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Monday, November 28, 2011

New & Notable Chocolate

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly chocolate."
--Debbie Moose

Each holiday season there are new chocolates and I am first in line to try as many as I can. This year there were so many I packed them all up and took them to Thanksgiving dinner to let my friends and family try them too. Here are the highlights:

I adore Kika's Treats. Kika is one of the most successful graduates of the La Cocina incubator program in San Francisco. Her caramelized graham crackers dipped in chocolate are unique and a wonderful melange of buttery toffee and rich chocolate. But her latest confection is equally compelling.

Kika's Treats caramels
Luscious caramels dipped in dark chocolate with a pinch of sea salt and a surprising twist. They are lightened up with the addition of puffed brown rice that gives them the perfect crunch. A 9-piece assortment is just $16 (and the box is absolutely adorable)

Another local favorite confectioner, Michael Recchiuti is also known for his terrific caramel truffles which are so dark he calls them "burnt." No gooey treat, his version is intense.

Recchiuti bars
Adding to the line up of chocolate confections are bars, made from Valrhona chocolate. While I liked the classic all chocolate bars in bittersweet, semisweet and dark milk for their purity of flavor, I really fell for his bars with crunchy and chewy additions. My favorites were the sesame nougatine bar and the orchard bar. The orchard bar has a bewitching mix of currants, mulberries and toasted almonds. It's like the grown up version of the Nestle chunky bar. The sesame bar also has crispness to it and a lovely nougat flavor. Recchuiti is masterful at toasting and roasting nuts to bring out their best flavor and texture so it's no surprise that all his bars with nuts were good. At only $6 a bar, they are a very affordable indulgence.

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Chocolates with liqueur are always a holiday favorite. The most recent addition is a truffle made with the Italian liqueur Frangelico. Frangelico is a beguiling hazelnut liqueur that also includes hints of cocoa, vanilla and berries. It's complex but mellow and pairs wonderfully with chocolate. Marie Belle is making exquisitely beautiful chocolate tiles with a Frangelico truffle ganache. They are not boozy, but rich, creamy and subtle. If you like Frangelico, you will love them. They are available in boxes, starting at $15 for 4.