Man cannot live on perfume alone; every so often, we must talk about chocolate instead. Continuing with the same theme as my last dark chocolate with “stuff” added post, here are a few of the chocolates I’ve tried recently, and once again, I’ve sprinkled in a few perfume recommendations in a vain attempt to keep things on topic.
First, let me just say: OMG, OMG, POCKET COFFEE!!1!!1! Where have these been all my life? I had never even heard of them until Kevin sent me a generous handful. Pocket Coffees are bite-sized chocolate cubes lined with caramelized sugar and filled with sweetened espresso. They’re made by the Italian company Ferrero, and they’re apparently only sold during cooler months (no Pocket Coffee for you in August, sorry). They seem to be marketed for the caffeine jolt as much as anything else (check out this ad on YouTube) and I can confirm that 4 seems to be my limit before I get the jitters. Personally, I’d eat them even if they were decaffeinated — although perhaps it is just as well that I can’t eat as many of them in one sitting as I’d like to. They aren’t easy to come by in the US, but you can order them at capriflavors. The matching perfume: Thierry Mugler’s new A*Men Pure Coffee, I suppose, although I haven’t even tried it yet. Hopefully Kevin will be reviewing it next week.
More chocolate + coffee: I already mentioned Dolfin’s Noir Au Café Moulu (with ground coffee) in my last chocolate post. It is wonderfully smooth with a subtle coffee flavoring. If you’re looking for more zing, you might prefer Scharffen Berger’s Mocha bar (dark chocolate with freshly roasted coffee), which actually has enough ground coffee that you can feel it crunch between your teeth. I am torn: I like Dolfin’s chocolate better, but I like the extra coffee in the Scharffen Berger. I’m afraid I need both**. Another option: Vosges’ Creole Bar (New Orleans-style chicory coffee, cocoa nibs, Sao Thome bittersweet chocolate). This one has a nice crunch to it also, although that might be mostly the nibs (see below), and the chocolate is smooth and nicely bitter. It is not my personal favorite from Vosges, but it is worth a try. The perfume: Bond no. 9 New Haarlem.
Cacao nibs, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, are little bits of cacao bean with the husk removed. Usually they’re roasted but unsweetened. They’re crunchy and a bit bitter (I find the taste vaguely reminiscent of coffee, others call the flavor nutty), and add a nice texture and flavor to chocolate bars. For those of you who like to kid yourself that you’re doing your body a huge favor by eating massive amounts of chocolate, they’re also apparently a good source of antioxidants. Lots of niche chocolate brands make bars with nibs (Santander, Dagoba, etc) but my hands-down favorite is Chinita Nibs from Chuao Chocolatier. Chuao describes the bar as dark chocolate with “caramelized cacao nibs and nutmeg”; I describe it as “hard-core chocolate crack”. Spice fans, you must try this bar. They don’t skimp on the nutmeg, which tastes like it was freshly ground just moments before your bar was put into its wrapper. Outrageously good. Fragrance: Le Labo Bergamote 22.
Sources: Dolfin, Scharffen Berger and Vosges can be found at chocosphere. Chuao Chocolatier has its own online store, but I found my bars at my local Wegman’s supermarket (which also carries Scharffen Berger & Vosges).
** Update: I’ve just polished off a bar from Santander called Dark Chocolate 100% Colombian Coffee Bits, and this one handily beats both Dolfin and Scharffen Berger. They aren’t kidding about coffee “bits” — the coffee is cracked, not ground, and the bar is very crunchy and has a strong coffee flavor, nearly as strong as the Pocket Coffee. It is mildly sweet, and just about perfect.