Thursday, July 30, 2009

RECOMMENDATION: Michel Cluizel Chocolate Collection

If you're interested in starting a journey in the wild world of chocolate, this is hands down the best place to start. It's a variety pack of various single-origin chocolates from one of the world's very best chocolatiers, Michel Cluizel.

The only way to really begin appreciating the finer aspects of chocolate flavor, well, you need something to compare each flavor to. The five varieties in this package run the gamut, from the explosively fruity Mangaro, to the darker, less complex Tamarina. You get eight squares of two varieties, and four of the remaining three. Yeah, the photo is a total lie. The chocolates are laid out in columns.

The box gives you a short description of each variety, from whence it came, and general flavors. They also provide a small booklet explaining the chocolate manufacturing process and how passionate Cluizel is about the whole thing.

It's an easy one-stop-shop for a beginning in fine chocolates. I recommend it fully. The only thing I find a bit ridiculous is the insistence of using "Noble Ingredients." If you haven't heard of that, it's because Cluizel made it up. Basically, it means he doesn't use soy lecithin as an emulsifier in his chocolate mix. He says that finely tuned palates can taste the lecithin. I can't. While my palate may simply not be up to snuff, I also sense more than a little pompous BS in his declaration. Regardless, I'm glad he's dedicated enough to do something no one else cares about.

Moreover, this praise only applies to his dark chocolate varieties. His milk chocolate is a surprising miss. The texture is waxy and the flavor is so mild as to be almost nonexistent. After you're done with this, you can expand to other single-origin chocolates and manufacturers. If you so desire, I highly recommend Marie Belle, Jacques Torres, and the wide variety available from Guittard. Bernard Callebaut also produces excellent chocolate, including a fantastic milk.

Local chocolates are surprisingly varied, but none of them manufacture their own chocolate. For example, Garrison Confections uses Guittard to hand make his own artisan treats. Still, these places are nearby and don't require $4,730,699.00 in shipping costs to keep the chocolate from melting. Massachusetts has Nirvana, Connecticut has Knipschildt, and New York has... everything ever.

Michel Cluizel Variety Pack (

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