How many times have you been seduced by the beautiful packaging, or artistry, of a box of chocolates only to end up horribly disapppointed with the product? Michel Cluizel offers his wares in modest paper boxes, with fairly classic designs, that wow you with their perfect texture and incredibly satisfying taste. I have tried many high end chocolates that have left me annoyed with myself for succumbing to some beautiful new gimmick only to find it pretentious junk. Sometimes, the chocolatier omitted the sugar (on purpose) to see if people are so impressed with their pedigree they go gaga anyway. It’s the Emperor’s New Clothes redux, and I’m the one yelling, “But, he’s naked!”.
It takes restraint and talent to produce chocolates with such wonderful texture, sweetness, flavor, and a shell of exquisitely proportioned thickness. This may seem like a trivial thing to mention, but it makes a big difference. How many times have you eaten a too thickly or thinly enrobed chocolate? It effects the total experience when the interior and exterior are not well matched.
I received a tasting box of nine bonbons from Michel Cluizel. The container itself was unassuming and modest, considering the contents. I am generally a dark chocolate fan, so the two pieces enrobed in milk did not garner as much affection as the other seven.
“Lady” was a sweet caramel ganache. If you like milk chocolate this would appeal to you. It’s a classic milk, not a dark milk, with an ultra smooth ganache that has hints of caramel.
“Craquelait” is a mostly milk enrobed almond and hazelnut crunchy praline with a dark chocolate base. Again, it was a bit sweet for my taste, but I’d be lying if I said I had any trouble finishing it.
All the rest are coated in dark chocolate.
“Cacaogrande,” a 85% dark chocolate ganache was my favorite. Dense and immensely satisfying on all levels: texture, depth of flavor, perfectly tempered shell; it was the star of the collection.
“Cacaoforte” is a luscious, super intense 99% ganache. An excellent way to try a 99% product.
“Espeline”is a dark ganache with cranberries and Espellete sweet pepper. Apparently, this is as hot as a strong paprika; in other words, not very hot. I found it added a bit of excitement to the ganache.
“Guerande noir,” departs from the ganache theme of this collection containing a salted butter caramel. Very chewy, slightly salty (not like so many chocolate and salt combinations that over do the sodium), this was good, but less intriguing than the others.
“Reglimantine” is a heart shaped shell filled with licorice infused ganache. A number of years ago I received a box of Richart chocolates as a present, among which was a licorice ganache enrobed in a few microns of dark chocolate. The strong licorice flavor was unpleasant. Here, it provides an appealing subtle, herbal note.
“Vaya” is another dark ganache, this time enhanced with orange. Not intense, more like a wafting of orange. You taste it, it registers and then recedes. Lovely.
“Palet framboise” is made with raspberry pulp and ganache. Fresh fruit flavor that supports, rather than overpowers, the creamy, satifsying ganache.
I am usually a purist when it comes to what’s in my chocolate, so I was a bit disappointed to see corn syrup and sorbitol syrup listed as ingredients. In spite of that, these were an excellent treat for someone whose daily chocolate ration is typically in bar form.