Saturday, October 13, 2012

Captivate Your Guests this Halloween

Our next challenger in this 4th Annual Halloween Treat Challenge is Captivating Confections, Inc., who sent us samples of their fall flavors of toffee and truffles.  While these are not Halloween specific, they tell me that they can easily add in some jimmies of particular colors or you can just have these as is for a more adult Halloween celebration.

Let's start with the truffles, "Carrot Cake Truffles," and let me be blunt: these have a much shorter shelf life than the toffee because these are actually balls of carrot cake covered in white chocolate.  Order these, keep them cool and sealed but make sure you eat them within a week or two for their best flavor and texture.  We don't really have a Cake Acolyte though I'm considering the wisdom of this and wondering what you all think about it, Sisters and Brothers.  So this was tested by a group of five people, one Acolyte and four others, three of whom are carrot cake fans and two of whom never really had it before.  Here is a summary of their collective opinions.  The white chocolate helped hold in the moisture of the cake ball and added a creaminess to it that did not distract from the cake but was able to hold it's own; they could all taste the white chocolate as the first and last flavor.  Some could smell both cinnamon and nutmeg, others only one of the two main spices I could make out on the surface and the inside of the truffles.  That just shows us how varied individual experiences will be with food and drink, doesn't it?  For those familiar with carrot cake, they could indeed tell it was a carrot cake but with a touch more vanilla.  The texture was good though those not familiar with carrot cake found it a bit one-dimensional.  Conclusion: This is a great example of how white chocolate can be used to enhance a good cake even if it is two-bite sized.

Now we'll turn our attention to the two toffees for this Halloween Challenge but looking at "Teri's Spiced Toffee" first.  I'm not sure what spices are included so if you have any spice allergies, stay clear of all of the treats we are looking at today just to be sure.  Same for folks with tree nut allergies, too.  You can see the dark chocolate bottom layer here because I flipped a few pieces over.  The top later is the toffee layer and it has a lot of nuts, I believe walnuts in it.  The smell is very much a mixture of cloves and allspice with perhaps others I can't separate well with my nose; no chocolate scent.  Taking a bite makes a loud snapping sound as the bottom and top layers are firm but not too hard.  Both layers melt in my mouth leaving the crunchy walnuts (yes my eyes were right) and a bit of stickiness from the toffee.  The chocolate fades quickly in terms of flavors but you'll get more of it if you eat it bottom side down.  The buttery toffee and the pecans are the next flavor but a bit of heat from the various spices builds up with each chew.  A unique toffee that does as well as others in terms of chocolate competing with the other flavors.

What are mulled spices?  I have to know that before I can fully render an opinion on the "Mulled Spice Toffee," right?  In general, the spices mulled in either juices or alcohol include allspice, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, and dried fruit peels. Sounds very harvest life, right, great for the autumn season. You know what else this has?  Chocolate and it looks like darker chocolate, too, on the top layer as our photograph shows.  This also has walnuts I believe but in the chocolate layer so I can pick one off and confirm it by taste.  The scent is spices all the way but as we saw with the previous that might not reflect the balance of flavors.  These pieces are half toffee bottom with a cracker base and half darker chocolate frosting with the nuts.  The crunch is continuous from the first bite to the last chew.  If you eat with the cracker side down you get more salt and sweet with a good touch of the chocolaty top and a hint of spices.  If you eat from the top down you get less spice, more chocolate that lingers longer but the toffee sweetness, the spice and the salt does come through at the end.   The chocolate essence here is a bit stronger than in the previous variety so I prefer this one more.

Once more Captivating Confections offer us unique twists on the standard chocolate shop fare of truffles and toffee.  While these are great for a more adult age party these probably wouldn't work so well for trick or treaters or a child's party but with all this fear out there, what well-made and handmade treats are?  With these spices these treats are good even through Thanksgiving and the rest of fall I think earning these a Sacrament status for their uniqueness, season long appeal, and small business support of handmade chocolate creations.

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