Monday, 21 July 2014

Chocolate and Love Dark Milk Chocolate 55% with Cacao Nibs

Chocolate and Love's cacao is sourced from their 3 Fairtrade partners in Peru and The Dominican Republic. It was promising to see that the chocolate avoided soya lecithin but, you know, if it was real good cocoa surely the vanilla wouldn't have been necessary.... The vanilla was Fairtrade from Madagascar. Chocolate and Love seemed like a company striving in ethics, could their chocolate live up to their high moral?

The milk chocolate was of 55% cocoa. I loved the packaging design and, even more so, seeing cocoa mass enlisted before cocoa butter. The aroma was lovely: creamy, butter, fragrant vanilla,  butterscotch, chocolate and a little fruity
The taste, though disrupted by the cacao nibs, mirrored the aroma. The nibs had their expectant blunt, bitter taste, but in particular they tasted chemically and likened to a mix of cereal grain, almond and distilled alcohol all whilst remaining mildly sour. I enjoy cacao nibs by themselves, but I'm yet to taste a nib-studded-chocolate that actually benefits from the nibs

Especially because of its acidic undertones, I know I'd have enjoyed this rich dark milk chocolate alone. The texture was beautifully smooth, the milkfat and cocoa butter did wonders for the tongue, and when chewing it felt like a truffle. The nibs added a crunch which made them even more disruptive. This chocolate isn't quite milk chocolate as we know it, considering it does not state its milk %, but I liked it. It had a strong cocoa body and finish and it wasn't too sweet

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Marks and Spencer Fairtrade 36% Milk Chocolate & with Sicilian Sea Salt

Marks and Spencer's Fairtrade 36% cocoa milk chocolate comprises of cane sugar, dried milk, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, milk fat, emulsifier and vanilla. The bars are manufactured in Italy (I believe by Agostoni) and retail at £2 for 100g

Milk Chocolate
The aroma was almost identical to the Nero & Bianco milk chocolate (that too made by Agostoni) though it seemed more cocoa defined, sweeter, richer and not as natural. It was buttery, vanilla and caramel. The taste was like the aroma: vanilla, caramel and slightly nutty. It wasn't anything mind blowing, but it was good. The texture was phenomenal, feeling incredibly smooth in the mouth

The Sicilian Sea Salt had the same traits but with a slight differentiation. The salt would lightly touch the tongue and enhance that sweet, sweet flavour. There was the occasional crunch of sea salt and I was so thankful that it didn't result in an overly salty taste (a common mistake made by many manufacturers). I chose this bar in lieu of the Salted Butterscotch bar and I certainly do not regret doing so

Marks and Spencer's milk chocolate tastes high quality, and being Agostoni it guarantees the cocoa is high quality. Mark and Spencer's packaging design is as wonderful as ever. A really enjoyable milk chocolate!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Whittard of Chelsea Sicilian Lemon and Sea Salt Milk & GuatemalanCoffee Dark Chocolate

I have loved Whittard's for as long as I can remember and it's a pleasure to be the first to write up on their chocolate! The royal mien of Whittard's is nicely expressed through their packaging, though, on the milk chocolate bar, the yellow background with white lettering didn't look too well designed. The chocolate tablets were thin and delicate, weighing 45g and priced at £3. You know with Whittard's that you're receiving quality, but I was curious as to whether the experience of their chocolate could justify the high pricing

Sicilian Lemon and Sea Salt 
This 35% cocoa Belgian milk chocolate is a blend of high quality cocoa beans from Ghana and the Ivory Coast. The classic, non-complex flavours of high quality African cocoa created an expectancy of the chocolate focalising, intensifying and complementing the lemon and sea salt

The chocolate had a medium brown colouring with a soft reddish tint. The aroma was a forceful lemon, naturally visualising the lemoniest lemon cake, though as I smelt more intently there were coconut and floral scents which overall made it smell odd...similar to lemon washing up liquid. The salt added a savoury touch, hinting towards herbs or pepper being paired with the lemon

In flavour, the salt came in nearing the finish of the chocolate. Lemon and salt work brilliantly with milk chocolate (I found this first when having Seed & Bean's lime version). As I left the chocolate to melt, I could feel it slowly flow off my tongue, enveloping my mouth, beautiful. The assertive flavours were delivered and enjoyed, but I was a little disappointed at the lack of a chocolate flavour (more cocoa mass would have been preferred, I like chocolate with a cocoa dimension)

Guatemalan Coffee
This dark chocolate was of 70% Hispaniola cocoa beans (Dominican Republic) blended with Whittard's award winning Guatemalan Elephant coffee. The Guatemalan Elephant coffee beans are known to have a rich honey flavour with a chocolate sweetness

