Taste: In Search Of: Artisanal Chocolates

This year, give a gift of locally-made chocolate

To see just how good (or bad) Philly’s new artisanal chocolates are, we sent samples to three expert tasters: Fran Bigelow, owner of the venerable Fran’s Chocolates in Seattle; Tish Boyle, editor of Chocolatier magazine; and Tina Casaceli, director of pastry arts at the French Culinary Institute. All of the chocolates featured are available via mail order, so you can impress your faraway friends with a bit of decadent Philadelphia pride.

John and Kira’s
(formerly Jubilee)
$26 for a box of 15

FB: The wooden box is a beautiful presentation gift. Flavors come through with each chocolate, assertive enough to identify and recognize.
TB: Intense, true flavors such as garden mint—tastes like the leaf!—and fragrant lavender-honey.
TC: The best overall. The fillings are smooth and full of fresh, natural flavors that burst in your mouth.

Le Bec-Fin
1523 Walnut Street; 215-567-1000
$30 for a box of 16

FB: The caramel was outstanding! Amazing depth of flavor. The coconut delivered a real fresh coconut flavor. Great centers and superb mastery.
TB: The cherry cordial’s flavor was too strong. The smoky caramel was very nice, but the best one was the milk chocolate with Bailey’s Irish Cream.
TC: The flavor was okay, but not great, and sometimes they had way too much alcohol flavor.

24 South High Street, West Chester;
$27 for a box of 20

FB: Very nice presentation. I particularly liked the Szechuan peppercorn, but the madeira was too sweet.
TB: The madeira is way too sweet. I spit it out. The lavender was soapy, and the saffron truffle had no redeeming qualities. But I did like the caramel truffle.
TC: I was not fond of these truffles. They seemed to be made from manufactured shells that are filled and re-dipped.

210 West Rittenhouse Square;
$18 for a box of 24

FB: The Roquefort was excellent. A finer execution than a box of cheese chocolates I sampled in Paris last year.
TB: The dark rum was way too strong. Roquefort cheese: How can I ever erase the memory of this terrible taste?
TC: The flavors were weak and sometimes artificial-tasting. It tastes like extracts are used in place of real fruit purees or juices and alcohols.

The Painted Truffle
$30 for a box of 20

FB: Very creative. The hazelnut in milk chocolate was a standout, as was the Model T, a dark chocolate truffle with the lingering of cognac on your palette.
TB: The Banana-Bo-Banna tasted like overripe banana. The Monkey’s Uncle had an artificial flavor. “Mediocre” sums up these chocolates.
TC: The fillings have great flavors and are obviously made from fresh ingredients through infusing, as opposed to extracts.

Around the Web

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.