Bouchard Chocolates 72% Cacao Fine Belgian Dark Chocolate

We are unabashed chocolate junkies in this house, and we usually don’t discriminate, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t discerning. There’s some really, really good craft chocolates out there, and some really, really bad stuff you can find at the supermarket checkout lane that shouldn’t (and sometimes even can’t) legally be called chocolate. But, in swoops Bouchard Chocolate to show you what’s good about good chocolate. And, sadly, what’s bad about a company looking to increase their presence in the U.S. but shot itself in the foot.

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To start, it’s a good chocolate, despite arriving during a now-customary California Fall heatwave. We’re talking 100+ temps in late September. I feared the worst, but most of the Napolitains arrived intact. More than a few were melted and toast, but I’ll use those for baking. The bag I received was simple cellophane, understated and all about the product within. It’s a dark chocolate (72% cacao content), but I can’t find a list of ingredients, nor did I get anything listing them, nor does the website list them…you kind of get where I’m going here. So, tastewise it’s pretty good. It’s comparable, favorably, to Green & Blacks, which is a pricey but good chocolate you can find almost anywhere. It’s smooth, not gritty, melts in your mouth without any lingering sugars after, and slightly bitter to the tongue, but in the way a good chocolate should be. The small morsels in the packet I got were good for a light snack when you’re needing that chocolate fix, but don’t want to gorge (yes, it’s happened here. Too often!).

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And that’s it for the good. The bad is that this company is doing a positively lousy job of getting to market. The company name and product has been around in some form or fashion since 1931. It’s roots trace back to the fine chocolatiers  in Ghent, Belgium with an award winning recipe for fine chocolate. But good luck finding a decent web presence, or price point, or e-commerce site for them. I couldn’t, and none was supplied for me to promote with. No ingredient list, no “Where to Buy”, just a lot of pretty pictures and florid prose, but no substance. In this country, we call that “All sizzle and no steak”. It’s a fine product, probably top 5 of all the chocolates I’ve had recently. And while they told me to mention that their product can be found in Costco Warehouses around the country, near weekly visits by Hubby has yet to locate any in the wild. Nothing on Amazon, Costco.com, no way to buy or even price. I can’t even tell you if it’s a value. And that’s a real shame. Since the company was acquired by Halloren Chocolate Group in 2014, they wanted to quickly get the name out there. That’s only a good strategy if you make your product readily available, and as of this writing, they have not. I’d love to recommend the chocolate, because it tastes divine. But I don’t know where to point you other than “Supposedly Costco”, and I can’t tell you how much it costs, what other types of products they have, what they’re made with… Ugh, so frustrating to see a good product doomed by terrible (or non-existent) marketing.

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Connect with Bouchard Chocolate:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Bouchard Chocolate. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Valentine’s Gift for Her: Pirouline Chocolate Sticks with Chocolate Cake Heart Scented Candle and Heart Box with Assorted Chocolates #Review

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Every Valentine’s Day, as much as I love chocolate, I will admit the typical a dozen roses and chocolate treat gets a little ordinary. I don’t desire jewelry and what I do desire, is something left to remember the holiday from. A holiday that has gotten ridiculously expensive. Plus, I like my roses with roots attached, so I can plant them and enjoy them all year around.

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When I was offered to review the Valentine’s gift set with Pirouline Chocolate and more, I admit I was intrigued. Why? Because it’s a little of everything and from the girl who hasn’t finished her Christmas chocolates yet, this is ideal for me. The set comes with:

  • A metal tin with lid, filled with Pirouline Chocolate Sticks that is reusable and adorable.
  • A candle that is a dark chocolate cupcake, filled with a heart shaped white chocolate center. The candle smells like a delicious chocolate cake but comes with zero calories. Just light it and enjoy it time and time again.
  • You also don’t miss out as the set includes a mini heart shaped boxed filled with five individual chocolates, and this is a perfect amount for me. You also have a keepsake heart shape boxed that you can reuse.  The outer box (lid) is decorated with a red roses motif.

