Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Airs Felicio Praline Cream
"Airs" brand chocolates by Lotte have been around for awhile and I've largely ignored them. Part of the reason for this is that they tend not to be sold in flavors that I favor and perhaps the other part is that paying for chocolate with air intentionally introduced into it is less attractive than paying the same price for chocolate which is solid. The one type I did try in the past was some weird Chinese fruit pudding concoction. The texture was odd and the flavor very strange. That particular variety was a "regular" type. The "Felicio" variety, which is just a few letters away from being a hilarious "Engrish" name for a product, is a premium version. It not only comes in a fancy box which is almost impossible to photograph well because of the shiny, highly reflective areas, but cost 58 yen (about 55 cents) more than the mundane variety.
The concept of the "Airs" chocolate is the same for all variations. A "cup" of aerated chocolate is filled with some sort of flavored filling then a little more chocolate is poured on top of the flavoring to complete it. This makes the chocolates look and feel cheap when you compare them to some of the better-looking molded chocolates. Because the chocolate is full of air pockets, the candies are very light and probably a little lower calorie than a dense chocolate of the same size. Each piece of this was 23 calories.
These chocolates are full of praline, which is to say hazelnut and almond paste. They smell sweetly of chocolate and have an intense chocolate flavor. Mainly, you can taste the chocolate shell when you bite into this at first. It takes a second bit to reveal the flavor of the filling to a mild extent. This is rather disappointing as I love praline and I feel that the chocolate flavor, which is actually very good, overwhelms the taste of the filling. There are 2 ways in which you can get a really good sense of the center's flavor. One is to hold the candy in your mouth long enough to melt off the exterior coating and leave only the center blob to be tasted largely by itself. Since there is a good amount of cocoa butter in this, letting them melt in your mouth is a decadent experience. The second is to keep eating more of the candy until your taste buds start to lose their sensitivity to the taste of the chocolate shell. This happened around three chocolates for me, but it also started to reveal a subtle aftertaste in the candy which I uniquely associate with Lotte's Airs brand.
Despite the subdued nature of the praline filling, I liked these a lot. The flavor is really deep and rich. There are 12 candies in each box and they cost 158 yen (about $1.50). This makes them somewhat expensive, but if you're a fan of praline, I'd certainly recommend picking them up at least once and giving them a try.