Born in South Africa, Justine Pringle moved to America and eventually met her husband, Andy Laird, who was a musician who performed often in the city. In an effort to sell merchandise that was more than just shirts or CD’s, the couple decided on a whim to make chocolates. Much to their surprise, the sweets caught on and soon their side-job turned into a full-time career and enterprise, “Nunu Chocolates”.
The name originates from a term in Africa for young children, but the chocolates that this booming company create are not your average box of Russell Stover. At the Mad. Sq. Eats event, I checked out the Nunu booth, which was offering tastings of their chocolates paired with wine and beer. Sadly, I was there to work and not drink (however, my work was gorging on food, a tough way to earn a living), but I did pick up a box of chocolates to take back for later. The Booze Box ($12), pictured above, holds six pieces of their handmade chocolates, each with a different kind of liquor inside. Let’s tear into it and get ourselves a simultaneous sugar rush and buzz!
From left to right, the top row holds Mezcal Chili, Absinthe, and Moonshine, and the bottom row has South African Amarula, Sake, and Rye. Sophisticated geometric dark chocolate shells, made with 53% cocoa powder, were the perfect balance to the velvety ganache housed within.
The Sake chocolate has a faint aftertaste of the Japanese rice wine, while the Amarula was a bit stronger with its milkier taste. The Mezcal Chili hits you with some serious heat that hits the back of your nose, followed by the smooth and smoky essence of the Mexican liquor. The rye had a very subtle alcoholic taste, mostly overpowered by the chocolate, although I personally enjoyed it since it let me get a better sense of how Nunu handled their cocoa shells.
The Absinthe was definitely an interesting one to try, especially with the legendary reputation that it has. Definitely one of the stronger ones (if not strongest, compared against the Mezcal Chili), there are a lot of powerful flavors going on with this small piece. Fruity with a hint of licorice, the Absinthe chocolate is undoubtedly the most complex of the six-pack. The oddest of the bunch had to be the Moonshine piece, not because of it’s taste but because of what is associated with it. Those rednecks are onto something!
The chocolates all had the taste of their alcoholic counterparts, with the bouquet of it hitting your nose the more that you let the pieces melt on your tongue. Some were stronger than others, representative of whichever booze you were downing. The liquors stand out but do not overpower or offend, a razor-thin marriage between the smooth chocolate that Nunu has mastered. Combined with their artful molds, this very adult version of a box of chocolates is something that you must try to really appreciate the craft, as well as ingenuity, of this clever chocolate-making couple.
Nunu Chocolates has their flagship store located on 529 Atlantic Ave. bet. 3rd & 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, NY 11217. Their chocolates are carried in various other specialty food stores in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Long Island City, New Jersey, Connecticut, and other states around the US. You can also order them through their website for delivery anywhere in the country.