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Retail Price Point: The entire set is $15.95 via Amazon and if you have Prime membership, that is the total cost with delivery included. You can even include a gift message via Amazon to be included with the parcel.

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Verdict:
There is no going out to stores and having to pick 3 items and then pay shipping if your loved one is far away or if that day you will be working, so that means Valentine’s Day gets put on hold. The set covers all bases by still being filled with chocolate but allowing the gift to leave a little memento behind. The candle is utterly fragrant that I found without lighting it, it still fills the living room with a delectable chocolaty scent, so I can keep it as-is and use it time and time again. I have done this where a candle never gets lit and becomes a decor item because the scent lasts, plus some things are just too cute to melt. The candle comes in a clear box, so you can opt to showcase it in the box, take it out and even store it back again for the coming year or a special date night at home. The Pirouline Chocolate Sticks came with only a few cracked but none had crumbled! They are filled with Chocolate Hazelnut and go perfect with coffee or munch them like I do straight out of the tin. The five chocolates came in perfect condition. None were melted, cracked or aged. Something that has happened in prior years where a heart shaped box was filled with dry and old chocolates, these were perfect and are made by Elmer Chocolates. Yes, the gift is economical but still makes the one gifted feel warm and fuzzy and that is truly what you want in the end from a gift. The person to know you thought of them and that is what matters!

Connect with Practical Therapies at:

  • Amazon
  • #ValentinesDayGifts #ChocolateSticks

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Practical Therapy (Amazon).  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Kozy Shack: Indulgent Recipe Puddings #Review #KozyShack

Who doesn’t love puddings? I happen to be a huge fan and even make pudding based pies, cakes and treats because puddings go beyond the cup!

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BzzAgent sent me two coupons to try the new Kozy Shack Indulgent Recipe Pudding cups that come in three flavors:

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Chocolate Truffle
  • Salted Caramel
  • Vanilla Bean

 

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The new Kozy Shack Indulgent Recipe cups is making an already liked food more likable! Made with real ingredients and the recipe is very simple when it comes to easily grabbing an already made and ready to serve dessert or treat, straight from the fridge. I went out to hunt for Dark Chocolate because being a caramel lover, that flavor was already on my “must-get” list. After visiting a few stores and not finding the dark chocolate, I went with trying the Chocolate Truffle variety instead.

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  • Verdict on Chocolate Truffle:
    My family and I enjoy pudding and maybe because I make the dessert from scratch, we have been spoiled. I was left craving chocolate after trying this version. The chocolate flavor is not intense and the product is smooth, but not velvety in texture. Almost kind of like to much gelatin and/or thickener was added. I turn the package around and not only was a color an indication that there was not enough chocolate, the ingredient list reflected such (i.e. Tapioca starch before chocolate and sugar before chocolate too). I felt it was too sweet to even take a second spoonful, as did my husband, so we passed but felt the product could be saved.

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Ingredients:
Reduced Fat Milk, Sugar, Cream, Modified Tapioca Starch, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Contains Less than 2% of Natural Flavors, Salt, Carrageenan, Maltodextrin.

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Retail Price Point: From $2.76 to $3.75 at most stores. Each cup is about 200 calories per serving and each container comes with 4 individual cups.

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  • Verdict on Salted Caramel:
    This is my go to flavor from coffees, treats, baked goods, to just enjoying Fleur de Sel Caramel. We open the cup and take a taste, it’s more butterscotch than caramel and the salted versus sweetness that makes salted caramel be that buttery goodness is not present. This one again is sweeter but think of it like a vanilla butterscotch variety and then your taste buds get the idea. It may be missing the salted caramel notes, but we found it better than a pudding that says chocolate and is then lacking the key component.

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Ingredients:
Reduced Fat Milk, Cream, Brown Sugar, Modified Tapioca Starch, Contains Less than 2% of Caramel Color, Sea Salt, Natural Flavors, Carrageenan, Maltodextrin.

