Okay, hammered out part 2 of my tasting: Euphoria, Guanaja, JaCiva's, Michele's, Pix, Sahagun, and Van Duyn. May have missed one or two. Didn't get a chance to get to the People's Farmer's Market and get some Wingnut vegan confections, but I'll try to make an addendum at some point. At least you have this in time for Valentine's Day. Hope it helps. (It helps me because both my wife and I are chocolated out. Even she was using the spit bag by the second tasting.)
Here's a quick summary, but as always there's a lot more in the full report and plenty of pictures. Also websites, addresses, phone numbers, and such. See link below.
Euphoria: Eugene chocolatier that's been around about 20 years. Creamy interiors for the chocolates that look kind of homemade. Flavor balances were off a bit here and there and the chocolate quality itself wasn't especially good. But at $1.60 a piece for the monster truffles, they're a good deal.
Guanaja: Doogie Howser, CD (doctor of chocolate), boy genius makes these. Very good. Among the top three chocolatiers in the tasting, I would say. Great presentations, well-balanced flavors, and very good quality chocolate. Textures need a little work, though.
JaCiva's: Pretty much confirmed my earlier assessments: yuck. Bad chocolate quality, often flavorless, usually overly sweet. They look nice, though, and if you want a big chocolate checkerboard with chocolate pieces you can find it here. But avoid the truffles.
Michele's: Another monster-truffle maker. These may even be bigger than Euphoria's. The flavors speak more of candy than truffles, however. And the texture wasn't quite as good as Euphoria's. Prices were about the same and the appearance may be a little better with Michele's. She uses Guittard chocolate which does a better job in chocolate chip cookies than truffles.
Pix: Possibly the best looking chocolates. It'd be close between Pix and Guanaja. Certainly the most luxurious looking. She even tops some with gold leaf, for goodness sake. Flavors are interesting, but often a little out of balance, though always good. Interiors can be too fluid, spilling out onto your lips if you don't pop the whole thing in one bite. And then in your mouth, the liquidity makes them dissolve too quickly. Relatively inexpensive.
Sahagun: The best of both tastings. Nearly perfect, really. The chocolate is great, the flavors are nicely balanced, the infusions are interesting, and the presentations and packaging are elegant. Pix and Guanaja do top Sahagun in appearance, but only slightly. These truffles rival any I've had, including from nationally recognized chocolatiers and at restaurants like Tru and Trotter's, where top pastry chefs make them fresh with no expense spared.
Van Duyn: Local Whitman's in the mall. Flavorless truffles with waxy chocolate. Cheap with fun gift packaging, including a huge heart with assorted chocolates, but clearly topped by national mall-oriented chains like Godiva. They are better than See's, though.
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