CHOCOLATES YOU MUST KNOW – TOP 10 CHOCOLATIERS

CELEBRATE THE SEASON WITH CHOCOLATES

THE EIGHT CHOCOLATIER: CHRISTOPHER ELBOW CHOCOLATES

The Artisan:

Christopher Elbow began perfecting his chocolate-making skills while working as a Pastry Chef in Kansas City and that is where he started his own chocolate company. His passion for working with chocolate allowed him to be highly creative. His hand-painted sparkling jewels are not only one of the best work of art (excluding Norman Love’s work, of course), but most carry well-balanced flavors, ingredients in perfect harmony and aroma that can fill a dance hall. He worked with such famous TV chefs, as Emeril Lagasse and he is featured in many print publications, including Fine Cooking, Food & Wine, InStyle and Oprah.

The Chocolates:

Chef Elbow’s use of Vietnamese cinnamon, rosemary with a hint of caramel, or sparkling bubbly flecked with shimmering gold are just phenomenal. We could not stop eating them until we realized that the box is empty.

I must add, however, that not every piece is “perfect”; we did find some misses, but from such a large selection of uniquely flavored bonbons, he is allowed to have a few that may not be to our liking. For instance, in the Rum Raisin chocolate, the rum overpowered the entire product and we did not think that Mango was the right fruit to be used with caramel; he high acidity of this fruit altered the taste of the caramel, and not in a good way. On the other hand the crunchy caramelized hazelnut filling with the smooth, creamy milk chocolate shell was just delightful and the Raspberry, with a layer of the pate and the dark ganache are divine.  The Venezuelan Spice where dark chocolate center spiced with chile and enrobed in a thick dark chocolate shell and the Orange Pekoe Tea with aromas that infiltrated our entire surroundings are both complemented the overall presentation. At first, the Venezuelan spice tastes like the regular dark chocolate ganache; rich and velvety, however as it slowly melts away on the front of your tongue, you can feel the spice catching up to you as it leaves a fiery kick on your palate. You must try the Champagne bonbon if you want celebrate the season by washing down the combination of milk and dark chocolates with the bubbly. The Cappuccino tastes as if you are sipping a nice cup of coffee accompanied with a piece of smooth milk chocolate.

We believe, however, that seven caramel-based creations of the total of 25, creates  an imbalance in their otherwise unique and tasty inventory.  I love a well-made caramel but if it is nearly one-third of the choices it reduces the selection options. I addition, some of the caramels are either too sweet or the caramel a bit overdone which accentuates the bitterness of the bittersweet. I don’t want to give the impression that Chef’s Elbow creations are anything other than top of the line but requires a careful selection.

Since I taste (and create) many chocolates, my critical palate has a couple of cons but please keep in mind that everyone has their own preferences and tastes  and to enjoy these chocolates requires a fairly sophisticated palate.  I also like to make my doctors unhappy, because I believe in all those reports about the beneficial effects of dark chocolates, they don’t.

Chocolatiers at Chef Elbow’s level work with top ingredients (for those who keep track, he uses El Rey couverture). We just don’t know what technique creates this kind of palate magic.

How to order:

It is a good idea to visit their website: http://www.elbowchocolates.com/shop_online and review your options (even if you live nearby). Every chocolate piece is a work of art and they presenting them in their gift box. They also sell chocolate bars, (actually 17 different variations), drinking chocolate in a tin and chocolate coffee.