A Chocolate Review

November 24, 2010 at 11:27 am 10 comments

John Kira Chocolate

I’ve been shamefully neglectful of this lovely little blog of mine.  Fortunately it looks like a lot of you have still been coming around and leafing through the archives for some tasty seasonal fare.  I wish I could promise there will be regular updates moving forward, but, the truth is, I’m just not sure.  Life sends you down unexpected paths sometimes that steer you away from past passions (such as this blog).  I’m doing my level best to recalibrate my course and get back to blogging about food, but it might take awhile.  Please keep looking through those recipe archives in the meantime!

On the eve of the year’s biggest food day here in the States, I figured I’d best put up a post to say hello.  And since a local Philadelphia company sent me some samples a few weeks back that would make perfect holiday gifts for the foodie in your life, let’s talk about CHOCOLATE!  To be more precise, let’s talk about the crème de la crème of the chocolate world right now: John & Kira’s.   

John and Kira Spiced Pumpkins

I’ve known of John & Kira’s for several years now since the company has graced several of the same farmers markets as has my own farm.  Ironically though I’d never gotten to try a sample of their adorably cute chocolate ladybugs or other chocolate creations even though they generously give samples to many a market patron.  I was always manning my own market table and didn’t have time to scoot over for a nibble.  Lucky for me, they recently launched a new collection of chocolates called The Enchanted Garden and they asked me to review them along with a bar of their Mighty Urban Garden Mint chocolate. 

Let’s’ start with the Mighty Urban Mint chocolate bar.  You may notice the absence of a photo of it in this post.  That’s because I’m a mint-loving maniac who devoured the whole bar, with its dark chocolate richness and subtle-yet-highly-addicting fresh minty-ness.  While the first bite of this bar didn’t blow me away, it proved to be one of those foods that sits at the back of your tongue/brain and about an hour after you’ve had that initial bite, you find yourself craving more.  And so the whole bar is gone… 

JK Spiced Pumpkins in box

The Mighty Urban Garden Mint chocolate bar is indeed tasty, though the price tag is also a bit might at $9 a bar.  The solace here is that John & Kira’s donates five percent of the sales back to the urban city gardeners and kids that grow the mint used in the bars.  Seems like a nice way to donate to charity, don’t you think?

Now,  let’s move on to The Enchanted Garden collection of chocolates.  These artfully hand-painted chocolates are exactly why John & Kira’s has become iconic here in Philadelphia and elsewhere.  It is amazing to think that someone sat and painted the little bit-sized chocolate mound I’m about to pop in my mouth.  Reminds me of that dish Zen garden I had at work once where an unknown co-worker would always come by and smooth it out while I was a lunch…

Spiced Pumpkin

To my surprise, I was sent two beautiful – I mean truly BEEUTEEFUL! – boxes of chocolates: Spiced Pumpkin and Chocolate Cherries.   The packaging along makes you feel like a million bucks.  I felt a bit guilty as I dared to open them.  The chocolates inside were equally stunning.  Each practically sparkled since John & Kira’s uses a glossy tempered chocolate to coat each confection.  The “pumpkins” in particular were extra adorable as each had been given an individual curly-cue stem of green chocolate. 

Of course, I could hardly wait to take a bite, especially of the Spiced Pumpkin because I am a self-proclaimed pumpkin nut and creator of a decadent pumpkin pie truffle that’s just sensational (that’s not me saying that, I promise).  So, I bit into a miniature pumpkin artwork and…I’m disappointed.  Sorry, it’s true.  I guess I just wasn’t expecting a filling that’s the consistency of loose pudding.  And the flavor was 90% cinnamon when I had hoped to taste a good bit of the chocolate too (seriously, if you’ve never tried paring pumpkin with dark chocolate, you need to get on that right away).  I know that pumpkin itself doesn’t have a lot of flavor so it’s about balancing the spices to evoke “pumpkin” in the taster’s mind.  These glossy little pumpkin confections just didn’t find that balance for me. 

