Friday, January 29, 2021

Casa Grande: Chocoberry (Strawberry & Dark Chocolate)

Though this product seems timely with Valentine's Day coming up, it has in fact been sitting in wait for months. I like to buy chocolate when I see it at World Market because some things linger but others you might never see again. But at the time, I had so much seasonal chocolate to get through first. So the pink Chocoberry box has been patient with me. 

The company is Casa Grande Fabrica de Chocolates out of Portugal. From what I can tell, this is a small company. The box also mentions the name Not Guilty - The Right Way. So I'm not sure if that's the parent company or what other types of foods they might also make besides chocolate. The chocolate comes with UTZ certification, which aims for both social and environmental sustainability. 

Now, when I come across a square box like this, I expect a twist on the chocolate orange. I've seen strawberry versions of chocolate oranges before, so that's what I was expecting here even though the box really don't say that that's what's inside. In fact, it doesn't say much. Chocoberry is ambiguous. Strawberry and Dark Chocolate can come across in a variety of ways, as well. So I was not expecting to open up the box and find inside a clear bag of little chocolate lumps. The lumps are in fact freeze-dried strawberries covered in chocolate. That's certainly new to me.

Given the simple presentation in the bag and the fact that they did have bloom on the surface (the importing plus the long wait after I brought them home meant that I got to them just a month before their best buy date), they weren't exactly the most attractive thing to find inside of a cute pink box. But the concept is interesting, isn't it? Chocolate-covered strawberries have to be fresh, so freeze-drying them gives them a shelf life. Freeze-dried strawberry pieces in chocolate isn't uncommon, but I had never come across the whole berry like this before. 

As you bite in, you come across tart strawberry with a little chocolate. The thickness of the coating varies, as does the size of the strawberries. They're real berries, after all. The variation adds to the appeal and uniqueness of each bite. The familiar freeze-dried crunch is especially strong here because most of these are bigger than usual pieces. Usually when I come across freeze-dried strawberries, the pieces are fairly small or thin. It isn't a bad crunch, though. 

It's hard to get a good grip on the chocolate's flavor. At 50% cocoa, it's a mild dark chocolate but happily is not victim to the super sweet dark chocolate trait. So I suppose that makes it a pleasant companion to the strawberries. While I don't believe I've ever had chocolate made in Portugal before, I do come across chocolate from Spain every once in a while. And the more I ponder it, the more I feel like there is a certain flavor to this chocolate that reminds me of Spanish chocolate. There is a certain sweet-but-not-sweet or even slightly milky taste (even though there is no milk in here).

Whether whole, freeze-dried, chocolate-covered strawberries is a great idea of an oddity or a novelty I've not entirely decided. I do enjoy eating them, but it's more in a snacking sort of way. You could probably dress them up the way you would fresh strawberries, but I find that they have more casual appeal. So they are a pleasant sweet snack.

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