Normally I don't order chocolate online. In fact, I usually try not to do a lot of online ordering in general (this year I keep making Shop Disney purchases but let's not talk about that, shall we?), and with chocolate, well, there is a whole world available online. It's enough to swim in, so I just keep things simple and stick to what I find in person (unless occasionally there is something I really want to order, like Valentine's Day chocolates from Valerie Confections).
This year is a little different, though. Theo has been offering this year some confection options online that they normally only sell in their Seattle store (usually it's just the bars that you see for sale in grocery stores all over). I'll have some of those coming up at some point after I get through the Christmas reviews. Naturally, being currently in the greater Phoenix area, I had to wait until the weather cooled down enough to order chocolate. So I also picked up three Christmas offerings from Theo, starting with this Holiday Caramel Collection box.
The confections that you might order from Theo have more of the small business, handmade look versus the polished, standard look of the grocery store bars. Not to say that these don't look polished, but you get my meaning. The box of caramels is red with white star outlines. There's a little To/From box on the side, all ready for gifting. To open, just slide the inner box out of the sleeve of the outer box.
Inside there, a dozen caramels sit in individual compartments. Little tabs of paper open up between each one so that they don't brush up against one another; it's a unique packaging design that I can't remember ever seeing before. It's also a great idea: it fulfills the purpose of keeping the chocolates in place without using a plastic tray. And it also somehow adds to the cuteness of the little rounded squares. They look like Christmas cookies all decked out in their sugar and icing.
Sesame (Milk Chocolate) - This is the plainest of the four flavors; it comes decorated with just a couple of sesame seeds on top. While Sesame doesn't scream Christmastime to me, I started with this one because I figured it would be the plainest flavor and therefore would keep my palate clean for the others. Turns out, too, that it's a good way to start because the milder flavor really allows the caramel to shine. It's a chewy yet also quite soft caramel; there seems to be chocolate in it, as well. The sesame flavor came in from the start with its roasted, nutty, seed flavor. There was also a hint of salt. A nice and warm chocolate caramel to begin the set with.
Apple Cider (Dark Chocolate) - Here you'll find the full coating of sugar on top of the chocolate. That isn't a look I see--in fact, I don't think I've ever seen it. It's quite lovely and nostalgic. The sugar creates a delicate hint of crunch as you bite in. Then you discover a warm apple flavor together with the rich chocolate and the sweetness of the caramel. It's like biting into an apple pie. When I heard cider, I was thinking of alcohol, but this is like nonalcoholic apple cider, freshly pressed. The apple flavor is strong and fresh like baked apples. The dark chocolates is a fairly thin layer so it doesn't add a lot of flavor, but being that this is Theo I don't have the hesitancy around its use I've been having lately with some of the mediocre, sweet dark chocolates I've been coming across. This is good chocolate, so anything that it adds is positive. The overall effect of this caramel is excellent.
Gingersnap (Milk Chocolate) - The icing for this one gives the effect of a gingerbread man, though I suppose gingersnaps are a separate type of cookie--and the taste is definitely different from a gingerbread cookie. There is some sense of other spices, but ginger is in the center. And while the chocolate and caramel are there, again it's the ginger that's the main player. It's a strong and fresh ginger taste, too--great if you like ginger, but for myself I would preferred more of a gingerbread flavor to simply ginger.
Peppermint Mocha (Milk Chocolate) - A half dose of sprinkles decorate this chocolate's top; they are coffee grounds with a tad of sugar. Because the coffee is right there on top, you can taste it instantly as you begin to bite in. The peppermint comes next, then more coffee accompanied by the chocolate and its sweetness and creaminess. The effect, then, is much like that of a peppermint mocha. That is, a good one that's freshly made with peppermint and cream and not made from syrup. The aftertaste is, naturally, creamy, sweet, and slightly minty with light coffee. Absolutely lovely and an excellent representation of a peppermint mocha.
I had no idea what to expect getting caramel chocolates from Theo, and I'm quite delighted with what I found in this set. The caramel itself was good, as was the presentation. As you can tell, the Apple Cider and Peppermint Mocha were definitely my favorites of the four. The latter I call the best of the box. For Christmastime and wintertime flavors, my palate found just the right indulgence in these caramels.