Saturday, January 14, 2012

Slitti Selezione di Praline Part 1

Valentine's Day is approaching and you may not be thinking that far ahead but the chocolatiers and companies who send us products to review for you all, certainly must think this far ahead.  Today we are looking at another product you can find at the website of PastaCheese, one box of Selezione di Praline from Slitti, a Tuscany chocolate company started in 1969.  Starting in 1993, their head chef has won several gold medals and gold rating at several major chocolate competitions through 2010.  This is a beautiful selection of 16 of their chocolate works in one box.  Now because there is such variety, this will be Part 1 of our feature and we'll do Part 2 on the 18th since PastaCheese sent us this for Valentine's Day.

We'll start with the milk chocolates and see how far we get for today's Sacrament.  We'll start with the Mandorla-Latte which is a rectangle with a large cocoa covered almond on top which measures 1 X 0.75 X 0.5 inches; you can see it in the upper right hand of the photo of the entire box or the close up to the left.  Not surprisingly it has a cocoa and almond scent before I even take a bite.  The almond makes a snap but otherwise this praline is silent.  The inside is smooth and creamy, also very buttery with a very light almond flavor unless you are chewing on the nut itself.  The chocolate flavor is also very light making this more butter than cocoa in essence.  The almond though is what lingers in terms of flavors in my mouth for minutes after I eat this one.

The Caracas is our next piece and it is square with a spot of hazelnut on the top measuring 1 X 1 X 0.5 inches.  This is a hazelnut brittle with milk chocolate coating so let's see what that is like for our senses, Sisters and Brothers.  The hazelnut scent is very strong but a creamy, buttery cocoa essence is there as well.  This makes a very soft snap when I bite it in half and a soft crunch as I chew.  The hazelnut and milk chocolate blend very well in this smooth piece.  The smooth is actually surprising and disappointing since the description calls this a brittle and thus I'd expect something crunchy that broke apart when I took a bite.

The Vaniglia is a white chocolate covered with milk chocolate; as you can see it also has darker chocolate drizzle over it.  Inside are supposed to be vanilla berries -- I'm not sure what those are so let's see if we can figure it out.  This a globe with one flat end that is about 1 inch in diameter.  It has a buttery cocoa scent with a hint of vanilla.  This is very soft and makes not a sound when I take a bite.  Inside is a bright white semi-solid cream that tastes very vanilla. The milk chocolate shell loses out completely to the cream inside in terms of flavor and texture both.  So far the milk chocolates are not competing well to their added flavors and ingredients in terms of cocoa buzz or chocolate rush.

To directly compare let's jump to the other sphere in this collection, the Grand Marnier.  This is the same shape and size as the previous praline even down to the dark drizzle over the top.  A bite releases a very soft sound and a burst of Grand Marnier that works very well with the creaminess of the semi-solid center and the white chocolate shell.  A surprise is found at the bottom where a dark chocolate disc is located that adds a further dimension to the over all flavors and textures.   I can't tell if this darker disc of chocolate is a normal feature of this variety, it isn't listed on the little booklet that comes with the box, but I think a darker shell over this alcoholic center would be very good indeed.

The most oddly shaped piece in this selection has to be the Coppetta Praline that looks like someone chopped up a piece of chocolate then fused it back together with more chocolate.  It is sort of a round piece with an inch diameter but has an uneven top that raises to an inch at it's tallest peak and is covered with flakes of something.  It has a strong hazelnut fragrance with a creamy while chocolate base. It makes a loud snap when I take a bite and now I can see that this is pieces of hazelnuts mixed with a cream colored white chocolate so that the nuts bunch up inside the paper cup and then up on top.  You need to love hazelnuts to love this particular piece and they certainly do love their hazelnuts in Italy.

Now we'll return and finish the milk chocolates from this selection.  The Piemontesi-Latte looks like a mini peanut butter cup to my eyes.  It has a drop of darker chocolate on the top of it's 0.75 inch height as well as a about an inch diameter on the base.  Clearly it is milk chocolate but we'll need to sample it to see what else it is.  This has a creamy milk chocolate scent but also a hint of darker cocoa and a light hazelnut fragrance.  This is the hardest piece yet in the collection, solid and very loud when I take a bite round the edges so I can first taste it without the dot on top.  I'm not getting much hazelnut at all until I take a deeper bite and discover an entire round nut inside.  Very cute surprise that is very crunchy as well.  By doing this, the hazelnut is still very earthy and the milk and dark chocolate are more separate as flavors.  I really like this particular praline in the box.

We'll cover two of the dark chocolate pieces today and leave some of the milk chocolates for our Acolytes to try for the mid-week feature.  Let's try the Cannella, a dark chocolate with cinnamon.  Now for those who are unfamiliar with cinnamon in chocolate, you may want to note that, yes, it might have a heat to it that you may not notice in baked goods very often because they are countered by a lot of sugar.  I expect in a darker chocolate this heat should be strong but I have to try to to see.  One whiff and I can smell the cinnamon and the dark cocoa of this 1 X 1 X 0.5 inch piece.  The top makes a solid snap when I take a bite but the bottom is much softer and simply caves.  The bitterness is excellent and the heat and flavor of the cinnamon keeps pace with it, both linger even for a good minute or so. The inside is a soft slighter lighter, perhaps bittersweet chocolate which seems to hold most of the cinnamon.  A really great piece that combines several sensations into this flat square.

That leaves us for today with the Barolo Chinato -- see the name is written cross the flat top several times.  Even though it looks bigger than the previous piece this has the identical measurements.  There is a slight alcoholic hint in the dark cocoa scent when I bring this piece to my nose.  This makes no noise when I take a bit, the shell isn't as thick as the previous piece and inside the lighter bittersweet chocolate isn't as soft either.  The added flavor is from Cocchi Barolo Chinaton, thus the name, a red wine with some unique flavors to it, a sort of tart sweetness that reminds me of rhubarb.  Normally I'm not a rhubarb fan but the bitterness of the two chocolate works really well with this and if someone made a rhubarb pie with this level of chocolate, I'd give it a try.

So there you have it, another wonderful chocolate option from PastaCheese one you have time to check out well before Valentine's Day.  While the milk chocolate failed to deliver that kick I normally want from my chocolate, for milk chocolate and white chocolate lovers, this was good.  The dark chocolate pieces we ventured into today will be further evaluated on the next Special Sacramental Review this week.  My favorite of this half of the Praline Selection has to be the Mandorla-Latte because it was a unique twist on the old hazelnut and chocolate combination that can get tiresome for me at times.  Don't forget that for us here on The Chocolate Cult, they have a special offer that you can see below.

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