I love chocolate...usually dark. And since I make a lot of my own candies and Truffles, it is not typical for me to buy or even enjoy many of those that are available commercially. (For info on the luscious truffles above, you will have to wait till the end of this blog entry). Ah, but never say never, right? Every once in a while I will taste a candy that knocks my socks off. I want to introduce you to a few of them. I figured Valentine's Day is approaching and for those of you looking to purchase something new and different, I'd share my personal current faves.
Look at that pic! This is a romantic box of chocolates from Fran's Chocolates. It arrived on my doorstep a few weeks ago quite unexpectedly. Every now and then a company will send me a product to sample and you know if you read this blog that I am not in the habit of "advertising" food products. I will only blog about the ones that I truly love. I opened the box right away; the sumptuous ribbon begged to be pulled open. Inside was a dark chocolate assortment that came with a handy color guide. I am a sucker for these! I want to know what I am eating Before I bite into it! I went right for the caramels the company is so famous for; I didnt need the guide for finding those. I approached the box in a restrained manner, eating only one or two at a time or the following week. After a few days the guide somehow was left downstairs and the box was upstairs; I grabbed a small dark square that had delicate lines of chocolate zig-zagging across the top. I was making dinner (yes, I know...I will eat chocolate anytime, anywhere) and I was moving quickly around the kitchen getting my pots and pans and ingredients together...and then...I literally Stopped in my tracks! The flavor in this particular truffle hit me like a ton of bricks. A welcomed, intense, velvety Raspberry ton of bricks! The flavor was undeniable. Still, I momentarily forgot about dinner and ran downstairs to retrieve the guide. Sure enough what was unfolding in my mouth was their new Raspberry Truffle. I loved it. The 64% bittersweet chocolate was a perfect foil for the fruit. This filling was incredibly rasberry-y (or is that raspberryeeeeee). Just fabulous. Another much appreciated aspect to this chocolate was the incredibly thin, fine, delicate outer shell. Its delicacy was fitting for such a lovely candy. The enclosed information informed me that the filling was made from chocolate and raspberries - no liqueur and no cream! I found this last omission to be quite interesting. Apparently the ganache filling is therefore made from chocolate and raspberries (well, perhaps there is butter) but by leaving out the cream they are allowing the pure berry flavor to come to the fore. Brilliant.
Here is another item I'm crazy about - Bissinger's Handmade Chocolate Covered Marshmallows. Drop one (or two) of these into your favorite hot chocolate and you will see what I mean. Or, if you want to eat them out-of-hand, they are conveniently bite-sized for easy eating. They are handmade in small batches in their St. Louis factory and keep well all winter long. I have a thing for marshmallows - they are very low calorie. And since dark chocolate is "healthy"....well you see where I'm going with this LOL. I am very good at figuring out how to mentally "allow" myself my chocolate indulgences and this one fits the bill. And they are Gluten Free to boot.
Speaking of raspberries and chocolates, Bissinger's makes one of my all-time favorites that I first tasted a few summers ago - Raspberry Caramels. On-line they are available in their chocolate covered caramel assortment (seen below) but if you call the catalog at 800-325-8881 you can order the larger ones in one-pound increments (and of course they can be found at their retail locations as well). I love caramel. I love dark chocolate and I love raspberry but I had never had them all in one candy before I sampled these. They reduce fresh raspberries to create a fruity concentrate, which is then blended with the caramel. The caramel takes on a ruby hue as well. And then a generous square of the caramel is drenched in dark chocolate....OMG. My mouth just started watering. They are chewy and fruity and chocolatey - a must for fruit and chocolate lovers and caramel lovers alike.
And of course if you want to make your own, please do refer to my Truffles book. The dark chocolate passion fruit ones and the dark chocolate lemon are particularly fabulous. Or, in my most recent book, Unforgettable Desserts, you will find my version of a raspberry truffle....featuring a whole berry in each truffle. Look for Chocolate Raspberry Bliss Bites in the index. And yes, these are the truffles featured at the top of the blog. A feast for your eyes, I hope!