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July 29, 2006

Review: Godiva Dark Chocolate Decadence Chocolixir

chocolixir.jpgI like to put myself on mailing lists because you never know what sort of neat stuff you’ll get in the mail. Every so often Godiva sends out notices of free tastings and the like and recently they sent out a coupon for a free Chocolixir.

Chocolixir is a frozen chocolate drink similar I suppose to a frozen hot chocolate in many ways. I don’t know what’s in it, but there is definitely ice and chocolate. Maybe milk. If CalorieKing is to be believed the 12oz drink clocks in at 660 calories (!) so there has to be something more than ice and chocolate in there. My money says milk and sugar and it wouldn’t surprise me to find there is Godiva cocoa mix in it either.

Speaking of money, this is not a cheap drink. You get 12oz for the low low price of $4.50. That price tag is why I’ve not tried it until I got me a coupon for a freebie. That is not a cheap drink. Compared to coffee drinks it is really expensive for the amount you get. Keep in mind that it has actual Godiva chocolate in it and you can somewhat understand the high price, but I still have an issue with it.

The drink itself is available in six varieties now: the original three - Dark Chocolate Decadence, Milk Chocolate Latte and White Chocolate Raspberry – and three new flavors – Milk Chocolate Caramel, Dark Chocolate Caramel, and White Chocolate Caramel. Each comes with the option of whipped cream and either chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, or raspberry syrup depending on which one you get.

I opted for the Dark Chocolate Decadence because I’m a fool for Dark chocolate and I figured that it would be the least sweet of the flavors. Frozen coffee drinks are painfully sweet so I figured that frozen chocolate drinks would be at least as bad. The Dark Chocolate Decadence was sweet, but not as sweet as I feared. I’d like it to have been less sweet to heighten the dark chocolate flavor, but it wasn’t so sweet I didn’t like it. Overall the flavor was sweet and light. The ice in it was blended into oblivion so it was just enough to grind between your teeth without there being actual chunks of it. And all throughout it there are bits of chocolate. Best of all you don’t end up with a big pile of ground ice in the bottom of the cup like you do with some frozen coffee drinks.

The drink was quite tasty. I’d say it was better than most frozen coffees I’ve had but I’m not convinced that it’s worth the $4.50 price tag. And the calorie load! I want to know just what is in there that it manages 660 calories. That’s as many calories as in an average 3.5oz chocolate bar which clocks in at 2.5 servings. Ok, calories and price aside the drink is good - good enough to earn an 8 out of 10 score - but not good enough that I’m going to rush out for another any time soon. And, while it isn’t perfect, on a hot day like today, it is a nice treat. Especially when it's free.

July 26, 2006

A Word of Warning

I just got upgraded to MT 3.3 and things might act strange for a bit.
Additionally, I plan on playing with the theme (again - I want something simple but pretty - I have simple, I want pretty) so confusing things might happen there as well.
Finally, I am going to try to address the comment spam and switch back to non-moderated comments with some better filtering.

So, if anything acts strange, I'm probably working on it.

On a side note, I want to cheer for my host a little bit. I sent them a support request to figure out what I needed to do to get 3.3 installed (I'm on a hosted pre-install) and in just over an hour I got a response that it was installed! Nice fast support! Just one more reason I love LivingDot.

July 24, 2006

Review: Kit Kat Editions Golden Caramel

I like to try new and different things so I love to see all of the special edition candy bars that they have been flooding the market with. Mostly I won’t try them. There are only a few of them that really interest me enough to come home with me. Now and then, though, something truly special comes along. This time it’s an import – the Kit Kat Editions Golden Caramel bar.

It looks like a giant Kit Kat stick. Smells just like one too. But over the wafer there is a small reservoir of caramel. And it really is small. I was kind of disappointed at first, having expected a lot more caramel than I was finding. But then I took the time to taste what I was about to complain about and my mind was quickly changed. The caramel, as little as there was, added just enough to the taste and experience of the bar to elevate it above the norm (not that normal Kit Kats aren’t normally excellent).

I love Kit Kats and I love caramel so I wasn’t surprised to find myself liking this bar a lot. The caramel adds that little something extra that makes the bar special. If you have access to this (which is a UK import and is also supposed to be just like the Kit Kat Chunky Caramel which was released in Canada and the UK according to the mighty Wikipedia) and like Kit Kat and caramel then it’s worth a try. I’m giving it a 8.5 out of 10 and I’m hoping I can get another before they disappear.

July 19, 2006

Mass Review: Equal Exchange Chocolate

A few months back I reviewed a trio of bars from Equal Exchange, a company that is dedicated to Fair Trade sugar, coffee, and (joy of joys) chocolate. They deliver a product of the highest quality and they adhere to high principles. And they have new chocolate in the pipeline for everybody! Coming this fall there are three new bars of organic, fair trade chocolate coming our way and I (through their unending kindness) am lucky enough to have the opportunity to try them early! The new varieties are Organic Dark Chocolate with Pure Cocoa Nibs, Organic Chocolate Espresso Bean, and Organic Mint Chocolate. Their first three bars were very nice so I’ve got high hopes for these new ones.

