Saturday, February 1, 2020

Valerie Confections: Grand Elle Assortment

Normally I steer clear of Valentine's Day chocolates (and honestly of Valentine's Day itself, as well, do you not find it odd also?); however, I've always found Valerie Confections enticing and last year I started working my way into their Valentine's Day offerings. I looked then at the Grand Homme Assortment, so this year it's the Grand Elle Assortment. You really don't have to choose these based on whether you're buying for a man or a woman. Everyone's palate is going to be different, so just go off of what they (or you, if they're for yourself) tend to like best. Though I'd thought that the Pour Homme flavors sounded more appealing, it turns out that I definitely favor the Pour Elle chocolates.

Instead of the bold red ribbon of the other box, this one has a soft pink. And the chocolates inside are so pretty and feminine. The addition of those four white roses just does me in. I mean, I fell for Valerie Confections over their Rose Petal Petit Fours, so I guess I'm already weak in the knees for rose chocolate from them. It's the same type of set as the Grand Homme box, except that you have the roses instead of more little hearts and the most plentiful (and also alcohol-flavored) chocolates are rounded instead of sharp and angled in shape. And the flavors are quite different.

Liquid Caramel Hearts - I had to start with these because I'm finally getting actual caramel. Yes, it's liquid caramel, not toffee masquerading under the name of caramel. It's excellent caramel, too, tasting of vanilla and sweetness to balance out the semisweet dark chocolate. Using dark instead of milk chocolate here gives it more of a classy feel. I do really have to emphasize that the caramel is great because that's what makes Valerie great, elements like that. These aren't quite what I consider confections and not quite truffles, either; they're "chocolates," if that distinction makes any sense to anyone other than me. There are three of these in the box.

Champagne Truffles - These are the round dots of milk chocolate that are most plentiful in the box. They're smooth-looking like fabric-covered buttons on an elegant settee. They taste like decadence and elegance, too. This is what I mean by chocolates rather than truffles or confections. These chocolates make me feel pampered like a 19th century Parisian lady lounging around in silk and lace and perfume. The smooth ganache has a definite champagne flavor but also lots of cream and a light chocolate flavor. It's more reminiscent of a chocolate cream than a traditional champagne truffle. So indulgent.

Blushing Berry Truffles - These are the three squares with little red specks of dried rose petals on top. The ganache here is a little firmer and the chocolate a little thinner than in the Champagne Truffles. Immediately you get a rich berry flavor that doesn't taste so much like a specific berry but more like a medley. It tastes like a berry jam spread on scones at an afternoon tea served on flowery china outside with a view of a grassy lawn or a forest. Again, elegant and feminine.

Rose Petal Passion Fruit Truffles - The pictures don't show how great these look in person. White roses with just a little gold painted on them. They look so special, like wow, that's done just for me--that means I'm so special to have these. Initially I felt like I enjoyed the rose taste but would maybe have preferred not to have the greater pizzaz of the passion fruit. But as the bite went on, I literally fell in love (kind of a repeat of the Petit Four experience). Rose is a watery sort of flavor and passion fruit has more zing, so the two come together to create something that dances between flavorful and gentle. The white chocolate is perfect here because it just gives creaminess to everything. Milk chocolate and passion fruit with be too cloying and this would be too harsh with dark chocolate; so white chocolate is the best. The aftertaste is rose. This chocolate makes me feel female. It puts me in the rose garden at the Huntington Library, or sitting in the tea room and then strolling through the art galleries. No surprises as to which truffle is my favorite, eh?

Bittersweet Hearts - And we'll finish with the simplest item. These are the two big hearts with stripes. They're just plain dark chocolate, which is kind of disappointing. I was a big fan of the Almond Toffee Hearts in the Pour Homme box. And I don't go to Valerie Confections for plain chocolate. I mean, they're nice chocolate hearts. A light bitter twinge and a little sweetness move toward a nice warm and red finish; it's pleasant, balanced chocolate. But I would have preferred to have more truffles, or some other type of flavored something. I can see how someone who doesn't have stacks of chocolate bars at home like I alway seem to might enjoy getting some plain chocolate, too, but that's just not what I prefer in this context.

Even so, my overall opinion on this box was much more favorable than with the Pour Homme box. So maybe they're aptly named after all? I didn't dislike anything in here, I was okay with the plain chocolate, I greatly enjoyed all four truffles, and I loved most of them. Visually they're appealing and flavor-wise they set up beautiful imagery. This is chocolate to spoil a girl, for sure. And I use that diction on purpose: yes, there will be men who like this chocolate and women who don't and women who like this chocolate but also like rich and dark truffles that focus on cocoa origins more than floral additions, but this chocolate selection expresses that traditional concept of femininity. And I'm really into it.

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