Friday, November 8, 2019

Theo: Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

November has come and since I've already reviewed what will most likely be my only fall chocolate, it's time to start in on the winter chocolates. I might as well begin early to make sure I get through them all. I've talked about all of Theo's Christmas chocolate bars before, but this year they also have some chocolate-covered marshmallows. I'm thrilled for a couple of reasons. One, they're something new for me to talk about. Two, they're a seasonal and sweet and casual yet also fair trade chocolate product. Three, they're the type of product that you usually have to get from a boutique store--available in a grocery store.

While I'm not big about marshmallows, they're nice sometimes, or as a garnish (I'm not the type of person to get tempted to eat the whole bag). It's also true, though, that there are two types of marshmallows. There are grocery store marshmallows and there are gourmet marshmallows. These are the latter, at least as far as they can be with a shelf life of many months. So that's why I was eager to try Theo's approach to marshmallows even if I'm not necessarily a marshmallow person.

The box is plain and pretty; Theo usually knows to keep things simple. Yet it is still enough that you could give it as a gift if you wanted; it would be a nice addition to a gift basket. I'm all decked out for Thanksgiving right now, so the box had to settle for being photographed with a turkey instead of a Christmas tree. Inside is a bag more plain than the box; it isn't for looks, just for keeping the marshmallows sealed and airtight. So if you do bring these out for a Christmas party, set them out on a pretty plate or in a little bowl first.

They are smaller than I'd expected, which I appreciate. If, like me, you prefer them as a garnish, this works better. And if not, then you can just eat more of them. (There are about fourteen, by the way.) Maybe because they are fairly small, they are quite pretty for plain chocolate-covered somethings. They are pretty to hold, as well. They feel so soft in the hand, soft and nostalgic, like all of those terrible packaged desserts we're fed as children that tasted so good when we were children but not so much now that we're adults.

Cutting one in half for the picture was a delicate procedure given the softness, as well. And leaning in to smell them brought a rich milk chocolate scent that would be unexpected except that I already knew that this was Theo's 45% cocoa milk chocolate.

Biting in is soft. The chocolate flavor of rich and deep milk chocolate gives way to marshmallow with great flavor and texture. It's the type of marshmallow that you can very much enjoy it even if you're not a marshmallow person. The milk chocolate is darker but the marshmallow is sweet; then you finish off with more milk chocolate, so the flavor experience is well-rounded. It's a sweet confection but it has richness (even vanilla is technically rich, as well). This is what you might call a "grown-up" sweet.

You can eat them on their own, make a dessert with them, attempt to s'mores them, or use them for hot chocolate. (Technically, yes, this is hot cocoa not hot chocolate, but I didn't really grow up hearing hot cocoa, so that just sounds weird to me.) My hot chocolate recipe: heat 3/4 cup milk or non-milk in a saucepan with a teaspoon of cocoa powder and a teaspoon of sugar or honey, add cinnamon or other flavoring if you like, and stir or whisk. I thought that the marshmallows would melt quickly, but the chocolate shell prevents them from doing so. One of the halves that I'd cut did melt in, so I'd recommend cutting these in half or even quarters if you'd like some marshmallow melt. Otherwise they just kind of sit on top looking cute and then sit in the bottom of your cup afterwards looking sad waiting for you to scoop them up with a spoon.

These also come in Cinnamon and in Peppermint; hopefully I will get to reviewing those at some point this season, as well. They're definitely great for winter parties or self-spoiling.

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