Organic Dark Chocolate with Pure Cocoa Nibs

This is a no-brainer for me. I love dark chocolate and I love nibby dark chocolate even more. The bar smells sweet. It is a sweet lightly fruity cocoa aroma and is very nice. The taste is sweet and not very bitter and the 68% cocoa chocolate itself is very smooth (which is equally true of all of the Equal Exchange chocolate I’ve tried). It is sweet and bright with a slight sour note and a smoky finish and a wonderful crunch from the nibs. Very nice, though not as bitter as I like my dark chocolate.

Organic Chocolate Espresso Bean
Another bar with a crunch! For a company that does both coffee and chocolate this is a natural choice. It’s studded with espresso beans and boy oh boy does it pack a punch. It even smells strong. The chocolate – with a 55% cocoa content - almost takes a back seat to the espresso but it’s there and it mellows the coffee edge. I can’t comment much on the chocolate because this bar really is all about the espresso and from the first whiff of the aroma to the finish and lingering on even after that it’s all espresso with some chocolate along for the ride.

Organic Mint Chocolate
Leaving the bars with the crunchy stuff in them behind we move on to our final treat. You open the package and you know you are dealing with mint. The smell reminds me of one of those Andes mints you get after dinner or on your pillow at a hotel. The first bite brought with it lots of minty flavor and a big surprise – more crunch! A quick look at the ingredients makes it clear that the name of the bar doesn’t tell the whole story. The mint comes in the form of “peppermint crisps” – basically sugar and peppermint oil. It adds a sugar grain and crunch to the bar that is fantastic (I love the crunch of sugary candies). And the mint is strong without being overpowering. The chocolate – a 67% cocoa dark –is very nice and is a perfect complement to the sweet mint crisps. This bar is another winner in my book with a great texture and a great flavor.

The second round of bars from Equal Exchange have turned out to be just as nice as the first round and are a great expansion to their product line. I’ll go on record as giving the Dark Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs an 8.5, the Chocolate Espresso Bean an 8.25, and the Mint Chocolate an 8.75. And that is ignoring the Fair Trade aspect and the fact that they’re all organic. If you are interested in trying their products and don't have a local source they have a page set up with info on convincing a local business to carry their products. Finally, I want to thank Equal Exchange for the samples - I'm enjoying them greatly.

July 16, 2006

Chocolate Vacation Planning

nycmap.jpgI'm working on getting everything nailed down in regards to the Grand Safari in NYC this November and things are going pretty well. I've got a plane ticket and hotel reservations all lined up. The hotel is subject to possible change depending on what happens with prices, but I'm pretty happy with my choice. I fly in on Wednesday and out on Sunday. It's nowhere near enough time for New York City, especially for one who has only spent a few hours there before, so I'm working on figuring out what all Is important for me to see and do while I'm there. At Robyn's suggestion I built a map (click the map to see it or hit the link in the about section) to try and get an idea where everything is and where all I want to go. The location of the hotel I picked is right in a nice cluster of spots on the map and that is far from a coincidence. It should make at least one part of the chocolate crawl go quicker and smoother. The more places I can walk to and from the better. The map is still a work in progress and will be updated pretty often while I'm working on my plan. Once I'm done with the whole vacation I plan on stripping out the non-chocolate items and adding in the chocolate that I haven't included so far and using it as a general purpose NYC chocolate map.

July 15, 2006

Chocolate That Doesn't Melt?

News.jpgOk, I have a pair of articles here on this new chocolate they managed to make that doesn't melt. First the articles, then my feelings on the subject.

Fox News

So, chocolate that won't melt. Gotta give it to the scientists, that's a neat trick. And I have got to say that I hope I NEVER have to eat the stuff. I can see that it has uses, but one of the great charms of chocolate is how it melts. I don't want chewy chocolate. I like melty chocolate. The melt is important to the entire experience and without it I won't enjoy it near as much. I know, I know, if I don't want to eat it I don't have to and I should stop kvetching about nothing. I just don't like the concept is all.

July 12, 2006

Mini-Review: Diva Chocolates Mocha Java Steak Rub

divachocolates.jpgDon't you just love it when something completely unexpected and unutterably wonderful shows up in the mail? Absolutely wonderful feeling. And let me tell you it's even better when you find unexpected chocolate in the mail. The other day I had the happy surprise of finding some grilling rubs from the ladies at Diva Chocolates (thank you!). I've been keeping my eyes open for this for a while now and so far have had no luck finding any. Imagine my surprise when it showed up in my mailbox!

