Tuesday, September 23

Cocoabella Chocolates - San Jose

Cocoabella chocolates is less than a year into it's residency at Valley Fair Mall and fits perfectly as Hugo Boss' neighbor on the edge of the more upscale side of the mall. Cocoabella curates chocolates from specialty gourmet chocolatiers around the world. Their customers can then curate their own selection from Cocoabella by choosing a variety of pieces or purchasing a box of samples.

From Cocoabella's invitation, I had the pleasure of attending a special complimentary tasting hosted by Guido Gobino, one of the Italian brands featured at the store. Guido Gobino had a representative in house to walk our intimate group through their selections.

Established since 1946, Guido Gobino remains a family run operation to this day. They specialize in chocolates with Piedmont hazelnut that grows in Torino, Italy, their hometown. The hazelnuts have a special shape with three sections. We sampled a few roasted hazelnuts that were delicious in its raw form before we sampled them as creams mixed with chocolate.

Our small group felt very special after seeing the tasting display Cocoabella put up for us.

The tasting started off with this liqueur with a cacao(?) base. Probably the best I've had in terms of specialty alcohol not made from grapes. Sweet, bitter, sour, in that order, with a slight hint of alcohol.

We followed with a few more pieces, including the roasted Piedmont hazelnuts and a piece of chocolate and hazelnut mix (bottom right). Then came the brand's signature 29% hazelnut Giandujotto. Then a 32% hazelnut Giandujottino Tourinot which is a smaller bar. The second one with more hazelnut was sweeter.

This is a piece of the Cremino al Sale made with Liguria Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Integral Sea Salt from Central Italy. It won Best Praline of the World from the London Academy of Chocolate and I can absolutely see why. I've never had olive oil in chocolate before, only sea salt. The combination was wonderful. It's savory and creamy and not too sweet. You get tiny crunchy surprises of salt in each nibble.

 As for the classic chocolates, I liked this Cremino Fondente the most. Dark chocolate sandwiched between the classic soft Gianduja chocolate.

Normally, I wouldn't think to walk into a fancy chocolate shop but Cocoabella changed my mind. What I loved about the store was the small size of their chocolate pieces and their exotic origins from around the world. Even the most ardent chocolate lovers admit to not being able to finish an entire bar. Cocoabella allows you to choose a selection of smaller pieces so that you may enjoy a variety without committing to the volume. 

Guido Gobino chocolates in particular were very interesting for their hazelnut mix. It was sweet and creamy and reminiscent of a hard form of Nutella. My absolute favorite was the olive oil and sea salt piece. Olive oil mixed in with chocolate is a first for me. What a rarity. The hazelnut liquer was also one of my favorites.

Pre-made bozes go for 4 piece box for $10, a 12 piece for $25, or 19 piece for $35. You could also customize your own box or purchase loose pieces. It's not a whole lot of chocolate for the price but these are meant to be nibbled and shared with friends. A box of Cocoabella chocolates would make a nice gift. I imagine it's good to give to your boss, or to bring to a housewarming along with wine. 

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