Friday, September 29, 2017

Wild Ophelia: Cold Brew Chocolate Coffee Bites - Mexican Vanilla

Well, well, apparently today is National Coffee Day. Not that I planned it out that way (who can keep up with all of the food days, anyway?), but I happen to have a coffee chocolate today. And a coffee chocolate with one serious name. It's the Cold Brew Chocolate Coffee Bites in Mexican Vanilla from Wild Ophelia.

Wild Ophelia, in case you weren't aware, is another brand by Vosges (and the Wild Ophelia chocolate is fair trade). I reviewed quite a few of their bars back on Chocablog when World Market was carrying them about, oh, four or five years ago. This little packet I found by the register at World Market recently; you know, the place where they keep candies and gum and a couple pretty soaps and tiny notebooks and all the things you don't really need but might impulse buy just because they're right in front of you.

Inside the packet is a white tray like what Reese's Cups come in; on top of the tray are four chocolate squares. They're called, you'll remember, "bites," not truffles. They come with a feathery design on top, and because they're from World Market (or because we're in Arizona) the surface does have some bloom on it. When I cut open one of the squares, I found the chocolate shell much thicker than I'd expected, especially on the top layer; I didn't count this as a good sign. The caramel is the color of molasses and it's fairly gooey and free-flowing. The aroma? Vanilla for sure, a wonderful vanilla and dark chocolate scent.

I couldn't smell the coffee at all, but it did come through instantly in flavor. It's nice and rich and sweet coffee. As you chew through one of the bites, you're mainly just tasting the coffee; once the caramel inside is gone and you just have the melting chocolate left, it's the chocolate that you taste, along with some vanilla. I'll take this moment to note that I can't tell anything particularly Mexican vanilla about this vanilla; it just tastes like vanilla to me. I think that label was more of an interesting title than a particularly apt description.

Now, when I went through and tasted this Wild Ophelia bars before, I found that the line was better at flavoring chocolate than making the chocolate itself amazing. That's the case here. The chocolate is a sweet dark chocolate; it kind of tastes of marshmallows in this context. I probably wouldn't overly care for it on its own, but it works well here. These little chocolate bites are all about the coffee, not the chocolate. The chocolate, vanilla, caramel (which I really don't even taste at all, honestly, unless I pair it with the vanilla), and sugar all act as the elements that you might add to a cup of coffee. So it all comes together as one flavor, not many flavors. The idea here is for them to act as one flavored coffee taste, not as individual flavor elements.

The "Cold Brew" label is quite big on the package, I assume simply because cold brew is popular right now. I don't know that you would be able to taste cold brew differently in a chocolate. In addition to some cold brew coffee concentrate (don't ask me why they used concentrate), there is also freeze-dried coffee (which sounds quite weird to me). But however they did it, I at least (I who admittedly do not drink coffee often these days) found the coffee flavor real and true and not artificial or anything of that sort. So it worked for me.

What also worked, to my surprise, was the thickness of the chocolate. I guess these really aren't truffles, then, right? The thicker layer helps keep the filling safe in packing like this (as opposed to a box that truffles would be more likely to come in), and that strong coffee flavor actually needs that larger amount of sweet dark chocolate in order to balance it out.

I'm quite pleased. I'm glad that these aren't labeled as truffles; I'm glad they admit that they're just another long shelf-life chocolate product. But as long shelf-life chocolates go, these are great. I wouldn't mind seeing these around more often, or more products like this. They're more like candies than truffles, but not really in the same range as most candies. They're bites of coffee-flavored chocolate. No more, no less.

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