Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Madison Chocolatiers West

(Only ordered online here...I didn't literally travel to NJ for this!)

Madison Chocolatiers West, located in Madison, NJ, specializes in various types of chocolate treats. Renee Rohrbach and Chef Ricky Sanders aim to make unique flavor combinations using the freshest ingredients. A few of my friends raved about one product in particular, and when I saw it, I had to get it.

Scorpion Stinger Caramels? Yup, as in the Trinidad Scorpion Pepper, one of the hottest peppers in the world on the Scoville scale (as of this post). Perhaps this calls for a new phrase: pandagasmic awesomeness.

You'll get six caramels, three types of chocolate (white, milk, and dark). Each chocolate gets wrapped with some shiny colored cellophane. A simple but cool-looking logo is affixed to this see-through small plastic bag.

Scorpion Stinger Caramels
(Madison Chocolatiers West)
I dug into the white chocolate one first, then the milk chocolate and the dark chocolate. Each square had that excellent thin coating of chocolate and a lovely amount of caramel. The Trinidad Scorpion pepper will stamp its presence in your mouth. It's not overpowering to me, but perhaps too much firepower for the average Joe/Jane. I honestly found it pleasurable.

Three types of  wrapping for the three types of chocolate!
White chocolate (top)
Milk chocolate (middle)
Dark chocolate (bottom)
Believe me, it took significant willpower to not finish all six caramels in one sitting. If I were judging these sweet and spicy treats alone, it'd probably be a near-perfect score. But I look at everything here.

It's $10 for six caramels. Honestly, I could probably find some caramels, buy my own Trinidad Scorpion powder, and concoct some makeshift rendition of these Scorpion Stingers. But to be fair, it's about business and demand. Trinidad Scorpions are very coveted among "chile heads" like myself, not to mention a little of that pepper can go a long way.

If you buy from their website, the shipping really stings if it goes to the West Coast (not sure otherwise). I didn't see any option like a USPS Priority Mail that could probably just be around $6 if going in a very small box. Even large flat rate USPS boxes are $15. But my three options were basically $20 and higher. I truthfully scoured the internet and found another place to get them that ships cheaper.

Seriously? $20.86 is the CHEAPEST shipping option to Salem, Oregon?!
No USPS Priority Mail option? It would be significantly cheaper....
What's the point there, you say? My mind works in a way where I'd pay for a product made pricier if the quality/taste justified it -- and there is little to no shipping costs. On the other hand, a product with a fair price but extremely high shipping costs is a major turnoff to me.

My reasoning: I don't mind if you charge high on the product if you really believe in it and the product delivers. However, I get virtually no satisfaction from high shipping costs. Unless there's some exigency or other extreme benefit from receiving it faster, I'm willing to wait the extra few days and take a cheaper shipping option. In my opinion, high shipping costs ultimately come off as a way to extract more money from the customer, instead of purportedly attempting to justify it with exemplary food product.

The shipping concern does affect the rating, but only slightly. It would be grossly unfair for shipping to be the death knell on a review.

(UPDATE 5/9/12: The shipping issue is being addressed. Ricky said the costs should be much cheaper (about $4.90). Hopefully, this will be fixed soon!)

For the record, I love the caramels, and I wish I could eat a whole room full of them. My spice-loving colleagues also love the Sweet Burn Butter Toffee, and I'm sure I'd like a separate room filled with those. But I am not sure my wallet takes too kindly to any subsequent shipping costs. 8/10

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