I have been a fan of Michael Mischer’s chocolates for years. He uses single origin Criollo beans, one of my favorites, and has a flair for creating novel combinations. Recently, I learned of Michael’s new line of filled chocolates. At present, there are about 18 different bonbons. Supremely fresh, sporting centers you know and love, and some you never dreamed of, I was absolutely delighted with every piece I sampled.
Espresso was the apotheosis of dark chocolate and coffee.
Chipotle, another dark star, had just the right amount of heat, not so subtle I couldn’t discern it, and not so hot it made my eyes tear.
Kentucky Bourbon was another stellar treat, especially if you love liquor and chocolate, as I do.
Michael’s marzipan is probably the freshest I have ever had. Its silky texture was fantastic against the perfectly tempered dark shell.
Baked Apple was a revelation. I never had a chocolate like this before, and that is saying something. It was as if I were biting into a decadent dark chocolate covered caramel apple with a touch of apple pie spice.
Hazelnut is the densest filling of them all and very satisfying.
Orange Zest was another gem. The intensity of orange flavor almost burst out of its dark carapace.
Lavender and Honey was delicate, but still assertive. Another example of Michael’s ability to keep your taste buds humming.
Cherry was the essence of fruit and dark chocolate.
Root Beer was the most unusual piece. A counter-intuitive combination of heady root beer and caramel in a dark shell that really got my attention.
Salted caramel in milk or dark chocolate hid a soft center with a touch of salt, just enough to perk things up without overwhelming them.
The Peanut Butter Croquant was exquisite. Again, offered in dark and milk. Both, a peanut lover’s dream.
Champagne, a filling I often find bland, was actually exciting and incredibly flavorful.
I also tried a bar of 38% milk with bits of candied orange peel and dusted with Shichimi Togarashi, a spicy powder that amped up the dried fruit and vice-versa. Here are the ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, skimmed milk powder, whole milk powder, cream powder, orange, chile peppers, sesame seeds, seaweed, ginger, soy lecithin, and vanilla. However they look on the page, they are stunning on the palate. (Togarashi, the Japanese word for “chiles,” refers to a group of condiments always including chiles. The blend brings out the clean, simple flavors of Japanese food. Shichimi togarashi is also called seven spice (shichi is “seven” in Japanese), because seven ingredients are generally used. It works well with fatty foods such as unagi (broiled eel), tempuras, shabu shabu (small bits of food cooked in rich broth), noodle dishes, and yakitori (grilled dishes). Apparently, it also goes well with the super rich flavor and texture of 38% milk chocolate.)
Michael has two new sugar free bars, both sweetened with maltitol. The 62% dark is an easy-to-eat smoothly textured, rich chocolate. I have been tasting a lot of sugar free chocolate recently, and this is definitely a contender. The milk is far creamier, as you might imagine, and has more of a nutty flavor profile. I liked them both; and, uncharacteristically, I enjoyed the milk bar a tad more.
I am still a big fan of the 32 little rectangular portions in each of Michael’s bars. Technically, the bars may still be three ounces, but psychologically, it feels as if they are bigger. I wish every chocolate bar company used a similar strategy.