Handmade Fleurir Chocolates

Grand Marnier Orange Blossom bonbon from Fleurir chocolatier.

The name of this Hartfield, VA chocolatier, Fleurir, literally means “to bloom.” And there’s no doubt a craving for these tiny artisan chocolates will sprout after just one bite.

Twenty-five-year-old Robert Ludlow started the business in April with his 23-year-old fiancee, Ashley Hubbard. Ludlow, who earned a grand diplome from Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney, Australia, uses fresh cream and butter in these handmade chocolates that come in such intriguing flavors as Coconut Lime, Carrot Cake, and Lavender Shiraz.

The elegant box.

The couple recently sent me a sample to try. A 4-piece box is $8, a 9-piece is $18, and a 25-piece one is $48. The chocolates are available at select locations in the Washington, DC-area or on the chocolate company’s Web site.

So, how do they taste?

I’ll use my patented scale of 1 to 10 lip-smackers, with 1 being the “Bleh, save your money” far end of the spectrum; 5 being the “I’m not sure I’d buy it, but if it was just there, I might nibble some” middle-of-the-road response; and 10 being the “My gawd, I could die now and never be happier, because this is the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth” supreme ranking.

Fleurir Hand Grown Chocolates: The first thing you’ll notice with these bonbons is how nicely thin the outer shell is. They give way easily to an utterly smooth interior that is as silky as mousse and melts on your tongue like butter. The flavors are all clean and intense.

The Ginger Rogers is studded with tiny bits of candied ginger and gets an even fresher kick with a bit of mint. The Almond Amaretto will have almond paste lovers smiling. Amaretto-laced ganache is topped with a thin layer of smooth, sweet marzipan. The Grand Marnier Orange Blossom tastes like candied orange rind. Lavender Shiraz has real complexity with deep berry flavors and a subtle floral hint. It’s a wine lover’s delight. The Raspberry one will make you think you’re eating a bowl of fresh berries with milk chocolate sauce drizzled over it all. If I had to pick only one favorite, though, the nod would go to the Sesame Hazelnut. It’s like Nutella with a lot more nuance and oomph. It’s rich, very nutty, and just fills your entire mouth with the taste of toasted hazelnuts and sesame. Wow! Rating: 10 lip-smackers.

The tastes of raspberry and milk chocolate.

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