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Chocolate and Salt

a
anzu May 29, 2008 12:32 AM

Ok, I just bought 2 bars of chocolate w/ sea salt. One is a dark bar produced by Cost Plus, and the other is a bar with hickory smoked almonds and sea salt by Vosges.

Now I've done the salt/sweet combo (e.g. salt on watermelon), and heck chocolate-covered pretzels, so I'm surprised at how surprised I was by this combo, but omg. Maybe the novelty will wear down once the law of diminishing marginal returns kicks in, but in the meantime, this is like crack. I can't believe I haven't tried this sea salt/chocolate combo before. I bite into rich chocolate (both milk and dark), and the crunch of the salt combined with the smooth milky chocolate makes it taste almost carmelized-- but then you get a "surprise" dose of salty.

Wow. It's way past my bedtime and I am gushing about this. . .

But where else am I going to find people who will relate to (or at least appreciate) my food "epiphany" even if it's a mundane one? :)

  1. brekkie_fan May 29, 2008 12:44 AM

    I tried a Vosges goji bar the other week. So freaking good. Must hit their store in Vegas to stockpile that stuff. Or just go to my friend's place (Mustard Cafe) and pick one up to stimulate his economy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: brekkie_fan
      k
      kobetobiko May 29, 2008 06:12 PM

      Agree on the goji bar with salt. Love it.

    2. g
      GaryR May 29, 2008 06:12 AM

      Our mail-ordered package of Vosgee chocolate bars arrived last week, and we too were blown away by the wonderful blending of diverse flavors. My wife's favorite is the sea salt & chocolate, and I'm loving the chocolate & bacon most. In any event, we are savoring them all with just the smallest of bites to make them last as long as possible before incurring another shipping/customs expense. I wish we could buy them here. Maybe it's a good thing we can't. I think we'd be addicts with a too-readily available fix!

      1. JungMann May 29, 2008 06:22 AM

        I've had salty ingredients with chocolate before (nuts, pretzels, bacon, etc.) but when I was given a chocolate-sea salt cupcake at a party two weekend ago it was a complete revelation. It hits your palate in so many places and heightens the flavor. Definitely a surprising flavor combination to me and one that I love.

        1. m
          moh May 29, 2008 06:34 AM

          If you haven't already tried it, you have to try caramel with salt as well. And even better: caramel chocolate and salt.

          If you are interested in this combo, I strongly suggest you make a batch of Matzoh crunch with fleur de sel. Very easy. very addictive, and really showcases these three ingredients. There is a thread for the recipe on Home cooking Board. I use Callebaut Chocolate chips, butter, and I go heavy with the fleur de sel on top. Yumm!

          3 Replies
          1. re: moh
            maria lorraine May 29, 2008 10:32 PM

            It's the Snickers bar principle: chocolate plus salt of the peanuts plus caramel.
            The play of salt against the sugar makes the flavor(s) more complex.

            1. re: maria lorraine
              maria lorraine Jul 8, 2008 11:23 PM

              Great article about just this thing today in the New York Times:

              Perfection? Hint: It’s Warm and Has a Secret
              Quest for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

              http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/09/din...

              1. re: maria lorraine
                m
                moh Jul 9, 2008 09:19 AM

                maria lorraine, thanks for the link! The tip about resting the dough is great, I will have to try that soon.

          2. Pia May 29, 2008 12:18 PM

            Try Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies -- the dark chocolate + salt combo is well-loved on the Home Cooking board.

            1. a
              anzu May 29, 2008 03:53 PM

              Ooh. Thanks for the cookie and caramel suggestions. Will look for them. . ..

