Though I have duly instructed my family not to open the packages addressed to me so that I can take a photo and note the contents of the various gluten-free items that are sent my way, sometimes Pavlovian impulses take over and there are suspiciously skimpy amounts of edible samples and crumbs on certain chins when I arrive home to an opened package.
Such was the case with my review pack of gluten-free offerings from Chocolate Inspirations. I came home from a day at the bookshop to a ravaged box of chocolates, toffees and other sweet delights from this Illinois candy company. After some interrogation, I found the culprit to be none other than my sweet husband, who couldn't resist sampling the goods. With an Oliver Twist crooked smile and pleas to try some more of these sweeties, I began the official product review.
Chocolate Inspirations offers an extensive selection of confections that are all-natural and gluten-free. Many of these items are also vegan and dairy-free, and they provided me with an ingredients list for all of the samples they sent along. This is very reassuring for those of us with food allergies of various kinds. I myself can't handle horseradish (alas, no more wasabi peas for me!) and raw onion, while others in my family are lactose-intolerant), so I really appreciate this information.
The company specializes in gift baskets and packages, all looking quite glamorous, so this is something to consider for mailing or gift giving, especially now that Easter is on the holiday horizon. I also like that the company donates a portion of its profits for charitable purposes. Normally, the company's Chocolate for Charity program is dedicated to local animal shelters, but for the next several months, the funds are going to help offset the medical and home modifications costs for a young man disabled in a biking accident, so there's another good reason to like this company.
In the end, however, the endorsement of a gluten-free product depends upon its taste, so here's what the Crispy Crew thought about each of these confections:
Caramel Corn Brittle - My husband really enjoyed this treat. It's like Cracker Jack, only lighter and crispier and the butteriness of the toffee glaze really bursts through. (this item was the first to be wolfed down when he opened up the Chocolate Inspirations package).
Peanut Butter Pillows with Chocolate - Another winner, according to the old hubby, who, AHEM, was the only one to sample this bit of goodness. He says its like a Butterfingers candy bar, only more Buttery and Fingery. Whatever that means.
Coconut Brittle - Nice texture from all the coconut flakes tucked inside and a good buttery flavor coming through.
Fudge Brownie - Good flavor, but the texture was a bit dry. I prefer a moister, fudgier brownie. Brownies are so easy to make at home that I would probably not buy brownies from a mail order company anyway.
English Toffee - This candy is the company's bestselling item for the last twenty years, and it's easy to understand why. It's butter, crunchy without breaking off your teeth, and then has chocolate and pecans to boot. A real winner.
Cinnamon Toast Toffee - This item was Da Bomb! Not only do you get that awesome, buttery toffee, but it's wrapped in chocolate on both sides and then sprinkled with these glittery cinnamon sugar crystals.
Chocolate Pecan Decadence - This is an interesting and yes, decadent, confection made of dark chocolate covered with sugared pecan halves and drizzled with white and milk chocolate. A nice combination and the most beautiful of the candies we sampled.
Overall comments: This company makes an awesome array of flavorful, attractively-packaged sweets that anyone, gluten-free or not, would be happy to tuck into. I can't stop thinking about that Cinnamon Toast Toffee, which was also a unique presentation. Aside from the fudge brownie, which just can't compare to a warm homemade brownie, all of the other items we tasted were of high quality and something we can wholeheartedly recommend to you all.
Disclaimer: I received a box of candy samples from Chocolate Inspirations for possible review here at the Crispy Cook, but I was not under obligation to do so, and my comments and impressions about their products are completely my own.