by Alice Medrich
Tasting Notes by Alice Medrich
Veronica Bowers personifies the art of the chocolatier. She is a mistress of flavor. Hers are some of the most superb and exquisite chocolates that I have ever tasted.
Remove the diaphanous hand tied ribbon and open the simple gold ballotin to the aroma of dark chocolate and the fresh flavors. Visually the chocolates are diminutive and elegant, a lovely variety of shapes, both molded and hand dipped. One or two foil wrapped pieces add variety to the assortment and touches of gold leaf, gold printing and some hand marking of the molds add elegance and distinction.
The assortment is dominated by bittersweet pieces with a white or milk chocolate piece for variety. Each piece has a thin delicate coating that offers just enough crisp resistance to the teeth to set off the creamy centers. (Do not even think of tossing whole chocolates into your mouth. No gobbling or you are out of our club! Go slow and enjoy...)
Fillings are mostly ganache, but what ganache! Veronica uses different chocolates and sometimes a blend of chocolates to create the perfect ganache for each flavoring. My first tasting told me that her flavorings don't come from bottles labeled "flavoring". Instead authentic and fresh ingredients are used: fresh garden mint, fresh orange zest, fresh raspberries, fine tea, or specially selected cinnamon infused directly into the cream before it is combined with the chocolate. The difference is astonishing. The flavors are vibrant yet subtle; they stand up to the chocolate and enhance without over powering. The flavor of fresh mint in chocolate—rather than the usual mint extract or oil of peppermint—is a revelation. Raspberry ganache tastes of fresh bright tangy berries rather than cooked preserves, orange ganache has just the right level of bitter orange flavor from fresh zest and a hint of orange liqueur, passion fruit purée is exciting in a white chocolate ganache. Veronica uses liqueurs very judiciously, and they are sipping quality liqueurs instead of the ubiquitous and horribly abused liqueur "flavorings" available to the confectionery industry.
The caramel piece molded in bittersweet chocolate is a triumph. It is hard to find an American Chocolatier who understands how to make a caramel dark enough—verging on bitter and with a little bit of salt—so that it works with a bittersweet chocolate coating. Hooray.
Scharffen Berger Chocolate plays a distinctive roll in several of Veronica's pieces.
The distinctive and complex flavors of the chocolate, with its hints of cherry, almond and Tahitian vanilla bean, are blended with tea infused cream in the piece called Renaissance. This is a very sophisticated tasting experience; each bite reveals more complexity. Black Forest is the most successful marriage of dark cherries with chocolate that I have tasted in a long time. The cherry flavor, reinforced by the Scharffen Berger, is deep and concentrated with a slow warming afterglow from something reminiscent of my grandmother's blackberry cordial. Haunting. Exquisite.
We take special pride in creating our unique line of handmade fine chocolates. Each delectable confection tastes as luxurious as it looks. Only the finest chocolate, freshest cream and sweet butter are used to ensure the highest level of quality on our product. Because these chocolates are all natural and do not contain preservatives, please enjoy them within one week. Store in a cool dry place (64-70 degrees Farenheit). If you have superhuman self-control and can save these decadent morsels for more than a week, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to two weeks without compromising quality.
Chocolates (October 1998)
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