Monday, February 3, 2014

Living Vicariously: Fran's Chocolates

Last week a friend told me about a little chocolate shop that I must check out. Now, I know it sounds weird, but I'm not a huge fan of chocolates. I blame it on my love for bready carbs. If you put a piece of  stale, half eaten, Hawaiian bread next to a decadent chocolate truffle, without a doubt, I'd go for the Hawaiian bread every time. I'm a weirdo like that. =)

But, I'm also open minded... and a foodie. So, given that my friends were insistent on the awesomeness of these chocolates and the rather close proximity of the shop, I gave it a go. And I'm really glad I did.

Fran's Chocolates is located in University Village, a place I've come to really enjoy. Primarily because I'm a sucker for sparkling Christmas lights and boutique shops. It was 8pm and I decided, tonight is the night to try some famous chocolates.
Upon walking into the store that is situated in a well placed corner, I immediately was drawn in by the gorgeous displays of truffles laid out all over the shop. It is simple, modern, yet welcoming, and warm. So far, so good. Then, the most cheerful little lady comes out to greet me. Seriously, she made the experience awesome. She had passion, excitement, and was totally attentive. The smell of a chocolate shop that is laced with coffee seriously makes me happy. Apparently.
As we got to chatting, the girl whose name I can't recall (I'm embarrassed because I'm usually really good with names!) was so genuinely eager to convert me into a chocoholic. She almost succeeded, but I'm stubborn. Haha

I was able to sample about half a dozen of their finest chocolates and even those that were featured on the episode of Unique Sweets: Seattle Sweets.

Sure, you can get a chocolate fanatic to taste test these decadent treats and sure, you'll get the obvious "oooss" and "ahhhs" but when you take someone like me, the reviews are definitely going to be legit.

Here are my findings:

I started off with their signature dark chocolate truffle and their chocolate imperiale. I'm into dark chocolate in the very rare event that I get a craving for it. The darker, the better. These little guys blew my mind. (I didn't think there was much difference between the two, besides the imperiale having cocoa nibs on top.) The dark chocolate ganache center was so soft, it was like biting into a molten lava cake. The smoothness of the chocolate had me speechless. Simple. Decadent. Perfection.

I also sampled their single malt whiskey truffle. Now, I've made dark chocolate Jameson truffles before. And maybe because my primary taste tester is sort of a whiskey aficionado, and I'm used to a higher alcohol content (I've actually gotten a buzz from my truffles) I was sort of let down with this one. There just wasn't enough whiskey in it to impress me. If I wasn't told it was a whiskey truffle, I wouldn't have known the difference. That's a shame.

Then, because I'm a coffee addict- I had to give the dark chocolate espresso truffle a go. And holy hell- Fran's got that one down to the "t". I could smell the espresso before I even put the truffle in my mouth. A wonderful infusion of espresso cream, wrapped in dark chocolate. I could have eaten 30 more.

But, I moved on to the gray and smoked salt caramels. This was featured in the show. The girl (who we will now call "Lucy") claims that Fran came up with the idea to sprinkle salt granules on top, instead of how it is traditionally mixed into the caramel. This allows the pallet to experience an exceptional harmony of the beloved sweet and salty combination in a new way. Sort of a two step process to allow the taste buds to truly register the different flavors.

The caramel was insanely buttery and the salt that slowly melts in your mouth was absolutely delicious. Creamy, smooth, smokey, and utterly fantastic. I did prefer the gray salt (covered in dark) over the smoked (milk chocolate).

Then I was coerced into trying their hazelnut crunch. Milk chocolate doesn't make me happy. But the toasted, caramelized pieces of hazelnut- well that makes me very happy. And you know what? I'm glad I tried it. It wasn't the piece of chocolate I would buy for myself but it was a wonderful thing to taste. If you groove on milk chocolate chock full of nutty goodness- this is the treat for you. I did enjoy the crunchiness of the caramelized hazelnuts. I enjoy the variations in both taste and texture.

And finally, onto the Palermo bar. These weren't in the display case, they come pre packaged in fancy little bars. I was sort of sad because they looked interesting and I really wanted to give it a try. We're talking dried fruits like oranges and apricots, mixed in with almonds and hazelnuts, with a little coconut on a bed of dark chocolate. Seriously- I just wanted a taste. So, "Lucy" grabbed a bar off the table and opened it up for me. AMAZING. She was so confident that I would love it and boy was she right! The texture of the dried fruit, the nuttiness of the toasted hazelnuts and that freshness of coconut- all joined together by their delightful dark chocolate. Seriously, my favorite thing in the whole shop!

"Lucy" wrapped up all the wonderful treats I sampled and decked it out in our city's colors. Go Hawks!!! Needless to say, Fran's did a good job of getting a self proclaimed "non chocolate lover" to change her perspective on the matter. So, if you're on the fence about whether or not to give these truffles a go, I say "HECK YES!" Do it! Plus, they make it easy for you. Click here to find out more. 

Tom and Lindsey, thanks for the head's up. Hope you enjoyed the review enough to come visit!

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