THE NINTH CHOCOLATIER: CHUAO CHOCOLATES
Chuao is the first Venezuelan chocolatier in the United States with a manufacturing facility in Carlsbad, California, but you can purchase the products nationwide, as well as online.
Chef Michael Antonorsi of Chuao Chocolatier, named after the cacao-producing region of Chuao in Venezuela, makes Venezuelan chocolates in “French Style” (watch for the post that will discuss this in more details) that reflect the specific and very delicate nuances of the region where the bean is grown, because no beans from any other region are blended in to homogenize the flavor.
Most of Chuao’s creations are well-made and powerfully addictive; but not all. Perhaps they should be classified as Schedule II controlled chocolates? The bonbons that we tasted, some produced a rich, melt-in-your-mouth texture and deep flavor, while others left no lingering mouth feel, at all. In fact, we thought that the following two bonbons were a mismatch with respect to flavor, balance and a general taste: GRANADA a milk chocolate bonbon with pomegranate caramel and caramelized walnut, enrobed in dark chocolate and PARCHITA, another milk chocolate bonbon, that contains passion fruit blended into a soft caramel. Nevertheless, most reviewers felt that Chuao chocolatiers excel in their dark chocolate bonbon creations; therefore, they deserve to be in the top 10 list.
The most surprise I had following our tasting event is that the Firecracker, that contains caramel fudge with chipotle and chile and enrobed with a layer of popping candy, the Chevere, with goat cheese, pear williams liqueur and crushed black pepper buttercream and the unique Pan Con Chocolate (pahn kon cho-ko-la-teh) that is created with roasted panko bread crumbs and olive oil ganache with a touch of sea salt, were absolutely fantastic and we thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of these eccentric pieces. My absolute favorite, however, is the simple, but delightful almond marzipan topped with a roasted macadamia nut.
I know I said earlier that we are only reviewing and reporting here about bonbons, pralines and truffles but I cannot avoid mentioning (or rather admiring) their hot chocolate drinks. There are three different variations:
- Spicy Maya
The Spicy Maya, that contains pasilla chili, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon – WOW! this is real heat with a great kick. It is perfectly balanced between the “bittersweet” of the dark chocolate and the spiciness of the chili and cinnamon; it is the best “pick-me-up/warm-me-up” drink on a cold, wintery day in front of your fireplace. The Winter, which has ginger, cloves, cinnamon and a touch of black pepper and tastes like as if Christmas is here; enjoy it. The traditional Abuela, which is just a great straightforward hot chocolate drink and is my favorite for its simplicity, while it brings together that wonderful elements of the Venezuelan-based chocolates.
How to order:
One can always order online: http://www.chuachocolatiers.com. They are listing their gift boxes, as well as their individual bonbons, from which you an create your own personalized candy box. Their chocolate bars are one of the best on the market and available in many supermarkets nationwide, as well as in selective independent chocolate retailers (We will review the bars in another upcoming post).
PS Chuao chocolatiers also sell sugar-free chocolates