              1. e
                Erika L May 29, 2008 06:02 PM

                Try Fran's chocolate-dipped caramels with sea salt--the NYT reports that Obama is fond of the milk chocolate ones with smoked sea salt. Both the milk and the dark are worth every penny and every calorie! http://www.franschocolate.com

                1 Reply
                1. re: Erika L
                  Ruth Lafler May 29, 2008 07:22 PM

                  I had heard such raves about Fran's, so I tried them a while back and was really disappointed -- I didn't think the caramel itself was very good, and the ratio of chocolate to caramel didn't work for me.

                  For my money (and it's a lot of money), the best fleur de sel caramels with chocolate are Recchiuiti.

                2. k
                  kobetobiko May 29, 2008 09:06 PM

                  By the way, you can make your own simple versions at home: get your favorite chocolate or caramel ice cream (gelato or thicker denser ice cream works better), sprinkle a little Malton sea salt or Australian Murry River flaky sea salt (pink in color) on top. That's it!

                  1. e
                    Elizabeth Rothman May 30, 2008 07:58 AM

                    Vosges has really risen the bar on chocolate. I agree the sea salt and other savory flavors in their chocolate make it really unique and wonderful. The first bar I had was the Dark Chocolate Wasabi bar, I was very skeptical at first, it came in a gift basket. From then on I was hooked. Flavor orgasm for sure.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Elizabeth Rothman
                      m
                      mmalmad May 30, 2008 08:40 AM

                      The Vosges bar with bacon...is really orgasmic

                    2. yumyumyogi May 30, 2008 08:37 AM

                      Anzu, congrats on discovering the beauty of the chocolate-sea salt combo. I do love the wonderful flavor combinations that Vosges offers (my favorite being the macha bar). There's another flavor you should consider adding - olive oil. I made a chocolate mousse with oive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, and it was out of this world. Here's a link to the recipe and some historical context via CH: www.chow.com/recipes/10150

                      1. Frodnesor Jun 1, 2008 06:28 PM

                        Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in Miami, FL does a dessert playing on this combination - chocolate cremoso sprinkled w/ sea salt, drizzled w/ olive oil, served w/ a soudough crostini and an espresso parfait. Outstanding stuff.

                        http://www.michaelsgenuine.com

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: Frodnesor
                          maria lorraine Jun 1, 2008 07:47 PM

                          Here's the recipe:
                          http://recipes.rimag.com/recipe.asp?i...

                          1. re: maria lorraine
                            yumyumyogi Jun 2, 2008 06:18 AM

                            Mmmm... mm.

                            Frodnesor, Michael's Genuine looks like my favorite kind of place. Too bad it's in Miami! Thanks for the link - at least I can look at the menu and imagine...

                            ML, thanks for sharing the recipe. Just curious: is "cremoso" just Italian for ice cream? And if so, what's the difference between it and gelato?

                            1. re: yumyumyogi
                              Frodnesor Jun 2, 2008 08:05 AM

                              I've never been able to figure out what "cremoso" really means (I think literally it just means "creamy"). It is not an ice cream, in that its not churned or even frozen (the recipe says "chill," not "freeze" as it does with the espresso parfait), though the cream/sugar/egg yolk/chocolate base seems awfully similar to an ice cream base.

                              1. re: Frodnesor
                                Ruth Lafler Jun 2, 2008 09:34 AM

                                Maybe more like a zabligione flavored with chocolate?

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                  maria lorraine Jun 2, 2008 05:06 PM

                                  If you look at the technique and ingredients, cremoso seems like a custard. It comes in both savory versions -- like corn cremoso (kind of a timbale), and cheese-based cremoso for pasta -- and sweet versions.

                                  So yes, Ruth, Frod, YYY, comparisons to creme anglais (the custard base for ice cream before flavor additions) and zabaglione/saboyon are apt.

                                  Here are the differences I detect: slightly more egg yolks per cream volume than for a crème anglais/zabaglione/saboyon, which makes the mixture thicker than a custard. No whipped egg whites as in a mousse so thicker again and less light because of that. Very similar to a pot de crème (pot de cremoso?) but the pot de crème has slightly more egg yolks per cream volume.

