House of happy smiles
Maison Bouche (“Mouth House” in English) is an East Bay chocolatier with a French accent. From the chocolate’s names to the pretty packaging to the quality flavor ingredients blended into superb chocolate, it is very evocative of a French chocolate experience.
Maison Bouche offers 30–40 bars online, plus molded chocolates, caramels, cookies, cakes, and postcards of vintage images. Their bars are also available in stores around the country (see their website for exact locations). We recently bought some at Chocolate Covered in SF.
Great for gift-giving
My first thought on seeing the selection of Maison Bouche bars at Chocolate Covered was that these would make simple, attractive and unusual gifts for chocolate lovers. The flavors sound special, the packaging looks French, and the color combinations of the labels with the colored foil wrappers are very pleasing. And the price ($6.50 for a 2.2 oz. bar) is comparable to other high end chocolate.
There is a lot of variety to the bar flavors, so you can find something to please everybody on your list. The website divides bars into categories that include holiday (and seasonal) flavors, spices, flowers, fruits, crunches, and an “after-dinner” group of dessert- and drink-flavored bars.
Great for keeping to yourself
The bars themselves are divided into 8 little pillows that are the perfect size for melting in your mouth, which is the optimal way to experience these flavored bars. As they melt and the chocolate fills your mouth, some hit you first with one flavor, roll through a middle flavor, then end with something else.
In general, all of the bars I sampled had a lingering aftertaste. Combined with the quality chocolate (nice flavor, smooth texture, good temper), it made each pillow in a bar very satisfying. These are bars to savor.
Add some spice to your life
Of the ones I tried, I could see making the 2 Spice bars a regular treat. The Cardamome et Orange Confite (Cardamom with Candied Orange) Dark Chocolate Bar has visible slivers of candied orange peel, which translated to a bright orange flavored bar, The cardamom flavor was more subtle and came through after the orange.
The Rosemary Almond with Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Bar had visible almond bits with a toasted almond flavor that hit first, followed by rosemary that lingered (an unusual flavor for chocolate, but it worked). It was balanced, the rosemary flavor was not overpowering or too herb-y, and the sea salt was understated, just there to enhance the other flavors, not call attention to itself.
The other herb-y bar I tried, which is in the floral category, was Lavande des Hautes-Alpes et Fleur de Sel (Lavender from the High Alps with Sea Salt) Dark Chocolate Bar. It had a very strong lavender flavor, which I think will please chocolate lovers who also really like lavender. I shared all of these bars with other people, and this one drew the strongest negative reactions. But if you or someone you know likes lavender, this could be the bar to buy. Personally, I might like it better if it was a darker chocolate and lighter on the lavender.
The 2 other florals we tried were both a little surprising, but big hits. The Fleur de Pecher (Peach Blossom) Milk Chocolate Bar is flavored with — as it says — peach blossom, not peach. They are distinctly different flavors. The peach blossom reminds me of peach-flavored black teas I’ve had. It’s more floral than fruity. And for me, I’d love to pair this bar with a cup of strong black tea.
The Geranium Bourbon was surprising because the Bourbon in the name doesn’t refer to whiskey, but to the Bourbon Islands (now La Réunion), as in that is where the geraniums used to make the flavor are sourced. So instead of any boozy flavor or buzz, the bar had a very nice, distinct floral taste first, that was balanced with the creamy milk chocolate. Even people who thought they wouldn’t like a floral bar liked this one.
Mild to wild
The last 2 bars we tried were both good but in distinctly different ways. The crunchy Vanilla et Malt Croquants (Vanilla with Malt Crunch) Milk Chocolate Bar was a lightly malted, very milky chocolate with a long vanilla aftertaste. It’s very good for your risk-adverse chocolate lovers, and a bit of a comfort food for the rest of us.
The Absinthe would be a good match for your more adventurous palates: It has a nice woody licorice taste that works well with the dark chocolate. This is one delicious, unusual bar.
See for yourself
Maison Bouche chocolate is worth seeking out. The exceptional chocolate combined with interesting flavors that balance and complement each other and the chocolate makes for an outstanding series of chocolate experiences. I look forward to trying more of these. I think you will too.
A writer/designer, Nancy lives in Oakland with Ronnie, her husband of many years & fellow chocolate enthusiast.