Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bright Easter Chocolates

Indiana has some good chocolatiers right here in the state.  There was such a lack of chocolate shops on our trip through Illinois, Iowa and South Dakota in March 2010, I was afraid I had covered all the candy and chocolate making venues in Indiana all ready. Luckily this is not the case and I found another one up in Wayne County called Ghyslain chocolate des beaux arts.  The wonderful lady there, Gen, sent us two boxes of their Easter chocolates and I think you are going to fall in love with at first site.  But looks are only one of the five senses we cover here on The Chocolate Cult.  Your Chocolate Priestess will reveal these beauties in all five senses.

Easter is one of their seasonal times at Ghyslain and you can get a taste of their lovely creations by checking out their website.  Now this link will change through the year so if you want to bookmark it and return to it every few months, I think that would be a delight for your eyes.  They sent us two six counts of their Egg and Bunny Collections so that we got to sample each of the flavors they come in.  When I show you the photos I took, I hope it will take your breath away like they took mine away.

The 6 count Easter Bunny Collection has four flavors with repeats of two of them which I'll reveal in turn going from top left across to the lower right as you see in this photo.  These is the larger of the two boxes they sent, with each bunny weighing 1oz according to the website but the tag which came on the box said 4.5oz or only 0.75oz per bunny.  I don't have a scale but my guess is that these are under an ounce.  Each of then is 2.25 inches from tail to paw tips, an inch crouched down, and 1.5 inches from hunch to hunch.

Let's begin with the deep purple bunny which is the Peanut Butter.  The coloring and the shell is very smooth and cool to my fingertips and I'm doing this live this morning so it isn't warm enough yet to start melting though today, oddly we are to hit the 80s all ready.  It has no real fragrance as far as I can determine and that might be the coloring or the shell.  I take a bit and since I'm a bit cruel and he is a bit large, I can't get his full head in one bite.  The shell breaks apart easily and makes almost no sound at all while I chew.  As I suspected the colored shell is a thin layer of white choocolate but the coloring is only on the top -- hand-painted is one of Ghyslain's hallmarks.  Then there is a layer of milk chocolate that is much thicker on the bottom with a central semi-soft darker looking chocolate that has the flavor of both peanut butter and chocolate.  The darker chocolate does not taste particular dark to me, just darker than the other two chocolate which are both very creamy and smooth.  The peanut butter is the stronger essence at first then the a darker yet still creamy chocolate becomes the primary and final flavor.

The green, a fairly dark lime green, bunny is the Milk Chocolate with Puff Rice so I'm expecting more crunch this time.  Again no scent before I bite which is indeed a very crunchy affair since inside is a solid milk chocolate with visible pieces of crispy rice.  The white chocolate shell also looks to be a bit thicker and there is a milk chocolate bottom shell.  This has a sweeter fragrance and flavor than the previous piece though the chocolate itself is more consistently the main essence.  By the second and third bite, it becomes clear that a large part of the flavor is the white chocolate which is very creamy and sweet though there is the milk chocolate edge and a definite rice flavor as well. 

The pink bunny should be a Strawberry flavor and I'm thrilled simply because it is not raspberry.  I get a bit tired of every pink or red chocolate being raspberry and these secondarily cherry.  I'm hopeful then when I take a bite, unsurprised by the lack of scent before I take half this bunny's face off with my teeth.  Like the first bunny, the white chocolate shell is thin and there is a thicker milk chocolate shell under it.  The semi-soft inside though is more creamy and more milk chocolate in flavor not in color.  The strawberry flavor is powerful, sweetly tart as the best strawberries are, and practically melts in my mouth.  Oddly I'm not getting a very strong fragrance but the taste is very pleasing.   So far, this has to be my favorite but make sure you like strawberries.  The aftertaste is long lasting so I had to cleanse my mouth before moving on to the next piece.

Finally our last bunny is the aqua one, a Toffee Caramel.  Now without an ingredient list I don't know what is really meant by "toffee caramel" because it can be made from almonds or simply from butter and other natural flavorings.  I've seen and eaten both and unless the almonds are there or their flavor is particularly strong, I generally can't tell the difference just by taste.  The white and milk chocolate shells break easily and silently when I take a bite.  The semi-soft center has a golden hue and appears to be milk chocolate which is what I taste -- a buttery, slightly tangy milk chocolate.  There is a hint of another flavor which may be a bit of the dye for the color; until now that wasn't an issue for me but I will be completely open and tell you all that in the past I've had reactions to very intense blue dye in food and clothing so I might be more sensitive to the flavor here.

The 6 count Easter Egg Collection was even more lovely to look at when I took the lid off the.  This has six flavors and you may notice the top three eggs are different in shape than the bottom three. Again we'll look at these from upper left to lower right in turn.  The eggs collectively are 3oz but just from this first photo you can see they are two different sizes and the larger ones on the bottom (smooth eggs) feel just a touch heavier than the top ones (cracked eggs). I hope my photos give you a good visual because these are very detailed and lovely to simply gaze at.

