Browsing the shops in December is heaps of fun, regardless of whether you’re window-shopping, adding a little something to your collection of possessions (which happens most of the time!) or spotting potential Christmas presents. Shops come alive with holiday bits and bobs that everyone adores. Most of my shopping time is dedicated to Christmas aisles for one reason: it is like wandering around Santa’s workshop, where everything you need and want for Christmas is stocked.
My love of being surrounded by tinsel and chocolates skyrockets year after year – that’s one of the ultimate happy places! My recent trip to the shops certainly didn’t disappoint: I was treated to sights of special Christmas chocolates. One of these chocolates is from a German favorite in the chocolate realm, Ritter Sport.
Firstly, the packaging is SO CUTE! The snow globe winter design with a metallic-matte Christmas tree-green backdrop brings the feeling of staying at a Christmas cabin or lodge, much like the heart-warming movies I binge-watch this time of the year that transport me to those gorgeous settings without leaving my couch.
My adventure began in the most humorous of ways. Since my mind strangely associated the word ‘caramelized’ with ‘onions’ at that moment, I began thinking of caramelized onions! Well, confections with some sort of caramel in them aren’t normally referred to as ‘caramelized’ here. Caramelized onion chocolate?! Who would want to taste that crazy invention? And why would anyone want to taste it? I’m glad that the word that comes after caramelized is ‘almonds’ and not ‘onions‘! Phew, that’s more like it! It must have been all of the excitement for Christmas feasts! I’m definitely not the only person who thinks of onions after reading the word ‘caramelized’… ‘caramelized onions’ is the first autocomplete option that springs up on Google when I typed ‘caramelized’ in the search bar (here in the Lion City, at least)!
The caramelized almonds led to a discovery of a cherished Christmas delicacy in Germany. Apparently, a snack called gebrannte mandeln, which is ‘candied almonds’, appears during the season of all things holly and jolly. A handful of European countries (Spain, Denmark and Switzerland, to name some) enjoy these candied almonds too. This munchie is a cherished member of their local festive selections. It’s available at Christmas Markets as well. Whole almonds are encrusted in a caramel shell, as they’re tossed in a sweet, sugary mixture. Almonds aren’t just glazed – sugar clumps are literally wrapped around each almond! The crunch factor lies in two parts: that caramel crust and the almonds themselves.
After learning about gebrannte mandeln, I was eager to unwrap the chocolate and taste what I believe is Ritter Sport’s ode to the treat. It’s a hit here, since this chocolate seemingly disappears from the shelves at my local store before you can say “Rudolph”! Bring on some Christmassy almonds!
Almonds, which have been glazed with sugar, fill the milk chocolate block in the form of almond bits. Specks of sugar clumps and almond bits come together in each piece. Aesthetics-wise, almonds are easily visible, and sugar is camouflaged. The reason is not a mystery, though, as milk chocolate and caramelized sugar possess similar hues.
It’s time to taste! Milk chocolate and almonds are way more prominent in the beginning, followed by a gentle caramel-ish touch to round up the experience. Almonds, a friend of the chocolate realm for the longest time, contribute crunchy and deliciously nutty touches.
Milk chocolate is a good choice as a canvas to represent candied almonds: it’s neither too sweet nor too bitter, because it doesn’t clash with caramelized sugar as much. In my opinion, that’s a plus as there is a controlled level of sweetness. The best part is that the chocolate block reflects a delightful Christmas classic without being complicated, flavor-wise.
Apart from almonds’ trademark nuttiness, a distinctive taste in the caramel family greeted my taste buds, instead of traditional caramel. It kind of reminds me of brown sugar– but a bit crunchier in clumps! Various takes on caramel have been embraced in the foodie realm for some time now (it’s the renaissance of caramel), and I’m glad that the concept has stepped into 2020. This is because I just love caramel and the celebratory feel it brings!
I had a great time tasting the chocolate, mostly because it brought a little taste of Christmas magic to my snack stash. Apart from making it to the snack stash, it’s a nice stocking filler, or part of a chocolate hamper. I’m glad that it really isn’t caramelized onions!