This year, Katie Spotz became the youngest person to row across the Atlantic alone. She said she got through the trip with four iPods, 300 chocolate bars, and 100 audio books. While I can’t relate to crossing the Atlantic in a rowboat, I can certainly understand having 300 chocolate bars (in my dreams). As Katie knows, there’s nothing like chocolate to lift your mood, boost your energy, or tantalize your senses.
Now that the chocolate world can celebrate her achievement and chocolate’s place in the annals of sports history, we might see sponsorships from people like Gail Ambrosius, a chocolatier from Madison, Wisconsin. I suggest Gail, not for her finely crafted truffles, which would melt in the heat, but for her bars. The one I tried: Three Hot Nuts, had a blend of pistachios, pine nuts and pepitas roasted with chipotle and cayenne peppers and topped with chili verde salt. It was excellent: crunchy, hot, but not scorchingly, and backed up with single origin chocolate from Hawaii, and South and Central America. In fact, it won Best Chocolate Bar from the 2008 Next Generation Chocolatier Awards. Other bars in this range are: Cherry Almond, Espresso, and Cacao Nib.
Gail also makes some delicious tumbled sweets. I tried the cherries which were lightly coated, so the intensely sweet and slightly sour flavor of the dried cherries shone through. There are tumbled nibs, hazelnuts, almonds, and espresso beans.
Gail’s truffles range from classic to adventurous. If you love the deepest, darkest chocolate and have had trouble finding truffles that are both dark and sweet enough (some are black as night but have almost no sugar, which makes them unbalanced, in my opinion), try Gail’s. Each was a truly satisfying experience, whether it was the Costa Rican chocolate, Curry with Saffron, Shiitake Mushroom, Cinnamon Cayenne, or Cointreau. Gail offers tea inspired truffles, too. I bet the one with Rishi’s Jasmine tea is just dynamite. In the collection I sampled, there was also a dark chocolate covered caramel with a touch of sea salt on top. A delicious rendition of this classic combination that sated all my caramel cravings—at least, for that evening.