Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Taraluna for the Holidays

At The Chocolate Cult, we do not discriminate on the basis of the type of chocolate; white, milk, semi-sweet, bittersweet, dark, all are welcomed.  The same goes for the companies that send us products.  Sometimes these are big names, products you hear of on TV ads or can find in most stores.  Often these are small independent chocolate shops, bakeries, and stores.  They may make chocolate, sell chocolate, or often other product related to our Sacred Substance.  Taraluna is a small, woman-owned retailer that focuses on empowering others but selling organic, fair trade, and eco-friendly items.  Chocolate is just one of the many things Taraluna offers but they offer year round and for the several holidays just one of which is Christmas.  Now we featured them on our first Christmas back in 2009 but these are two products we have not looked at before however the focus is on the retailer not the chocolate.

This year, Taraluna sent us two Sjaak's chocolates they sell for Christmas (or for almost any winter holiday frankly).  The first is a bag of the Winter Wonderfuls which also come in a box if you prefer.  Ours came in the bag or tote and had 12 individually wrapped snowmen. These are a vegan treat made of dark chocolate and a crunchy organic peanut butter center. Now the back wrapper claims there are 24 of these in the tote but I counted 12 only so I'm not sure why the information about the product says otherwise but it makes me suspicious of the nutritional information.  That's not Taraluna's fault though they might want to talk to Sjaak's about it.  The wrapper made them look a bit scary but on unwrapping them I thought these guys were rather cute.  The peanut butter inside was very crunchy, I found entire half peanuts in it when I tested one of these and our Acolyte confirmed.  It wasn't too sweet but it did balance the dark and think shell very well.

The other Sjaak's item is their Organic Chocolate Assortment box which is also vegan.  Mine arrived in a red box so it would be good for Christmas or Valentine's Day actually.  This box had 9 very large chocolates in it that included: Coffee Truffle, Almond Creme, Raspberry Truffle, Pecan Caramel, English Toffee, Solid Dark Chocolate, Almond Truffle, Hazelnut Creme, and Peanut Caramel.   Since this is not a review of Sjaak's but of Taraluna,  let me just say a few words about them.  Our Milk Chocolate and one of our Mocha Acolyte's helped me with the is box of great treats.

The Solid Dark Chocolate Pieces -- two, both wrapped in red foil.  These are great and reminded of the Halloween chocolates we featured Halloween 2009.

The Pecan Caramel and the English Toffee.  The lump on the top of the toffee is an entire almond but I felt it and the toffee was a bit too strong of the dark chocolate.  The Pecan Caramel was very chewy and well balanced between the three major flavors of bitter chocolate, tangy caramel, and pecan.

The Hazelnut Creme is well, hazelnut and I just get tired of that combination.  The Peanut Caramel tasted like the peanut part -- there are entire half pieces inside -- was over roasted a bit.  The chocolate itself was great in both.

I got help from two Acolytes for these two.  The coffee in the Coffee Truffle was very overwhelming which is saying something for dark chocolate.  The Raspberry Truffle, another over done combination, was well balanced though the top red sprinkles were a bit sour.

Almonds showed up in two more pieces. The first was an Almond Creme that was very well balanced but not crunchy.  The second was an Almond Truffle again well balanced, a bit more sweet and creamy inside, but not crunchy.

Eco-Friendly Wrapping from Taraluna
Taraluna is a great way to find unique gifts that protect us all.  I really hope you all check them out and try their offerings.  Yes, you could find some items in bigger stores or through other outlets, but I've gotten to know the owner, Penny, over these three Christmases, and she is everything we would hope for on The Chocolate Cult: a woman who lives for the betterment of us all by selling only quality products created in ethical ways and shipped to you using recycled or natural packing material with as little of it as feasible to make sure your order arrives in one piece. If you look at the background of the photos, you'll see this bag which she also sent me that empowers the women of India who make it.  She and her company are worthy additions to our list of Sacrament retailers.

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