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Edible Chocolate Box
One of our favorite products, the edible chocolate box, filled with more edible chocolates. All photography courtesy Charles Chocolates.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

PETER ROT is the THE NIBBLE’s chocolate specialist.


 

April 2007
Last Updated July 2010

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Chocolate

Charles Chocolates

A Bay Area Chocolate Maker With An Entire Candy Shop Of Delights

 

CAPSULE REPORT: Charles Chocolates is a newcomer company launched by an industry veteran. The product line spans a number of categories, and we think the standouts are the addictively wonderful Chocolate-Covered Nuts and Orange Twigs (truffles). If you like Pâte de Fruits, Charles’ version are intensely fruity, adorably round and worth a try. This is Page 1 of a three-page article. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.

Overview

Charles Chocolates is the resurrection of one man’s fervent passion and dedication to chocolate. A self-taught chocolatier named Chuck Siegel (a.k.a Charles) has been pumping out gourmet confections since 1987, when at the tender age of 25, he started Attivo Confections in San Francisco. There, he pioneered then trend-setting treats such as gourmet s’mores on homemade organic graham crackers, with homemade marshmallows and bittersweet chocolate (the recipe is available on the company website); and “The Apple,” an extra-large Granny Smith apple coated in fresh cream caramel, dipped in bittersweet chocolate, and then coated with macadamia nuts or crumbled biscotti. Folks living in the neighborhood—before websites and e-commerce made ordering from all corners of the country a snap—certainly were lucky!

Chuck can still be found in California, but don’t go looking for Attivo: He sold the business in 1995. Recently, he moved from Charles Chocolates’ original location in Emeryville, near Berkeley, into San Francisco.

Charles Chocolates is one of numerous fine chocolate companies in the Bay Area working with fresh, local ingredients. Beginning three years ago with chocolate bars, he now has an extensive line. He uses top couvertures—Cacao Barry from France, El Rey from Venezuela and Guittard from nearby Burlingame, California, based on which chocolate best suits the particular product. Where should you begin? Let’s start with the bonbons, since that’s what we did!

Boxed Chocolate Collections

Instead of supersized novelty sweets, Chuck now favors delicacy, finesse and small sizes of bonbons. The chocolatier offers boxed assortments in three sizes. The bonbons are dainty pieces in a variety of classic and modern shapes (hearts, butterflies) and pretty cocoa butter transfer designs. The flavors are also delicate: Each piece is light as a feather—not ultra-rich or over-the-top, but what is known in the business as a soft or subtle profile.

Flavors of the individual pieces can be either assertive or soft-spoken, depending. The three heart-shaped chocolates (Mojito, Passion Fruit and Raspberry) are of the assertive persuasion:

 

Boxed ChocolatesBoxed chocolates.

Strong and vibrant, fresh and crisp, they practically scream on the tongue and might even make your mouth pucker. But then they’re gone, leaving no lingering flavors on the tongue (“finish”) to remind you that they were there.

 

On the other hand, the round bonbons, such as Mint, Earl Grey and Kahlua, are slightly less flavor-forward but richer. With a thicker texture and longer length, they give you more time to enjoy them. The highlight of these is definitely the Mint, with its remarkably fresh mint flavor that is the result of an infusion of real mint leaves, not mint oil.

Caramels are always popular, and the standard pound box currently has three: Milk Chocolate Caramel, Poire William Milk Chocolate Caramel and Espresso Caramel. The first two caramels are mixed with a milk chocolate ganache, which gives them a thicker texture and are softer in flavor. Although they’re very good, they pale in comparison to the Espresso Caramel. This one is strong on all fronts—chocolate, caramel, espresso—and would be snapped up by coffee-lovers if it were available in pound boxes all by itself.

Some of our favorites: Mint Bonbon Espresso Caramel Mojito
  Mint Bonbon—you can
taste the infusion of
fresh mint
The assertive and
noteworthy Espresso
Caramel
Mojito Heart, a mint-
infused lime ganache
with dark Jamaican rum

For a special gift, give Charles Chocolates in an edible chocolate box (see photo at top of page). The lids are typically white chocolate with seasonal designs, topping a semisweet chocolate box.

Continue To Page 2: Tea Chocolate Collection

Go To The Article Index Above

 

 

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