Last week I celebrated some of East London’s most innovative chocolate-eaters; revealing their unusual habits as I named and shamed ’em. Actually, ‘shamed’ is entirely the wrong word. There should be absolutely no shame involved when one is revelling in any practice involving cocoa, no matter how loco it might sound to those narrower of both mind and hip.
Refreshingly, their shares were not willfully weird, hackneyed hipster cliches – simply the joyful and not-even guilty pleasures enjoyed by real people who love real food and place eating enjoyment above coming across as kind of crazy.
For all of them, and you, too, if you count yourself amongst their number, I present a selection of sumptuous, convention-breaking chocolate…
For Paul’s glitzy, ritzy number, the garlic is roasted so slowly that it’s turned into a sort of sweet, soft allium caramel; palled it up perfectly with Duffy’s Star of Dominican Republic chocolate. Fear not, it won’t stop anyone snogging you. It might make you want to plant one on Paul; but alas, he’s taken.
Last week I shared my penchant for pork scratching-studded chocolate, and mentioned this chocolate tart recipe from Food Urchin which literally brings home the bacon. This smoky bacon-laden Bizarre bar encourages relishing of rashers up against sweet Belgian milk chocolate.
Stoli’s snazzy offering delivers in the drink what it promises on the bottle: a smooth spirit carrying all the tart red fruit flavour one would expect from the drupes, cloaked in cocoa. Chocolate and raspberry is a well-tested and winning combination; vodka carries it with verve.
If you don’t fancy making your own Bombay Bad Boy chocolate cheesecake or these Bombay mix truffles but still want a whack of that snack in a cocoa loco combo, check out Asif Walli’s offerings; a range of Delhi mix-embellished chocolate bars, or that same signature mix peppered with choc chunks.
You might feel that there’s not mushroom (sorry) for fungus in your chocolate – but this is no indication of spoilage. Hifas da Terra’s functional foodstuffs claim their aim is to improve wellbeing; each unique bar imbued with medicinal mushrooms boasting various benefits.
Treating yourself to a bar of handmade British chocolate from artisan upstarts should feel sufficiently super in itself. but Doisy & Dam’s ingredients slam in even more reasons to be cheerful as you chomp – stuffing in all sorts of superfoods like spirulina, maca, goji berries and chia seeds.
All the fruit Scotland’s Chocolate Tree bears is delicious. The coffee, rose and cardamom in the fine organic extra-dark Turkish coffee choocolate bar is revelatory. The milk chocolate beer truffle features local Scottish craft ale, and a dark ganache laced with cinnamon and sandalwood spice is absolutely ace.
Flavoured bitters are sweetly versatile; useful not only in all matter of renegade libations but also as a creative cook’s tool. The Bitter Truth’s chocolate version is strewn with spices and works well with dark spirits, or indeed to enhance chocolate flavours here, there and anywhere.
When I asked with what chocolate-lovers liked to consume cocoa, some said bread. Pump Street Bakery’s bean-to-bar Sourdough & sea salt chocolate combines the two together for the eater’s ultimate pleasure, and what a pleasure. The sea salt only enhances the experience.
Match your on-trend antioxidant-packed matcha latte with this green tea-infused white chocolate, tinted jade and in typical slick livery. Elsewhere in the range, balsamic vinegar is an unorthodox yet coherent addition to classic liquid salted caramel pearls, whilst the tobacco bar is a smoky, sleek, adults-only treat.
An Indian heritage means Aneesh is best-known for interesting, very edible East-meets-West flavours, but he’s no less adept at adopting unusual Western flavours into his dairy-free divinities – viz. his olive and pink peppercorn-peppered dark bar and beetroot, cabernet sauvignon vinegar and hazelnut truffles.
Part of Marc’s mission is to showcase the indigenous, splendiferous produce our fair Isles have to offer – and his Britannia’s Kitchen Garden caramel collection achieves that brightly and brilliantly. Fennel, carrots, thyme and peppers all appear, ensuring almost an allotments’s-worth of ingredients in each box.
Why add a breath of black pepper to marvellous Madagascan chocolate? Well, if you’re Bertil Akesson, because you grow both cocoa and pepper in various areas of your estate, and understand that the two together morph into something even better than the sum of their sumptuous parts.
What the rather aesthetically-pleasing Johan Bulow hasn’t done with liquorice possibly isn’t worth pursuing. Enrobing it in plain or flavoured chocolate might not be one of his most outlandish ideas, but it’s certainly a palate-pleasing one. Seasonal special editions are worth exploring.
Hotel Chocolat’s ruby port truffles are for life, not just for Christmas -and might even make a peculiarly perfect pairing for a gently oozing wedge of ripe, sweet Gorgonzola. If you’ve yet to be convinced by how wonderfully wine works with chocolate, start with six of these…
…If, however, you’d prefer to invert that port-ed truffle’s proportions and pour a glass of wine with a hint of chocolate instead, Rubis might prove the diamond in your drinks cabinet. Novel to say the least, the Tempranillo base is blended with chocolate essence to render a rather unique tipple.
Chilli chocolate can leave you cold when it’s all fire and no flavour. South Devon Chilli Farm’s stuff, by contrast, is hot stuff in every sense of the phrase; nice chunky hunks of quality choc that comes in a good few flavours, all packing the kind of well-judged punch you’ll be a sucker for.
If you can dream it, it’s a safe bet that genial Austrian chocolate-maker Josef Zotter has already done it. Don’t believe me? Take in this very small snapshot of brain-twisting, ever-evolving flavours from his filled, ‘hand-scooped’ chocolate bar range: Apple & carrots with ginger; Cheese-walnut-grapes; Hummus ‘Street Art’; Sacramental wine and frankincense; Sweet wine and cheese; Umathum red wine; Home-made vermouth; Muscat wine and grapes; Pink coconut and fish (yes, fish) marshmallow; Sauvignon with paprika and pineapple; Red and white wine duo.
You see? Then there’s ‘Upcycling with Flavour Bombs’ (brown bread schnapps, raspberries, almond nougat, pumpkin seed nougat and coffee bombs), and literally hundreds more besides; all made in the factory where anyone is welcome…
- For weird ways people eat their chocolate, click here
- For more on mushroom chocolate, click here
- For more on Zotter chocolate, click here
- For more on The Chocolatier, click here
- For more on Duke of Delhi, click here