When I was at the Seattle Gift Show, I ran into Karen of Forte Chocolates. I’ve met Karen a few times before, and while her main line of chocolates and caramels are lovely, I was really excited for a chance to talk about her new Gusto line. The Gusto chocolates are savory, reflected in their name, and about to hit shelves. Karen gave me two bars to try out, the fireweed honey in dark chocolate, and the balsamic vinegar in white chocolate.
I admit I was a bit perplexed at first by the choice of fireweed honey in a savory line. If you haven’t had it, true fireweed honey is very mellow, not what I mentally envision as savory. The honey brings some sweetness to the dark chocolate, which tastes 70% or darker (Karen uses a Madagascar 64%, which tastes darker than its cacao percentage). For most people, this is going to be very dark chocolate, almost bitter. In my house 70-90% is consumed as a matter of habit, so I tasted the deep, savory notes I associate with dark chocolate, with a delicate honey finish. It’s a snacking chocolate, one that could be eaten straight or with chips or pretzels to lend some saltiness.
The white chocolate is one of the better white chocolates I’ve had in a long time. It’s still a little on the sweet side, without that awkward attempted sweet finish I see in the Valrhona Ivoire. (I may love Valrhona, but white chocolate is a fickle mistress.) The balsamic vinegar, a 20-year-old variety, plays through more on even footing with the chocolate than as a major burst of flavor. It’s definitely white chocolate, but far more savory. I’d want to eat this with something delicate, like fresh donut peaches. Pairing this with a really strong fruit flavor would be overkill.
Especially with the balsamic white chocolate, I’d recommend eating them straight before trying to attempt a pairing or adding them to desserts. I am curious to see how the white chocolate melts over ice cream, but I like balsamic sundaes. Many people have very, very particular views about how their desserts should taste, and the trend of savory treats doesn’t mesh well for some. If you’re open to new experiences, or just enjoy some savory with your sweet, Gusto will be worth a taste.