The Good: Tastes delicious, Smooth, Nothing truly bad in it.
The Bad: Not the strongest flavors, Not exactly nutritious.
The Basics: A good, but not exceptional, assortment of chocolates, the Ghirardelli Holiday Chocolate Assortment is a seasonal treat worth picking up!
I have been a fan of Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares for quite some time. However, it has been a rare thing for me to have them around the house because, frankly, my disposable income for chocolate is not what it once was. However, my wife is exceptionally sweet on me and as a result, she tends to keep me pretty well stocked with the Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Squares With Mint Filling. And for the winter holiday, she picked up the Ghirardelli Holiday Chocolate Assortment bag!
The Holiday Chocolate Assortment is a pack of three limited edition Ghirardelli chocolate squares and this is only available around the holidays. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Assortment to me was that only one of the flavors is available outside the assortment. As a result, those who are interested in Eggnog or Chocolate Pecan Pie flavored chocolate squares exclusively are out of luck. Fortunately, all three flavors of Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares in this pack are surprisingly good and worth the time and attention of those who like diverse chocolate flavors.
Ghirardelli chocolate squares are one and a half inch squares of chocolate that are about three-eighths inches thick. Each of the squares comes individually wrapped in a red (Peppermint Bark), Gold (Eggnog) or Brownish-red (Chocolate Pecan Pie) foil wrapper. It is worth noting that while I usually rail against the environmental impact of such things, it is hard to imagine Ghirardelli chocolate squares not wrapped. This keeps each one clean, unmelted and intact. The Holiday Chocolate Assortment includes the exclusive limited edition flavors Eggnog and Chocolate Pecan Pie as well as Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark. Because I've reviewed the Peppermint Bark elsewhere, I am likely to focus more on the two exclusive flavors for this review.
Each Chocolate Pecan Pie chocolate square is a seamless square that is a milk chocolate patty with nuts embedded in the bottom side. The Eggnog square is a block which looks like white chocolate with tiny specks in it which resemble nutmeg. In this form, the 9.03 oz. bag (there is no longer a 9.4 oz. bag; at least not for the 2009 release, the Assortment came in 9.03 oz. bags, probably because Truth In Advertising laws require the candy weight to be all that is considered!), the individually-wrapped chocolate squares are packaged together in a thick foil paper bag. This size has approximately twenty-four squares and the thick foil paper bag does little to protect the squares. The bag is not resealable, though this matters very little considering that the chocolate squares do not go bad as they are individually wrapped. Rather impressively, my Holiday Chocolate Assortment bag had eight of each of the three types of chocolate squares in it.
Ease of Preparation
These are candy, so preparing them is as simple as opening the bag and then opening one of the plastic wrappers around the actual chocolate square one wishes to eat. There is no grand secret to eating Ghirardelli chocolate squares. I have, on occasion, garnished an ice cream sundae with one of these big, yummy squares, but that is hardly more complicated than sticking a chocolate into the softest section of a scoop of ice cream one can find!
There is a subtle bouquet to the Peppermint Bark Ghirardelli squares and arguably the surprise of the scent is that it only smells like smooth, milk chocolate. There is only the most faint scent of peppermint to the Peppermint Bark, which is surprising as well. The candy is soft, but not waxy, just firm enough to retain the shape, though unlike many of the Ghirardelli squares this snaps in pieces, as opposed to mashing when one tries to break it. The Peppermint Bark is best described as "milky." While that might usually define a texture more than a taste, it is applicable under these circumstances as the Peppermint Bark has a very mild taste. When the chocolate is set on the tongue, it is a very generic, sweet milk chocolate taste that the consumer is given. As it melts, or one chews, the creamy white chocolate blends with the milk chocolate and the resulting taste is overwhelmingly sweet and subtle.
The Eggnog Chocolate Square smells strongly of nutmeg and white chocolate. This has a very subtle scent which, ironically, seems to come out more when the chocolate squares are frozen. This is a crisp, solid chocolate square which fractures easily and reveals the full potential of its taste instantly. This tastes like white chocolate and nutmeg, with only an aftertaste of actual eggnog. Eggnog, traditionally, is a flavor which coats the tongue well, but these chocolate squares do not. Instead, they are rich with the spicy scent of eggnog and a strong white chocolate taste and it is only when one is swallowing them that they taste like something more. Frankly, I would hope for more of an eggnog taste throughout, than just when I was swallowing the candy!
The surprise for me in this assortment was definitely the limited edition Chocolate Pecan Pie flavored chocolate square. Upon tearing open the wrapper, the consumer is greeted with a warm caramel and nut smell which is absolutely divine. In fact, the only analogy I have to the scent would be the smell of Honey Nut Cheerios drenched in hot, melted chocolate. That's the only other thing I can think of that smells precisely like these chocolate squares! Like the Eggnog, this is not a layered or filled chocolate square, so when one splits it, they get the full flavor of the Chocolate Pecan Pie. And what a flavor it is! I don't like pie and I am indifferent to most nuts. However, the Chocolate Pecan Pie tastes like caramel and dark chocolate. The pecans in this chocolate accent the cocoa beans and as a result, this chocolate square bursts out with a crispy cocoa taste that is exquisite. And I never would have guessed that this one would be my favorite one in the assortment!
Well, these are candy, so it is tough to look at these for something nutritious and then blame them for not being healthy. Ghirardelli chocolate squares are surprisingly good, though, which is probably why they are so expensive. The primary ingredients are sugar, cocoa butter and whole milk powder. Still, there is nothing unpronounable in these candies and outside the red #40 lake coloring and the preservative defined only as "mixed tocopherols," everything in these could be readily identified by me.
A serving of these Ghirardelli chocolate squares (apparently in any combination) is considered four squares. From four squares, one takes in 230 calories, 140 of those calories being from fat. There is a subtle amount (2% each) of cholesterol, sodium, Vitamin A and Iron. There is, surprisingly enough, 8% of one's daily calcium in four squares, but it would be hard to consider this a good way to get one's RDA of calcium.
Honestly, these are candy and anyone looking to them for actual nutrition needs to get a reality check. These are not Vegan-compliant, nor are they recommended for anyone with a nut allergy as they are produced on the same equipment that peanuts pass over. They are, however, kosher.
The bags of these Ghirardelli chocolate squares remain fresh for quite some time. I could not find any expiration date, but given that it is chocolate, one assumes that if they are kept in a cool, dry environment they will not melt or go bad. Given that they are individually wrapped in a very sealed package, it is hard to imagine just what it would take for these to go bad outside melting and refreezing.
As for cleanup, I applaud those who actually throw the wrappers away in socially appropriate places, as opposed to litter. Outside that, there is no real cleanup needed, unless one is eating them in a hot environment. In that case, it is likely one would need to wash their hands. If these chocolate squares melt into most fabrics, they will stain. Getting them to melt, though, is quite a task.
A bit of a mixed bag, the Holiday Chocolate Assortment of Ghirardelli chocolate squares ranges from the exceptional (Chocolate Pecan Pie) to the neutral (Peppermint Bark) to the disappointing (Eggnog). Still, for the two out of three good flavors in this, it is worth getting the more mild Eggnog as well! Fun for anyone who likes something different from their chocolates.
For other candy reviews, please check out my reviews of:
Russell Stover Private Reserve 70% Cacao Assortment
Lindt Peanut Butter lindor truffles
Jelly Belly Grape Crush
For other food reviews, please check out my index page for an organized listing!
© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.