Box Chocolate Review

Christophe Roussel

Info Details
Country France   (La Baule)
Style Neo-Modern      (with Classic tendencies)
The eyes: A bit of a conveyer belt / pseudo-Whitman's Sampler™.

The mouth: standard if unremarkable melt ‘n mouth spread; a yield so-very-$20-prostitute on the last trick of the night… no moan, no hope of existence being transposed to any true higher purpose like bonbon nirvana. In a word, 'passionless'.

The tongue: a day at the circus for the inner-child with a sweet tooth from this skillful re-interpreter of childish things.

The belly button: easy to stomach.
Presentation   4.2 / 5
Great retro-inspired packaging
Groove-70s box design: bopping day-glo colors all the trend among several Parisian chocolatiers these days with matte-black background that suggest a target audience of neon partiers

Beautiful inner-box lined with silver & pink tea papers (nice touch)
Well-scripted / designed inner brochure
Gotta hand it to French confectioners: they've the style of the Japanese in graphics & bonbon body-art without the cutsie Anime flavors (ya know, 'big eyes, white knee socks, big substance')

Unassumingly cut rectangles (no gloss, no gleam, no BS modern stencils, gold leaf, or hand-sprinkled fairy-dust either)

All-in-all -- a petite boîte (size-wise) containing even tinier pieces within; quite compact -- fitting some 25 of 'em
Aromas   2.4 / 5
Floor cleaner with citrus fragrance, dusty rose, artificial cherry, desiccated coconut & formaldehyde

No genuine upper nose, no sinus tingles, no chocolate to speak of well-conched cacáo
Textures/Melt   7 / 10
Shells: gossamer-thin Semi-Dark, weaker than a mosquito leg, with little snap
Centers: rote; precise ganache body of ¼" thick moist pillows
Flavor   42.6 / 50
Smooth and assertively flavored centers equates with inoffensive & chocolate-free
Fruit bias (some running to lollipop strength)
Flavors roll in bright clean lemon, grain-free coconut completes the smoothest of oils; crisp orange to cleanses the palate; fresh baby ginger running the gamut from high burn to sensuous heat 2 minutes later

Only missteps: a) textbook praline replete with tooth-grinding sugars reveal sad, stale nuts in the center to remind of breakfast cereals that make some run for the teddy-bear under the blankets; & b) a diabetic shock-inducing milk / hi-sweetness (pancreas may not recover any time soon)
Quality   23.1 / 30
Well executed / textbook.

Bland covertures & nondescript ganaches the staged springboard to some of the most intense & perfect flavor suspensions. Balanced, natural & shockingly chuffed.

Editor's Note to Roussel: Employ some serious quality coverture(s), amp up the ganache quality, & get ready to kick the big boys in their bonbons (hear them bootsteps, Cluizel and Maison?) .
Palet d'Or - emphasis on d'or (french for 'gold') as this round coin, minted in a golden luster, cashes in a candied dried-fruit cake front with butter more than cream ganache for a back; on the money

Fleurs blueus - very clear pronunciation on the orange aspect (nice marmalade front); strong without overpowering the absent chocolate cover

Tokyo - a sonic as well as taste sensation; sesame-injected nougatine chews on the ears with its micro-crisp texture to go along with a decidedly lemon-orange tinge (possible over-bleed from the citrus pieces in this tight box); playful

Desirade - seamless confluence of golden macerated raisin, old rum + fruit-laden chocolate (one of the few cocoa presences to breakthrough); a harmonic convergence in a very amber tone

Perle de Noisette - good by any measure but rather ordinary... the kind of stuff the French confect while snoring in the ear of their adulterous lover

Croustillant - a Taste & Texture riot breaks out as Roussel throws the whole nut house into this crunch architecture built on praliné (almond paste boiled in sugar), noisette (hazelnuts), nougatine (more sugar/honey, nuts, candied fruit... sans egg whites) + crêpe dentelle (crispy wafers)

Valencia - pure almond sweetness (almost an orange underside) doubled down in MIlk Chocolate; enchanting & haunting

Passion - yuzu & passion fruit together yield a clear, clean & classic grapefruit fusion, all backed in a Dark-on-Dark chocolate which prevents the brightness from renting the mouth apart; superb

Andalousie - hyper-sweet interplay between a gently leaning orange peel & crunchy gianduia, teased together by Milk Chocolate

Guerande - butter-rich caramel sans much salt with just a touch of vanilla to open it up

Citron - daring blend of lemon against a shy ganache backdrop

Gingembre - slow build ginger… no tooth but clean & lean flavor blend with excellent post-ginger burn

Lait - ouch-sweet with no chocolate flavor to be found

Reviewed January 30, 2012
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