Once more, I’m jumping my chocolate review queue to talk about yesterday’s chocolates rather than, for example, the chocolates I had five weeks ago in New York. But what can you do? The first of these was quite delicious, and the second constituted another shock to my dark-chocolate-loving system, so I decree that they deserve speedy recognition.
Also, they both have pretty packaging.
The Tea Room Organic Milk Chocolate Bar Infused with Black Masala Chai Tea
I had never heard of this chocolate company prior to two days ago, when I spotted a few of its bars at a Wegmans in Virginia. As the charming L.FoodieFulbright and L.MiteMaster can attest, I did my little chocolate-happy-dance, right there in the aisle, whilst popping two flavours (the second of which will be reviewed another time) into my shopping basket.
In 2009, The Tea Room won a Fancy Food Show Silver Award for Excellence for its Green Earl Grey Dark Chocolate, yet as I’m not a fan of Earl Grey tea, I’m here reviewing the Milk Chocolate Bar Infused with Black Masala Chai Tea. Along with black tea, the spices “infused” into the bar are cardamom, cinnamon, pepper and clove, with each of these components being certified organic.
The Tea Room captures well the flavour of chai tea, from the tea’s milky sweetness to its complex blend of spices. The spices here each contribute to the chocolate’s overall flavour without any one becoming overpowering. However, each spice does, on occasion, fleetingly assert itself. It is almost as if each spice likes to poke out its head from time to time and wave at you, before disappearing back into the sweet, milky amalgamation that is the overall flavour. In addition, the pepper creates a vague hint of heat on the palate, thereby providing a welcome, if subtle, counterpoint to the honey-and-vanilla-ice-cream sweetness of the milk chocolate itself.
Theo Hazelnut Crunch
Oh boy. Oh boy oh boy oh boy. This chocolate almost forced me to switch allegiance from the dark to the milk side of the chocolate fence, but I think I’m still mostly in the dark camp. Perhaps just my left leg is crossing the line?
This is amazing. Buttery crispy caramelly toffee salty crispy nutty buttery toffee salty nutty roasted salty amazing. I wish I could write something cleverer and more in keeping with the literary skills of someone who just wrote a 28,000-word thesis, but I have looked back at my tasting notes, and they’re all but illegible. Moderately inappropriate for any potential younger readers, too.
With the rather banal name of “hazelnut crunch”, I thought this Theo bar was going to be little more than chopped-up hazelnuts and milk chocolate. It’s so much more. The little nubbins of goodness that (as you can see) stud the bar are not just bits of hazelnut, they are speckles of salty, darkly-roasted hazelnut brittle (at least, that’s my guess. I’m no Theo chocolatier).
The combination of the buttery saltiness, the darker, almost burnt edge to the toffee, and the flavour of the roasted hazelnuts makes the smooth milk chocolate seem like a binding agent rather than a focal point – and that is fine by me.
In fact, it makes me feel better about the whole scenario, as I can keep my dark chocolate allegiance intact by justifying that my love here is all about the “hazelnut crunch”. Everybody wins!