Well, this post has been a few months in the making; I kept on setting it aside. At any rate, during Spring Break, I visited New York and stopped by Pierre Marcolini. Sadly, they didn’t have hot chocolate that day, but I did walk away with an assortment of their chocolates; they’re the first really high-end chocolates I’ve ever eaten. It was a beautiful experience, and here are my entirely unprofessional reactions.
“Massepain Pistache: Paste of ground almonds and pistachios with a powdered sugar in dark chocolate”
Very thin chocolate shell, a sweet dark chocolate that harmonizes with the filling. Filling is lovely, unctuous but not too smooth or thick/pasty, with almond and liqueur and hints of pistachio. I like that they left a bit of texture in the marzipan, so it was moist and almost crumbly. Sweetness of the marzipan is complemented by a hint of light tanginess (the alcohol? it doesn’t seem citrusy) and the slight bitterness of the chocolate. Very pleasurable to eat – satisfying, not overly rich or sweet.
“Coeur Framboise: Dark chocolate raspberry infused ganache in a white chocolate shell”
Really intense raspberry, but hardly tart at all. Very, very sweet. The white chocolate tastes like decent white chocolate (though not El Rey), and the ganache is a little more sticky and less bitter than most of the others. This one is very appealing, and I can see why it’s popular; the woman at the store recommended it to me repeatedly, although I was hesitant. It’s sweet and smooth-textured and bursting with fruitiness, without the harshness of citrus or dark chocolate; a very American chocolate. The raspberry tastes slightly artificial to me, though, and it’s just too sweet for me to really enjoy the flavors. I might recommend it to someone who found dark chocolate too strong, but I probably wouldn’t get it again myself. Very very beautiful, though.
“Thym Orange: Dark chocolate ganache infused with fresh thyme and orange peels”
I like this one. Very smooth texture, both of the thin shell and the thick ganache. The orange seems perhaps slightly stronger than the thyme, but both harmonize very well; it’s a rounded, very interesting flavor, with lots of different facets and notes (citrusy, herby, fruity, bitter) coming to play. The orange is very vivid and natural, hints of candied orange peel; the thyme haunts the background, balancing the orange’s assertiveness. The chocolate isn’t as sweet as some of the other ganaches, which is nice; it’s certainly sweet enough to keep this a dessert, but it’s not a sugary dessert. The thyme is coming out late, almost as an aftertaste or a shadow of the chocolate. This is lovely, adult, complex “eating chocolate,” the sort of thing that reminds me of a multifaceted gourmet meal – many decadent flavors, but no one overwhelming the rest.
“Quatre Epices: Infusion of cinnamon, clove, cardamom and ginger (in caramel with salted butter)”
Nice. Strong and sweet, rather reminiscent of Pfeffernuesse cookies. The filling is very solid and only slightly sticky, with just a hint of the browned buttery caramel taste, and spiced with a rich blend that nearly but not quite overpowers the dark chocolate shell. The texture of the filling is nice, not as smooth as ganache, but solid. Enjoyable but slightly uninspiring; I feel like a Pfeffernuesse would offer a similar experience, albeit less dense. One of the prettiest chocolates, though. The buttery undercurrent comes through over the course of eating the chocolate, building slowly; the salt is a barely-perceptible undercurrent that harmonizes everything together. Pleasant, if unremarkable, aftertaste.
“Violette: Dark chocolate ganache infused with flowery Violette”
Very fruity but light; almost reminiscent of raspberry. Not soapy/perfumey at all. The ganache is good, with a texture that’s neither sticky nor thick, and the thin dark chocolate shell is of excellent quality, but both are overshadowed by the violet taste, which seems to come from the sprinkled crumbles on the top (the ganache itself is only very subtly flavored). Tastes like deep royal purple flecked with gold and tied up with a rainbow power bow. Undertones of artificial grape and cotton candy. An interesting and enjoyable experience, but violet may just not be my thing.
“Câlin Lait: Almond-flour crisps topped with cream caramel and milk chocolate”
Mmmmm. This is like the best candy bar ever. Lighter than the last one, and quite sweet. Lovely crunch on the bottom, with hints of toffee (buttery and slightly, pleasantly burnt) and a subtle nuttiness. The texture is unexpected: a very thin outside shell, with a lower layer of tiny, crystalline crunchy bits in a light mousse, but the top caramel layer is surprisingly thin-feeling for a stiff liquid. Overall impression: light, sweet, happy.
“Pierre Marcolini: 72% cocoa content, combination of beans from the Venezuelan regions Sur de Lago, Carenero and Rio Caraibe”
Oh. This is good. Thick, strong ganache. This is chocolate – not too fruity, not too milky or creamy, not too bitter. Perfectly smooth on the tongue, mildly sweet, powerful. A cello solo that carries within it the command of the whole orchestra. This is better than sex. This is the most essentially and purely chocolate chocolate I may ever have eaten. Platonic chocolate. I don’t know how to describe it, even, other than chocolate. Pleasant, slightly bitter aftertaste.