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Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe

April 16, 2015

On our last day in Portland, my husband and I boarded a Portland Streetcar and decided to spend the morning walking around NW 23rd Avenue.  Once named one of America’s best shopping streets, this part of Portland is filled with cafes, boutiques, and art galleries.  Exactly what you think of you when you picture Portland.  This particular Sunday morning was cold, drizzly and overcast.  Again, exactly how I picture Portland to be in the winter.  Towards the end of our morning, my husband saw a chocolatier shop and suggested that we step inside to see what they had to offer.  I had read about this particular chocolatier and was excited to see what kinds of chocolates they had on display.

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Opened in 1993, Moonstruck Chocolatier was born of an idea to create exceptional, handcrafted superior chocolates in Portland, Oregon.  Today, Moonstruck makes all of their chocolate by hand, hand crafting and hand decorating each individual piece.  All their chocolate is made with the highest quality ingredients, and Moonstruck is known for pairing their amazing chocolates with the fresh flavors of the Pacific Northwest.  Moonstruck’s Master Chocolatier is Chef Julian Rose who was recently named one of the best chocolatiers in North America.

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For Moonstruck’s location on NW 23rd Avenue, they opened a chocolate shop and cafe in one to entice shoppers to come in, take a seat and enjoy some delicious chocolate or perhaps some hand crafted beverages which also feature some of their amazing chocolate.  In fact, you can even order drinking chocolate.  And of course, there’s no shortage of hand crafted truffles to choose from.  The hardest part of enjoying yourself at Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe is choosing which truffle pieces to sample.

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Along one wall of the shop was a display of pre-packaged gift boxes to purchase and take home to share.  There were these incredible chocolate bars that I was so tempted to take home with me.  It is the Strawberry & Basil Sugar in dark chocolate bar that really caught my eye.  The combination of strawberry and basil is always a good one, and the idea of basil sugar was an interesting one.  And just look at those strawberries, they look amazing and delectable.  The candy bar next to it is pralines, pecan and candied ginger in a mix of dark chocolate and milk chocolate.  I thought for sure that would entice my husband as he is a huge fan of candied ginger.  While we did walk away with a gift box to bring home, we ended up passing on these chocolate bars.  Though, now looking back, I really should have gotten the Strawberry & Basil Sugar.

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But I was so distracted by these beautiful display cases full of some of the prettiest chocolate truffles I’ve ever seen.  Look at the cute ivory toffee mouse truffle there in the middle of the picture.  It looks so cute, almost too pretty to eat.  The descriptions of the chocolates are just as enticing as looking at the chocolate truffles themselves.  The ivory toffee mouse truffle consists of smooth milk chocolate toffee ganache with caramelized hazelnuts, hand formed into the shape of an adorable mouse, hand dipped in ivory chocolate and hand decorated.  I’d eat that just from the description alone, even if I never saw the chocolate truffle itself.  Look below at the cute milk chocolate lab truffle, or the extra bittersweet black cat truffle right next to it.   Other truffles included the espresso caramel, and honey vanilla caramel.  And there’s the milk chocolate bunny truffle made with creamy milk chocolate ganache, hand-formed into the shape of a bunny with almonds for ears, enrobed in milk chocolate and hand decorated.

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There’s just so many different truffles to choose from.  As we were there just after Christmas Day, Moonstruck had a whole collection of Mr. and Mrs. Claus truffles that were so cute.  Other holiday-themed truffles included the extra bittersweet snowflake truffle made of extra bittersweet ganache enrobed in dark chocolate, and decorated with an all-natural snowflake design.  Another truffle that must have been quite popular for the holidays was the hot toddy truffle with dark chocolate ganache with notes of honey, brandy, star anise, cinnamon, and bergamot, enrobed in milk chocolate.

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The hardest part of our trip to Moonstruck was deciding between all of the fantastic flavors.  My husband and I discussed back and forth which few flavors we wanted to sit down and sample.  There was the Grenada truffle made of whipped single-origin dark chocolate ganache made from rare Trinitario cocoa beans from the Caribbean, enrobed in dark chocolate and finished with roasted cocoa nibs.  The Ocumarian truffle is made from single origin dark chocolate ganache made with rare Cricollo cocoa beans from the Ocumare Valle of Venezuela, flavored with ancho and chipotle chiles, inside a dark chocolate shell.  Spicy!  Want something fruity instead?  What about the wild huckleberry truffle made with creamy ivory chocolate ganache layered with wild Oregon huckleberry preserves inside a hand painted milk chocolate shell.  I think my husband would enjoy that.  The peanut butter cream cone caught my attention with crunchy peanut butter whipped with milk chocolate French butter cream, inside a milk chocolate cone finished with roasted peanuts.