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Final Verdict:

I don’t like to just dispose of food and especially when I see potential.  Each of these cups have about 23 grams of sugar alone and are thick in texture…….so my brain thought why not make a mug cake.  Calories wise a mug cake would be 2 servings to share and the sugar problem would not be an issue. I used 1 teaspoon of Cake flour (I use an unbleached variety) and a pinch of Baking Soda.  Combine product and start by microwaving the cup for 1 minute and then 30 second intervals until the batter begins to bubble and rise.  I kept checking because I did not want it bubbling over and it took three 30 second intervals to achieve the desired texture I wanted, something molten lava cake-ish! 🙂 Allow the cake to completely cool before enjoying and it’s not only because it’s nuclear hot but so the cake can set.  I used a stoneware based mug because it retains heat best and is microwave safe.

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The final product was not as sweet and we could enjoy the pudding cakes!  I feel the product has potential but if I want pudding as-is, I would not be indulging in this variety mainly because of it being too sugary to enjoy.  There are many Belgium chocolate based puddings that are silky and most importantly, so much chocolate that it drowns every loving taste bud! That is what I want in a pudding 🙂

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Connect with Kozy Shack at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Kozy Shack and BzzAgent.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

 

Giveaway: You can win a California Delicious Gift Card worth $50.00

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(Picture is example of products carried by California Delicious and not of actual prize)

Get ready this Valentine’s Day to get some help with this wonderful giveaway, courtesy of California Delicious!

Giveaway of a $50.00 gift card to California Delicious (http://www.californiadelicious.com/). This prize can be open to everyone internationally but the gifts must be mailed to a U.S physical address, no PO Boxes please.  Giveaway ends on February 5th so get started now and it’s easy to enter below.  Please note terms on site regarding alcohol sales and delivery limitations, as per state laws.

How to Enter:

  1. Like on FaceBook- https://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaDelicious
  2. Follow on Twitter- https://twitter.com/caldelicious
  3. Follow on Pinterest- http://www.pinterest.com/calidelicious/
  4. Please comment on my Blog Review- https://samplesandfreebiesgallery.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/california-delicious-not-your-ordinary-gift-box-and-basket-company/

Bonus Entry for those that follow on Instagram-

The Chobani tour of Greek Yogurt Bite & Flips will begin shortly………

Below is the last preview of what I received and I will be posting reviews, plus a cookie recipe soon……………

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Hagensborg Chocolates: Wild Boar Bars

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Who doesn’t love chocolate? Who doesn’t love exotic chocolates? Hagensborg Chocolates is based in Vancouver Canada and makes chocolates using European techniques. They have a cute little theme and story in their biography, which introduces you to “Snuffly” the pig, frogs that are princes, fairy godmothers and even a castle. There is even a piggy family with names! I personally like Rose because she has wings. Very whimsical and gives their products that little touch of love. Their products are accessible from the United Kingdom, United States, Japan, to Canada.

I had tried two of their truffle pigs and loved them! They were milk chocolate, which is not my first choice in the chocolate world but after having them, I was craving more so I knew I had discovered a good thing.

My parcel arrived with their newest creation, the Wild Boar bars. Like their other wonderful creations, the Wild Boars have a story. They travel the world and catch ingredients from each content and incorporate it into their magical bars. The boxes alone are eye-catching and once you open the box, you see little “chomp” bites along the bar made by these continental boars (this time, I couldn’t blame Hubby). No detail is not missed by Hagensborg Chocolates from the molds they used to make these bars, to the ingredients added. My parcel included two “passports”, Italy and Indonesia. So let’s begin…..

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Italy- Made from the milk chocolate family and described to include truffle salted almonds which are toasted. The almonds are sprinkled with olive oil, Ritrovo (rare black truffle) truffle and salt. The bar contains 85% organic ingredients and also 39% Cocoa.

