CHOCOLATE! I love that I had the chance to try these out! Before I tell you what I thought, here's some background information about the company so you can see how awesome they are.
Chuao Chocolatier (pronounced chew-WOW) is the first Venezuelan Chocolatier based in the USA and Southern California's premier artisan chocolatier. Founded in 2002 by Master Chef Michael Antonorsi and his brother, CEO Richard Antonorsi, Chuao Chocolatier has pioneered “fusion chocolate” through a commitment to creating uniquely delicious chocolate experiences. Michael wanted to open a unique chocolate boutique that blended modern-day innovations with his Venezuelan family traditions.
Their signature flavor is Spicy Maya, a modern twist on the Mayan's ancient hot chocolate recipe made with pasilla chile and cayenne pepper. (Isn't your mouth just waiting to try some?)
Unusual flavor combinations, the heart of Chuao Chocolatier’s unique experience, include: Pan con Chocolate: a dark chocolate bonbon filled with toasted panko breadcrumbs, olive oil ganache and a touch of sea salt and Firecracker: caramel fudge with chipotle chile and salt, rolled in popping candy and enrobed in dark chocolate. (You know you want to try it!)
I was given four samples to try out. The first two I tried were the Choco Pods, Spicy Maya and Firecracker. Choco Pods are .39 oz (11g) and shaped like a chocolate bean pod (at least that's what I'm getting - the picture is not the actual Choco Pod I tasted).
I tried Spicy Maya first, it's dark chocolate with pasilla chile, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. When I first took a bite, I thought to myself, it's not spicy at all and it tasted like a regular chocolate bar. But as I passed around the pod to my family, the spiciness crept up on me and it hit me! The spice is subtle and doesn't kick you in the face with its flavor. It sneaks up on you and when it shows up, you're pleasantly surprised. You can definitely taste the cinnamon which doesn't overpower the other flavors.
The next Choco Pod was the Firecracker - (dark chocolate chipotle, salt and popping candy) The wrapper described it as unusual, unexpected and delicious, which is a perfect description. I was excited to try this one because I wanted to see what the popping candy would do to the chocolate. My first bite and the popping candy did it's job. I love the popping candy! The little tingles of the candy with the taste of chocolate and chipotle is amazing! The chipotle spice is a lot more prominent, not an "in-your-face" kind of way but it's definitely more powerful and more flavorful. Since I like spicy food, chocolate and candy, the Firecracker is the winner. However if you're more into subtle spice and chocolate, the Spicy Maya is for you!
Next up on the list were two bars, MORE chocolate! I was excited and unsure of what to expect. The bars are 60% cacao (yum! I love me some dark chocolate!) and 2.8 oz (80g). First up the Panko (dark chocolate bar with toasted panko breadcrumbs and sea salt). When I first read panko breadcrumbs, I pictured the chocolate covered in panko crumbs like tempura batter. Silly me! The panko is mixed in with the chocolate! I took a bite and I could definitely taste the panko breadcrumbs, not in a bad way. It reminded me of a Crunch bar but with much better tasting chocolate and less rice crispiness. My husband liked how the salt brought out the chocolate flavor and I have to agree with him. It is really chocolatey and yummy.
I was quite sad when I ate the last bar because that would mean that the review was over. The Honeycomb bar is dark chocolate with caramelized honey. I thought it tasted just like a chocolate bar and wondered what those little bits were doing in the bar and then I realized it was the honey! It reminds me of little toffee bits but better! They don't get stuck in your teeth! It melts in your mouth along with the chocolate like one smooth chocolate ride!
These chocolate bars are amazing!
Oh and did I tell you? These guys are so awesome! They are so committed to their roots and strive to sustain and revitalize the cacao industry in Venezuela that their company has an initiative called Aguasanta Growth Initiative. It provides needed funding to the Venezuelan cacao farmers for plant seedlings as well as training to increase growth of their cacao crops.
If you are unsure of what to get your mom/wife/sister/girlfriend/female for fill-in-the-blank Day, ahem, Mother's Day and you know they like/love/obsess/crave chocolate, you need to walk, no, sprint to the closest computer (or store) and get some of these chocolates! It's unusual, unique, one-of-a-kind and (did I mention) delicious chocolate! They have fun flavors for all kinds of tastes! When you go check out their website, you'll see that there are so many different options besides chocolate, there are brownie mixes - for the moms who love to bake (which would most likely be your mom), hot chocolate, gift boxes and more!
BUY: You can go online at www.chuaochocolatier.com. While you're there, can you get me some Firecracker? Thanks.If you'd rather go to a physical store, you can find Chuao Chocolatier creations at fine specialty retailers including Whole Foods Market, Pier 1 Imports, Wegman's and Crate and Barrel, as well as premier restaurants, select hotels and resorts including Omni Hotels, La Costa Resort & Spa, Four Seasons, Hard Rock Hotel and more.
WIN: One lucky Moana Saves reader will win the ChocoPod 8 piece Assorted Gift Box! Experience all 8 ChocoPods in one cute box- Coco, Coffee & Anise, Firecracker, Honeycomb, Leche, Oscuro, Panko and Spicy Maya! All natural & just 50 calories each! For your mandatory entry in this giveaway, go to Chuao's homepage and sign up for their newsletter (lower right hand side).
To earn an additional entry, do one (or all) of the following and leave a separate comment for each thing you do:
1. Become a Google Friends Connect follower of Moana Saves (in the sidebar).
2. Become a Networked Blogs follower of Moana Saves (in the sidebar).
3. FollowMoana Saves on Twitter.
Only one person per email/household/IPaddress can enter this giveaway. He/she must be 18+ years old and reside in the U.S. This giveaway ends on 5/11/11 at 11:59 PM HST (Hawaii Standard Time). One winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org. I will notify the winner via email and he/she must respond to claim the prize within 48 hours or I will draw another winner.
*I was not paid, but did recieve products to facilitate this review. Any and all opinions here are my own.