Ah, chocolate-the only can’t-go-wrong gift for just about every child, great-aunt, colleague or illicit lover on your Christmas list. It has that ineffable quality that makes people want to hum, tap their feet and dance, or throw their heads back and praise the heavens. Each year, about three million tonnes of cocoa beans are used worldwide to make chocolate products. (That’s approximately the weight of 300,000 elephantsand almost as much as that of three Maclean’s panelists after judging this week’s Money’s Worth.) Chances are a box of chocolates is going to wind up on your coffee table this holiday season. But which type to buy? Which to give? We compared four brands of Canadian-made chocolates, avail-
able by phone or Internet.
PATRICIA TREBLE AND BARBARA WICKENS
Each of these boxed selections offered a wide variety of fillings and a good mix of milkand dark-chocolate coatings. But, as always, you get what you pay for-and once you’ve tried the good stuff, you’ll never go back.
Bernard Callebaut’s deluxe creations are worth every penny. On a budget? No problem. Just invest in a smaller box.
What’s in Store
Chocolate cosmetics: Origins says its new Cocoa Therapy products (body-buffing scrub, $25, above) use the “mood-enhancing” properties of chocolate to soothe the body and mind. Do not eat. Available at www.origins.com.
GANONG DELECTO ASSORTED ($5.99)
JS BONBONS ASSORTED ($41.50)
PURDY’S SIGNATURE CHOCOLATE ASSORTMENT ($21.95)
BERNARD CALLEBAUT ASSORTED ($42)
Made in New Brunswick; 450-g box contains 42 pieces of chocolate; available at www.ganong.com; 888-598-8811.
Purple box is uninspired. Comes in two compact layers. Inside, with no foil or fancy designs, looks dull.
Yes. Excellent, easy-to-use map of chocolates enclosed.
Very sweet. Good basic flavours, but pedestrian taste. Texture of the chocolate is almost granular. Chocolate truffle tastes an awful lot like a Tootsie Roll.
Ganong is known for its Chicken Bones-pink cinnamon-flavoured candies with chocolate centre. Sounds like kids’ stuff, but put them out and they vanish.
Made in Ontario; made-to-order box (approx. 450 q) contains 35 pieces; available at www.jshonbons.com; 416-920-0274.
Cheery, aesthetically pleasing box. inside, each bonbon is stunning-a work of art.
No. Though this is done intentionally so that each bite is a surprise. A legend is available on website.
The second we lifted the lid, the complex fragrance of chocolate combined with fresh fillings was wonderful. And then there were the exquisite, rich tastes. A When Harry Met Sally experience.
Chocolates that are infused with non-traditional flavours, including rosemary, coriander and lime. (The latter really perks up the taste buds.)
Made in British Columbia; 454-g box contains 30 pieces; available at www.purdys.com; 888-478-7397.
Swirly lid graphics were promising. Extra points for embossed gold. Some bonbons individually wrapped in foil—a nice touch.
Yes. But not all of the illustrated chocolates were in the box. (Major disappointment.)
Lots of variety (such as coconut, cashew caramel, and raspberry) so siblings won’t fight. Mixture of light and dark chocolates. Nice, but sweetness of some fillings overwhelms chocolate flavour.
Their oversized, hazelnut
truffles, called Hedgehogs, are heaven to milk chocolate fans.
Made in Alberta; 447-g box contains approx. 49 pieces; available at www.bernardcallehaut.com; 800-661-8367.
Beautiful coppery jewel box. Size of a pound of butter. A true gift.
Yes. Colour photos made tracking the right one down a snap. But some not found in box. (Crushing.)
At last, a real dark chocolate hit! By far the best quality and most extravagant chocolate. Plus, these bonbons are smooth, not granular. For serious chocoholicsand Belgians.
TIP One way to determine the quality of chocolate is to take a piece and break it. Good chocolate is solid and snaps cleanly. If it crumbles, move on.
Elegant boxes of award-winning artisanal chocolates, priced from $15.50 to $106.
For past Money’s Worth product test drives, go to www.macleans.ca/consumer
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