So far I've only managed to try one of the four rubs I received and it's going to be a little while before I have a shot at trying any of the others (I can't grill at home any more - long story). The one I did get to try is the Mocha Java Steak Rub: "A rich blend of espresso and dark chocolate, with a hint of cinnamon." The instructions are simple enough. You apply your rub, wrap the steak in plastic and pop it in the firdge for at least a half hour before grilling. I can't tell what's in it by smell, but I can say it does smell great. It smells even better when it hits the grill. The taste is great and unlike any other steak I've had. You can tell there is chocolate in it and it fits very well with the steak. I'm sorry I can't describe it very well. I can say it was one of the best steaks I've had. Sadly, I can't really give it a score - I don't have much of a basis for comparison. In lieu of score I will say that it is darn tasty stuff and I'm going to try to find someplace else where I can grill up some of the other varieties.

July 7, 2006

Giant Chocolate Cuckoo Clock

cuckoo3.jpgToday we have yet another example of something spectacularly cool made out of that most precious of foodstuffs (chocolate of course). Most of the items I've seen made from chocolate are pretty cool and all, but this has the added bonus cool factor of being a cuckoo clock made of chocolate with marzipan trim on a wood frame. The Halloren Chocolate Factory (the oldest in Germany) and the Harz Clock Factory collaborated on this new Guinness World Record clock which is over nine feet tall and weighs in at over 250lbs! And the artistry involved in the creation of this beast is impressive as well. Just check out the detail work being done in these pictures. Absolutely lovely work. All the beautiful detail work was sold off in pieces for charity. Attached are a few articles on the endeavor including some excellent pictures. Most of the articles are in German so I've included the (painful to attempt to read) Google translations.

Yahoo News Article (In English)

These next two feature nice galleries (especially the first one) - link is at the top of the article
Halloren 2nd Press Release - Translated
Halloren 1st Press Release - Translated

The rest are various media outlets and each has a single picture
Super Sonntag - Translation
Mitteldeutsche Zeitung - Translation

July 6, 2006

Review: Ritter Sport Cornflakes and Crème de Cacao

So I’ve seen these little Ritter Sport critters running around the Trader Joe’s and have been curious as to whether they’re worth my time and money. Running low on other chocolates I haven’t tried I figured it was time I grabbed some. So I did! I ran with the Cornflakes and Crème de cacao varieties. How could I say no to something as unusual as Cornflakes?

At a glance they really don’t look like much – a smallish square - but they are really pretty substantial. They are pretty thick so you end up with a lot of chocolate. The chocolate, while not amazing or complex, is quite nice. It’s a good creamy milk chocolate.

But, as nice as the chocolate is, these bars are all about the goodness hidden within. First up is the Crème de cacao/Chocolate Crème variety. I can’t help but describe this in terms of a 3 Musketeers bar. It is more chocolaty to start but the taste quickly becomes familiar. The big difference is in the chocolate crème. In a 3 Musketeers you get whippy aerated chocolate nougat fluffage. The chocolate crème in this Ritter critter is thick stuff. It has an almost ganache consistency. So, what you have is something like a very high quality 3 Musketeers bar – and this is a good thing. I love 3 Musketeers and this has everything I love about it with a different texture and feel.

Moving on to the cornflakes! How many chocolate products have crispy rice in them? More than I’d care to count. How many have cornflakes? This is the only one I know of. And I really have to wonder why nobody else is doing it. Both are breakfast cereal staples and they’re staples because they have that spectacular crunch. The only real difference between the two is that there is so little flavor to crispy rice and with corn flakes you get good solid corn flavor. And it really shines through in this chocolate. It’s got that familiar cereal crunch but the taste is something utterly new to my experience. It’s really nice. Hmmm…. I seem to say that a lot. But it’s true!

So my first round of Ritter Sport turned out to be some really nice stuff. I figure that the Crème de cacao gets a good solid 8 of 10 and the Cornflakes bar gets an 8.5. I’ll probably try something else before I go back for the Crème de cacao but it will eventually get some repeat action. The Cornflakes bar is likely to get some frequent repeat action.

July 5, 2006

Wendy's Frosty Goes Vanilla

frosty.jpgMy love of the combination of sweet and salty things can be traced directly to the stellar combination of Wendy's french fries and a Frosty. Well, now Wendy's is taking the Frosty and stripping it of it's lovely chocolate-osity and releasing a new Vanilla Frosty. One might expect that I would just ignore such an item or be shocked at the blasphemy of taking a chocolate product and making a non-chocolate version of it but to be honest I'm quite excited. I love chocolate but I also love vanilla nearly as much (there just isn't as much of an audience for Vanilla Obsession and I can't see a vanilla shop flying in any but the biggest of cities - and would that be a vanillatier?). When it comes right down to it if I'm offered a choice between a chocolate milkshake and a vanilla milkshake I'll take vanilla probably 8 of 10 times so long as it's really vanilla and not some generic white sweet flavorless "vanilla" non-dairy frozen treat. Vanilla and chocolate are two sides of the same coin and nothing complements the one like the other. So I'm really pretty excited about the Vanilla Frosty. If it has a good vanilla flavor to it and isn't just a general creamy non-flavor I'll probably be right on board with it.
Press Release

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Chocolate Obsession.