Thomas Keller's Chocolate Truffle Fries Are Worth The Splurge

If you've ever had a really good piece of chocolate, you know that a single square is rarely enough. No matter how slowly you try to savor each bite, the chocolate takes over as you eat it, melting and speeding up the process beyond your control. Before you know it, you're ready to dig in for just another little taste but the whole chocolate bar is gone, melted away and replaced with a sense of happiness and joy.

Chocolate, especially good chocolate, has that effect on most of us. You know you've landed on a quality bar when you can hear the crisp as you break off a piece, snapping cleanly along those gridlines punched into the bar's top. Of course, excellent chocolate doesn't come cheap, but it is always worth the price as soon as you take a bite.

When we heard that Thomas Keller had launched a chocolate company and that it was making a sweet-and-salty chocolate bar inspired by a dish at one of the chef's Michelin-starred restaurants, we hoped that it would fall into that excellent category. The price was certainly up there, but did the flavor back it up? After one bite of the Chocolate Truffle Fries chocolate bar, we knew the answer.

What is bean-to-bar chocolate?

K+M Chocolate is labeled as "bean-to-bar" chocolate, a trade model that distinguishes the chocolate in a similar way to how "farm-to-table" restaurants separate themselves from chain restaurants. While the term is not currently regulated in the U.S., it implies that sustainability and ethical sourcing are considered in every process step. In short, it's generally used to differentiate chocolate makers who start with a raw cacao bean instead of buying bulk cacao or already-made chocolate (like chocolatiers).

What bean-to-bar doesn't mean is organic-only ingredients. While the Chocolate Truffle Fries lists many organic ingredients (including sugar, cocoa butter, and sunflower lecithin), the milk powder is only listed as RBST-free and the potatoes themselves are also not organic. But each bar of K+M Chocolate states that it's "roasted, ground, and molded by hand in Napa Valley, California," so we can only assume that the company is starting with raw cacao and taking care to make their chocolate from scratch. We also appreciate that it packages its products in recycled paper and utilizes compostable foil to wrap the chocolate itself.

What makes K+M Chocolate unique?

K+M Chocolate was founded by Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller and Italian olive oil producer Armando Manni. Keller is well-known in food circles for his Michelin-rated restaurants, including The French Laundry in Napa Valley and Per Se in New York. Thomas Keller's Michelin stars make him unique because he is the only American-born chef to obtain multiple stars from the Michelin inspectors.

The brand has two chocolate lines. The collaboration with Manni is seen in the company's K+M Extravirgin Chocolate line, where organic extra-virgin olive oil is substituted for cocoa butter. The Chocolate Truffle Fries bar we tasted is in the K+M Chocolate collection. About half of the options here are made with single-origin chocolate, highlighting the difference between chocolate grown in Peru, Venezuela, or Ecuador. The other half focuses on accentuating the chocolate with seasonings ranging from truffled potatoes to Japanese yuzu peel and Indian spices like turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper. You'll find both dark and milk chocolate in the collection, with Chocolate Truffle Fries being the latter and coming in at 55% cacao.

How to buy Chocolate Truffle Fries

K+M Chocolate and K+M Extravirgin Chocolate are available through the company's website, where the products range from $10 for a 1.9-ounce (55-gram) bar to $14.95 for a 2.5-ounce (70-gram) bar. There are several gift pack collections, too, costing $49.95 for either four or five bars (depending on the options). Shipping is not included, so you'll have to tack that on top based on your location. We're located in Portland, Oregon, and the shipping was calculated at $10.24 for a USPS priority shipment. They're also available on for about the same price.

The product also retails at over 100 retailers across the country, including Balducci's Food Lover's Market, select Whole Foods Markets, and Keller's own Bouchon Bakeries. For those more inclined to participate in online shopping, the chocolate bars also ship via several e-commerce providers, including GoldBelly. We also found a K+M store on Amazon, where a three-pack of Chocolate Truffle Fries was available for $32.95 (including shipping).

How does the nutritional information compare to other milk chocolate?

There are several types of baking chocolate, and Chocolate Truffle Fries is a considered a milk chocolate. As a 55% chocolate, most of its weight is comprised of cocoa beans, with the remaining ingredients filling up the remaining 45%.

We were pleased to see that the ingredients list here was short and sweet: organic cane sugar, RBST-free whole milk powder, organic cocoa butter, truffle oil, shoestring potato, organic sunflower lecithin, and sea salt. The bars do not list nutritional information, so we reached out to the company, which confirmed that the serving size is 30 grams (a little over half of the 50-gram bar), and each serving contains roughly 177 calories, 10 grams of fat, 9.8 grams of carbohydrates, and almost 6 grams of sugar.

