It’s January, we’re all a bit more wobbly, and, even if you are resolutely all about that bass it’s probably time to resolve to stop stuffing your face.
At this time of year it’s almost de rigeur to declare the latest, greatest superfood you believe will turn you into a supermodel should you shovel it down in sufficient amounts. This year, I’m championing mushroom chocolate. Yes, you read that right. You may well scoff; I certainly will be doing so, given the amount of fantastical fungi-flavoured products on the market.
They’re not all new, but these chocolates certainly tap into a trio of 2015 taste trends. ‘Umami’ and ‘Smoke & oak’ were both reported in Food Technology magazine as ‘ones to watch’ – the latter qualities especially prevalent where stronger, more exotic or wild mushroom varieties are used. Meanwhile, Confectionary News’ chocolate trend predictions suggest textured chocolate will sell smoothly; for instance, those studded with nubbles of dried fungi?
I first encountered the magic of mushroom chocolate via Spanish biotechnology company Hifas da Terra at the Speciality Food Show in September, whose seven-strong range of medicinal mushroom chocolates proved one of my top taste experiences. Yes I’m weird, but these were wonderful; the fungi adding flavour, texture, and, in some bars, both. All of Hifas’ offerings are organic and, controversially, raw – the low processing temperature thought to preserve the plentiful antioxidants’ integrity.
High falutin’ health claims are all well and good, but fine form must follow the functionality – and Hifas da Terra’s bars are formed of quality organic ingredients including Dominican cocoa and low-GI Brazilian cane sugar,with some specimens sweetened with agave as an alternative.
Some of the mushrooms are milder, selected solely for immunity-boosting, health-helping properties (maitake, Lion’s mane), whilst others impart distinctive and diverse flavour characteristics to the chocolate (shitake, chantrelle). Some are pulverised and added as powders; others caramelised ’til crunchy and crushed in to add toothsome texture. All are worth a try if you have a healthy curiosity about wellness foods or simply how well mushrooms work with chocolate.
Tried & tasted
This mellow bar’s easy to like. It has an amiable, sweet aroma whose coconut scent will be familiar to anyone who’s encountered Chocolarder’s Wild Gorse Flower stunner. There’s a pleasant crunch from both the mild mushroom pieces and chunks of candied marron glacé, whilst the flavour is sweet-salty and lightly cobnutty.
Suggested as good for the gut, this chocolate smells lightly woody and like raw tobacco. On the tongue it’s honeyed, with a touch of rubbery raw mushroom and a slight metallic aftertaste. The trio of mushrooms picked for this preparation are known for prebiotic properties: oyster, king trumpet and Lion’s mane.
This one kicks off with a light, sweet aroma that suggests honey, a little redolent of rubber. The use of powdered cordyceps makes it smooth, with an intoxicating flavour that calls to mind the almond-y taste where unripe peach flesh meets the stone. The mushroominess makes itself known – this one is very strong and definitely divisive.
Blazei is also known as royal sun agaricus. This bar starts with a strong smoky aroma that’s backed up by a big, bold whisky-and-cigar flavour – like an Islay whisky. Dried mushroom pieces add a pleasing crunch to the almost truffle-tasting treat which isn’t too sweet, and slightly honeyed sweetness from the inclusion of agave.
More magical mushroom chocolates…
Josef Zotter is known for combining chocolate with ingredients that might seem rather offbeat to say the least – meaning mushrooms are in fact one of the tamer in the incredibly extensive range.
This thick bar is covered with chocolate made from unroasted Peruvian cocoa spiked with acai berry, matcha and powders, chlorella algae and reishi mushrooms. The filling is formed from a water ganache stuffed with as many superfoods as you could care to name; chokeberry juice, candied ginger, cardamom, chilli, moringa and more of that maca.
The spiced-up, super-powered chocolate is used to coat the Handscooped specimen above, and is also available as a plain unfilled bar within Zotter’s Labooko line. The inclusion of reshi mushrooms along with acai, matcha green tea powder, chlorella and maca yield an incredibly earthy flavour, only slightly sweetened by the judicious amount of coconut blossom sugar.
White drinking chocolate is quite a rarity in itself , but still more so when it’s made with organic Austrian milk and charged up with chaga mushrooms and further flavoured with rose, lemon, vanilla and cinnamon.
The Lithanian bean-to-bar chocolate makers whose factory Chocablog recently visited infuse a limited-edition dark milk bar with porcini – a mushroom with a deeply decadent, earthy scent and rich flavour. The cocoa comes from Trinidad and Tobago; the porcini are picked from the Lithuanian countryside.
Californian bean-to-bar-istas Sacred stone-grind the raw, wholebean chocolate for the Immuno Mushroom bar, forming it in the shape of a spiral heart. At 68%, the maple-sugar-sweetened flavour is as woody and earthy as you’d anticipate from a chocolate containing a multitude of mushrooms. The list is long, comprising chaga, turkey tail, reishi, maitake, shiitake, cordyceps, himematsutake, mesima, oyster and lion’s mane.
This 72%, antioxidant-rich chocolate bar is supposedly super-duper super, featuring the so-called ‘mushroom of immortality’, the reshi. Walnuts might be added primarily for their omega acids, but there’s no denying they taste top with both choc and mushrooms.
Marvellous mushroom & chocolate recipes
Mushrooms & chocolate on a menu
Could mushrooms make your chocolate seem sweeter?
This article suggests that mushrooms have potential to reduce bitterness in chocolate and thus lessen the need for so much sugar.
Do you think chocolate and mushrooms are magic?
- To read about more Zotter products click here and here
- To read about more Chocolarder products click here and here