Theo has been leading the way in easily accessible, quality holiday chocolate products in the last few years. We have many of the familiar ones back this year, but of course I'm here to cover what's new. It's just one new addition this time, but that's okay: the same things can keep coming back year after year if they're good. The newbie this year is the Milk & Cookies Milk Chocolate bar.
Given how satisfying Theo's milk chocolate is, the exciting part here was the fact that this is a milk chocolate bar. The milk and cookies thing I would wait to try out. But the milk chocolate was a good sign. Packaging presents that generic winter holiday look with greenery and presents and cookies and a mittened hand. It reminds me of politically correct "holiday" cards, even though the concept of milk and cookies around the holidays is a clear association with Christmas and the tradition of leaving milk and cookies for Santa. Though the mittened hand isn't a Santa hand, so even the mittened hand is like a little assurance that this is not a Christmas-specific product. But if we have so many fall foods nowadays that aren't associated with an individual holiday (so that they can be enjoyed for a longer amount of time), why not do the same with winter foods? (Well, not that it's winter yet, but the fall "season" ends with October even if autumn doesn't technically end until December.)
The chocolate bar is in Theo's usual eight square mold. On the back, the look is similar to a crisped rice chocolate, except that the lumps are little circles that are closer to the size of chocolate chips than to crisped rice. There is a rich chocolate aroma because, as I alluded, this is Theo's lovely 45% milk chocolate, which is not like an average milk chocolate.
Instantly, there is vanilla taste on the tongue. The second thing I noticed that the cookie pieces aren't very crunchy. That is, they're fairly soft for being crunchy cookies and add a fairly light addition to the overall texture. I imagine part of the reason for this is that these are relatively fresh cookie pieces made with decent ingredients--as compared to the "cookies" that you will find in other chocolate products. Given that Theo's milk chocolate already comes with a strong vanilla richness, the added element of vanilla cookies means that the vanilla soars to new heights on the wings of the sweetened cocoa. The milk element of the "milk and cookies" seems to just be in the creaminess of the milk chocolate. After all, this definitely wouldn't have the right effect in dark chocolate.
I don't know that this chocolate bar reminds me so much of the milk and cookies concept. It's more like a mild inspiration. But vanilla is definitely nostalgic, which is the idea of referencing either leaving milk and cookies out for Santa or simply enjoying wintertime baking. Cinnamon is what, to me, tips references to baking into the Christmas/winter scene. But Theo has used cinnamon for the holidays before--and with this one it seems they were going for something simpler. I might add, too, that the simple flavor profile also means that this chocolate is also a safe choice for giving to children. I'm just enjoying mine myself, but it would make a good stocking stuffer, too, if you're looking for fair trade chocolate options that your children will enjoy.
So even if the flavor isn't as winter-specific as some, this new milk chocolate is satisfying and would be welcome if it returned again year after year.