3oz (85g) bar
Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla, organic cream, corn syrup, Campari, hibiscus powder, orange zest, blood orange puree, water, sea salt
Vosges' blood orange caramel-filled bar was suggested to me by reader Emma after she read my post praising the similar Black Salt Caramel Bar. Vosges seems to do well with subtle complexity; will this bar fit that mold?
Corporate Info: (mostly copied from 9/24/11): Vosges is based in Chicago and produces a pretty wide variety of adventurously flavored bars and confections, among them the famous bacon chocolate. In the past I have been annoyed by the pretentious copy on the back of the box, and it's silly here too, but the website keeps the flowery text off the front page, and of course it's not as important as the chocolate!
Appearance: Subtle gloss, uniform deep brown color, cleanly stamped. Breaking a corner off reveals a gooey, somewhat liquidy caramel that makes this bar messier than the salt caramel one. (Yes, I know it looks like there's a slug sandwiched in my chocolate there on the left. Not particularly appetizing.)
Smell: Rich, a little dried fruit and nuts, but very cohesive: no smells stand out or seem removed from the central scent. I don't get any particular blood orange or caramel here, though the box claims some “bright citrus.”
Taste: The chocolate is super smooth, creamy, and nutty, and the caramel has, yes, a complex and subtle perfumey sweet-sour flavor. I can't tease out the blood orange vs. hibiscus vs. orange zest vs. Campari, but as with the smell I think that's where Vosges excels, combining ingredients in such a balanced way that they create something new, and that's pretty great. Unfortunately, though, there are downsides to this bar, mostly relating to the consistency of the caramel. First, it does indeed make for sloppy eating. Second, Vosges recommends breaking off “a small piece” and holding it against the roof of your mouth with your tongue until “within thirty seconds the chocolate square will begin to melt”; this is impossible with a bar that consistently breaks in the middle of each delicate square, smashing the caramel between shards of chocolate and leaving you with sticky pieces of the solid chocolate between squares. Third, the problem with this (aside from the mess) is that when you eat those pieces, the caramel melts away before the chocolate does, the equivalent of eating an outstanding sandwich inside-out rather than being able to fully enjoy the magical combination of bread and filling. I suspect the whole experience of this bar would be made better just by thickening the caramel.
Conclusion: Vosges Blood Orange Caramel Bar demonstrates Vosges' skill with subtlety and depth of flavor, but the too-thin caramel detracts from the experience.