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 chocolate and spice
Vosges combines the spices of the world into exciting new tastes for chocolate lovers.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

PETER ROT was first schooled in chocolate by his German mother. After an epiphanic taste of Valrhona Le Noir Amer 71%, his passion for chocolate became a full-fledged scholarly pursuit. Peter is a moderator of a discussion forum of international chocolate connoisseurs and a reviewer for the international chocolate community. He is pursuing a graduate degree in the cultural significance of food—which qualifies him especially to taste these culturally diverse bars.

Peter welcomes your comments and questions. Click here to e-mail him.



October 2005

Updated July 2006

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Chocolate

Vosges Exotic Chocolate Bars

A Global Spice Chest

CAPSULE REPORT: Though it seems that everyone now makes exotic chocolate, Vosges Haut-Chocolat was a pioneer in the U.S. From creative bonbons to “basic” chocolate bars and caramels, this chocolatier has always had a cutting-edge point-of-view, reaching into the world’s spice chest to accent its couverture.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat blends the culinary diversities of the world with a passion for chocolate. An impressive array of choices, from truffles to bars to caramels, melds chocolate with international spice markets. Just one box of truffles can transport the taster around the globe: to Hungary through the Budapest, flavored with sweet Hungarian paprika; to France with the Absinthe, flavored with star anise, fennel, and Pastis; and to points beyond.

For those who prefer their culinary travels in solid bar format, Vosges offers “exotic candy bars”: milk or dark chocolate bars studded with a cultural accents. The original lineup consisted of what is now familiar to Vosges fans (and a lovely discovery for newcomers to the fold):

  • Naga: 40% cacao milk chocolate with sweet Indian curry and coconut
  • Black Pearl: 55% cacao dark chocolate with ginger, wasabi, and black sesame seeds
  • Red Fire: 55% cacao dark chocolate with Mexican ancho and chipotle chili peppers and Ceylon cinnamon
  • Gianduja: the classic Italian invention of milk chocolate and roasted, crushed hazelnuts.

Vosges was among the first American chocolatiers to champion global spices in chocolate, and these bars met with tremendous success. Their popularity engendered a desire for something more intensely cacao in the realm of cultural exoticism.

New Chocolate Bar Flavors

In response to the success of the first set of bars, the original “fab four” have been joined by four new bars that send the taste buds off on another globetrotting adventure, this time with higher percentages of cacao.

Creole Bar. Journey to New Orleans and a 70% São Tomé chocolate, flavored with coffee and speckled with cacao nibs and chicory root. Coffee and chocolate have been paired together for years because they enhance each other’s flavors to extraordinary heights: Creole makes this deliciously clear. It’s immediately robust with a bold chocolaty strength supporting hearty roasted coffee notes. Coffee dominates the palate and elevates the overall tone to a much bolder level that the chocolate would not be able to achieve by itself. The texture is thick, melting slowly. The nibs add an appealing coarse graininess and crunch. The chocolate itself is heavy on the palate and very full-bodied, delivering a boldness common of São Tomé (an island nation off the west coast of Africa) cacao and the coffee that flavors it.

Overall, Creole is strong and alluring, a delightful matrimony of coffee and chocolate. Sit down for this tasting because it is intense! On a somber note, ten percent of sales will be donated to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

creole
oaxaca

Oaxaca Bar. Moving across the border to Mexico, we taste the Oaxaca bar, a 75% Tanzania chocolate flavored with Oaxacan guajillo and pasilla chilies. Staying true to its Mexican heritage, this bar employs the sweetness and bitterness of the chocolate to moderate and complement the heat of the chilies. Immediately, the flavor of dried chilies touches the palate and soon afterward, their fiery properties emerge. The throat is not set on fire, but is ignited by a tingling flame that flickers away gently and soothingly.

Instead of being overshadowed by their own flaming heat, the chilies actually supply a nice flavor of dried spiciness that cuts through the dense flood of chocolate. Melting thickly, the chocolate itself bears strong head notes of red fruits that yield to vanilla and cocoa. The chilies stand up well and combat the chocolate’s natural bitterness—just as the ancient Mesoamericans had intended when they mixed the original cacahuatl—the cacao bean ground into a beverage with these same spices. The finish is enduringly strong, with a subtle heat that lingers long after the chocolate has gone. Overall, Oaxaca is an impressive chili chocolate that not only delivers heat but fine chili flavor as well. Bask in the warmth of Oaxaca: let it spice up your chocolate adventures!

Barcelona Bar. Crossing the Atlantic, we arrive in Spain for a taste of Barcelona. This 40% milk chocolate bar combines almonds, a famed crop of Spain, that are hickory-smoked and combined with gray sea salt for a classic sweet-and-salty pairing—with a more inventive approach. Because of the higher 40% cacao content, the chocolate offers stronger cacao notes rather than typical milk chocolate sweetness. Sea salt emerges as the initial flavor and provides a stark contrast to the sweet-natured milk chocolate. Rather than dissolving fully in the chocolate, the salt crystals are intact, delivering varying intensities of saltiness depending upon how much they’re chewed.

The almonds make a much quieter entrance, lending a subtle nuttiness and contrasting crunchiness in the otherwise smooth texture. The hickory smoking emerges most beautifully, as the chocolate slips into a smoky finish with a lingering saltiness. Overall, the saltiness provides a contrast that accentuates the sweetness of the chocolate; yet at the same time, it actually lends flavor rather than merely enhancing it. A new twist on an old favorite!

Barcelona Bar
woolloomooloo

Woolloomooloo Bar. We complete this global journey in Australia with the Woolloomooloo bar. In a 40% milk chocolate base, this bar marries roasted and salted macadamia nuts, unsweetened coconut and hemp seeds. Coconut is the opener, with a strong milky flavor that only fresh coconut can deliver. Unlike the sweetened variety from the grocery store, this coconut spares us the need to be overly sweet—the milk chocolate has sweetness enough.

After letting a piece of the bar rest on the palate, the inevitable munching ensues. It releases a slight saltiness and a savory tone that hides in the background, providing a subtle contrast to the sweeter character of the chocolate. The macadamia nuts are also mild, favoring a supporting role over that of the main star.

Coconut and macadamias linger on the palate, with the milk chocolate overhead. Overall, Woolloomooloo is very well balanced: none of the flavors sticks out too strongly. They complement each other wonderfully and pair almost too well with the milk chocolate. Even those who don’t favor milk chocolate will find this bar to be addictive.


If you can’t leave town, you can enjoy a gastronomic tour of the world through chocolate. Invite your friends to travel with you. If you don’t think bars are festive enough for your trip (we find them easy to taste and share), you can purchase your ticket through caramels and truffles—or, try all three! Whether on this new “tour” or the original “destinations”—or on some new voyage still in development—Vosges will keep you globetrotting for a long time to come. 

VOSGES HAUTE CHOCOLAT
EXOTIC CANDY BARS

Barcelona, Black Pearl, Creole, Naga, Oaxaca, Woolloomooloo

  • Individual Bar
    3.3 ounces
    $7.00
  • Gift Bundle
    One of Each Flavor
    $24.00
bundle of barsOne of each of Vosges’s new international-flavored bars in a gift bundle is a lovely “world tour”—and no bags need to be packed!

Purchase online at VosgesChocolate.com

 

Shipping additional.  Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change.

Vosges has retail boutiques in Chicago, Las Vegas, and New York City and additional retail locations in Ann Arbor, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and internationally in London and at Holt Renfrew stores in Canada.

                                                                      

© Copyright 2005-2014 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved.  Images are the copyright of their respective owners.




 



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