Black Butterfly usually has some beautiful pieces for holidays throughout the year; the more detailed ones are usually put up for pre-order. I put in a Christmas order this year, and thought I might browse the shop to see if anything else caught my eye when I went to pick it up. Though Butterfly's Tracy Taylor was still setting out Christmas products (I was there a little early so I could start getting my reviews out), she brought things out to show me and so I snagged this Caramel Christmas Ornament Collection. Tracy is a genuine artist in the way she paints and decorates her chocolates, but do you see these? Gorgeous hardly seems a fitting enough word. (Though unfortunately I don't know that my camera can really pick up how they look in person.)
Inside the classic black box and purple ribbon is a pull-out tray of five ornament-shaped chocolate caramels. Not only do the ornaments have a fair amount of detail in them for such small sizes with not a single air bubble or dent in sight, but they are also covered in delicate glitter. They sparkle like no chocolates I have seen before. That is certainly a way to bring in the glitz and cheer of the season.
I've been looking at more truffles and such than usual lately, and so I've also found myself mentioning how I tried to save what I thought would be the strongest flavors for last, starting with the most mild. There was no need for me to start guessing and thinking about that here: if you move left to right in the box (top to bottom on the little flavor list), you will move flawlessly from mildest to strongest. Attention to detail, no?
Blue - Fleur de Sel Caramel - Thank the blue for sacrificing itself to my knife for a picture. As you can see, the caramel is free-flowing. It is an elegant caramel, here tasting of vanilla seasoned with salt. The top of the shells on these chocolates is fairly thin and delicate to bite into; the bottom layers are slightly thicker. So you have the chance to enjoy the soft caramel without being bogged down by a thick shell. The chocolate is on the sweet side for dark chocolate but avoids the awkward middle range (the Black Butterfly standard is around 68%, right?). I don't notice any difference in either flavor or texture from the glittery top. This caramel is the nice and classic start to the set.
Lavender - Muscovado Caramel - Being that this was the first one I got to bite into whole (as opposed to the knife-sliced blue caramel), here I had the full delight of breaking into the delicate shell. Thin chocolate breaking into liquid caramel--now that's a great bite. Instead of the salt seasoning from the Fleur de Sel, here there is the flavor of Muscovado sugar, thick and dark. Not only is this a great flavor, but it also evokes warm winter baking and gingerbread cookies. Because the flavor is sugar, which is already an element of caramel, the structure is mainly still simple but with boldness from the specific sugar.
Pale Turquoise - Vanilla Caramel - This one came in quite intoxicating in flavor. The vanilla is very much that confection type that's sweet and airy--like the wafts of aroma in Main St. at Disneyland. That nostalgic vanilla. It comes as a sudden hit that ends only too soon since the caramel melts away quickly. (Which is also worth noting for all of these; there is only a small amount of time to develop flavor as compared with a slow-melting truffle. So you have to get the flavor right instantly.) It's lovely.
Red - Cinnamon Caramel - There is a fraction of a second, and then the cinnamon comes in as a warm and baked spice as opposed to the spicy/peppery style. It's reminiscent of baked apple pie, especially paired with the caramel. There is a nice and gentle cinnamon flavor as an aftertaste. Perhaps because I've been having more experience lately with spicy cinnamon, I'm really enjoying having just a gentle and sweet cinnamon. Kind of like with the salt, only a dash of cinnamon adds flavor; it doesn't need to be super strong.
Green - Espresso Caramel - I kept waiting to get to the green ornament and trying to reach for it instead of the next in line. While all of the colors are beautiful, green is my special color. In keeping with the general style so far, the espresso here is not very strong. That is, the coffee flavor itself has strength, but it's light in proportion to the total flavors so that you can still taste the caramel and the chocolate. Once more, the whole set is designed not to overpower the palate but to provide simple-yet-still-stunning flavors. In fact, it's a nice change to have an example of a delicate coffee chocolate.
This is a lovely box of chocolates. They are absolutely beautiful as well as unique in their look, and so lovely and balanced in flavor. Especially with my picky palate, it's rare to come across a box in which I enjoy every flavor; in the case of these, I don't even know how I would go about picking a favorite. On the one hand, you might say that there isn't necessarily anything new about these flavors, and yet on the other hand they are such a fresh and wonderful look at staples like caramel, sugar, vanilla, and salt. If these caramels were a person, they would be someone sweet and demure yet still steadfast. So if you're at Black Butterfly in the next couple of weeks, I would highly recommend the Caramel Christmas Ornaments.
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