Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chokola Nut Studded Dark Chocolate

Thanks to their extensive media buying on Facebook, many will be familiar with the name Chokola by now. A Delhi-based chocolate boutique, Chokola was started by Vasudha Munjal under the aegis of her brand, Cosmic Kitchen. The idea was to create a 'chocolate culture' in India by offering quality 'all chocolate' fare.

The name Chokola is derived from "is derived from the Mayan verb choko la'j, (pronounced Choko la), which means, "to drink chocolate together. interesting.

The company currently has offices in Guragaon and Mumbai, cafes in Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon and Chandigarh and retail kiosks at some airports. I spotted one at the Mumbai domestic airport and promptly picked up this Nut Studded Dark Chocolate bar.

With its matte finish and minimalistic design, the packaging looked sophisticated. I wanted to know if the product would hold up to the brand's claims of importing the finest of European couverture and using it for their chocolates.

Under the card paper box, the chocolate bar is covered with a plastic wrapper and a foil. Somehow, plastic and artisan chocolates don't go together, but the Cadbury worms have everyone scared, I guess. Regardless, the chocolate bar was dark, smooth and shiny to look at - the hallmarks of quality chocolate - and smelt good too. It was smooth to eat and melted nicely in the mouth.

The flip side of the bar had halved cashews studded into it, just like the pack suggests. However, the nuts add nothing to the taste or texture of the bar and are there for mere decoration. The pack doesn't mention the percentage of cocoa, but judging by its semi-sweetness, I would peg it around 55-60%. Most Indian chocolatiers don't seem to want to gamble above that point. Overall, the chocolate was passable, and I wouldn't buy it a second time, especially because an 80g bar costs INR 180. It's not as steep as some of the foreign chocolates I review here, but its quality is not comparable either. Try it. Or not.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Nestle Alpino

By now most people will have seen the Alpino TVC, where a husband makes a big faux pas and then appeases the wife by offering her these chocolates. Mush seems to be the selling point of this new product from the Nestle stables. Also luxury. Nestle India makes its debut in the high end chocolate segment with the introduction of Alpino, which is a centre-filled wafer chocolate.

Also called bonbons, Alpino seems to me as the first real competition to the wildly popular Ferrero Rocher. Similarly packaged in golden colours, the product is meant to exude luxuriousness. Inside the plastic wrapper is a card tray printed with the words "mine" and "ours" upon which sit the two bonbons. On opening the gold foil wrapping, one can find 'love' messages printed on plastic strips.

My pack, as you can see, had these two extremely cheesy lines: "Two of us fit together like these two bonbons in the pack", and "Dogs are for you, cats are for me. This is for us." These remind me of fortune cookies or Dove chocolates (the Indian version is called Galaxy), which have similar messages inside their wrappers.

The chocolate itself is ho-hum. The texture is great, but as always, I find it disappointingly sweet. The sweetness of the milk chocolate overwhelms and takes away all finer points. The taste would have balanced so much better had the centre filling been dark. However, most Indian consumers will find it palatable. What they might not like is the price. Two bonbons, weighing 22 g in all, cost INR 25. But because the product is being positioned as a luxury one, people might just buy into it.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cresta Swiss Chocolate Liqueur

May the Lord give everyone in-laws like mine because they gift me daaru on my birthday and not just any daaru; they give me a bottle full of some sexy Swiss Chocolate Liqueur, babeh! This gorgeous red and gold cardboard box of Cresta Swiss Chocolate Liqueur has been one of the best birthday gifts I've ever got. :D

The box is lined with velvet on the inside and comes with a glass and a cocktail recipes booklet along with the bottle of liqueur. The beautiful bottle holds about 500 ml of the product and contains cream, skimmed milk concentrate, sugar, alcohol (the bottle doesn't mention what kind), water, chocolate (0.9%), essences and food colour.

This light brown coloured liqueur has a creamy consistency, is smooth and sweet to the taste with a sharp bite from the alcohol. It has a distinct dark chocolate flavour, but I didn't find it rich enough. It is quite sweet and will find favour only with people who like their chocolate. Very similar to the popular Bailey's Irish Creme Liqueur, it makes for a great dessert liqueur.

