Season 2, Episode 3: It's hip to be a (chocolate) square!

Season 2, Episode 3: It's hip to be a (chocolate) square!

Ghirardelli has been a San Francisco institution for nearly 180 years, and one of their most popular lines is the selection of filled chocolate squares. They are available in quite a few flavor combinations with either milk or dark chocolate. Usually they are good! I have had some where the inside flavor is slightly too sweet, but those are few and far between.

So considering this history, I was excited when I saw that they were offering a pumpkin spice version for the fall. But I was slightly less excited when I found out that it was a pumpkin spiced caramel. Caramel is great, but it is literally just cooked sugar. So I anticipate that the flavor is going to be completely dominated by sweetness.  

As for the pairing with chocolate - I have long believed that pumpkin and chocolate make a good team. I pay be (totally) biased, but I feel that when alongside dark chocolate, the flavor profile of pumpkin really helps mellow any bitterness from the chocolate and round out the taste. This worked really well in practice last year when I made the chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. (DAY 23: Pumpkin Muffins - More Delicious, Less Nutritious)

But today is a little different. Ghirardelli decided to go with milk chocolate for this candy, so I don’t know what to expect!

Day 3: Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Caramel Squares

Cost: ~$4.49
Purchase Location: Target
Manufacturer’s Description:
Celebrate the season with our luscious, buttery caramel with a touch of pumpkin spice in our slow-melting milk-chocolate.

In the interest of full disclosure: I am not really a milk chocolate fan. When I was younger, sure. I could eat Hershey’s bars by the box and not blink an eye. But in my 20s, I find myself avoiding it because of the extra fattiness in the chocolate and the way it coats the palate.

All of that aside, I am keeping an open mind for this review.

The packaging is great, and has a metallic orange tint. Unfortunately, it looks like there is no actual pumpkin or pumpkin spice in these and there is artificial flavoring.

Opening up a square, they seem to look like your average Ghirardelli offering, with no special marking for the fall/limited edition run (missed opportunity!). I was also very surprised because I could smell the pumpkin spice when I unwrapped and it came across pretty fragrant!

Cutting in, the caramel does not have any signs of orange or flecked spicing, but that was expected because the taste is coming from flavorings. The caramel smells sweet and spiced, but not overwhelmingly so. A glimmer of hope?

Biting in, the milk chocolate hits before the pumpkin does. It’s good and bad - the chocolate is a little rich, but the caramel is balanced in sweetness and spice. I scooped some out to try on its own, and it really is good!

I’ll say it again - dark chocolate works better with pumpkin spice. The mellowness of the pumpkin balances out the acidity of the dark chocolate and the result would be a deeper flavor profile.

But overall, I was pretty surprised by how much I liked the inside caramel filling. Aside from flavoring it with real spices, I wouldn’t change much about it! I liked these chocolate squares more than I expected, but the milk chocolate and lack of real flavors cost it a little.

Final rating: 3/5 pumpkins. Ghirardelli @ me and we can collaborate on these.

Season 2, Episode 3: It's hip to be a (chocolate) square!
Season 2, Episode 2: The Pumpshank Redemption
Season 2, Episode 1: What is a yogurt pretzel anyway?

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