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What really caught my husband’s eye was this display of brightly colored truffles flavored with alcohol from various Oregon distilleries.  There’s the Oregon Spirit Distillers Wild Card Absinthe truffle which uses Wild Card Absinthe infused in dark chocolate ganache which imparts botanical and anise notes, hand piped into a dark chocolate shell.  There was also the Bendistillery Crater Lake Pepper Vodka truffle which blended ivory and dark chocolate infused with Pepper Vodka which features five different peppers in an ivory chocolate shell.  These particular chocolate truffles infused with alcohol were so intriguing to my husband because he’d actually had some of the alcohol from some of the distilleries that were featured.

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My husband thought that this would be a great gift set to bring back as a gift to his co-workers.  Moonstruck Chocolatiers sold a special 12-pack of these particular chocolates called the Oregon Distillers chocolate truffles.  My husband was right, these chocolates were a huge hit at his office.  My husband even got to try a couple and he said they were outstanding because you could clearly taste the spirit in the truffle, but you could also see how well it combined with the amazing chocolate from Moonstruck.  If enjoy these kinds of spirits, how could you turn down the Rogue Ale Dead Guy Whiskey truffle made with blended ivory and dark chocolate infused with Dead Guy Whiskey which features sweet notes and a peppery finish inside a milk chocolate shell which is then hand decorated.

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And it’s not just chocolate truffles that are being made at Moonstruck Chocolatiers.  There was also a delectable display of various flavors of macarons and even some left over holiday peppermint bark.  I had considered picking up a couple of these gorgeous looking macarons, but my husband reminded me that we were here to get chocolate and I should stay on track.

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While we were at the Café, my husband and I decided to share a hot drink and pick out a couple of truffles to sample while seated at the café.  Since it was cold and drizzly outside, we ordered a vanilla latte to split between us.  A nice, pick-me-up drink that we could both enjoy.  The latte was actually quite tasty and rich and really hit the spot, for me at least.  The perfect hot drink on a cold, brisk day.  And I actually found that the vanilla in the latte was a good pairing for the different kinds of truffles I picked out to enjoy with my husband.

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Since it was so close to Christmas, I chose a Mr. Claus truffle to sample.  The Mr. Claus is made from milk chocolate ganache which is hand shaped and painted as a jolly Santa with this signature red cap and beard.  The milk chocolate ganache was so smooth and creamy, it was like chocolate butter that just melted in your mouth.  I’m not sure I’ve tasted better chocolate truffles in my life.  My second choice was the French silk mousse truffle made from whipped dark chocolate mousse piped inside a dark chocolate shell and enrobed in dark chocolate.  The whole truffle is then hand-decorated with a heart design.  My husband and I both enjoyed the dark chocolate flavor.  I was surprised to find that even with a dark chocolate filling, a dark chocolate shell and then covered again in dark chocolate that the taste of the chocolate wasn’t bitter at all.  Again, the whipped dark chocolate filling was incredibly smooth and creamy and this truffle highlighted all of the finer points of the richness of dark chocolate.  It was absolutely divine.  Finally, my last truffle choice was the cookies & cream cone.  My husband and I agreed that this was our favorite of the three truffles we sampled.  The cone contains chocolate cookie and vanilla French butter cream inside a dark chocolate cone with a hand dipped chocolate top.  The crunch of the chocolate cookie was a nice texture contrast to the vanilla French butter cream.  The truffle literally tasted like I was enjoying the most amazing cookies and cream ever.  The cone was incredibly taste, and again very smooth, but it wasn’t over the top.  I seriously thought about going up to the counter and ordering a couple more of these cones.  Looking back, I’m quite sorry I didn’t try any more truffles as they were just so wonderful.

I’ve never had chocolate from a chocolatier that was as good as the chocolate my husband and I had at Moonstruck Chocolate Café.  We’ve talked fondly about how much we enjoyed their chocolate and how fantastic and rich, but not too over the top, the hand crafted truffles tasted.  We’ve even looked into how to order these chocolate truffles online, and I have no doubt that we’ll probably be placing an order sooner rather than later.  Moonstruck Chocolatiers really do use such quality ingredients that you can absolutely taste in the richness of the chocolate truffles.  Everything just melts in your mouth like rich, smooth, creamy butter.  And the fact that each piece of chocolate is hand decorated and hand designed is just amazing to think about the care and quality and time that goes into making each individual piece of chocolate.  When I think about what an ideal chocolate shop should be like, Moonstruck is exactly what I picture in my head.  I would never pass up an opportunity to have any of their chocolates.

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