Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Michelle Haute Chocolat: M Bar

Okay, so this is just weird. I don't think I've ever had this happen to me in nearly seven years of chocolate reviewing.

I bought an improperly labeled bar of chocolate.

Recently when I was at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, someone pointed out to me the prickly pear chocolates and I answered that some of the ingredients looked cheap, so I wasn't really interested. Then the next time I went, I saw a collection of prettily-wrapped chocolate bars that list cacao beans and cane sugar as their main ingredients, an instant positive. Did I just not see them before, or are they a new item? To add to it all, one of them was Rose Petal and I adore rose products (just have a look at my perfume collection). There were some bars with open packaging, where you could see the rose petals or other flowers, but I chose a closed bar in beautiful gold paper: I've seen open packaging before but I don't know when I've come across a chocolate in such pretty paper. The black and white patterned bar on top is my friend's; she chose French Lavender.

I know I mentioned how happy I was about seeing cocoa beans and cane sugar as the top ingredients, but I admit I was a little suspicious of the fact that the flavors are simply called "Love." Okay, I suppose I understand that you don't want to give away your secret recipes, but what's so secret about saying that you use rose petal and vanilla? Unless you use artificial rose or vanilla flavor? It's a little odd, right?

Oh, yes, and don't glance over that $15 price tag. Granted, these go for about $10 online and it is a large bar at 100 grams, but still, it's expensive. I might have been more hesitant if it hadn't been Rose Petal and in such pretty gold paper. I had a wonderful time unwrapping the hand-folded paper to reveal gold foil and a gorgeous--wait, what?

Instead of seeing delicate, pink rose petals, I saw what looked and smelled like cinnamon and other powdery ingredients (I guess this is what "Love" looks like). For just a moment, I thought that maybe it was the right bar: maybe the ones in the paper wrappers were different from the ones in the clear wrappers. Maybe these had other flavors mixed in, as well. So I tasted a piece, only to be immediately hit by the taste of spice.

If you've been reading my chocolate reviews, you'll know that I grew tired of chili chocolate a long time ago, after maybe the first two or three I tried. If it isn't done expertly well, it tastes bad, and even when it's done well, well, I don't like my chocolate to sting my mouth. Chocolate's too elegant and smooth for that (the way I like it, that is). So of all the flavors to get instead of rose, a spicy chocolate was not one to make me happy. I was sad and amused . . . and really sad. I wanted rose chocolate.

But since I have this one in my hands, I might as well give some comments. It appears to be the Exotic Chile Cardamom bar instead of the rose one. Cardamom and chile spices. Yay. I still don't love chili chocolate, especially after being taken by surprise like this, but this is one of the nicer chili chocolates I've come across. The chocolate, though dark, has a mild degree of sweetness to it; putting that together with the cardamom helps give a softness to all the spice. Sometimes with spicy chocolate, you lose depth of flavor; here, you can still taste the chocolate and also the cardamom, so that gives your palate some depth to explore. It's fairly nicely done, I admit.

For the curious, my friend's lavender chocolate did have lavender and, no, I haven't tried it. For that matter, I don't know if I'll ever try the Rose Petal bar: I don't know how long it'll be by the time I find myself back at the Botanical Garden and even then, I might still be a little frightened to have the same experience again.

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