I’ll be frank, I was skeptical.
I feel like the word “artisan” is thrown around a lot, and has become fashion’s “couture” or wine’s “classico” of the chocolate world…meaning, I’m not sure what it means anymore.
Choclatique also markets their confections as “authentically American”, which raised my brow.
I’m not saying Americans don’t know chocolate…but when compared to the history of chocolate in Europe, it’s a pretty new discovery over here (in North America, anyway…you probably know that chocolate as food really began in Central America thanks again to the Mayans and Aztecs).
These guys are based in Los Angeles [insert San Francisco snobbish comment here].
But enough about my reservations. It’s not like I’m going to get chocolate and not taste it, um, immediately.
So Jack and I did a formal tasting. The chocolates are very pretty, almost too pretty.
We went for the “Chocolate, Chocolate Brownie” first. After I felt the snap of the outer layer and the filling immediately melt, I knew these would be worth writing about. After all, there is no pay for play ’round here.
I get the feeling that Joan and Ed are like mad-scientists, pacing around their chocolate “studio” (like I said, LA people) and getting all worked up about new flavor ideas with maniacal grins and sparkle-eyes.
How else does someone come up with “Saigon Cinnamon Caramel” or “Pineapple Upside Down Cake” chocolates?
Jack was decidedly overwhelmed with the fold-out menu of (I kid you not) one-hundred and thirty-nine flavors. We tasted eight.
The Chocolate, Chocolate Brownie (pictured, top), the Pineapple Upside Down Cake (pictured, second from top), the Chocolate Caramel in Dark Chocolate and the Grand Marnier Truffle (pictured, second from bottom), which are available year-round.
And, the Creme Anglaise, the Wild Berry Creme, the Amaretto Latte Ganache (pictured, bottom) and the Grand Marnier Creme are all part of the Spring Selections (available only March 1st through May 30th).
Some were better than others. I lean toward the dark chocolate, and the more simplistic concoctions (Choclatique’s dark is 64% cacao, which is formidable).
However, the super, super sweet fruity and white chocolate ones were still quite good, made to be savored quite individually…you just can’t go eating a whole handful of these at once.
The milk chocolate is 32% cacao and the white chocolate is 33% cacao.
I will say this about the white chocolate: A lot of chocolatiers mess this up, in my opinion. Chocolatique’s whites are clean tasting and not that overly saccharine white you might be used to (which is why so many people think they don’t like white chocolate).
One thing I found missing from the information (website and enormous road map) from Choclatique were a list of ingredients. I am curious how they get the white to be so, well, white with such high cacao content. And I’d like to know just how many ingredients go into these little guys.
I will give them kudos for backing up the “We Love America” thing by roasting and refining their cacao beans in Burlingame, California. Their “select” chocolate pieces have cacao beans from Hawai’i (except where are the other beans from, guys?), flavoring is done in Oxnard, California, packaging is made in Dallas and their equipment and molds come from New York.
Overall, my favorite favorite was the Caramel in Dark Chocolate. I could pass on the Spring Selections, but if you really like candy-like super sweet stuff, it’s for you.
Definitely stop by the Choclatique booth at the upcoming San Francisco International Chocolate Salon on Saturday.
photos: my darling Jack!