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Gail Ambrosius Truffles Review

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Gail Ambrosius truffles
(c) 2009 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to About.com, Inc.
As part of my job, I have the pleasure of sampling lots of different kinds of chocolate. I can usually find things I like about most chocolates, occasionally I find chocolates I really enjoy, and very rarely I taste chocolates I strongly dislike. Most chocolate falls somewhere along the spectrum of mediocre to good, but sometimes I am lucky enough to encounter chocolate that I absolutely love. The truffles I recently tasted from Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier fall into this last category.

There is a lot to like about Gail Ambrosius chocolates. Aside from the serendipity of the name, the company offers a dazzling variety of truffles, caramels, and other chocolate confections from their Madison, WI storefront and online store. I tasted an assortment of truffles drawn from three collections: the Classic Collection, featuring traditional flavors like caramel, raspberry, and espresso, the Adventurous Collection, with combinations like cinnamon/cayenne and lemongrass with ginger, and the Tea Inspired Collection, flavored with various fruit and floral teas.

With the exception of the Shiitake Mushroom truffle, which was fortunately not in my assortment, all of the flavors Gail Ambrosius offers sounded mouthwatering. I’m a big fan of the recent trend toward innovation in chocolate pairing, but I think chocolatiers sometimes go too far into the realm of experimentation and sacrifice taste for eccentricity. I appreciate that the truffle flavors offered were innovative without seeming aggressively weird.

I thought all of the truffles in my 12-piece box were beautiful. They had a nice shine, were well-formed, and all had unique toppings that allowed me to identify the flavors with the help of a handy photo guide. The ganache inside the chocolate shell was fairly firm, with a smooth, buttery texture without a hint of graininess or greasiness. Some of my favorite flavors were the Blueberry and Raspberry truffles--both had strong, authentic berry flavors, as opposed to fake chemical flavors many commercial candies have.

I also loved the Pumpkin Pie seasonal flavor. It was uncanny how much this actually tasted like pumpkin pie, but in truffle form. I don’t know how they do it, but it was delicious! There was a candied hickory nut on top that added a nice crunch and savory flavor, and lots of nutmeg and cinnamon in the truffle provided a spicy counterpoint. The Sea Salt Caramel was equally impressive. The caramel was a lovely texture, soft but with body, substantial enough to hold its shape but creamy enough to melt in your mouth. It had a strong vanilla aroma and a generous sprinkling of sea salt on top.

It was fun to explore new flavor combinations in the “adventurous” truffle category. I didn’t taste much curry or saffron in the “Sweet Curry with Saffron” truffle, but I did taste a lot of cardamom, which is one of my favorite underappreciated spices. I also liked the heavy use of cinnamon in the Machu Picchu and Cinnamon/Cayenne truffles, and the exotic note ginger added to the Cognac and Lemongrass truffles.

The only truffle I didn’t care for was the espresso truffle. I’m not a coffee drinker, and the coffee flavor was quite strong, but I would imagine that most coffee lovers appreciate this.

Like many gourmet truffles, Gail Ambrosius chocolates are expensive. A dozen truffles is $22, and expect to pay an additional $10 for shipping in cool weather, and even more in warm summer months. These are not chocolates you buy on a whim to satisfy the munchies. However, if you’re looking for a special gift for a chocolate lover, I do think these truffles will impress and delight even picky gourmands. My one complaint is that the website won’t let you customize your truffle assortment. You can choose which collection you would like, or you can let the shop put together an assortment for you, but you can’t pick and choose between collections to build a truly custom box, which is a shame considering the price and the stellar options available in each of the collections.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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