Kind of like with yesterday, I don't usually go for Chocolove. I put them in the same category as Endangered Species chocolate; they're both pretty widely available for fair trade type chocolates, but they're also not quite the chocolate quality that I prefer. I'd rather focus on other brands, and I don't want to keep repeating my comments about quality. However, like yesterday, I still thought it might be worth it to take a look at a holiday offering from Chocolove.
The Holiday Fruits & Nuts bar comes in a cheery, red wrapper with a gold ornament sign around the logo and some imagery of what types of fruits and nuts are in the chocolate. It brings to mind a traditional Christmas with piano music and Charles Dickens stories.
I was a little thrown off by the Matthew Arnold poem printed on the inside of the wrapper. Not having had a Chocolove bar in I don't even know how long, I'm not sure if they always include this poem or if it's specific to this bar. However, given that the poem is entitled "Longing" and Chocolove has, well, "love" in the title, I'd guess the former. Alright then.
Wrapped in gold foil, the shiny squares of the chocolate bar have little hearts on them. More love and longing. Just a personal preference, but it's a little much on the love and longing for me. On the back of the bar, you can see the fruits and nuts poking out. There is a rich, semisweet chocolate aroma.
As I bit in, I tasted the fruits and nuts together. I wasn't sure at first which kinds; they kind of blended together into one pleasant flavor, with the chocolate holding it all in. As the bite mostly vanished, I just had a bit of fruit left and some chocolate flavor. That's when I got my reminder that I don't favor this type of dark chocolate. It's 55% cocoa content, so it's very sweet dark chocolate. Just something to be aware of if you're like me.
But I am also reminded of how great fruit and nuts are in chocolate. Sometimes the flavor doesn't sound appealing, so I'll pass it by in stores. Didn't I even say that the packaging looked/sounded traditional? So it can also sound bygone, not fresh or interesting. But it's a great combination, especially when you're dealing with not just one type each of fruit and nut. There is quite a mix in here: pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, currants, cherries, orange peel, and some ginger, too. Chocolove explains that they were inspired by French mendiants.
Naturally, of course, each bite is going to be different. Outer pieces might have less in them, inner will have more. There might be some small pieces of hazelnut or a big piece of walnut. Some cherries or a bit of the orange peel. So you want to take big bites so as to best get it all. Chew, don't melt (which is also fine given the type of chocolate). I like best when I get more nuts and less chocolate. Overall, though, they're in decent balance. You don't get any completely blank chocolate and you don't get a whole walnut, either. The pieces of fruit and nut are big enough for some chewing, leading to more flavor, but small enough to reasonably be in a bar of chocolate. The orange peel really helps to give it that Christmas feel (don't worry, they're small orange peel pieces). I can't say that I specifically taste the ginger.
So essentially it is an alternative to mendiants or to chocolate bark, or even to chocolate-covered nuts and fruit. I definitely prefer this to chocolate-covered fruits and probably chocolate-covered nuts, too. (You know what, I don't think I've ever had chocolate-covered currants. Maybe those would be nice. Could someone send me some please?) And this, of course, can sit on the shelf at the grocery store, unlike the chocolate bark that you would get from your local chocolate shop (if you have one).
The gist of it is, I'm pleasantly surprised. Sure, the chocolate was a tad sweeter than I prefer, but the fruit and nuts take center stage and they're good quality. So for a munching chocolate for Christmastime, it's great. Chocolate doesn't need to be a gift box of truffles in order to be given as a gift or in little individually-wrapped Santa Claus shapes in order to go in a stocking; a chocolate bar like this works, too. And now is a good time to put in the reminder that you also don't need to give holiday chocolate. Regular plain or flavored bars are still excellent even during December. But if you are looking for something with a holiday zing, you'll do alright with this one.