These should have more complex flavors based on their descriptions with no copies of the bunnies or of each other.  The yellow cracked egg is Milk Chocolate Tangelo Ganache, but what is a Tangelo?  I looked it up, and I'm very glad I did, because it is a citrus fruit hybrid that is a cross between a tangerine with a grapefruit, or a pomelo.  I have very few food allergies, Sisters and Brothers, and this isn't an allergy but a medication restriction.  I cannot have anything with grapefruit, period, with a new medication.  So I've asked our Milk Chocolate Acolyte to describe this for you today.  Milk Chocolate Acolyte, go!  This confection carefully balances flavors that are very different, succeeding where it could easily have failed.  There is a lengthwise seam around the egg; it turns out that it is actually two half-eggs, formed separately and then pressed together, meaning that the two half-eggs' flat faces meet in the middle, and this is important to its flavor and texture.  Before I take a bite, I smell no hint of citrus in the chocolate.  But biting into it reveals the ganache, accented with a subtle but fresh tang of citrus fruit.  We all know that it is important to avoid overpowering the flavor of chocolate, Brothers and Sisters, but that is exactly what would have happened if this had been one single egg filled with ganache.  Instead, the extra milk chocolate down the middle balances the flavor and texture, keeping the focus on the chocolate.  In the end, the experience is smooth milk chocolate with an added flash of interesting tangelo flavor, rather than merely a chocolate shell as a delivery system for a fruity filling.

The purple cracked egg is a buttery caramel, one of Ghyslain's signature flavors.  A hint of butteriness comes out through the colored shell even before I take a bite, so I'm hopeful this will tantalize all five of my senses.  Underneath a thick but silent white chocolate shell is an oozing tangy sweet caramel that blends very well with the creaminess of the chocolate.  Normally I am concerned that white chocolate and caramel is too sweet, but the tanginess does a good job of adding a bit of intensity beyond what I was expecting. 

The orange cracked egg is a milk chocolate praline ganache, and again, praline has different meanings, so I won't know if it has tree nuts or not until I try it.  This has a slight praline scent, though I can't detect nuts or not at this level.  Inside the white chocolate shell is a solid chocolate, sweet, tangy, and somewhat nutty center.  This isn't quite a single nut flavor, because the sweet and tangy overwhelms that flavor, sending the chocolate back to ease forward slightly at the end of the first bite.  The second bite strongly suggests a hazelnut flavor here and allows the chocolate to come forth more as well.

The smooth eggs are all half eggs unlike the cracked versions which are fully egg shaped but smaller.  The smooth eggs are all painted only on the top but have a milk chocolate bottom shell.  The green one is their buttery caramel again but with roasted pecans this time.  Strange, much like the bunnies, this also has no scent before I take a bite.  I wonder if it reflects the smoothness trapping the scent in better than the roughness of the cracked eggs, which may not hold the edible paint on as solidly?  The upper shell is white chocolate then there is an inner milk chocolate shell but the layers don't stop there.  There is a more solid milk chocolate on the bottom with oozing sweet tangy caramel on the top with nice pieces of pecans in the caramel.  I think the flavors blend perfectly with the caramel tang and the milk chocolate the final essence in my mouth.

The pink smooth egg is dark chocolate raspberry ganache.  The bottom of this egg reveals a milk chocolate shell like the previous one so I'm expecting the dark chocolate to be inside.  Unexpectedly, based on the bunny and the previous smooth egg, this has a strong fragrance, raspberry very clearly is the scent I get immediately upon bringing it to my nose.  Inside is a semi-soft but very smooth looking dark chocolate under the white and milk chocolate layers. It has a very intense raspberry essence along with a textural surprise -- either pieces of raspberry or the seeds at least.  The dark chocolate has a good bitterness that competes well but ultimately the raspberry wins out.

Finally we end this review with the aqua smooth egg which should be sea salt buttery caramel with caramelized macadamia nuts -- that's a lot of flavors in one little egg!  No real scene again with this piece though I had hoped for sugary since so much caramel and caramelized ingredients in this piece.  This is a multi-layered and very creamy chocolate egg.  First the white and milk chocolate shells cover what appears to be another semi-solid white chocolate layer topped by caramel with a few macadamia pieces in it.  It is very sugary and sweet with that macadamian essence blending in very well so if you aren't a big fan, I don't think you'll be turned off by the nuts.  This is definitely the sweetest of the Easter Offerings.

Simply in terms of visuals, the prices for these Ghyslain Easter treats is very reasonable.  They don't use any additives other than color, clearly there is food dye here, you can tell simply by looking but it is also listed on the boxes.  They use all natural ingredients and they literature you'll receive gives you instructions on how to store and how soon you should eat them.  I love that these are all very tasty though I personally wanted more fragrance both before and after taking a bite -- all five senses are important.  I also really loved that if you buy both, you get 10 different treats. In a world where we crank out the same thing under different shapes or call a variety pack something with only two to three combinations, this is a delight to your senses.  However this may not be the best gift for people with dairy, tree nuts or other allergies. Think and perhaps write to to Ghyslain before you buy.

Gyhslain has two bistro locations, one in Richmond and the other in Zionsville, bothin Indiana.  Their production facility is in Union City.  I'm hopeful that I'll be able to arrange a trip to the Wayne County Chocolate Trail later this summer with some of the Acolytes and Followers of The Chocolate Cult.  Ghyslain, I'm not sure which location, will be on that tour if we can make it work.  How many of you would like to join us in a two day getaway for wonderful chocolate and fellowship?  We'll make a collective decision here at Cult Central and then share that date with all of you.  We'll need a head count to make some special arrangements and I've been told we might be able to get special tours of some facilities as well as interview the chocolatiers themselves.


Katie Mar said...

i want to try them ALL!!!!

Kristen said...

What a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth. It's surprising that there was so little scent to them, though.

TheChocolatePriestess said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, Katie and Kristen. They are beautiful but yes, it was very surprising that they didn't have much of fragrance most of the time. Though that's better than a poor scent.

Katrina {In Katrina's Kitchen} said...

I love this post ans I'm jealous that I'm not eating these chocolates! Wow they are gorgeous first of all. And your descriptions leave me wanting more! Yum! ♥- K

TheChocolatePriestess said...

Did you check out their website, Katrina? I'm sure you could still order some if you want to try them yourself.

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