Box Chocolate Review

Kee's

Info Details
Country USA   (NYC)
Style Neo-Modern      
lo
med
hi
CQ
Sweetness
Intensity
Complexity
Impact
The same firm that insures J. Lo’s ass should cover Kee Tong’s hands show more »
Presentation   4.6 / 5
UPS shipping... unpretentious plain-paper box - almost always a good sign. The clear message: what counts is all on the inside. ‘Rustic Elegance’ happens to be overwrought & overused these days. Call it beautifully stark, Shaker-style simplicity; nondescript enough for guys driving pick-up trucks who want to avoid the embarrassment of being caught red-handed in the act, carrying heart-shaped gold boxes tied up in red ribbons. Pieces themselves are a motley slew: fuglies mixed among precisely molded designs, with lumps & speed bumps... just the way to ride; mostly mid-sized & of healthy weight. All in all, a proud looking collection traveling the color spectrum from cloudy white to jet brown with a sheen that sits just over the bright side of semi-gloss.
Aromas   4.5 / 5
fresh-direct, infusion dominant, topped off by a loft of buttered pastry air – forecasting cream as a major theme
Textures/Melt   9.2 / 10
Shells: solid; collapse nicely & easily onto modified Belgian centers
Centers: heavy cream; hearty, almost cultured butter-cuts tilting slightly toward buttermilk; achingly soft interiors... crushing slow-motion pillows really... some of the softest in existence, 2nd in the USA only to
Flavor   44.8 / 50
subtlety defined; paradoxically varied w/in a narrow range, the yin-yang of an approach; developes a standardized & somewhat retiring consistency (due to couverture employed), likened to ‘croissant butter ‘n cream x cocoa’ featuring a burnt anise note
Quality   27.8 / 30
High artisan
Selections
Couverture: state secret (psst:
Cognac – to many, White Chocolate appears the stripped orphan of cacao; here Kee gives it a decent name, meeting expectations (hence, somewhat predictable) w/ a deodorized White matched alluringly to full cream & a drop of distilled spirits; makes ideal if surreptitious wedding cake frosting
Green Tea – opaque green busting out from under thin White shell which, sadly, never transfers to taste... rare miss... putty white chalk, idles w/ no backup whatsoever; tea in name only - green in adolescent effect
Coconut – where a light hand really makes a difference; coconut for sure, backed into enough Dark to create a quick passing masala-mirage
Jasmine – killing w/ softness; small floral orb against inherently earth-laden chocolate that slowly dissolves to fade in an eclipse; stunning
Earl Grey - nothing, just cream.... hold on.... a little something but, nah, gets creamed out... wait.... oh, oh, oh, what’s that? there it is... catch it... in the space of a taste bud’s blink... next time bring more than a teacup to catch this bergamot, bring a butterfly net; subtlety defined / patience rewarded
Thompson – in homage to Kee’s home street; tastes rather... well, straight up Belgian (simple cream ganache w/ Milk & Dark Chocs combined) save for a roasted edge (possibly inferring that SoHo w/ all its shoe stores & cosmetic shops is getting... burnt-out?)
Champagne – more & more this combo ends up in pyramid-shaped molds. What chocolate has to do with Khufu at Giza other than some ambiguously spiritual ‘pyramid power’ must be part of the greater mystery. Or maybe it has to do w/ Napoleon toasting his 1802 invasion of Egypt realizing that soon he’d lose whatever cacáo trees he had over in the New World because just 1 year later France’s Hispaniola colony would be in revolt. Just a theory. This particular conquest trades more on the grape than the bubble, going for the raisin in fact. An exhibit of strength & grace, tremendous length... to a long & clear finish. Nothing bush-league here. Mission actually accomplished.
Balsamic - fads are tiring. What to do w/ $200 bottles of balsamic but pour it on chocolate, call it art & charge $600 for the privilege. Give Kee credit – she’s w/ the times w/out being stuck in them. What has the hallmarks of a white Trebbiano & enough must to be a Modena gold labeled tradizionale goes for the grape, much like its Champagne sibling, instead of the vinegar (& it’s probably just some cheap stuff from Dean & DeLuca), then gets rounded by the robustness of... oh that clever Kee... pecan, for added depth. Formidable.
Crystallized Almond – a bit of a conjuring motion vector: smooth-textured ganache collapses to unearth crunchy almond fragments that ricochet back into chocolate cream; flavors for the most part stay segregated & secondary to quite a procession & progression
Honey Saffron – perhaps the deepest integration of the set. Starting on a sweet tip melded to a rather neutralized cocoa tannin, both darkened in tone by the entrance of that recognizably slight-bittering hay so characteristic of saffron, resulting in a steely honey & overall compound metal alloy. Strong enough to skip the 1-a-Day vitamin, gentle enough to be classified an electrolyte. In a word, sensational.
Smoked Salt - from the hypnotic swirl pattern on the mold, to the temporal sorcerer in smoked-salt embedded beneath a cream melt, this reps going under a rich thick slow haze
Kaffir-Lime – Mondrian-designed mold lacking any heat, jazz, or color; just a blank black canvas
Blended Pepper – takes a similar tact to the Crystallized Almond piece; only at the finish do peppers fire thru & even then more as a flint spark
Lemongrass Mint – easily the most forward of the collection; dualing herbs converse back & forth ‘til a full-throttled exchange when, united in darkness, bake up a... what the dilly yo - check it out - a Girl Scout cookie
Thai Chili – very immediate; by Kee’s standards, the firmest ganache & couverture, well-matched to the close-rising heat of pepper
Coffee – full-city coffee roast laid out against a mint sprig & slightly smoked chocolate; think Kentucky bluegrass, horses, a lit cigar, & Kahlua Julep
Black Sesame – height of the collection. Open sesame deserving its own Valentine
Creme Brulee – signature piece; speaks for itself... in volumes
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