I have recently felt myself to be one lucky duck. As I watch the weather outside my window change from sunny and warm to snowy and uninviting, albeit beautiful, I find myself enjoying some really amazing chocolate.
Apparently it only takes fifteen months of writing in excruciating detail about the subtle nuances of craft chocolate (so excruciating that your loved ones grow tired of your blather and kindly suggest you take up a new hobby) before you are generously gifted said craft chocolate for the chocolatest of all chocolate occasions, February 14th.
Not once, but twice. Love me two times!, the Jim Morrison-influenced duo of chocolate has repeatedly cried out, as somewhere, a small tinny harpsichord plays in the background. After all, this chocolate is territorial. A wonderful selection of Minneapolis’ B.T. McElrath from my parents back in Minnesota mingles somewhat suspiciously with a lovely 18-piece collection from Black Dinah Chocolatiers on Isle au Haut, here in Maine.
And all of it is dwindling fast.
B.T. McElrath is great at what they do. The company excels at churning out artful truffles with delicate couverture, as evidenced by this year’s Passion Fruit Hearts. But it is the popping, wowing flavors that keep me interested in what their next flavor combination will be: this passion fruit, for instance, is so intense and refreshing. It is a very cleansing truffle – if there were such thing as a dessert mouthwash [hmm... must invent], this would be it.
While the most prominently featured truffle in their 5 piece Epicurean Truffle Assortment had morphed a bit from that depicted on the label, all treasures hidden within proved more gorgeous than anticipated. With only five small truffles (and I shared each one, so more like with only 2.5 small truffles…), the flavors came and went quickly. From the sublime Chile Limón, to the snazzy Kaffir Lime with Coconut and Ginger, to the complex Signature Dark, and the perhaps slightly underwhelming Zinfandel-Balsamic – which while tasty did not quite live up to its name – this box acts as a fine introduction to what B.T. McElrath is capable of. The fifth truffle was another Passion Fruit, but I preferred the thinner, crunchier chocolate shell of the seasonal heart shape to this mainstay in the assorted truffle lot.
Also included in this fantastic grab bag was one of B.T. McElrath’s most recent chocolate bars: the Super Red. This pairing of red fruit and chocolate proves an enticing combination that I have been looking forward to trying since last fall. As I’ve spent the past week indulging in truffles, I will review the bar here at a later date.
A super warm squeezy hug of a thank you to my parents for this unexpected and most welcome surprise. I was floored, and I am most appreciative. I would grin wide and say “thhhankshh,” but my teeth are probably filled with chocolate, which as you may know, would just about be my worst nightmare come true (next to snakes in the basement, of course). Thank you !
And just a day after making a very lame and snobby offhand statement that I was filled with ‘ennui’ because I knew my fella would never buy me amazing chocolate like my parents (and really, who would want to buy chocolate for such a jerk?)….. well, he did. Truffles from Black Dinah Chocolatiers. Martha Stewart likes BDC. So do those fancy people who vacation on Maine’s rocky coast in the summer time. I, on the other hand, very much disliked their lavender chocolate bark, but have since been eager to try their truffles. Why? I think truffles are the strong suit in a chocolatiery operation such as BDC. Chocolate bark, schmocolate schmark.
Since I wasn’t able to make it down to Isle au Haut before the season ended last year, this gift was the perfect way to sample Kate Shaffer’s creations.
Knowing that my dislike of white chocolate was almost as large as my dramatic ennui, my chocolate partner-in-crime made sure to have the fully-white and potentially-despicable Lemon truffles removed from my 18-piece Valentine’s Day box of truffles. What remained were BDC’s Varietal, as well as several amazing Persian Love and Earl Grey truffles.
The Varietal truffle ganache is made of “rare” Peruvian cacao, and is very silky smooth and creamy. I found the truffle to be reminiscent of sour cream, in a good way. Not sour cream, but sour cream. The flavor is slightly overpowering, and is not my favorite, but it is well-made nonetheless.
The Persian Love dark chocolate truffles are heart-shaped, and contain whole pistachios that have been enrobed in rose and cardamom-infused caramel cream. This is a step (or perhaps, a jump) in the right direction for me, although the cream persisted in tasting a bit sour. Whole pistachios were quite a treat, and although the caramel didn’t taste much like rose or cardamom, it tasted fully-flavored and complete.
Finally, my favorite. The Earl Grey truffles, of which there were not nearly enough. This truffle’s dark chocolate ganache was infused with the perfect amount of Earl Grey tea, pairing the bergamot flavor excellently with a Venezuelan 45% milk chocolate exterior. This was truly outstanding.
The only issue with all truffles was that the couverture tended to flake, and at times separate fully from the ganache. While not much more than an aesthetic issue, it is the only point for improvement that I could see here.
Another thank you is merited at this time. This thank you is filled with x’s and o’s, much the same as the Varietal truffles are decorated. xoxoxo.
B.T. McElrath Chocolatier
2010 E. Hennepin Ave., #78
Minneapolis, MN 55413
Black Dinah Chocolatiers
PO Box 13
1 Moore’s Harbor Rd.
Isle Au Haut, ME 04645
Read more from Chocolatier Kate on her blog, Black Dinah Chocolatiers.