When it comes to chocolate, there are some combinations you either love or avoid. I happen to adore alcohol with chocolate. Whether it’s a sherried ganache for strawberry dipping, bourbon in my chocolate pecan pie, or layer cake redolent with rum–all call my name and seduce me with their charms. So, it was with great glee I opened the box of beer infused chocolates from Nunu in Brooklyn.
You know how you can mindlessly eat something, even if it’s delicious, and after scarfing it down you regret not savoring the experience? It was absolutely impossible to do that with these chocolates. They demanded my attention with their incredibly creamy ganache centers and snappily tempered dark chocolate shells. Each was so fresh it could have been made minutes ago. Some of the beer-infused ganaches were a little thicker and some a little softer; all sublime. Nunu makes a “six pack” that includes different beers, depending on what’s on tap (they have a shop in Brooklyn where you can watch them make chocolate while having a glass of wine, a beer, or coffee).
My selection consisted of: Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye, Pretty Things Jack D’or, Victory Yakima Glory Black IPA, Southern Tier Choklat Imperial Stout, Stone Arrogant Bastard, and Barrier Brewing Co. Rembrandt Porter. I thought the heaviest beers, like the stout and porter, would appeal to me most, but I was wrong. I couldn’t choose a favorite since they were all delectable.
In this day and age, when artisanal chocolate shops pop up like daffodils in spring, it takes a special genius to come up with something new that isn’t just a faddish idea, and actually works.
Since you are probably wondering where the name, Nunu, comes from, let’s digress a little and quote from Justine’s website: “The term ‘Nunu’ is an affectionate nickname for little kids in Africa where I spent my childhood. My mother called me “Nunu” while I was growing up and I’ve since heard it used as a term of endearment in many different countries and cultures. Based now in Brooklyn, my husband Andy and I started Nunu Chocolates with the belief that the world is a better place when chocolate is involved.” Hear, hear!
As for their chocolate, they use a single origin cocoa bean derived from a Trintario and Criollo hybrid which they get from a sustainable and family run farm in eastern Colombia (53%).
I also sampled their assorted truffles. This selection included: Earl Grey, Jasmine, Raspberry, Prosecco, Espresso Brandy, Salt Caramel, Soft Golden Caramel, Peanut Caramel Crush and Salt Roasted Cashew Caramels. Again, the chocolate was tempered quite beautifully. The Salt Caramel is what dreams are made of. It’s a dark chocolate caramel with the perfect bite, not too soft and not too hard, its sweetness is just right; and, because it is not cloying, the 54% couverture complements it perfectly. Their Salt Roasted Cashew Caramel is another gem. Slightly chewier, with the same balanced sweetness, it includes some chopped, roasted cashews. Adorable, little Espresso Brandy ganache cups are more intensely espresso than brandy. Prosecco Ganache delivers the alcohol component without the customary fizz associated with the wine. Jasmine Ganache could be called Gently Jasmine for its light floral touch in a beautiful flower-shaped shell. Peanut Caramel Crush was surprising for its soft caramel infused with roasted peanut. Organic Raspberry is fresh, fruity, and luscious.
As if this wasn’t enough of an embarrassment of riches, I sampled their Absinthe Delight (Absinthe is making a comeback from its heady Parisian days 100 years ago as a wild, liquid ride), Dark and Stormy Truffle, Mezcal Chili, and South African Amarula. My favorite of these four was the Amarula, a liqueur from South Africa made with sugar, cream and the fruit of the African Marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea). Amarula tastes like a slightly fruity caramel. (Info from Wikipedia.)
My last treat from Nunu was their Chocolate Covered Grahams. I must admit an over-fondness for this confection. I find it’s incredibly easy to devour one in no time, unlike a truffle that begs to be savored. Perhaps it’s the irresistible crunch of homemade grahams enrobed in the perfect amount of dark chocolate and sprinkled with Fleur de Sel. Maybe it’s the Proustian recall of S’mores on the handful of occasions I have had them. I haven’t a clue. All I know is they have a high AQ (addiction quotient), so be warned.
Everything I tasted from Nunu was delicious. I was going to say the beer-infused truffles were my favorites, probably because they are such a novel and beautifully executed chocolate, but I also adored the Salted Caramels.