Box Chocolate Review

Guido Castagna

Info Details
Country Italy   
Style Classic      (with New School twists)
lo
med
hi
CQ
Sweetness
Intensity
Complexity
Impact
Il Guercino of boxed chocolates… in a nod to Giovanni Francesco Barbieri aka Il Guercino ("The Squinter").

He, likewise an Italian, whose paintings worked a profound impact on the development of the 17th-century Baroque. An outstanding draftsmen, Il Guercino also mastered frescoes, altarpieces, oils, & drawings. By the age of 30, Pope Gregory XV called him to Rome.

These pieces within this box force taste-buds to squint or constrict thru a constellation of sugar like so many stars in the sky, straining to make out the finer parts of dark (brown) matter (both cocoa & filberts).


Personification of Astrology; Giovanni Francesco Barbieri / Il Guercino (1650-55)
Presentation   4.6 / 5
classic, clean, & concise
Aromas   4.4 / 5
… & thou shalt knoweth them by their scents
very self-identified by them: nuts & fruit
Textures/Melt   8.7 / 10
Shells: unobtrusive
Centers: light bodied considering the weight of the elements; generally soft as butter with an exception or two
Flavor   42 / 50
Hazelnut-centricity overshot with sweetness… quite sugar-happy (which changes out for the smothering vanilla that characterized Guido Castagna a few years back).

Many craftsmen forget the fundamentals in confections: cacáo is potent but fragile. In pegging several of these pieces at a benchmark 61% cacáo-content couverture, Guido Castagna all but guarantees an infusion-centric outcome, often sugar heavy. Especially the Tartufi pairing hazelnuts with Venezuela cacáo which easily could tolerate 10% or more cocoa weight, doubly so considering Venezualan's intrinsic nut-inflections that naturally match this suite of assortments well.
Quality   24.2 / 30
Variations on the theme of a strong motif -- gianduja.

Some gaps in the exposition but generally a box that speaks high craft.
Selections
Couverture: in-house
Giandujotto -- built on a foundation of Piemonte hazelnuts & Chuao cacáo; tremendous mouth, clearly quality ingredients, yet strangely indeterminate for 2 of the grandest titans in all of gastronomy; gutless save for a sodium hit at the finish; huge letdown from so much heightened anticipation

TARTUFI

Gianduja -- straight, no nonsense; sweet yet Dark & sinuous in its unctuous hazelnut nut paste

Amaretto -- has it all… tooth, crunch, biscuit goodness, & sound chocolate base

Maraschino -- oh, so smooth on the tongue… oral sex really… admittedly, more powdered sugar & hazelnut than the Maraschino cherry liqueur but who'll notice anyways with texture this velour; tactile to the very happy nerve endings

Croccante -- colorful name but disingenuous as this too proves smooth & more of the same: soft hazelnut


SPEZIATI

Malva e Cardamomo -- the mauve-colored mallow + cardamom add natural sweet, floral, & spice to this but, above all, meaty in its exposition, the latter a combo of the nuts (both cacáo & filberts) creating some fitting textural grain; an arresting, rustic beauty

Zenzero -- candied ginger; less successful as the components never truly marry, in fact they practically cancel one another out save for the ginger which sanitizes all in its path; no sensei in this Zen

Paprika e Pepe Rosa -- gianduja seasoned with heat & savor of the 2 spices that ignite warm, rather than blistering, & antique finish for an updated classic

Cannella e Calendula -- easy on the eyes & palate with calendula furnishing visual dazzle plus an immediate citric lift to the cinnamon-hazelnut base which comes fore, ironically, at the back; supreme combination adroitly-proportioned & executed

Reviewed December 18, 2014
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