For comparison sake, we took a peek at the nutrition of a bar of Lindt Classic Recipe 55% Milk Chocolate Bar (our highest-ranked chocolate brand), which contains sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milk, chocolate, cocoa powder processed with alkali, skim milk, milkfat, soy lecithin, and artificial flavor. Each 31-gram serving (about a quarter of the 115-gram bar) contains 170 calories, 13 grams of fat, 14 grams of carbohydrates, and 11 grams of sugar.

How to taste chocolate

We went into our taste test considering a few important tips for tasting chocolate. Tasting chocolate is similar to tasting wine, whiskey, or cheese, where the tasters had to focus on the small nuances in the chocolate instead of concentrating on the overall sweet or rich flavor profiles. To make sure our palates were clean and ready for the tasting, we swished water around in our mouths and ate saltine crackers to clear out any lingering oils from the previous taste.

From there, we assessed the chocolate based on look, aroma, taste, and texture. They say the devil is in the details, and we tried to take that to heart when tasting K+M Chocolate Truffle Fries. We noted whether the bar was shiny and glossy or had a matte finish, and tried to detect whether its aroma was chocolaty or off-putting (a by-product of incorrect fermentation). Finally, when we finally ate the chocolate, we paid attention to how quickly it melted, whether it was crunchy or chewy, how it finished on our palate, and thought long and hard about the actual flavors we detected.

Our first impression of Chocolate Truffle Fries

We were excited to try the K+M Chocolate from the moment we heard about it. The chocolate bar is said to be inspired by the truffle fries at Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bistro. You'll find this iconic side dish in many restaurants today, but it's usually made with truffle oil (in case you didn't already know, your truffle oil contains no real truffles, so these dishes rarely taste like the prized mushrooms). Bouchon Bistro is different because they make its dish with the real deal, tossing the freshly cooked french fries with chopped fresh black truffles and truffled clarified butter.

We were impressed with the chocolate bar's sleek look, and we loved that the ingredients list didn't contain any unnecessary additives. Some chocolate contains artificial flavorings or vegetable fats like palm oil, so we appreciate that K+M is keeping things simple and clean. We notice that the company utilizes organic sunflower lecithin — a natural, plant-based stabilizer that binds the cocoa butter, milk, and sugar together — instead of the more popular emulsifier soy lecithin. That means that those with soy allergies can enjoy the chocolate without worries.

What does Chocolate Truffle Fries taste like?

We have finally arrived at the moment of truth: the taste test. After preparing our palates and opening the chocolate bar, the tasters were greeted with the checkerboard pattern typical of chocolate bars. It looked fairly normal until we turned it over, revealing dozens of crispy potatoes patterned inside the chocolate. It looked like someone had accidentally set the bar down onto a plate of fries, and the pieces stuck.

The bar had a lightly roasted aroma, and we were surprised that we smelled more of the chocolate than the truffle. Truffle oil has a tendency to overpower other smells, so it was nice that cacao was the primary aromatic profile. A bite revealed that chocolate was also the dominant flavor, containing a pleasant, dark chocolate bitterness that coated our tongues slowly as it melted. The chocolate without the potato flakes tasted like normal chocolate, but the ones with the crispy shoestring pieces crunched and exploded with flavor. These salty bites brought out the sweetness in the chocolate, and they were absolutely crave-worthy. We couldn't help ourselves from going back in for another bite!

Is Thomas Keller's Chocolate Truffle Fries worth it?

We adored the flavor of K+M Chocolate Truffle Fries. The truffle flavor wasn't extremely prevalent, so those expecting a bolder truffle flavor may have been disappointed. That said, the bar was worth it for the sweet-and-salty combination of chocolate and potato. It reminded us more of potato chips than fries, but we couldn't get enough of the interplay between the potato's crunchy texture and the smooth, melty chocolate.

When it comes to price, we were less enamored. At $10 a bar, the chocolate cost about $6 per serving (even more if you had it shipped from the company's online store — then it's closer to $12 per serving). That's a hefty price tag considering that we could get a 55% Lindt milk chocolate bar from our local grocery store for $4.95 for a 4.1-ounce (115-gram) bar (or a mere $1.29 per serving). At the end of the day, the Lindt chocolate might be significantly more affordable, the tasters decided we'd much rather have the flavor of the K+M bar — and the sustainable care that's taken to make this U.S.-made chocolate. Consider it a special occasion chocolate, and try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting (no guarantees on that, though).