I really love Paul A. Young's chocolates, but I'm beginning to think I actually like his baked goods more. I've previously reviewed last year's Gingerbread Salted Caramel Shortbread and loved it, and I was anxiously waiting for my chance to try the Valentine's edition. I picked this one up on Valentine's Day, so excuse the lack of timeliness...but then again, do snacks even know what season it is?
The shortbread was again quite crumbly and almost cake-like, it certainly isn't the same as a traditional Walker's style shortbread. In a weird way, it reminds me a lot more of shortcake--I'd say it is about halfway between the two. I think this is a nice way to keep the shortbread from being too heavy or cloying, as the caramel itself is immensely buttery and sweet.
The caramel is so perfectly 'raspberry', tangy and naturally flavored with a salty edge. It really is an amazing flavor, a perfect blend of sweet, zesty, and salty. At first I was the tiniest bit apprehensive, as salted fruit sounded like it could go horribly wrong (watermelon notwithstanding) but it works just as well as a regular salted caramel. Sweet and salty, but with an added touch of zip! The texture is amazing, like condensed milk caramel or a very good dulce de leche, thick but not at all sticky in your mouth.
The dark chocolate topping was lightly tinted red, and so shiny. Very festive and befitting to the holiday, without being ostentatious. The chocolate was a thin layer with a quality snap, and a tiny taste of rose. I usually hate floral sweets, but I'm pleased to report that the rose in this was...well, take it or leave it for me. I would be just as into this cake if it had no rose, but since it was such a delicate hint of it I didn't really mind. The rose was more of an aftertaste really, a lingering touch in your mouth. I presume rose breath is more romantic than chocolate breath, maybe that is the reason why it is only a bare hint! Or, maybe Paul A. Young is just a master of blending, and knows that too much rose will turn off people like...me.
Loved this one, if they're still available next time you're in a Paul A. Young, grab it! I have a feeling they'll have long been sold out, though...luckily, Easter is right around the corner, and so a new shortbread follows. Yes!