I ran into this neat find today when I revisited Cost Plus /World Market to see if I could find some more Licorette (there was plenty restocked). I’ll be honest: I absolutely bought these for the tins. The fact that they contained chocolate was but an added bonus! (Everything is better with chocolate, after all. Or cheese. But I digress).
This collection of spanish chocolates came in 4 different styles of Art Nouveau print tins, very nicely reproduced. I purchased the two shown below. They also had another tin somewhat resembling a japanese blockprint style design, which I did not recognize, and a second Alphonse Mucha style similar to the one I bought. I have always loved Alphonse Mucha’s style (perhaps due to enjoying similar illustration styles in the original Oz books of the beautiful Ozma, when I was a child), and I was delighted to see the tins offered.
The other illustration below of a young lady enjoying tea (or coffee? or hot chocolate?) also caught my fancy. Unlike the Mucha print, this one does not have a credit printed on the back of the tin, so I’m not sure of the origin.
Both prints were modified to include the brand name, “Chocolate Amatller – Barcelona” on the Mucha box, and “Chocolate Amatller Marca Luna” on the other box.
Frankly the best part of this product is the tins themselves. They’re about the size of Altoid boxes, but much better made in my opinion for reuse or gift boxes. This would be the perfect size for a gift pin or earrings, or other small token. Both the print side and the bottom of the box have a very nice matte finish which looks to be scratch resistant (thought I did see some small dings on the underside). The inside of the boxes are shiny gold colored. Another thing I quite liked about the tin construction is they do not have hinges, unlike many similar candy boxes. The reason I like this is the hinges always seem to fail eventually with re-use, leaving a less than attractive box on which the lid always falls off.
The first thing I noticed negatively about these boxes in the store, is that they only had a plastic slip cover over them with the nutritional information, etc, on the back. Now, this could be a positive in terms of re-using the boxes because you don’t necessarily want to keep that info around if you’re putting a gift or other trinket in the box. However, on the other side they were not sealed in any way to prevent someone from opening the box between the manufacturer packing it and you buying it. In fact the plastic sleeve with the label and nutrition information was easily removable and several boxes in the store were missing theirs (I bought two with their sleeves intact).
Once I actually tried to open the boxes at home, though, I was somewhat relieved because they certainly didn’t pop open easily. In fact the first box I opened, I managed to spill the chocolates inside (I did it over a table luckily) because of the force required to open the box. This probably means tampering or accidental opening in transit is unlikely (not to mention it’s going to stay closed in the future if you want it to). However, if you are someone who is highly concerned about that, you could buy it for the box and discard the chocolates or give them to someone less finicky. I’m not saying I’m not finicky about many things… maybe I just give a little more leeway when it comes to chocolate :). The thought of that chocolate going to waste is a heavy one…
Speaking of which: the chocolates themselves. I was slightly surprised to see the nutritional information list “Serving size: 1 tin”. Surprised and pleased actually :P. Now despite my post about Licorette, I do not always consume the entire contents of a box at one sitting, but it is nice for a manufacturer to assume for once that you might eat the contents of a package that looks like it’s only intended for one person. Just the other day I noticed the instructions on my package of orzo indicated that the serving size was 1/3 cup dry/8 servings per box. However, the cooking instructions on the back indicated that the entire box served 4 people. Granted, pasta has more “preset” serving sizes as I understand it based on the nutritional info, but the same cannot be said for snack foods which is portioned out into arbitrary serving sizes as far as I can tell.
Back to the chocolates. The ingredients listed are as follows: Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Whole Milk Powder, Chocolate Liquor, Soy Lecithin (emulsifier), Vanillin (artificial flavor), Cocoa Solids: 32% minimum. Made in a facility that also processes tree nuts.
For those of us not actually planning to eat the entire tin at one time (I showed restraint, folks!) the total calories for the tin was 180, which comes out to 12 calories per chocolate leaf (there were 15 in the box).
The chocolates were sweet milk chocolate, nothing super exceptional, but certainly tasty. They were molded into admittedly crude leaf shapes. A few hash marks on the top indicated a vague idea about leaf veins. This is probably not a present for a botanist of any precision, due to the fact that the representation (which I believe to be some type of Acer) was technically inaccurate. Unless, of course, the botanist makes allowances for chocolate, which is always a good trait!
The leaves were thin but none of them were broken in transit, which also made me think these would make a nice little decoration on top of a cupcake or other frosted goodie which wanted a little feeling of fall.
The cost of each tin was $3.99, which isn’t particularly cheap, but worth it for the keepsake, in my opinion :).
I tracked down the Chocolate Amatller website, by the way (okay, it wasn’t that hard to find), and it looks like they also make similar much larger sized chocolate tins, which I’d love to get my hands on for tea storage :).