One word: aromatic. The coffee was sweet, rich and sensational. I intently smelt the chocolate, again finding a coconut and floral background which sadly didn't suit the coffee (nor me!). To the nose, it was rare when 'chocolate' would come through, but when it did...oh boy. The initial impression of the chocolate is beautiful. The deep roast; without any sign of bitterness; with caramel, brown sugar sweet notes; and the occasional fleeting chocolate aroma; dilated my pupils. O if only those nutty/floral impurities could have removed themselves

The taste opened with ground coffee, a crescendo of caramel and then promptly chocolate cascaded in. The chocolate I could taste suggested fruity cacao! With the sweetness there was an oozing honey feel about it. The chocolate tasted and smelt like a mocha - it wasn't equally balanced - with the domination of coffee and supplementary chocolate, rather it was perfectly balanced

The texture was not so smooth but the flavour was super. The finish was coffee, a little ashy but still pretty sweet, though eventually it's a smoked cigarette that lingers in breath (unpleasant). This coffee dark chocolate is superior to Marks & Spencer's version, but that's no surprise with Whittard's expertise in the field of coffee. Although the milk chocolate was enjoyable, it did not wow me like the Guatemalan Elephant chocolate did

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Willie's Cacao Peruvian Gold Chulucanas 70

This single estate Criollo cacao from Chulucanas, a town in the MorropĆ³n Province within the Piura region of Peru, promised instant gratification with notes of plum and raisin

Willie's Cacao Peruvian chocolate is made from cocoa mass, cocoa butter & Cuban raw cane sugar

The aroma, like Willie's Peruvian Black (100% Chulucanas cacao), was juicy, sweet raisin and prunes with an earthy undertone. It reminded me of chocolate covered plums I used to eat from Poland when I was younger, and my brother too said it reminded him of Polish (jam) pastries our mum would buy. The chocolate had an overlaying cranberry, alcohol/"urine" spiced aroma, of which seems a distinct attribute of Peruvian cacao

In the mouth the chocolate bursted with a grape acidity. After that initial crispness it softened to olive oil, rapidly surfacing a sweetness: balsamic vinegar, dark red fruit, a red wine, though still remained juicy and refreshing. A bitter cocoa was brief in the finish, with a tart cranberry, sweet wild berry and red wine dominating the finish of the chocolate

The chocolate had a crisp snap and a long, beautiful, smooth melt. Peruvian cacao isn't so much "my style", but I did enjoy this chocolate. I feel passionately towards Willie's Cacao after watching his hit TV documentary, and I feel passionate towards Willie's Cacao's chocolate

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Winterfeldt Schokoladen Handmade Milk Chocolate with Salt

Winterfeldt Schokoladen in Berlin has a great story behind it, being the chocolate shop where the last golden ticket was found! The interior resemblance of Winterfeldt to where Charlie bought his Wonka Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight seems unlikely a coincidence, conveying a beautiful metaphor.... Winterfeldt, like the golden ticket, can make all your chocolate dreams come true. Gaze upon the shelves decorated with the finest and most extraordinary chocolate bars from around the world: Zotter, Beschle, Cluizel, Amedei, Pacari, Marou, Madecasse, just to name a few, whilst you indulge in a slice of cake and cup of hot cocoa. Winterfeldt even craft their own chocolates and bars as well as serving up savoury foods (snacks, breakfast, lunch) meaning you never actually have to leave the shop

Sadly I've never visited Winterfeldt, or what I'd call heaven on earth, it was my brother that did. But I was overwhelmed with happiness when he sent me this salted milk chocolate, the salted lavender Venchi, an Original Beans bar (Porcelana), a Domori single origin selection and a Moleskine chocolate journal all purchased from Winterfeldt

This was a 45% cocoa milk chocolate with salt. The minimalist designed packaging was so cool, almost as cool as the idea of tasting yet another high cocoa milk chocolate! Though seeing cocoa butter listed before cocoa mass (liquor) disheartened me.  The packaging's smart appearance and distinctive dimensions made a trifecta when it was held. The mould of the chocolate was smart too, with its little depth making it feel delicate and its crown/W engraving. The chocolatey shade of brown looked creamy and warm, and for a 45% cocoa, much lighter than I was expecting (a definite higher ratio of butter)

The chocolate smelt and tasted of sweet coconut and almond with light floral and vanilla hints. As a cocoa flavour wasn't prominent it was unfavourably unusual to me. The texture and taste was very creamy in the mouth

This chocolate, laden with salt, had nice little crunches. The salted flavour was initiated right away and powerful. Some may like that but I'd say subtlety is key when it comes to salt. And this salt completely overwhelmed the chocolate making it far too sweet