The brand Cresta is produced and bottled by a Zurich-based spirits manufacturing company called Lateltin. It is a family-owned business and they are manufacturers, importers, and leading suppliers for specialty, niche products and spirits.

The recipe booklet has eight odd cocktail recipes that you can make using the Cresta Swiss Chocolate Liqueur. But who has the patience for those, I say! Serve chilled or on the rocks and go Mmmm...!

RATING: 3.5/5

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Chado Chocolate Chai @ The Gourmet Company

After sampling the Sain's Market Chocolate Peanut Butter, I had some lovely chocolate chai to look forward to, courtesy The Gourmet Company. For those who don't know, The Gourmet Company is a delightful online store that stocks some of the finest gourmet foods. You'll find  hand-made gourmet pasta, organic honeys and jams, cheeses, healthy cereal bars, muesli, baking things and exotic and rare teas and coffees. From their selection of fine beverages, I was sent some funky chocolate tea to sample.

Chado (pronounced Sa-do; the Japanese way of tea) is a product of the Chado Tea Room, an LA-based tea room which serves and produces a vast range of exotic teas. The Gourmet Company stocks some of their finest and the Chocolate Chai is easily one of the most unusual things on their site.

The tea is extremely aromatic and the scent of chocolate equally potent when you first open the pack. You can actually see the chocolate chips if you look carefully among the tea leaves. The pack calls for 2 teaspoons per cup, steeped for 4-5 minutes. I tried that with the first pack, but it turned bitter. The black brew looks like regular tea, but it was definitely not my cuppa tea! :D

I tried the second sample with milk and sugar, having steeped it for a about 3 minutes, and it was an entirely different story. Full-bodied and distinctly chocolaty, the Chado Chocolate Chai is one of the most unique beverages I've ever had. For tea purists, it might seem a little odd,  but a chocolate lover can easily get used to it. Full marks for this lovely product to Chado for making it and The Gourmet Company for keeping it.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sweet Passions assorted chocolates

This beautiful box of assorted chocolates was a birthday gift from an uncle-in-law. Although he is an old bachelor boy, he knows best what makes women happy. And that chocolates will please yours truly is a no-brainer. This beautiful card-paper box with gold stars and a gold ribbon is so festive-looking, I'm sure it'll cheer up even the grumpiest.

The chocolates are from a Chembur-based bakery called Sweet Passions. It is a very popular place and rightfully so, given the quality of their products, and (surprise surprise!) customer care. I'm a big fan of their cakes, which are absolutely moist and lovely and their blueberry cheesecake is to die for. But before this assortment, I hadn't tried their chocolates. I obviously had high hopes. 

The 250 g box had an assortment of roasted almond (dark) chocolate, dry fruit (dark) chocolate, hazelnut supreme (dark) chocolate, orange surprise (dark) chocolate, crunchy caramel (dark) chocolate and milky bliss (milk) chocolate and a very helpful label to help identify what is what. Although the colour blind among us (and most men) would have difficulty distinguishing between the beiges, browns and coppers. [Sorry, couldn't resist that one!]

Each of the chocolate pieces weighs around 10 g and have pretty ridges created by the chocolate moulds. They look quite homemade with the elementary foil packing for individual pieces, but the quality is professional. The chocolates are remarkably smooth and rich in ingredients. However, the dark chocolates are a little too sweet for my taste.

The Roasted Almond was my absolute favourite because the nuts were roasted to perfection. The Crunchy Caramel came next with a gooey caramel filling with rice crisps for the crunch. The Dry Fruit Delight came a close third. The other three I'd pass because the Orange Surprise and Hazelnut Supreme are artificial flavour based and milk chocolate (Milky Bliss) has always been my unfavourite stepchild.

Since this was a gift, I cannot be sure about the price, but I will totally recommend it for gifting or indulgent purposes!

RATING: 3.5/5

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