Sunday, March 01, 2015

Poco Dolce Chocolate

Polo Dolce is a local San Francisco confection maker, producing mostly chocolate (bars, bon bons, and truffles), but they also make assorted toffee, caramels, peanut brittle (available salty or spicy), and hot chocolate (bittersweet or mint).

I first discovered Poco Dolce back in February 2012, when I tried the popcorn toffee, toffee with bits of popcorn inside, covered in chocolate.  I was fascinated, and made a note to try more of their products.  I blogged about it even, sharing the tip with you too.  And then ... I promptly forgot.

Whoops.  I knew when I saw Poco Dolce at a local artisan's market that the name sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it, until I looked up my notes later.

Anyway, this time around, I tried a bunch of the "Tiles", their signature product, available in 9 different varieties, ranging from a simple sea salt version, to one with Ghost Chiles!  The tiles are all made from bittersweet chocolate, plus some mix-ins, and are finished with grey sea salt on top.
Burnt Caramel Tile.
"This is what started it all in 2003! Still our most popular chocolate, each Burnt Caramel Tile is crafted by hand with bittersweet dark chocolate and a Burnt Caramel Toffee center, then finished with Grey Sea Salt. The amazing flavor of the toffee, which has been compared to the top of a crème brûlée, pairs perfectly with our dark chocolate while staying "not too sweet.""

I started with the brunt caramel tile, the first product they ever made.  It was a substantial size, not like a whole candy bar, but far bigger than say a Hershey miniature.  Enough to feel like you were treating yourself, without feeling too decadent.  Kinda a perfect size, if you ask me!

It was topped with sea salt.
Burnt Caramel Tile: Inside.
It was also thicker than I expected, and as I tried to break off a piece, I quickly understood why.  Breaking off a piece wasn't possible, but I wanted to show you what was inside, so I used a knife.  There was a large piece of toffee inside, smothered in the chocolate.

The toffee was indeed burnt caramel flavored, slightly bitter.  The dark chocolate was decent quality, better than most.  But the toffee was a hard style, and the burnt flavor just didn't do it for me.  I had several of these, and gave away the rest.
Aztec Chili Tile.
"Don't write this one off as just another gimmicky spicy chocolate; this exciting Tile is done just right. First crafted in 2004, we've brought together Bittersweet chocolate, cinnamon, ground chiles, toasted pumpkin seeds, and a pinch of Grey Sea Salt to produce a unique side of chocolate that still begs to be tried. Not intended to be too spicy, this Tile features just a little heat in the finish."

Next up, the Aztec Chili.  This one looked similar on the outside, nice dark chocolate, scattering of large sea salt crystals on top.
Aztec Chili Tile: Inside.
This one easily snapped in half, revealing pumpkin seeds inside.  I loved the crunchy aspect the pumpkin seeds brought to the bar.  Why don't more bars have pumpkin seeds in them?

The spicing was also incredible, cinnamon and chili, and it did pack some heat.  I really enjoyed the spice level, and how it combined with the slightly bitter pumpkin seeds, and was rounded out by the salt on the finish.  Really complex flavors here, quite fascinating to slowly consume.

My favorite of their bars by far, and I'd certainly go out of my way for this.
Almond Coconut Tile.
"The unique combination of roasted, slivered almonds and toasted coconut makes our Almond Coconut Tile a true standout. Folded by hand into our signature bittersweet dark chocolate and finished with Grey Sea Salt, the flavor and texture of this Tile is one you won't soon forget."

Next I went for the almond coconut.  It looked the same from the outside, smooth dark chocolate, sprinkle of sea salt.
Almond Coconut Tile: Inside.
But inside was quite different.  Slivered almonds and shredded coconut were mixed in with the chocolate.

It was ... fine.  I liked it more than the burnt caramel, but the almonds and coconut added more texture than actual flavor, and the coconut shreds I didn't actually love.  There was something slightly off putting about them.
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