I would have loved this chocolate to have lived up to its high cocoa ability...more cocoa mass and definitely less salt

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Kimberley's Handmade Chocolates

It's said that Kimberley's use the highest quality, freshest ingredients, sourced in England, to create exquisite chocolates and truffles. My first thought when I saw these chocolates were that they were handmade - tempting - then my second thought, immediately following my first, was that I recognised the Kimberley's name...remembering that I had had Kimberley's salted caramel before and absolutely loved it - temptation accepted

The unwrapping and opening up of a chocolate box is one of my favourite things. Though I was a little disappointed when I saw some of the dark chocolates had bloomed. My ballotin had 15, from an assortment of 22, chocolates tightly packed together

Monday, 30 June 2014

Montezuma's Creamy White Chocolate

This was my second delivery from Montezuma's, the first never made it to my door. I'm not too sure where my chocolates ended up but Montezuma's kindly offered to send again

I was also sent 2 dark chocolates but as I don't particularly like flavoured dark chocolates (unless they're real good quality), and even more so that I'm not a fan of chilli or ginger in chocolate, I didn't enjoy them and decided not to write about them. But like the old proverb goes: one man's trash is another man's treasure

The typeface of Montezuma's logo (minus the M) looks strikingly boring compared to the other writing on the packaging and especially when considering Montezuma's has such an imaginative and lively branding

On Montezuma's website this is called 'Dominican Republic' but that's not mentioned on the packaging. 29% cocoa butter with 25% milk solids

A gentle vanilla aroma and sweet vanilla taste. The chocolate had a crisp snap and a smooth buttery texture, all without an emulsifier! I loved the mellow vibe. Its soft flavour gave the impression of having little sugar within and you really notice the absence of that sharp and cloying taste commonly found in white chocolate. In the first couple of bites there was a plastic-like taste but that diminished. The chocolate did feel at times that it wanted another flavour to come through, but maybe I had had too was quite irresistible, I couldn't quite put it down

Montezuma's white chocolate was impressive; a soothingly sweet indulgence. It was a shame I didn't like the dark chocolates (chilli and ginger), but I think I'd have had a better experience with Montezuma's milk chocolate. Although Montezuma's isn't the easiest chocolate to find, I know that the Co-op stock it as well as health shops (£2.39 for 100g)

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Prestat Tea Time Frolics and Pecan & Maple Dream Milk Chocolate

This is the final post on Prestat's Art Deco chocolate bar collection. So far I've tasted the salted dark chocolate, the pistachio and passionfruit meringue white chocolates and now finally I'm onto these two milk chocolates. I believed I was saving the best 'til last, though the success of the white chocolates seemed as if it would be a close call

This tasting seemed like battle of the nations, a terribly British Earl Grey tea chocolate vs. the pecan and maple syrup - a synonym of America. The milk chocolate was of 36% cocoa solids and 24% milk solids

Pecan & Maple Dream 
The name and idea sounded so promising. I breathed in the chocolate. Bam- hit with an anticlimax. Just like Prestat's dark chocolate, it was perfumed coconut and sugars I was sensing, not cocoa

The texture was grainy, like hazelnut praline. I'm not too sure what it tasted like but pecan and maple syrup didn't come to mind. However, strangely I did get a taste of maple syrup drizzled on crispy bacon? There was a plastic-like taste that lurked in the background. The nuttiness was most prominent with a sweet little cinnamon spice

Tea Time Frolics
Occasionally I drink Earl Grey but I'd never go as far as to say I enjoy it, and after the disappointment of the Pecan & Maple bar, I wasn't particularly looking forward to this chocolate. Though when I initiated the hard snap of this Tea Time Frolics my hope regained itself slightly

The bergamot shot through in aroma and flavour. The chocolate had a smooth melt and the lemon gave a refreshing citric sharpness on the tongue. The chocolate's flavour started badly but as the lemon slowly came through it became more enjoyable. Only when chewing did I appreciate the ground Earl Grey tea leaves, adding little crunches here and there, but during the melt the leaves would get left behind and the last thing you want in your mouth after having chocolate is tea leaves

Both milk chocolates failed to fulfil my expectations, more so the Pecan & Maple Dream as the Tea Time Frolics actually delivered its proposed flavour, though just a little too forcefully. The Tea Time Frolics also had a good texture and snap, but really the bergamot flavour was too strong. Lemon in milk chocolate would have been more successful

To conclude my whole experience of Prestat's Art Deco collection, the white chocolates were the clear show stoppers. If you wanted to try any of these chocolates, your best bet is the Knickerbocker Glory