Chocolates and liqueur on a cold Sunday morning...
On cold, rainy mornings such as this, I find it comforting to indulge in a little bit of chocolate... and liqueur. The sweetness of the milk chocolate, the hint of bitterness from the dark, the intoxicating feel of the tiny drops of inebriant lining your throat -- all these make me giddy as they somewhat appease my sense of being from the blustery weather outside and within.
Though a chocolate lover since I was a kid, I rarely eat it in its unadulterated form. My propensity for these roasted ground cocoa include only those imbued with mint, caramel, fruits like orange and strawberry, and my ultimate indulgence in chocolates - liqueur. It was more than a decade ago when I first met Anthon Berg (the confection not the chocolatier). It was a gift straight from the US, and what a large box it was in. The top was a transparent hard plastic firmly shielding the contents from prying eyes and hands. Inside were about 30 miniature bottles standing proudly in rows with their eponymic liqueur brands' design labels imprinted on their foil clothing -- Remy Martin, Cointreau, and Grand Marnier among others.
Ever since, I've always hankered for these aperitif-infused confections, even going as far as trying other different brands if only to get even a fraction of the experience, since Anthon Berg wasn't available locally. A recent trip to Duty Free Philippines caused my chocolate heart to beat twice as fast and my mouth to salivate with anticipation. I immediately put down the bags of various chocolates in my arms and replaced them with a bag of Anthon Berg chocolates instead.
I unload a bowl full of Creamy Caramel Chocolates covered in brown foil, their wrappers twinkling as they reflect the sun's early morning light. I unwrap a piece, and a strand of caramel threatens to break from its nestled body upon my bite. Bitter meets sweet as the dark chocolate meld with the gooey block of caramel which was almost toffee-like in taste.
A scripted "A" was inscribed on each heart- and square-shaped chocolate. I pop a piece of the lighter colored heart, which was the Passion Fruit Truffle, and was greeted with a little sour taste of the passion fruit and a little spicy note at the end from the chili. The tan square piece was the Gianduia Nougat which had a smooth, nutty texture though not as appealing for me. I move on to the dome-shaped piece, the Caramel with Sea Salt. A sweet ooze of caramel teases the tongue, and a hint of salinity concludes the bite; an equalizing of flavors that leaves a favorable impression. The Cappuccino Truffle resides in the dark block piece, its white chocolate tinged with cappuccino cream that lends a silky coffee taste. Last but not least is the dark heart-shaped Strawberry Truffle, my favorite among the five. The tartness of the strawberry fruit was further enhanced by the lychee fruit juice that nicely provided a respite from all the treacly flavors.
I like to first bite into the neck of the Chocolate Cocktail "bottle" to get it out of the way. Then comes my favorite part when my teeth sinks into that quite soft waist and my tongue hits the creamy center. It takes a second for my mind to absorb the alcoholic flavor that is teasing and tantalizing, luring and seducing. I reach for the second bottle even as I'm still chewing on the first lest somebody else grabs even one tiny bottle away from me. I can't seem to pick a preference between the Cosmopolitan with Cointreau, Strawberry Daiquiri with Mount Gay Rum, Margarita with Sauza Tequila and the B52 Grand Marnier Liqueur. Though as much as I enjoyed and relished each flavor, I have to say that I still favor the liquid-based bottles more than these cream-based ones. There's something more heady and thrilling with supping drops of liqueur inside each alluring piece.
Spot: Duty Free Philippines