We'd been using the ordinary La Salamandra dulce de leche for many years, although recently I found our current unopened jar in the cupboard had an expiration date of 2001 (yikes, but it still tastes great 10 years later!). Then we spotted its new dark chocolate variation last month and immediately snapped it up. As a big fan of Nutella and non-Nutella (chocolate) hazelnut spreads, this stuff was an immediate hit with my stomach, less stiff than hazelnut spreads, almost like a silky dark chocolate icing, I love it. Try a heaping spoonful in a coffee cup, microwave 15 seconds to liquify, and pump an expresso into it. Or just spoon it directly into your mouth. Or spread it onto a slice of pound cake. You cannot go wrong with this product if you like chocolate.
This is ideal for marbling into cheesecake batter. It cooperates nicely in the swirling process, unlike Nutella.
Italy is a coffee paradise. Especially for chocolate lovers. Bob found espresso with a Nutella hit at the University coffee bar/ snack/ lunch spot and of course had to try it. But at home, noticed that Nutella is more like sludge in the cup than a cooperative flavor additive. The dulce de leche and/or chocolate version on the other hand microwaves nicely to a warm liquid form in a few seconds waiting for the espresso shot, whereas Nutella gets much worse via this prep. Of course even the "ordinary" cappuccino in Italy is a treat compared to the disappointing stuff Americans willingly accept from their usual suppliers.
The other chocolate-coffee product over there that has many local variations is the so called Marocchino ("little Moroccan"). Too bad bob seems to have stomach wall problems lately, which has cut down considerably on his summer indulgences in this area. It relies on powdered chocolate though, so is only a parenthetic remark in this story.
You don't have to go to Italy to indulge though. Illy coffee bars are spreading throughout the world. First experienced by the cooking team in Rome, we discovered one in our only visit to Chicago recently not far from their "Miracle Mile." Offering real fantasy coffee creations, but not supersized like typical American "upscale" coffee products.
Another similar Italian coffee product is their "crema di caffe", coffee cream, sort of like a coffee shake but smoother and lighter, a coffee mousse is more like it. Also called "caffe del nonno" (grandpa's coffee). Not to forget bob's first experience in this direction, the "caffe shakerato." And to think bob hated coffee until middle age.