Monday, October 17, 2011

Ghirardelli Intense Dark Pairings

Beyond the Annual Halloween Treat Challenge we've been asked to promote and host three other October events.  It has been difficult and so far I've been disappointed that very, very few of you wanted either the chocolate banana smoothie gift pack or the breast cancer gift pack giveaway we've hosted the past two Mondays.  So here is something different for this Monday: No Giveaway!

Instead we were contacted by Ghirardelli, we've featured them in the past, to help promote their Intense Dark Pairings that will donate money to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF).  I would have loved to host a pairing party but this month has been so crazy that I have not have time to organize one so instead I'm going to do a Special Sacramental Review of each bar and give you some information on how you can host your own party.

The party ideas are from the Intense Dark Pairings website with ideas on how to serve these bars to your friends from author Leslie Sbrocco.  Not only can you party but for a limited time, September 15 - December 31, 2011, you can redeem a code found on these specially marked pink ribbon boxes for $1 donation to the NBCF (up to $100,000) at a special website.  This is exactly what I've done with the four samples they sent to us here on The Chocolate Cult. When you enter your code you'll learn how many dollars and which dollar you've just donated.

Now on to the fully sensory descriptions I know you all want.

We'll start with the "Evening Dream" bar that has 60% cacao in it.  This is a very pure bar with nothing beyond the chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla and soy lecithin (a common emulsifier found in a lot of chocolate).  The scent is fairly light when I tried to carefully fold back the gold foil wrapper inside the box.  The chocolate is dark and glossy, the entire bar has 8 sections and 2.5 servings in total.  One section breaks off easily but makes a nice snap that it repeats when I take a bite.  At first the flavor is very creamy with a hint of bitterness that turns to a sweet vanilla and then a deeper bitter essence.  For those of you who are not too keen on dark chocolate this will be the bar for you.

For those of us who really love dark chocolate I imagine the "Twilight Delight" at 72% is going to be great.  This looks a little darker than the 60%, and it should, and it does have a dark scent to it when I open the foil wrapper.  This is a touch more difficult to break apart and it makes a louder snap when I do so and when I take a bite.  Remember, the loudness reflects purity of the chocolate so darker and no additives will be louder than white, milk, or artificial ingredients.  This has smooth start and then turns bitter with each chew.  It is not too intense for me, the bitterness does not hide the sugar's slight sweetness or the vanilla's light kick at all but the strong cocoa is the main essence.

At 86% the "Midnight Reverie" is going to be very, very bitter I expect.  The fragrance of dark chocolate hit me as soon as I opened a tiny corner of the foil wrapper.  By scent alone you can identify this as the darkest of the four but not by color.  I land it and the 72% side by side and there is no difference.  Warning: If you are giving this to others, give them a heads up because this much intense cacao will be too much for many, many people.  Unless you are like me and you just love to see folks' eyes widen and hear them say "what the heck?"  (Oh, didn't you know your Chocolate Priestess has this slightly evil side to her?)  The snap is softer than I expect when I break off a section and take a bite.  The bitterness builds up and completely overwhelms the sugar and even milk fat I see listed on the ingredients.  At this level of cacao I expect an aftertaste but surprisingly I didn't find this had one and that really pleased me as did the cocoa buzz just at the end of one square.  I still do not think this will be to most palate's tastes.

Finally, let's look to the more complex bar in this foursome: "Toffee Interlude."  This has dark chocolate, toffee bits, and caramelized almonds in it.  Not for those with tree nut allergies.  This has more ingredients on the label but nothing artificial.  No where on the box does it say what cacao percentage is in this chocolate so I'll compare it to the previous three.  The scent is much lighter and there is a definite butter and almond fragrance as well when I open the foil wrapper.  You can see the pieces of toffee or perhaps the almonds even from the top but especially when I broke off a piece.  Note the little pieces on the photo above.   This makes a good snap and feel cool to my fingertips.  This is more along the 60% cacao level in terms of bitterness but that is overpowered by the almonds then the butter next until it fades to chocolate again.  The other flavors will build up so just take a break to bring out the maximum chocolate if you want.  The toffee and almonds made it crunchy as well though it was surprisingly creamy, too.  I liked it a lot though I think I also got a bit of a sugar rush.

The three simple bars are all great, pure chocolate, even the "Toffee Interlude" really let the cacao be the star if you took your time with it.  For that and for their support of a good charity, I believe these bars earned their position as a worthy Sacrament.  Go on and set up a pairing party if you have the time (let me know how that goes please) but I say go beyond just your girlfriends with these Intense Dark Pairings.  Breast cancer can strike men and women, and while it is true that far more women then men get it, everyone who knows a fighter in this battle is touched.  Plus the more bars and their codes you redeem, the more money for continued research. Brothers, let us hear you say that  you want to help out on this cause too!


Lisa Kaye said...

Since Breast Cancer awareness is one of my pet projects, I'm especially glad to see Ghirardeli taking this on. These chocolates look wonderful.

TheChocolatePriestess said...

I should pick a winner for the giveaway from last week related to breast cancer as well but I feel so depressed about how few people tried for it and for the previous giveaway that I don't want to waste the host company's money.

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