Chocolate from Germany. These words evoke treasured memories of the beautiful confections I tasted in college, when a friend (an “army brat” whose father was a NATO bigwig) showered us with tasty treats at Easter time. There were golden hares with bows around their necks, and hollow eggs wrapped in colorful patterned papers, containing a wealth of cleverly-wrought candies. All too accustomed to the cheaply produced, stale sweets distributed in the US to fill children’s Easter baskets, I was astonished at the artistry and high quality of German products. I well remember the first time I sampled the square, chunky Ritter bars, to which I have maintained a steadfast devotion ever since (the yogurt, strawberry and marzipan flavors being special favorites).
More recently, my friend Anja treated me to a trove of delightful chox from organic and fair trade producer Rapunzel. What a revelation! They say that organics taste better, but I never noticed it before except in the case of garden-fresh produce. Yet Rapunzel surprised me with its rich, layered flavors.
I tried the White Chocolate first. It was sinfully rich and creamy, dotted with tiny specks of vanilla bean, and the taste was multilayered and complex. I was never a white chocolate fan before, but Rapunzel has converted me! The milk and dark chocolates (the latter bar studded with hazelnuts, and the former filled with a heavenly hazelnut nougat) had a depth and balance reminiscent of fine wines, with a noticeable acidity, and a lovely finish.
I wonder why hazelnuts are not more widely appreciated in the US? We call them “filberts” here, but the confectionary market is dominated by peanuts, almonds and walnuts (the latter mainly used by home bakers). All are fine partners for chocolate, but to my mind the hazelnut is King.
Next, I’m going to check out Rapunzel’s dark-chocolate/hazelnut spread. Maybe it will finally cure me of my shameful Nutella addiction!
- NEU: Orange-Schokolade Macarons (dusucremacarons.wordpress.com)