Friday, November 13, 2009

Michel Cluizel: Noir au Praline a l'Ancienne

November is turning out to be a great month in terms of eating chocolate -- and really, what else could a month ask for but to be spent eating bars like this one? Michael bought me this beauty at a speciality food store in Dublin called Fallon & Byrne. They had an excellent selection of chocolates, including a huge variety from Cocoa Bean Chocolate Co. of County Kerry -- they were the makers of the Sea Salt bar from several weeks ago. The true mark of a distinguished chocolate seller is, I think, the inclusion of Michel Cluizel. He's without a doubt one of the best chocolatiers in the world -- or so goes the choco-lore! Let's find out.

Michel Cluizel: Noir au Praline a l'Ancienne
Cocoa content: 60%
Notable ingredients: hazelnuts, almonds, praline butter
Origin: n/a

First, I should admit that this bar challenged my previously-held notion of what praline is. Praline, in French, actually refers to the combination of a powder made from ground up sugar-coated nuts added to chocolate. Nothing wrong with that, right? I guess in the United States the word most commonly refers to hazelnut praline, but outside of the country the nut content is not specified. Here, we have a tasty, roasted mix of hazelnuts and almonds. The word "ancienne" refers to the old-style taste of the praline. I'm just quoting Michel here.

Each piece of this bar, of which there were (I think) 18, contained a slightly grainy center of praline. The effect was entirely delicious. Honestly, I've never had anything other than a fudge brownie that tasted SO MUCH like a fudge brownie. The earthy roastedness of the nuts raised my holiday merriment levels tenfold -- and you thought they were high last week! Michel Cluizel has taught me a valuable lesson: if you roast anything for long enough in caramelized cane sugar, and then add THAT to deliciously snappy dark chocolate, a real treat have you.

Thank you Dublin, thank you Michel Cluizel, (thank you Michel Goldsmith,) and thank you November. A.

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