                                  That dessert sounds perfectly wunnerful. I love olive oil and salt in dessert. Well, chocolate and espresso and hazelnuts and vanilla aren't too bad either.

                                  1. re: maria lorraine
                                    Frodnesor Jun 2, 2008 06:43 PM

                                    If you ever try it, I should note that I find the espresso parfait entirely superfluous.

                                    1. re: maria lorraine
                                      yumyumyogi Jun 2, 2008 08:44 PM

                                      Thanks for the breakdown, ML. I can't look at anything with cream at this moment (stomach flu), but as soon as this bugger goes away I'll definitely be trying the recipe. My curiosity is piqued.

                                  2. re: Frodnesor
                                    yumyumyogi Jun 2, 2008 09:57 AM

                                    What does it taste like? Chocolate mousse?

                                    1. re: yumyumyogi
                                      Frodnesor Jun 2, 2008 11:08 AM

                                      I'm accustomed to zabaglione being pretty much pure egg/marsala/sugar, this is a lot creamier than that. Like a super-dense chocolate mousse, somewhere between mousse and ganache.

                            2. madgreek Jun 2, 2008 11:24 AM

                              Was the Cost Plus bar just as good as the Vosges? Anyone know if it's available at World Market?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: madgreek
                                a
                                anzu Jul 9, 2008 12:23 AM

                                I'm belatedly replying to your query-- it's hard to say. I'm usually a dark chocolate nut, but I was surprised at how much I like the milk chocolate-- the extra creaminess of the milk chocolate seemed to accentuate the flavor contrast between the chocolate and the salt better in the milk.

                                In fact, I couldn't make up my mind, so I kept having the two together.

                                I got them both at Cost Plus. The Vosges one was $6, whereas the Cost Plus one was $2. If cost were equal, I'd say slight preference for the Vosges, but I wouldn't say it was 3 times more amazing than the CP bar. So if we factor in cost and taste, I'd pick the cost plus bar. They also have a milk chocolate version, so perhaps I ought to try all 3!

                                And yumyumyogi, a belated thanks for the mousse w/ olive oil recipe! I'll have to give that a try!

                              2. e
                                emerilcantcook Jun 2, 2008 02:29 PM

                                I have recently started sprinkling some sea salt on my Nutella toast. You know, poor man's Vosges...

                                1. w
                                  wellfedred Jun 2, 2008 05:43 PM

                                  My sis & I still recall oh-so-fondly the best dessert ever at a now-defunct tapas bar in Atlanta (in a former gas station)....so the dessert was a thin slice of baguette, brushed with olive oil, toasted, then topped with a piece of dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. AMAZING.

                                  1. a
                                    anina Jul 25, 2008 08:45 AM

                                    I am in complete agreement...I am creamed by the caramels with sea salt.. I have to haveone everyday.. they are my new best guilty pleasure anina

                                    1. a
                                      anzu Jul 25, 2008 09:36 AM

                                      Thanks for resurrecting this thread. It just reminded me that I was going to post about another salt chocolate bar I recently tried. Same Vosges line, but since they were out of the hickory smoked almonds and sea salt bar that I was so enamored of last time, I got the pink Himilayan salt and goji berries one this time (since the cashier at Cost Plus also said that it was her favorite bar).

                                      This one, I wasn't overly crazy about. The goji berries were a distraction. The shriveled up chewy fruit w/ rich, crisp chocolate combo doesn't really work for me, texturally speaking. I usually don't like dried fruit or other soft/chewy things w/ my chocolate. (and conversely, I can't stand hard chocolate chips in my ice cream, either!) I think this bar would've been nice w/o the goji berries.

                                      Y'all are making me curious about the sea salt caramels. :)

                                      1. Chew on That Jul 25, 2008 01:26 PM

                                        Totally agree! I had chocolate with salt for the first time in Belgium and I'm definitely a believer too!

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