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The taste test: After getting over how cute the bar is and reading all the information on the box, it is almost like a mini travel brochure so I appreciated the escape. Every ingredient is of the finest quality and they even list origins for each, like the almonds being from California. I find that when I break off a piece, it almost melts down when you bend it because the chocolate is so soft and velvety. I put a piece in my mouth and allow it to melt. The texture is smooth and even though salt is listed in the flavor ingredients, you get zero granules from it. No crystallization, just a perfect creamy creation! I love the flavor of the chocolate alone as I agree with their statements, it is of fine quality. I eat many “fleur de sel” products, so I am familiar with how they are paired with caramels to different degrees of Cocoa. I did find my first bite to be salty if you allow it to melt and dissolve in your mouth, but not so salty that I did not bite again. My second bite I chewed and it was a perfect balance of flavors. The almonds are not whole, so every bite allows you to get enjoy a small chunk. You do pick-up a slight earthy and grassy notes that may derive from the olive oil and truffle they added. I did not find the flavors overwhelming and they did compliment the bar well. I did enjoy the almonds but just wished I had a few more chunks with every bite.

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Indonesia- This is the one I was skeptical and unsure about and you will soon know why. You have 71% Cocoa in this bar, plus 85% Organic ingredients. This Boar bar is described as rich dark chocolate with cashews, spiced with garlic, chilies and lime. The cashews originate from Indonesia and the seasonings added are in dried form. I have had “spiced” chocolates but never one with garlic added to it or even lime. I was super curious.

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The taste test: You uncover the bar and the minute you cut it, you perfume your surroundings with a delicious chocolate smell. Any apprehension I had about the flavors floated away that instant. When something gives off such a delicious aroma, it can’t be ignored! I take off a corner and this chocolate is harder in texture as it created a snapping noise, not like the milk chocolate boar bar. I put a piece in my mouth and allow it to melt and I love, love, love their dark chocolate. Great quality and texture. Perfect amount of acid you get from the Cocoa but no bitter or wax like texture you get from cheaper brands. I can easily state this in the top three of dark chocolate makers I prefer to have and enjoy! You get almost get a coffee deepness that comes through, somewhat like a perfect espresso. Once again, very smooth and velvet in texture. The cashews are chopped and knowing the nut is buttery in nature, it just compliments the dark chocolate flavors. I never knew cashews went so well with dark and I hope to see this combination in the future. This bar had a good balance of nut and chocolates, so I was happy. The chilies come through but do not rest on your tongue where you would be overwhelmed, the flavor rests towards the back of your throat and I liked how it did not interfere with my enjoyment. Just a touch of spice flavor but no serious heat that burns. The garlic does not come through like it would imagine on garlic bread. You get the garlic flavor and it’s not roasted, more of like when it’s raw (untouched). I did find certain bites left a bitter taste if they were heavier on the garlic. The chocolate is so delicious that I did not care. I just kept eating and had to stop myself.

I recommend Hagensborg Chocolates and I do not view them as a gimmicky company, but one that seriously knows how to create chocolate. If I had a store near by that carried their chocolates, I fear what would happen to my waist line. Many “Chocolatiers” do not have a passion into their art and just think of how they can stretch a cocoa bean to yield the maximum profit. Hagensborg has taken the route of “What is the best way I can showcase this cocoa bean?”. I highly respect a company that does this and I was a fan before of the brand, but the boar line secured that position solidly. If you can add uncommon ingredients to chocolate and still be delicious, you seriously know what you are doing!

Please take a trip over to Hagensborg Chocolates and fall in love with their piglets and boars.
Webite- http://www.hagensborg.com/
Twitter- https://twitter.com/TrufflePigBar
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/HagensborgChocolates

I see the boar has traveled to other areas of the world and I hope to catch his new destinations soon and share them with you!

I received the above chocolates from Hagensborg for free. I have no obligation to provide a favorable/positive review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the products, which may differ from yours.

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