Many people first heard about Fran’s Chocolates when The New York Times reported that Fran’s milk chocolate smoked salt caramels were (presumably still are) one of Barack Obama’s favourite treats.
I, however, discovered Fran’s smoked salt caramels back in 2007 at a café in Charlottesville while on exchange at the University of Virginia. I remember thinking they were delicious. I also remember that the day I bought them was the day I later bought a pregnancy test as a joke for a friend, and that the lady who sold me the former looked at me with far less contempt than did the woman who handed over the latter.
But I digress.
Fran’s Smoked Salt Caramels and Gray Salt Caramels
I received this Fran’s Chocolates box of six smoked salt caramels in milk chocolate and six gray salt caramels in dark chocolate from my Australian friends Ash and Andrew, for whom I’ve previously made Fudge “Engagement” Brownies and Fancypants Magic Slice. When Ash and Andrew were road-trippin’ around the US last year, they found themselves in Seattle (the home of Fran’s) and, because they’re awesome, sent me a delightful care package of chocolates along with a note that made my heart smile.
Fran’s smoked salt caramels are described as “soft, butter caramel dipped in rich milk chocolate and sprinkled with smoked sea salt harvested off the coast of Wales”, while the gray salt caramels are “soft, butter caramel dipped in 64% dark chocolate finished with a sprinkling of gray sea salt from the Brittany coast.”
Both caramels looked stunning, with smooth, perfectly tempered chocolate coatings adorned with sparkles of salt, firm rather than gooey caramel fillings, and a richly buttery, smoked-sweet-more-sweet-than-smoked aroma.
I started with one of the dark chocolate gray salt caramels, and immediately swooned. The first flavour to hit the tongue was sharp salt, but then butterscotch, deep near-burnt butterscotch, butterscotch honeycomb floral rose deep browned butter caramel whiskey floral honey smoked ash deep honey scorched sugar crème brulee notes swirled in, all of them, always, the tiniest bite, the tiniest bite was gorgeous.
Time would tell.
Or I would tell. Same thing.
Funnily enough, the milk chocolate was more pronounced against the caramel than was the dark chocolate, yet overall the flavour seemed more muted, a little less zingy.
However, dare ye not think this be not delicious, for true tales it be delicious. The flavour notes were fruitier than the dark version, the smoked salt quite subtle, and the caramel somehow seemed sweeter. Fran’s smoked salt caramels made me think of upscale Rolos, whereas the gray salt caramels, though similar, stood unique in my mind.
Thank you again, Ash and Andrew, for these treats. I now have a fancy gala to get ready for, though, so I’m off for the night. Cheerio!
(Being a +1 in the theatre world is fun.)