps from the cherries though that didn't shine through the other milk chocolate covered fruits.  The scent is a balance between cherry and chocolate before we even take a bite.  The chocolate has a sweet flavor that fades into a mildly tart cherry then finally a slightly malted chocolate aftertaste that was a surprise.

The final flavor in this big box is another tree nut: Milk Chocolate Honey Pecan.  The powdered sugar on top is very sweet and is likely what made the chocolate smell so sweet.  That chocolate is the first flavor you taste before the pecan and a burst of honey that overpowered everything else. A very distinct treat, unlike anything either of us had had before.

The smaller 5oz box is the "Classic Assortment" and has only cherries in it.  It includes six flavors: the Cabernet Cherries, Classic Cherries, Amaretto Rainiers, Truffle Cherries, Black Forest Cherries, and Cherry Rouge that the larger box did.  This is a good gift for a cherry lover who doesn't like or can't eat tree nuts.  However, both boxes do contain candies with milk in them and I know that might be a concern for some of you reading. 

Overall, the Chukar chocolate covered fruit and nuts were well above any that I or our Chocolate Fruity Acolyte had had before.  The fruits, nuts and chocolate were balanced in terms of flavor for the most part.  Rene says that her favor was the Cherry Bings while the Truffle Cherries are definitely a strong number two.  Chukar is a worthy Sacrament for you all, Sisters and Brothers.  Check them out please.


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briarrose said...

Beautiful chocolates. They all look so good...who could pick a favorite. ;)

TheChocolatePriestess said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, briarrose.

I think that our new Acolyte did pretty well. I must say that I even enjoyed them and I'm terribly fond of cherries though I love a lot of nuts.

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