I was delighted to receive an assorted mini bar gift set ($9.95), and their two new breakfast inspired bars: Cinnamon Cereal Smooch, and Strawberry Waffle Wild as well as Pretzel Toffee Twirl, and Ooh Ahh Almond ($6/each). These new chocolate bars were introduced at the Summer Fancy Food Show back in late June. Inspired by those who love the fulfilling flavors of breakfast, Cinnamon Cereal Smooch and Strawberry Waffle Wild join an existing line of 14 palate-pleasing and imaginative chocolate bars, including the recently renamed Baconluxious Chocolate bar, each infused with scrumptious joy.
The mini bar gift set included eight individually wrapped ChocoPods that had only 50-60 calories each. The flavors were Salted Chocolate Crunch, Honeycomb, Firecracker, Pop Corn Pop, Potato Chip, Baconluxious, Spicy Maya, and Orange-a-go-go. Though impossible to choose a favorite as each had their own unique, bubbly personality, the Honeycomb and Firecracker were notable. In the Firecracker Chocopod, there was that dash of chipotle that was a great surprise after the tiny crackles scamper across your tongue, and the Honeycomb had that genuine taste of amber honey entwined with a crispy texture enrobed in dark chocolate.
Cinnamon Cereal Smooch is a “deluxious” combination of milk chocolate passionately mixed with bits of all-natural cinnamon toast cereal, while Strawberry Waffle Wild offers a multi-sensory experience of tart dried strawberries and crispy waffles, enveloped in a bed of sweet milk chocolate. Ooh Ahh Almond is crafted with crunchy whole almonds, kettle cooked in sugar & sea salt in a bed of delightful dark chocolate. A marriage of chocolate and pretzels always gets me going, so my favorite was the Pretzel Toffee Twirl.
Below is an exclusive interview with Master Chef Michael Antonorsi, who founded Chuao Chocolatier in 2002 with his brother, Richard Antonorsi.
What originally brought you to the U.S. and why is Venezuela not only a part of your roots, but also the root of delicious, velvety chocolate?
I came to the U.S. in the 1980’s for college, studying Bio Medical Engineering at the University of California at San Diego. I returned to Venezuela for my MBA and worked in the technology field for 14 years before deciding to follow my heart. In my mid-30’s, I moved my wife and children to Paris where I pursued my lifelong dream of culinary school, specializing in Pastry and Chocolate Making. From there, I returned to San Diego to start an artisan chocolatier with my brother. My great grandfather owned a cacao plantation on the Northeast coast of Venezuela, so cacao has always been a part of our family heritage. Being from a country famous for producing some of the best cacao on the planet has its advantages, like growing up eating the best chocolate in the world and finding inspiration for my own creations.
Which chocolate bar creations did you create first? Any upcoming flavors in the works?
The first chocolate I created was the Spicy Maya. It is my interpretation of what the Mayans would consume today with a modern palate. I wanted to create a sensory experience that layers taste and sensations in sequence as the chocolate experience progresses. First you experience the dark chocolate and the warmth of cinnamon, with the spices tickling your throat on the finish. To this day, it’s still one of my favorites.
Any upcoming flavors in the works?
Yes, we do have some fun flavors in the works… but I can’t share any details just yet!
What is your favorite creation?
The Firecracker Truffle is my favorite. It’s the most fun multi-sensory, surround sound chocolate experience we have, with dark chocolate, chipotle fudge caramel, sea salt and POPPING CANDY! Everyone who tries it calls it “a party in your mouth” in between fits of giggles. I think it really brings out the kid in all of us.
Would you ever consider opening a café in Venezuela?
We’re open to consider many things, but our focus right now is on wholesale and increasing distribution. We feel that this is the best way to accomplish our mission of spreading joy to all!
Why should everyone indulge in drinking chocolate and how often should it be enjoyed?
Drinking chocolate is an amazing experience because the warm temperature of the chocolate brings all the layers and flavor notes out. Our Spicy Maya drinking chocolate (my personal favorite), warms you up inside and out, with spices lingering on the finish. It’s delightful! I suggest enjoying a small cup daily. I mean, we all deserve a cup of joy, don’t we?
What do your chocolate bars pair well with (wine/cordials, etc.)?
We have so much fun pairing our chocolate bars with libations. Wine and chocolate are a classic pairing, but even more so, we find ourselves pairing our bars with local craft beer. (San Diego is a mecca for microbrews!) I also love to pair some of our bonbons and truffles with single malt whiskey. I’ve converted some non-whiskey drinkers into aficionados with a chocolate pairing or two. It’s heavenly!
You could purchase their line of chocolate bars, and gift sets here. Their drinking chocolate is also available for purchase online. You could also make your purchase at the company’s Southern California chocolate cafes, as well as at major retailers nationwide, including Bed Bath & Beyond, REI, and Whole Foods Markets.