Chocolate Covered Cherry Challenge '08

For your calories, fat count, and overall flavor overload, chocolate-covered cherries are undoubtedly the direction to go over the Holidays. Instinct has always directed me in Queen Anne's direction -- call it instinct, call it prestige via box design, call it programming from my mother. Alas, there was quite the decision to make today:

Queen Anne and Cella's Chocolate Covered Cherries (Dark Varietal) = Exact Same Price.

What to do, what to do? There's only one thing to do: purchase both, and finally decide for myself. Don't think about years of habit over the holidays. Don't think about the intrigue of trying about a new type of candy. It's time to find the definitive cherry for my palette. Go away, Michael Scott -- I don't care if that's what she said or not. Shush. It's time for some Chocolate-Covered Cherries.


Queen Anne's Dark Chocolate Cordial Cherries:

Queen Anne Cordial Cherries -- Official Site


Queen Anne's comes in a weaker cardboard box, sitting roughly 2.5 to 3 inches high. It's attractively designed, featuring an "opened" cherry on the top flap of the box. There's something about the font, the numerous chocolate bon-bons, and the bowl full of maraschinos in the upper right corner that just draw my attention. It screams fondness, familiarity -- but, most of all, it reminds me of my childhood with my mother. Not necessary the Dark Chocolate variety, but the Queen Anne brand as a whole.

Once you've cracked open the box, there sits two trays of five nicely-spaced little treats. Over each trays lies a stylish plastic Queen Anne film, portraying a sense of prestige about sliding the piece of thin plastic off of each crinkly tray. Altogether, there's ten little pieces of delectable heaven, which happens to be the absolute best usage of $1 - $1.50 you can spend over the holidays.

The Queen Anne dark chocolate itself has a matte finish, which gives it less of a polished, processed look. Each piece has a nifty little curly-cue at the top, a nice touch that matches the bubbles in handmade glass as a symbol of imperfect craftsmanship. It's a nice, sturdy chocolate, but there's a distinct sense of melting consistency that the treat gives off -- something that, bizarrely enough, invokes a sense of more immediate consumption.

After I sunk my teeth into the Queen Anne Dark Chocolate-Covered Cherry, I was reminded why my mother harped on these amazing little treats for many, many years -- they are simply outstanding. The non-glossy dark chocolate provides a laid-back texture for the palette, a technique that allows for more concentrated flavor to be pushed onto the cherry and creme itself. That's one of Queen Anne's signature attributes: the creamy inside.

Once you get to the cherry, the full blast of flavor comes rushing in. Like a chemistry set with the perfect combination of vitamins and minerals, it combines each attribute into an astounding conglomeration of chocolate, cherry, and sugary creme intensity. The creme stays together long enough for savoring, while the semi-feeble nature of the bendable, savory dark chocolate provides enough structure to hold the cherry while also being meltable enough to soak into your mouth after a few moments.

Queen Anne's Dark Chocolate-Covered cherries are addictive. They have a hard time giving you the signal to quit enjoying them, especially since popping one after the other into your mouth provides an experience all its own. Overall, the experience in eating two of these cherries (one serving) provides a Highly Recommended, 95 out of 100 candy-eating excursion.


Cella's Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries:

Cella Candies at GroovyCandies.com

Reminding me greatly of a Russell Stover's box of chocolates, the Cella's assortment comes in a flat, top-loaded box. It's a pancaked presentation compared to the Queen Anne, instead showing all ten (10) pieces of seasonal goodness in two (2) rows five (5). Maybe it's similar to the ill effects of sting-free iodine ("Oh, it doesn't hurt -- maybe it's not working!"), but the sense of space between each of the cherries seems like a more strategic flavor preservative. Here, they feel to close together.

When you open the packaging, the scent of the alternate syrup really hits you upon first sniff. It's a more liquid-based "sauce" lacking the creaminess of the Queen Anne's. Instead, you're working with a more watery, less syrupy type of solution -- which seeps through unwanted cracks and trickles out at first bite. You know that goofy grunt that you give when you're trying to catch falling fluid before it hits carpet or something else that can be stained, followed with that darting movement to catch it afterwards? If you're standing when trying this first piece, you might get prepared for such an act.

But, before you take your first bite, you might notice the more uniform, more "polished" nature of Cella's Dark Chocolate-Covered Cherry. It reminds me a little of a Rollo in its stiff-looking, finely-formed cylindrical shape. It looks rock solid, pure to the core with its material. Which it should; Cella advertises "100% Dark Chocolate" on its top. It's reaffirmed through the first nibble into the candy, as it provides a rigid, more "support or shatter" consistency than the foldable, moldable Queen Anne's.

However, to say the least, the Cella undoubtedly packs the larger amount of "dark chocolate" flavor of the two. I'm a huge, huge dark chocolate fan; it's not just because of its healthier nature and it antioxidants, but there's something about the blend of sweet and bitter that holds my sugar-tooth's attention. Trying these Cella cherries was like sensory overload, as it provides an overwhelmingly robust dark chocolate punch. If it were just a solid brick with this flavor, I'd be a happy, sold man.

But it's not; let's remember that these are a specific kind of candy. Cella's center, as previously mentioned, oozes with a watery substance once bitten into. This reflects the more saccharine side of the chocolate-covered cherry. There's just one problem to this equation: the cherry itself, the little red core of each confection, was wholly forgettable. After trying two of these, enjoying the immense dark chocolate flavor and scrambling to support the dripping sugary cherry substance, I sincerely neglected to enjoy the weak, small cherries present in each candy. Sure, I remember their sweet flavor, however, unlike the suppleness of the Queen Anne's remarkably plump little fruits, these Cella cherries were lackluster, somewhat lean, and entirely un-noteworthy.

Cella' Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries are better as a dark chocolate lover's button of indulgence with a mere splash of cherry goodness adorning its overwhelming flavor. They're still somewhat addictive, but only for those who have a penchant for the style of chocolate and not for those looking for a holistic seasonal "cherry" experience. Better as bon-bons, weak as Holiday treats. They come with a Recommended stature, earning a solid 85 out of 100 purely based on the quality of the chocolate and tastiness of the runny syrup.

Conclusion:

The next time I'm waltzing down the aisle with a fervor for a box of chocolate-covered cherries, I'm going to hinge on nostalgia and holistic experience and pick up a box of Queen Anne's -- the out-and-out victor of the Chocolate Covered Cherry Challenge.



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