If there’s one confection I can’t live without, it would be chocolate of the bittersweet variety. You can even say they’re my weakness! And so my decision to impulse buy a bunch of these Risa Chocolate bars came as no shock. The official excuse was that I wanted to sample them for a blog review, but let’s be real: I couldn’t resist them especially because they were so prettily packaged! And to be honest, I had a good feeling about that tagline below their brand. ‘A passion for chocolate’, it says.
Risa Chocolate’s name comes from the Spanish word ‘sonrisa‘, which means smile. It is a fairly new discovery to me although it’s been putting smiles on the faces of those in the know for some time now. (Yup, still living under a rock.)
A great thing about this brand is how it supports small-scale Filipino farmers by keeping its whole bean to bar production process strictly local. Risa Chocolate also uses Pinoy ingredients in its creations, beginning with single-origin cacao beans sourced from South Cotabato. Pinoy flavors like queso de bola, pili nut, and chicharon— yes, chicharon!– are then added.
I’m picky with chocolate. I love them but I love playing favorites as well. I’m not an expert when it comes to chocolates but there are certain tastes and textures that I’m always looking for when I eat them. Usually, I can immediately spot if I’m going to get along with a certain chocolate brand or not.
Generally speaking, these chocolates are really good. Risa Chocolate’s product line ranges from classic chocolates to interestingly flavored ones, so opening up a new pack is never boring. Let’s start going through the stuff I tried so you can see what I mean.
Truffles and Pralines Box of 6 (Php 280)
A box of Risa Chocolate’s randomly or specifically chosen truffles and pralines. Perfect as a sampler or a fancy gift, although with a box of 6 you’re barely scratching the surface.
There’s an obvious reason why I decided to get this box, and of course it’s so that I could sample a handful of Risa Chocolate’s truffle and praline choices in one go. The truffles I received were Classic, Cerveza Negra, and Orange. For the pralines, I got Queso de Bola and Salted Caramel. (The names are written at the back of the box’s cover.)
This box of assorted truffles and pralines make a solid gift for the chocolate lover in your life. First of all, the offerings aren’t too sweet. You can also taste the quality in each piece, alongside the uniqueness of some of the flavors. I would recommend this most as a gift for yourself. 😉
The taste of a truffle banks largely on the quality of the chocolate used, and these ones were smooth with a creamy and luxurious sort of mouthfeel across the board. Each of them melted in the mouth and released all the flavors you would expect based on their names. (Chocolate + liquor = always a winning combo.)
Meanwhile, the pralines were perfection in a square appearance-wise and taste-wise. These are not the cloying mass produced type of pralines. Instead, the filling exists nicely alongside the chocolate shell once you bite into it. The queso de bola has some savory notes which provided a nice contrast to the salted caramel praline.
70% South Cotabato Crave Bar 35g (Php 120)
Dark chocolate made from beans that grow from South Cotabato. This bar boasts caramel notes and spice in every bite.
For me, eating chocolates at room temperature allows you to capture the nuances more, and this is very true when it comes to single-origin chocolates like this one. At room temperature, this chocolate has such a lovely snap as well.
As the chocolate melts away like butter in your mouth, a certain warmth permeates your tastebuds from the chocolate’s spiced and earthy undertones. There’s this pleasant sweet sensation before the familiar sour acidity present in cacao hits you. With good-quality bittersweet chocolate, there are literally so many things going on at the same time, and that’s why I love it. How does it have that many dimensions, seriously?
Oh, and regarding the aged bit, I haven’t been able to try aging this baby because no chocolate of this kind ever lasts long in this house!
Bacon Chili Chocolate Crave Bar 35g (Php 130)
A chocolate infused with chilis sourced from various Philippine farms, then dotted with bits of Mr. Delicious bacon.
The best way to eat this according to the packaging is to let it melt on your tongue before chewing to get all the flavors to mix together. Like a good girl I followed the instructions and got a really nice experience! All the flavors trickle out the longer you have the chocolate in your mouth, and I loved every moment of it. Yes to the chocolate-bacon-chili combo!
I have to say this was my favorite among all the chocolates in this review. It’s 60% cacao so it somehow leans more sweet than bittersweet, but the sweetness works so well to highlight that bit of heat that kicks in at the end. The applewood bacon bits are fairly small, but there were parts of the chocolate that had a lot of them while the other parts didn’t.
That said, I wish they added a bit more bacon to the bars to evenly highlight the contrast between that and the chocolate, but I’m happy with the chili part. This deserves a repeat order.
Chole Crave Bar 85g (Php 240)
Dark chocolate spiked with a spice mix from Chili Asylum, blended with Kitayama Chicken Skin Chicharon and Adobo Flakes.
Frankly speaking, I have never seen anything like this before. If you read the back of the box, it says there that the Chole is a chocolate bar version of the Mole– basically a Mexican dish made using chili peppers and chocolate. However, I do believe the chicharon and the adobo flakes are liberties taken by Risa Chocolate. And so this unique chocolate bar was born.
I realize this could be a strange sight for some, but eating this chocolate bar is similar to having a chocolate chili bar with added crunchy chicharon and some savory-sweet adobo flakes. You’ll only be able to appreciate this fully if you snap off a piece with all the components present, and then chew to get all the flavors to come out. What I loved most about this was probably that spice mix since it nicely complements the adobo and the chocolate.
While the other chocolates can be eaten cold if you really want to, I didn’t particularly enjoy eating this cold because of the chicharon. I think this one should be finished up at room temp the moment it is opened. I also wished the chicharons were broken up and scattered more evenly.
Brown Butter Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Crave Bar 35g (Php 130)
Milk chocolate with a light nuttiness from the brown butter and the hazelnuts. The hazelnuts add a crunchy element to the otherwise smooth 43% chocolate.
Milk chocolate is never my first choice for anything, but I was super intrigued by this one because of the presence of brown butter. I’m a fan of the stuff because I know how much flavor and fragrance it can add. (Try out these cookies and you’ll see what I mean.) There’s definitely a bit of nuttiness to this chocolate, and it’s not just because of the hazelnuts.
This chocolate is as creamy as all the others, but since I personally prefer higher cacao percentages in my chocolate, this was just good for me. I’m pretty sure you’ll love this if you are a fan of milk chocolate with nuts. I just wish the nuts would be more evenly distributed in smaller chunks.
After sharing her chocolate creations with friends and family, owner Ms. Pam Lim Cinco decided to share her passion with the rest of us. And we’re lucky, I should say. In this interview, she mentions Risa Chocolate just wants to make honest-to-goodness high-quality chocolates, and frankly I think that is exactly what the brand offers. It takes just one try, you guys.
So many of these chocolate creations are unique, but they’re not gimmicky. Simply put, we’re being introduced to new and fantastic ways to eat chocolate. Apart from that, we’re learning about things that pair well with chocolate too. It’s amazing how passion can make you creative beyond your own expectations, and if you’re generous you share it with the rest of the world. I cannot wait to see what Risa Chocolate comes up with next.
You can purchase Risa Chocolate from these shops, or online from Marketa.ph (where I bought mine). I already have a cart of certain products I haven’t tried ready on the next tab all because my mouth watered at the sight of the sticky rice snack called Chocolate Moron. I love suman and a version with chocolate just seems so good!
Full disclosure: This review is not sponsored in any way. All products in this post were bought using my own money and I have not received any monetary compensation for writing this review.