John and Kiras Chocolate Cherries

So, I moved on to the Chocolate Cherries with diminished spirits.  See, I really hate the classic chocolate covered cherry.  They are always too fake for me and something about that gelatinous ooze surround the cherry is quite disturbing.   I assumed John & Kira’s was going to be just an artful version of that dime store standard. 

Hello, boys and girls, we have a winner!!  I was so surprised to bite into a John & Kira’s chocolate cherry and find it filled with a nearly smokey dark chocolate ganache (no ooze here) and a naturally sweet dried cherry instead of a sugary maraschino.  After devouring that tasty treat, I finally bothered to open the catalog that came along with my lovely sample boxes and found out that there’s also some brandy mixed in with the filling for the chocolate cherries and that made perfect sense with what I was tasting.  Yum! 

Chocolate Cherry

The Final Score Sheet:

Mighty Urban Garden Mint chocolate bar:  Thumbs Up
Spiced Pumpkin (The Enchanted Garden Collection):  Thumbs Down
Chocolate Cherries (The Enchanted Garden Collection): Two Thumbs Up!

John and Kiras Chocolate Cherries

Before you rush off to place your order, you should know that John & Kira’s is not cheap.  Seriously, really not cheap.  But, as someone who now earns a living from my own creative work with a product that is largely considered a luxury, I know the value John & Kira’s is giving their customers.  In addition to masterful chocolates, they are also a super socially conscious company that is striving to use as many locally grown and fair trade ingredients as possible in their confections.  They partner with Philadelphia urban school garden programs in particular, a cause near and dear to my own heart.   Like fine wines or cheeses, John & Kira’s is for the discerning palette (and wallet).

{NOTE: The John & Kira’s website isn’t listing the Spiced Pumpkins at the time of this post.}

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nourishing Words  |  November 24, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Yes, I have missed you! Glad to hear you’re doing well with your business. These chocolates look amazing. Thanks for sharing your testing fun with us.

    Reply
  • 2. Black Cream | Plus-Sized.net  |  November 24, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    [...] Forest Cake is a chocolate cake with a strong element of cherry that is popular in North [...]

    Reply
  • 3. Christine  |  December 1, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    You’re back! I missed you :) I’ve seen John & Kira’s at farmers markets too and you’re right, their chocolate is beautiful!

    Reply
  • 4. Dana  |  December 27, 2010 at 5:49 am

    wow!!these are soo beautiful..they look delicious too..i should try them..
    Happy holidays!!!

    Reply
  • 5. Brooke  |  January 2, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    I’m glad you’re back online. I also sadly have been distracted this past fall. Love your homemade tea recipes – thank you for sharing! Looking forward to seeing them back on Etsy.

    Cheers,
    Brooke

    Reply
  • 6. zen garden design  |  February 22, 2011 at 2:05 am

    wow!!these are soo beautiful..they look delicious too..i should try them..
    Happy holidays!!!

    Reply
  • 7. Dd  |  June 21, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    I’ve never been a blogger, but this one was simply wonderful and enjoyable! I’ll be back…

    Reply
  • 8. Pandaranol A Chocolate Review  |  June 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    [...] Straight from the Farm [...]

    Reply
  • 9. Rachel  |  November 1, 2011 at 11:31 am

    hi! i just came across your blog through design*sponge and being that i live in the philadelphia area i was curious to see what your blog was all about. john and kira’s chocolate has a booth at my local farmers market as well and every once and i while i indulge and pick up something to bring to my boyfriend’s family. i have also found the chocolates to be on the expensive side, but i’m terrible at holding on to my money at the farmers market and want to support all of the stands. i have enjoyed the chocolate covered figs filled with chocolate ganache and some kind of liquor, and the chocolate orange peel rosemary garden bar, and the trail mix. the chocolates are sinful and i adore the packaging-that seems to be really thoughtful and pretty. i’m bummed to hear that those precious pumpkins weren’t amazing because they are so gorgeous, maybe they’ll rethink the filling for next year… anyway, i was pleased to come across this post!

    Reply
  • 10. "check"  |  October 12, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    “check”

    “[...]3 Ive been in the same situation before. Its not as easy solution as you thou iw[...]“

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