Monday, December 26, 2016

Trader Joe's - Amaretti & Sweet Almond 'Sky - Dec. 26, 2016

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

Rinomata e Premiata
Amaretti Virginia
Weight: 2.11 oz. (60 g.) / 10.58 oz. (300 g.) in total container
Calories: 330 calories in 4 cookies
Cost: $9.99 for 1 container
Purchased from: Trader Joe's, Alameda, CA

Trader Joe's
Tartufi Dolci All' Amaretto
Good +
Weight: 1.38 oz. (39 g.) / 6 oz. (170 g.) in total canister/tin of 13 pieces
Calories: 240 calories in 3 pieces
Cost: $5.99 for 1 container
Purchased from: Trader Joe's, Alameda, CA

Welcome to Day #7 of Italian Holiday Theme Week and Day #3 of Spirited Chocolates Theme Week.

Amaretti cookies
This beautiful, rectangular tin was filled with 15 soft amaretti cookies. Festively wrapped in paper twist wrappers and sealed with clear inner-wrappers, were 4 different flavors: Chocolate, Coffee, Raspberry and Chocolate Rum.

Tartufi Dolci All' Amaretto Truffles
The second chocolate(s) of the day were Tartufi Dolci (sweet truffles) All' Amaretto—also individually wrapped pieces - in vanilla colored papers. These rectangular chocolate pieces contained pieces of amaretti cookie and almond bits, and were almond flavored.

Sweet Almond 'Sky
And the Italian-American spirit of the day was a tiny shotglass* drink mixed with 1 Tablespoon DiSaronno (Amaretto) and 2 Tablespoons Woodstock After Dark Bourbon + Chocolate. Drink neat. Guaranteed to warm you on a cold evening.

*Almost all of my cocktails and desserts are shot-glass sized. It's a fun challenge to try to pack the most perfectly compatible flavors into one small glass.

Valenza Chocolatier - Clove and Cucidati Chocolates - Dec. 25, 2016

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

Valenza Chocolatier
1.) Clove - Good +++
2.) Cucidati - Very Good
(from a 6-piece Italian Holiday Cioccolato assortment box)
Weight: .8 oz. (22.6 g.) (estimate) in 2 pieces
Calories: 120 calories (estimate) in 2 pieces
Cost: $15.00 - part of a 6-piece holiday assortment box
Purchased from: Valenza Chocolatier, Costa Mesa, CA

Buon Natale and Merry Christmas to all from Chocolate Banquet!
I hope today you enjoyed some of the true sweetness of this holiday.

I felt grateful to spend today with family and friends, and to unwrap and savor these two wonderful holiday chocolates from Valenza Chocolatier (Costa Mesa, CA). Both were inspired by Italian cookies.

The first piece, a Clove chocolate, was based on a Sicilian clove chocolate cookie and contained "clove, cinnamon and allspice, 41% milk chocolate and 61% dark chocolate." It was a warm spicy chocolate, with well-balanced (subtle, baked cookie) flavor. The clove was present without being too strong and there was almost a hint of something with alcohol.

The domed dark chocolate bonbon shell was topped with holiday sparkles—perfect for Christmas.

Cucidati (little bracelets*) are Italian fig cookies. Today's Cucidati chocolate channeled the best of the flavors found in these flavorful cookies. It looked a bit like a humble truffle, but it was anything but. At the heart of this chocolate was a center packed with Italian holiday flavors: chocolate, figs, allspice, cinnamon, candied orange peel, honey and raisins.

This confection was hand-rolled in 61% dark chocolate and finished with cocoa powder. It was a grown-up and sophisticated chocolate with a hint of fig paste filled cookie and tasted like holiday spices and childhood memories.

We drove to neighboring towns to see Christmas lights. I enjoyed a small cup of hot chocolate with Amaretto to help brace against the cold. If the weather were warmer, I would have been tempted to have a small glass of Aperol (Italian orange-flavored liqueur/apertif) over ice with these chocolates.

*Some Cucidati fig cookies are sliced in such a way that they could look like a series of small, joined bracelets. (The fig paste filling for these cookies may show in between the "bracelets"; and the fig filling may occasionally also contain ground dates.)

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