zChocolat has always intrigued me. Their high end wooden boxes adorned with monogrammed bronze plaques seemed well suited to a captain’s quarters, a penthouse on the upper east side, or a suite at some elegant eco-resort. When my lovely samples arrived I was a bit flummoxed at first, since all the chocolates, whether dark, milk or white, are shaped the same (a rectangle with one side slanted at an angle). It took me a minute to read the accompanying booklet and realize each was numbered and had a unique interior. This a very different style of chocolate connoisseurship, a bit like the school marm’s approach to seduction. The chocolates look quite prim and proper, but a conservative exterior belies what is within.
I liked this novel approach. Rather than dazzle the eye with visual adornment, you are drawn to the actual fragrance, texture, and taste. Since Pascal Caffet, the master chocolatier, has a way with fillings, especially nuts and pralinés, you will happily traipse through the box as you familiarize yourself with each little gem.
Every one was well-tempered to a glossy shine and crisp snap. There are 15 fillings. Some are classic, like a 40% Milk Chocolate Ganache in a dark shell, or Raspberry Ganache in dark chocolate, and others surprise, like the Caramelized Pistachios mixed with milk chocolate, or the Caramelized Hazelnuts layered with a Smooth Coffee Ganache in dark chocolate. Coriander and Hazelnut Praliné was another wonderful combination, as is the signature z chocolate, a soft, sweet and salty caramel paired with a layer of crunchy Piedmont hazelnut praliné.
There are times when a gift’s presentation is as important as its substance. zChocolat’s wooden box, made of Sappeli wood, from the mahogany family, is a far cry from the typical packages designed to appeal to feminine aesthetics. This could sit on a man’s desk, night table, or in the galley of his Hinckley just as comfortably as on the dashboard of a woman’s Audi TT.
zChocolats would make a marvelous gift for someone who loves a beautiful presentation, the freshest imported chocolates from France, and the opportunity to re-use their handmade wooden box by purchasing refills.