I can say it straight out now: I really like milk chocolate and I also very much enjoy white chocolate. That doesn't detract from my love for dark chocolate; they're all different and don't need to be compared to one another. White chocolate, however, is more like dark chocolate (compared with milk chocolate) in that it is less forgiving. Dark chocolate and white chocolate must be good quality for me to eat them. There is so much wonderful dark chocolate on the market these days, but high quality white chocolate is less common. So when I saw this Vanilla Bean White with Caramelized Rice Crisps from Charm School Chocolate at the Zak's Chocolate shop back in early March, I couldn't resist.
I didn't pay much attention to the vegan label. I usually avoid chocolates that use sweeteners other than sugar or honey, but vegan didn't seem like too big of a deal. That just means cutting out the milk and I stopped drinking milk in the 90's before there were thirty milk alternatives on the shelves, so nothing unusual about a milkless white chocolate, right?
But let's back up here. Funny I should mention the 90's as the colors on this bar's packaging remind me of the early 90's. The blue on orange is unappealing to me, as is the overall design. It reminds me somehow of standardized testing in schools. Too many words plus too many little triangles. So I didn't buy this chocolate based on the attraction of the packaging.
The chocolate, though, has a charming design. More geometric design here is balanced out by a smooth face on the left side of the bar. That smooth half also allows better appreciation of the Charm School label/logo. The back of the chocolate shows all the rice crisps peering from beneath the white surface.
At this point, however, I discovered the drawback to this vegan white chocolate: there is a strong coconut aroma. This isn't the first time I've come across coconut in chocolate; Stone Grindz makes a wonderful Coffee & Coconut Milk bar. But that one isn't overwhelmed by coconut flavor--and that one also lists coconut in the name as a "warning" to those of us not overly fond of coconut. (Charm School's milk chocolate bars, by the way, do list the coconut in the name; I'm not sure why the white bars don't. Yes, you can always check the ingredients list, but I usually figure that if something is in the ingredients but not in the name it isn't meant to be part of the flavor.)
This chocolate tastes overwhelmingly of coconut. It almost drowns out all the other flavors. I do taste some vanilla and sugar, as well, but mainly it's coconut. The caramelized rice crisps are thicker and more flavorful than your typical rice crisps. They're an interesting new flavor and texture, quite nice. I do wonder, though, if they would be better suited towards milk chocolate than white chocolate. They're a little too hefty perhaps for white chocolate.
This chocolate isn't bad. It's just a coconut-flavored white chocolate. So if you're into coconut, great. If not, not so much. For me, I am okay with some coconut but this, paired with the rice crisps, is too much for me. As such, I don't find this a successful vegan white chocolate alternative. The coconut is too distracting.