One of the things I look forward to most during Christmastime is seeing what new candy will be released. I haven't had much luck this year, due to two swing-and-a-miss Gingerbread chocolates, but I still kept my eyes open.
I would say that the lessened importance of receiving presents is some sign of maturity in myself, but there is also the fact that I introduced this by saying that finding new candy is basically the most important thing to me. So we'll call it a wash.
In what can only be described as a Christmas miracle, I found three new (to me, anyway) chocolate bars that have redeemed the previous lackluster candies this year. Only one of them is "Christmas-y", but all three were in the same display box, so I'm counting them.
According to the packaging, Wild Ophelia is younger sister of Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Or, in less pretentious terms - "Vosges Fancy Chocolate". I assume the Vosges part is the same in both cases.
I had included two Vosges bars in my chocolate bar assortment review a few years back. Both were very good. Hopefully, their sister company's output would be as solid.
To be honest, I wasn't super excited for these three bars. I've had plenty of dark chocolate with chilis, peppermint chocolate is usually underwhelming, and the "BBQ" aspect of the chips sounded disgusting.
With that exciting intro out of the way, let's dig in!
First up was the New Orleans Chili. I would have preferred a red beans and rice chocolate bar, but chili bars are usually very good. Some err too light on the chili pepperss, some too much, but even when companies get it wrong, it's usually enjoyable.
The bar itself is... not exciting at all. No fancy design, no chunks of pepper, so strong chili smell - it just looks like a standard bar of chocolate.
Thankfully, the chocolate itself is very good. Personally, the aftertaste is the weakest part. The packaging describes it as "underlying tones of earthy red pepper." The "earthy" part is accurate - I get a very mild aftertaste of what can only be described as "dirt".
Which isn't to say this bar isn't good - the chocolate itself is fantastic And it's got just enough heat where the spice is rising in your mouth and you think, "Okay this is getting spicier, hopefully it stops..." and the heat stops rising just when it seems like it should. The dirt flavor does compliment the slightly bitter 70% chocolate, so all in all the dirt aftertaste works out.
Wild Ophelia has my full permission to include my dirt comparisons on any future packaging, should they choose to do so.
Despite being mildly creeped out by the "BBQ" aspect, I was looking forward to the Smokehouse BBQ flavor the most of the three.
The "chocolate & potato chip" aspect isn't creepy; in fact, it's awesome. Chocolate-covered potato chips are fantastic. I know that sweet and salty go together wonderfully. But adding the barbecue flavoring to the mix raises my suspicions.
It seems like similar logic to if Klondike thought, "Boy, those Cool Ranch tacos are selling like crazy over at Taco Bell. Call up Doritos and ask them to let us make Cool Ranch Choco Tacos!"
Looking at the bar, you'd be hard pressed to tell there were chips in there. It looks more like crisped rice. Although I knew there wouldn't be entire chips in there, so I'm not actually sure why I feel the need to specify they're small pieces. Ignore this last paragraph.
They use the same 70% dark chocolate from the chili bar, so I already knew the chocolate would be good. What was shocking was just how well the barbecue chips work.
I was expecting more of a sweet and salty flavor, with either (hopefully) a hint of barbecue or (no please) a large, gimmicky barbecue punch to the face. Most surprising is there isn't even much of a salty flavor to the chocolate. I don't know if they just used mostly barbecue chip spices and didn't salt them, or what.
In the reviews of the two previous gingerbread chocolates, I complained about a strange, savory aspect to them. In the Smokehouse BBQ bar, there's no strangeness about them, because the savory flavor belongs, and somehow makes sense. There's not a lot of barbecue, but just enough to mix well with the chocolate, and leave you with a surprising, and possibly shameful, very enjoyable aftertaste.
The last bar is the one I was looking forward to the least. Chocolate and mint bars usually just taste like peppermint extract, and the ones with candy cane pieces are annoying to chew. According to the packaging, this bar contains both peppermint oil and candy cane pieces. Yay!
What is immediately different about this chocolate is the texture. Where the previous two bars had a snap to them, and a nice tough bite, the Peppermint Bark bar is much softer. It's like a firmer version of Ice Cubes chocolate.
Despite my not liking candy cane pieces in chocolate, it can't be denied that it makes this bar very nice to look at - especially compared to their other, simple bars.
While I wouldn't choose this as one of my desert island foods (metaphorically speaking - any chocolate would be a terrible choice for a hot and unrefrigerated climate), their Peppermint Bark bar made me come around to this flavor more. The fact that the peppermint didn't taste fake, and somehow the candy canes didn't get stuck in my teeth definitely helped.
After trying all three bars, I went on their site to see what other flavors they have. Unfortunately, most of their other flavors that sound awesome are white chocolate based - AKA they don't sound awesome anymore.
But they have two varieties of chocolate bars with beef jerky in them, both of which must be immediately acquired by me. Given my overwhelming journalistic integrity, I will let you know the results of those bars. Unless I forget.
Talk to me Now or Later