Holiday Chocolates

Holiday Chocolates
Holiday Chocolates -beats cookies any day!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chocolate from Paris!

I know I promised not to write anymore about chocolate in the dangerously high percentages, but I just can't help it. I returned from a week long trip to Paris with a bag bursting at the seams with chocolate bars! I went on a wee little tour of chocolate and pastry shops in the 6th and 7th arrondissements. This tour took approximately three and a half hours and we sampled chocolate from seven shops. My mother, who was my dear traveling companion, was appalled at the amount of chocolate we consumed, approximately 2 pieces from each shop. Well, if you have read enough entries on this blog I'm sure you can guess that I could have easily tried four or five pieces from each shop. I did however buy at least one bar, and usually two, at each place so as to have something to bring home, eat and write about! Hence the bag bursting at the seems.
So, first things first: I am supposed to be dieting after a week of lovely rich food and chocolate. And I really am dieting, except for the entire bar of Debauve and Gallais 99% that I ate over the last two days and the entire bar of Pascal Caffet 90% that I managed to consume just sitting here thinking about today's blog entry. I chose the high percentages thinking that with so little sugar I will only eat a little bite once a day. Obviously that did not work out too well. Debauve and Gallais, which I will profile later, must put more sugar into their 99% than Michel Cluizel. This bar should be renamed "Devine 99". It was difficult to stop eating and the fact that it took me two days is testament to my self-discipline. However, Pascal Caffet's 90% just went down the hatch, discipline be damned! Why? Because it is truly lovely. Caffet calls himself the "best chocolatier in Paris". I'm always a bit skeptical about those who label themselves "the best". Yet this is a real winner in the dangerously high percentage category. Again, it seems sweeter than other 90% bars, but maybe that is just my imagination. It is dark and rich without any "earthiness", i.e. mud, and is not quite as "dark roast" as some high percentages are. I usually love the "dark roast" flavor, as that it how I like my coffee, but this is a very well balanced and smooth chocolate for 90%. That is probably why I ate the whole bar in one sitting. You can take a look at his beautiful creations at his website:
I will write later about chocolate-tasting and filled chocolates, and provide a list of shop names and addresses of all the chocolate shops I visited in Paris. In the meantime, I need to go prepare my bowl of lettuce for dinner. Sigh.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cluizel - Noir Infini 99%

Until I find something better, this will most likely be my last review of chocolate in the Dangerously High Percentages category. Noir Infini 99% is truly a work of art. It cannot be genuinely appreciated though until you have worked your way up the percentage ladder a bit and weaned yourself off of the sugar that keeps us gobbling up cheap chocolate bars as if there were no tomorrow.
Michel Cluizel is a French chocolatier who has been around for a while and whose products have only recently become available in the U.S. These are imported bars and will set you back a good six bucks in most places. The Cluizel Milk Chocolate bar is to die for and should be snatched up without hesitation by all chocoholics who come across its path, regardless of the price tag. There are also quite a few single origin bars of about 72% and a really good 85% bar.
But Noir Infini 99% is truly in a class of its own. It is a very small bar, 30 g. (and as such is less than half the price of the regular 100 g. bars). It is wrapped in the sexiest packaging I've ever seen: a jet black matte paper covering with gold lettering over gold foil. Noir Infini 99% is printed over an embossed cacao pod.
Here is where things get exciting. This bar is as smooth as the finest chocolate with an incredibly deep, dark flavor. The way to eat this is by taking a tiny piece and let it sit on your tongue a good minute: no sucking, no chewing! The flavor that emerges is the most incredibly rich chocolate flavor, without any of the chalkiness or "dirt" flavor of many other chocolates at or above 90%. The key here is not to go desperately seeking the sweetness of candy. Just wait for the flavor of one of the finest chocolates to come to you. If you do it right, I promise you will not miss the sugar. An added bonus is that if you eat a few small pieces, you will become light-hearted and happy. You will in fact be high on theobromine without any of the deleterious effects of other drugs. You will not be impaired in any way, just happy.
If for no other reason, though, you just need to have one of these bars in your stash. They are just that sexy!