Friday, December 4, 2020

Tony's Chocolonely: Milk Chocolate Gingerbread & Dark Chocolate Candy Cane

When I bought these two bars of chocolate, the cashier and I were talking about whether or not they actually contained Christmas tree ornaments inside. We thought probably not. So if you have been wondering, too, the answer is yes, yes there are actual chocolate ornaments inside of the chocolate bars. Now that's novelty chocolate.

But of course, these being from Tony's Chocolonely, they're more than just novelty. They follow the same fair trade (specifically, their goal is slave free--say it like it is) cocoa guidelines. Both bars of chocolate follow the same design. The usual horizontal style of a Tony's bar becomes vertical to make space for the picture of the chocolate Christmas tree ornament. And the paper, whether the orange of the milk chocolate or the blue of the dark chocolate, is festive with its images of stars, snowflakes, candles, trees, and snowmen. Accents of gold bright up the matte paper. 

Once you unwrap the paper, you will find on the inside instructions about breaking out the chocolate tree and silly suggestions about where to hang it. They say you get extra points for adding it to a nativity scene; I say they get extra points for mentioning the nativity scene. I had considered also cutting out the tree on the inside of the paper for some pictures, but I hated to cut into the paper. It might be fun to do, though, if you have kids, or as a consolation if your chocolate tree breaks.

That's the next big question, right? After finding that there was in fact a chocolate ornament in my chocolate bag, I wondered if I would be able to get it out without breaking it. It doesn't seem possible, does it? All those little corners and angles. No way. But I just took it one chunk at a time and what do you know, out came my chocolate tree. Naturally, of course, you'll find some chocolate still in the inner corners, but not bad at all. The raised style that Tony's normally uses for their chocolate bars (plus perhaps also the extra thickness) makes it possible. Both the milk and dark trees came out nicely. 

I made a messy pile with the milk chocolate but kept the edges nice and neat for the dark. Unless you're planning on eating it all at once (given the large size of these bars, that'll probably only be the case if you're doing this with friends/family), I recommend keeping it all neat. And you might need a bag or container ready because it's still kind of hard to rewrap in the foil afterwards. Because given all the emphasis on fair trade, we certainly don't want to waste any of this chocolate; we want to make sure it all gets eaten and enjoyed.

Of the two, I was easily more excited about the 32% Milk Chocolate Gingerbread. Pulling away the foil reveals an enticing ginger/chai aroma mixed in with the scent of the milk chocolate. Little tiny chunks of gingerbread are visible in the chocolate once you begin breaking it apart. They're crispy, like bits of cookies. I make gingerbread cookies soft (well, that is, if I take them out of the oven quick enough), though a crispier style might be more common and is in any case what is easier to stick into a bar of chocolate. The texture is pleasant, though.

I do find that the chocolate itself, even carefully tasted without any cookie pieces, is still full of gingerbread flavor. The ingredients imply that there are no spices added to the chocolate, just what is in the gingerbread itself; chocolate is, after all, perfectly capable of absorbing flavor from close companionship. So whatever type of bite you get, you'll get plenty of ginger and cinnamon and clove and nutmeg. The milk chocolate feels sweet and rich, not cheap or watered down. So this is an easy win for gingerbread lovers or fans of those warm spices. It makes me happy. It's a perfect Christmas chocolate.

Next is the 51% Dark Chocolate Candy Cane. The aroma this one gives off is simply of middle range dark chocolate, not really with any peppermint. You can see it, though, not just on the broken sides of the chocolate but also on its surface. Despite the lack of minty aroma, I did begin to feel the mint as I was beginning to take a bite but before the chocolate was quite touching my mouth. So it is there. The visible candy pieces are in fact slivers of candy canes, cut up nice and small so as not to be too hard and crunchy within the chocolate. 

The flavor is light, though. Maybe I say this because I'm not a fan of sweet, middle range dark chocolate. But this chocolate has thick flavor that pretty much consumes all the attention. If the candy canes themselves didn't add much mint flavor, I would perhaps have preferred adding a little extra peppermint to the chocolate itself. Just a tad more so that I would taste the chocolate less. 

I did have fun sticking ribbons in the chocolate trees and hanging them up on my tree. They have a look like gingerbread ornaments, which works particularly well for the gingerbread chocolate. So perhaps you might buy one of these bars and break it up on Christmas Eve, leave it out on the tree for the night, and then eat it on Christmas morning. I wouldn't want to leave it out too long because chocolate does get stale when it's exposed to air. And I do hope we'll all still eat the chocolate after playing with it. But have fun and be silly. And then munch away.

And so that I can get extra points, here are the trees snuck into my nativity scene. The angel had to hold them up. 


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