Chocolate is a personal passion. By that, I don’t simply mean it’s a food I feel passionately towards – indeed, I try to steer clear of the overused adjective – rather, that the same flavour that finds favour with a certain chap may be awful anathema to another.
It’s fine to determine ‘fine’ chocolate as stuff that’s sensitively-sourced, ethically-sound and created by craftsmen (or women, for that matter); but those silky specimens just won’t hit the spot for those who prefer the common cotton of the Galaxy of cheaper treats. After all, ‘majesty’ is in the mouth of the beholder.
So behold – this is the collection of chocolate that I find magical and majestic. Some choices will no doubt be corroborated by the chocolate experts whose ranks I do not profess to have penetrated; others would almost certainly prompt those people to attempt to see me certified. Dig in, digest, and feel free to debate. You may well disagree; that just means all the more for me.
The Italian brand’s criollo collection is crammed with characters that enunciate their profiles both distinctly and deliciously. Guasare is the once that speaks to me most sweetly; and what it whispers is a bowl of sundried purple fruits had with honey and a dash of cool, clean cream.
African Queen was afforded the highest accolade at the Great Taste Awards, and it royally deserves the recognition. A crispetty, crunchety Breton wafer base yields an outrageously syrupy, buttery bottom, and the silk-smooth Tanzanian honey ganache is a simply showstopping topping.
On first taste, and indeed, all ones that come subsequent, you could be forgiven for thinking these are not baked goods but chunky hunks of gloriously gooey, chewy ganache. Not the cheapest treat, but a single square is so rich you can ration it out over a fair few days. Maybe. (Also as awesome in gluten-free)
Moser Roth Mousse au Chocolat – 85% with sour cherry-chilli
Aldi’s 85% chocolate is a thoroughly decent eat on its own – midnight-black and full of flavour. It’s even better when enclosing a fluffy, milk chocolate mousse and a glorious goo that tastes uncannily like what it says on the wrapper. Deliciously different and wonderfully well-executed.
My reams(!) or regular readers will know I do dabble with cocoa’s darkest side. Yes, some 100% chocolate can be brutal, but this specimen is sublimely smooth, buttering you up with mellow roasted tones as it melts oh-so-slowly in the mouth with that inimitable lingering cling.
A chocolate that conceals then reveals smoke’n’sour cherry makes me most merry. Vietnamese cocoa is coming up in the world, and yields some intriguing flavour profiles – powerful, bold, oft-earthy. Tiền Giang might come from the Mekong Delta, but it’s absolutely an Alpha specimen.
Pump House Bakery Sourdough and sea salt bean-to-bar
Every word in that name will appeal to hackneyed hipsters with big beards sipping barrel-aged small batch spirits from a Mason jar; but don’t let that jarring little fact deter you. Crunchy sourdough crumbs add a fine, feuilletine-esque crunch and a maltiness to the chocolate’s salty savour.
Hotel Chocolat Blueberry truffles
Hotel Chocolat gives good ganache – especially where fruit is concerned. The centres of these white chocolate orbs are as smooth and soft as butter that’s been creamed for a cake; the blueberry filling both sharp and sweet; delightfully bright in terms of taste and appearance.
The Chocolatier Poppadom & Mango Spice shards
Aneesh’s off-the-wall flavour might only find favour with the niche consumer – but I for one could eat the treat til the cows come home. Paired with a rich rounded dark chocolate, the fruity, tangy spicing is terrific; pop in pieces of crushed poppadom and it’s pure perfection.
Frey Café & Cacao
This milk chocolate has a fudgy, super-soft melt’n’mouthfeel that’s a signature Frey style. If coffee cake and a milky cup of coffee is your cup of tea, you’ll be pretty pleased with this product. It should be sickly, but all those crunchy chipped cocoa nibs cut through and offer a cracking contrast.
So what are a few of YOUR favourite things? Let me know below – and they could become among my own, too…