Let me go on the record and say that I've never been a big chocolate lover. Some people don't understand how a woman wouldn't love chocolate, but well, I just don't. My husband is always begging me to share a chocolate dessert w/ him, and I'll take a bite or two but very easily relinquish the rest to him.
That's why it's been odd that I've been interested in chocolate lately. When Valentine's Day came around and we were bombarded w/ local ads, I not only whispered sweet nothings into husband's ear but also a soft hint, "Vosges." The man asked for any hints, and I felt compelled to oblige this time.
So my box of Vosges exotic truffles wasn't a huge romantic surprise, but was most certainly appreciated. Having moved out of the newlywed stage, I also asked how much the box of 16 truffles cost and was told around $40. The usual V-day markup, but oh well.
See photos of my travels through the land of Vosges below. Some truffles were pairs while others came in singles. I liked the pairs since it allowed chocolate-loving husband and I to experience them together. They were in good condition when I opened them, but I savored them slowly over the course of 10 days (proof that I'm not addicted to chocolate) and noticed a decline in their appearance and texture. Vosges recommends that they be eaten w/in two weeks upon opening, but I say no more than a week.
Before I go into my opinions on the actual chocolates, let me just say that Vosges knows how to "sell" these chocolates to someone like me and make them a true experience. There was a little handout on "how to eat a truffle" that walks you through the best way to take in their truffles using all senses. There's also a little "story" or description of each truffle that you're supposed to read beforehand to build anticipation. Some may consider this gimmicky or precious, but I was wooed.
Ok, here's my summary w/ specific notes on each to follow:
I consistently preferred the dark chocolate to milk chocolate truffles. Dark had fuller flavor and depth w/o being overly bitter for me. Milk tasted dull and flat. The tempering on the dark seemed to have a better snap too.
The one white chocolate Ambrosia was the surprise hit! I normally find white chocolate too sweet and artificial vanilla tasting, but this version was amazingly buttery and rich.
I liked some alot while others were just "hmmmm...eh." I did like the unusual flavor combos since I prefer chocolate if it's mixed w/ other flavors. Some of the spices seemed muted and like they had lost their vibrant freshness. I was expecting more punch, but these were pretty tame and didn't overwhelm the chocolate.
Ganache in the center was usually smooth and velvety, but pretty dense. I liked the ones w/ a crunchy or spicy topping, but didn't like any chunks in the center.
I think it was worth the $ for 10 days of mini adventures and inspiration for my cooking/baking. Notes below w/ flavor components in parentheses. Stars next to my favorites. Anyone else try this box or have comments about Vosges combos in general?
**Black Pearl (ginger, wasabi, dark chocolate, black sesame seeds): Well-conceived, balanced, good snap, not too sweet, wasabi stronger than ginger which was more about aroma. 9/10 (BTW, I think this works well for a small truffle but wouldn't translate as well to a cake like the one on Epicurious.)
Naga (coconut extract, milk chocolate, Northern Indian curry powder): Strong coconut perfume, more brittle, didn't snap much, curry finish and warmth but ultimately too much like Mounds. 5/10
**Ambrosia (cocoa butter based white chocolate, Cointreau, roasted Australian macadamia nuts): Salty, perfumey, floral, potent!, buttery. 10/10. I guess the white chocolate was my favorite!
**Budapest (Belgian dark chocolate and sweet Hungarian paprika): muted paprika lick, nice snap, powdery finish. 8/10
Gianduia (milk chocolate and praline): unremarkable. 5/10
Viola (milk chocolate topped with a purple violet): plain, little floral finish. 6/10
**Chef Pascal (dark chocolate, Kirsch, dried cherry): luscious, round ripe cherry, mouth puckering, sexy. 9/10
Absinthe (dark chocolate with fennel, Pastis, and Chinese star anise): licorice aroma but anise layers didn't come together w/ milk choc for me. I usually love anise but this gets 4/10.
Woolloomooloo (milk chocolate, macadamia nut praline, fresh coconut): didn't take notes but I remember being mixed on this. Too much going on, but I liked the coconut on top.
Poivre (dark chocolate with Telicherry black and Muntok white peppercorns): very mild pepper, not fresh, fruity pepper finish, not as sharp as I'd like. 5/10
Wink of the Rabbit (Belgian milk chocolate, soft caramel center, toasted Georgian pecan): nut not fresh tasting, caramel flat not buttery or salty enough, nice texture. 5/10