Thursday, February 25, 2016

Handcrafted Luxury Chocolates - Aldi

Handcrafted Luxury Chocolates - Aldi
Valentine's Day has come and gone, and clearance candy has (already) disappeared from the shelves. These stores move so quickly! You have maybe 2 days after the holiday occurs to score anything on clearance before it all disappears into some kind of magical season-appropriate black hole. I thought they used to ship it off to the discount stores or something, but it seems like it's short lived on the shelves there as well. What happens to all of this out of season candy? 
Thankfully, Aldi is amazing as always, and they hang on to seasonal stuff and mark it down until it's all sold out. (I love you Aldi, never change.) I grabbed this fancy looking box of "luxury" chocolates to treat myself after the holiday season.
Look at this adorable packaging! The candy box is wrapped in a creamy pearlescent wrapping paper and tied up with a shiny red ribbon. The bow part is glued on to the band, and not really tied, but it still looks really nice and if you removed the heart shaped tag and the nutritional label on the back you might think it came from a mom and pop candy shop or something. My favorite part about this packaging is the wrapping paper. Not that many candy boxes are wrapped these days, unless it's with clear plastic or something, and I feel like this little added feature makes this candy feel extra special. Especially for something that's store-branded. 
Once the paper and ribbon have been removed the packaging is pretty generic looking and bland. The box itself is a creamy off white color and the trays and paper dividers inside are black. It doesn't look bad at all, but it looks kind of bland and sad on it's own.  
In this box we have 2 layers of chocolates and 4 of each flavor. (With 6 different flavors.) Not a bad amount of chocolate for the price. (Especially since I got this after the holidays. Hooray for being cheap!) 
The six flavors have a pretty nice variety of dark and milk chocolate and adorable shapes. (Only the heart shape is repeated with a different coating and filling combo.) Do they look fancy and high end? I don't really think so, but they look a lot nicer than the candies you typically get in grocery store boxes and assortments, and the flavor variety is pretty unique.
First flavor up to bat, the milk chocolate praline parfait. (Praline combined with caramelized hazelnut pieces.) The chocolate is sweet and a little malty, like a lot of the European-based chocolates we get at Aldi, and the soft chocolate-y center has crumbly little pieces inside that have the same texture as Pop Rocks, but all the flavoring of praline. There are supposed to be caramelized hazelnuts in there, but I can't seem to find any, instead I think this softer chocolate-y filling is just hazelnut flavored. It's almost like having a malted chocolate heart filled with praline-bits and Nutella. Not a bad start, but this one in particular was too sweet for my tastes. I prefer dark chocolate, so why not check out the dark chocolate heart-shaped candy next? 
This one has a contrasting filling of "Passion Fruit Supreme." (White chocolate truffle infused with passion fruit.) This chocolate was still sweeter than I usually like my dark chocolates to be, but I liked it more than the milk chocolate. As for the filling, it was light and buttery, with an impressively rich texture, but the flavor payoff was pretty weak. This filling was slightly fruity, but not as intense as I thought it'd be with a name like, "Passion Fruit Supreme." Then again I'm not particularly fond of passion fruit, so this might have been a blessing in disguise. Even though the flavoring was weak, I really liked the consistency of the filling inside and how nicely it melted. 
Next we have the chocolate that lured me into buying this box in the first place, the crème brûlée. (Caramel and vanilla custard truffle covered in milk chocolate.) This one is a cup-style, which is very different from all the others, and it's layered. The bottom portion is a thin runny caramel, which has the consistency and flavoring of ice cream topping, and the middle portion is a vanilla-pudding-flavored ganache. It's not as custard-y as I had hoped, but it does have a pretty authentic pudding-flavoring. (You know, they slightly egg-y kind of vanilla flavoring that pudding has, that's this stuff! But with a white chocolate mousse consistency.) The top layer seems to be a solid white chocolate with a sprinkling of brûlée sugar. It adds a nice crunch to the chocolate and even more sweetness. This flavor is a sugar bomb! It's really sweet and intense, which was just too intense for me. If it were dipped in dark chocolate I think it would have been better, but I love the concept.
So the crème brûlée chocolate was uncommon and interesting, but this next one is pretty normal. This time we have a creamy caramel, which is just a milk chocolate filled with normal caramel and topped off with dark chocolate. The ratio of chocolate to caramel on this one are way off, so it pretty much tastes like a slightly malted chocolate to me and I can barely taste the caramel. It's not bad, but it's the most disappointing of the 6. (Because it's so normal.)
Here's something a bit more interesting to follow that pretty average caramel, the amaretti torte! I had high hopes for this one, since I am a sucker for amaretti, but this was another overly sweet chocolate. The outer shell is pretty thick, and that tiny cap of dark chocolate doesn't balance out all that sugary milky coating. The best part of this candy is the little bits of amaretti inside the filling, but these are easily lost in the sea of melted white chocolate. (I really liked the look of this one though.)
End of the line! The last flavor in this box is the Brazillian orange ganache. Of all the chocolates in this mix, I think this one is actually my favorite! Although the chocolate layer is pretty thick, and very sweet like the other milk chocolates in this mix, the ganache has a bright and zesty orange flavor that helps cut through the sweetness. It's fruity, a little decadent, and I love that it's square shaped to make it stand out in this mix.
Overall, this was a step up from other grocery store chocolate boxes, like Russel Stover, but it's still not as fancy as some of the other high end offerings. At this price point, this is a pretty nice box of chocolate and you get a lot for your money. I found these to be too sweet and I wouldn't buy another box of these for myself as-is, but if they had a dark chocolate version I'd happily revisit this product next season. If you have a chocolate addiction and you love your sweets to be extra sweet, this is the mix for you. (And maybe you can get some cheap while it's on clearance.)
© Maria Smith
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