Waiting for some friends in Harvard Square today, we came across a small chocolatier called L.A. Burdick. I had never heard of them before, but a few people in our group had--apparently, they are pretty well known, and so we decided to go in and try a few select pieces.
L.A. Burdick is probably most well known for it's two "signature" items: chocolate penguins and chocolate mice. Both signature items are whimsical and very cute. The penguin is dark whipped lemon ganache with almond arms, dressed in dark and white chocolate. The mice come in three varieties: dark, milk, and white chocolate. Burdick also offers a variety of other hand-made chocolates, everything from almond chamomile to honey caramel truffles. At over $50 a pound, each piece ends up being about a buck. The mice and penguins are more expensive at $2.5 and $3.5 a piece respectively.
We decided to get a dark chocolate mouse (chocolate ganache with freshly squeezed orange juice, covered in dark chocolate), a Richelieu (a milk and dark chocolate interior with cherry liquor, cherries and cumin seeds), a fig (milk and dark chocolate interior with a balanced flavor of fig and port wine), an Orinoco (dark-milk interior, Caribbean spices, run and coca nibs, covered in chocolate and sprinkled with nibs), a lemon spice (whipped rum and lemon ganache, enrobed in milk chocolate and topped with grated Trinidadian spices), and an almond chamomile (roasted almond and chamomile tea, dark chocolate enrobed).
All of the chocolates were very good. However, we were disappointed in the intensity of the flavors. For example, in the Orinoco we expected a burst of Caribbean spices and yet, we tasted none. Upon further reading of our little chocolate pamphlet, I discovered that for L.A. Burdick their main goal is to give center stage to the world-class chocolates that they use in their recipes:
"We are careful not to mask their (the chocolates) complex flavor with the complimenting ingredients. If the spices, herbs, fruits, coffee and teas are too strong, you can't taste the variety of chocolates we cook with."
Ah-ha! That makes perfect sense then. The other ingredients are there as subtle hints to bring out the flavor of the chocolate, quite like when certain foods are paired with wines...the wine, not the food, is the star attraction. I must admit though, even after this explanation, I would have preferred that the other ingredients still be a bit stronger...I mean, why else label something chamomile is you can't even taste a hint of it? You might as well add the ingredients but not list what they are and people would think it was just wonderful dark chocolate. That's just my two cents.
Overall, we thought L.A. Burdick's chocolate was good, but it didn't blow us away. It was delicious chocolate but nothing truly unique. For the price, I would prefer Choco-Lee's in the South End. As for the signature mice? Besides the cute factor, they're not worth the hefty price tag...I've had better chocolate in Paris for cheaper.