You are all very lovely.
You are all so very terrifically lovely.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness and support following my blogiversary post. You are the bee’s knees.
I would like to show my thanks by sending you each a block of chocolate (or, if that’s not your style, a packet of vegan jerky/bowl of roasted chickpeas), but instead I offer you this review of two chocolates that are, like you, the bee’s knees.
Askinosie Dark Milk Chocolate + Black Licorice CollaBARation™ Bar
Once upon a time, I visited the Askinosie Chocolate Factory for a private tour and then blogged about several of Askinosie’s chocolates, ultimately promising to showcase my favourite bars in a later post.
This is part one of that “later post”.
Is pretty. Is so pretty. If Askinosie’s Dark Milk Chocolate + Black Licorice CollaBARation™ Bar was a teddy bear instead of a chocolate bar, I would cuddle it on the couch whenever I felt homesick.
However, it is a chocolate bar made with 62% Davao cocoa beans, goat’s milk powder, fleur de sel, anise seeds, and teeny tiny pieces of (gluten-free) black licorice made in Sweden by Lakritsfabriken*, and so I ate instead of cuddled it.
* This might be my new favourite word.
As a kid, I wouldn’t have gone near licorice-studded chocolate with a fifty foot pole. Thankfully, a certain cup of gelato in Florence changed my mind regarding All Things Licorice, and I now find the toffee-floral-herbal-anise-licorice-chocolate aroma of this Askinosie bar intoxicating.
The chocolate is dark and glossy on top, yet shimmers with anise seeds and tiny squares of lightly-salted licorice below. The anise seeds are crisp while the licorice has a softer chew, and both provide contrast against the firm-yet-silky melt of the goat’s milk dark chocolate.
The taste, you ask? Superb. This chocolate has all the flavours. Richly chocolate-y like the flowing molten centre of a chocolate fondant, not quite smoky but deeply herbal with a hint of something exotic like incense, ebbing caramel notes, a rich unctuousness like clotted cream, and always, always, the beautiful hum of anise and licorice.
Dear Askinosie: I would like this chocolate in my life forever.
Askinosie El Rústica Dark Chocolate + Crunchy Sugar Crystals and Vanilla Bean CollaBARation™ Bar
Askinosie’s El Rústica Dark Chocolate also uses Davao cocoa beans, but this time the goat’s milk powder is left out and the base is studded with crunchy sugar crystals and pieces of whole vanilla bean.
If you’ve ever held a plump vanilla bean in your hands and breathed in its heady perfume, then you might be able to imagine the gorgeousness of this 70% chocolate’s aroma.
Upon taking a bite of the chocolate, I found myself surprised and delighted by its crispy texture, which comes not only from the crunchy sugar crystals but Askinosie’s decision to forego conching the chocolate itself.
The bar is ever-so-ever-so-moreish, with the sugar crystals and vanilla creating layers of sweetness that are, in turn, balanced by the tangy and malty flavours of the 70% dark chocolate. The vanilla and sugar create a sense of lightness and fun, and I detected notes of crème brulee and toffee amidst the vanilla, vanilla, vanilla.
Of course, there’s only one more thing to say when it comes to vanilla:
Let’s kick it!
Ice, ice, baby,
Ice, ice, baby,
All right stop,
Collaborate and listen!
Yep. I’m done now.