Those who are completely nutty about Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, listen up. La Fleur de Chocolat’s chocolate peanut butter clusters could prove potentially fatal to your bank balance; so scrumptious that they really warrant their own warning sticker. To my mind, describing these sweet treats so straightforwardly – ‘caramelised peanuts coated in peanut butter, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate, finished with cocoa powder’ – is akin to saying that Shakespeare ‘could string words together quite well’.
Well, the Bard could indeed – but slightly better than that simple statement suggests. And, having trained at Valrhona, undertaken a contemporary dessert art course in Germany, and spent almost twenty years working with chocolate in notable restaurants and chocolate businesses in Britain and France, La Fleur de Chocolat’s owner, chocolatier and patisserie chef Jacqueline Keenan is quite the master of her own craft.
Now Herefordshire-based, Jacqueline both creates and curates; sending out selections of each month’s endeavours to Tasting Club members. Each installment features fifteen chocolates, a filled bar, a big bar, and a little seasonal surprise – something like those pieces of peanut butter heaven, perhaps.
My own delivery involved a packet of those, prompting the rather rapturous opening to this post; plus a capsule collection of half-a-dozen truffles, a salted caramel bar, and a choc-coated teacake that put Tunnock’s to shame. Without being too floral about it, I fell for La Fleur de Chocolat…
Mango, lime and toasted coconut teacake
If you, like Gregg Wallace and John Torode in this endlessly-amazing MasterChef Synesthesia audio mash-up, love the idea of a buttery biscuit base, but find yourself frequently disappointed by the cardboardy crust of a Tunnock’s teacake, you’ll adore these. The coconut-dusted dark chocolate dome yields to a softly-set, mango-flavoured mallow which hides a heart of beautifully-fruity lime and mango purée, all set on a splendid shortbread.
Blackcurrant & violet truffle
Crowned with a candied violet petal, this truffle has a thin, beautifully crisp 54.5% dark chocolate shell. In spite of the modest cocoa content, the flavour is well-developed and the sweetness kept in check – especially when the extraordinary flavour of the filling bursts forth from the fudgy ganache within. The initial experience is all punchy Parma Violets, swiftly evolving into sharp, inimitable blackcurrant. If you, unlike I, are not partial to Parma Vi’s, you might struggle somewhat… in which case I’ll happily have yours.
Chai tea truffle
If you’re particularly partial to punchy dark chocolate ginger nuts, you’ll won’t consume this chai choc the least bit gingerly and will be completely nutty for its flavour. Beneath a crisp 54.5% shell lies a rich, smooth, beautifully bitter 66% chai ganache. Besides the black tea, it’s infused with a well-mixed masala containing cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cardamom – powerful, pungent, and pretty damn perfect.
Caramel and lime marble truffle
With its bright, swirly, martian-green shell and domed shape, this looks a little like an alien craft – and this UFO is flying straight towards my mouth. There’s a coconutty note to the 35% milk chocolate shell which yields a totally tropical taste when combined with the sharp, zesty lime jam-laced caramel centre. That initial zing mellows into rich butter and brown sugar, leaving a good taste in one’s mouth and a smile on one’s lips.
The beautiful thing about highly aromatic citrus fruits like kalamansi is that their pervasive perfumes permeate anything in the near proximity – here, that’s the 54.5% chocolate shell, whose rich, round flavour is lifted by the zesty zip. The kalamansi centre is sharper still, the fruit’s sprightly, bright taste barely softened by the mellow milk ganache. Slightly mouth-puckering and most mouthwatering.
Raspberry marble truffle
A shiny little sportscar of a truffle, this. Hewn from 64% Madagascar dark chocolate, that high-shine, hand-painted shell is supermodel-thin and snaps smartly to the tooth. The smattering of seeds sitting under the shell reveals the raspberry flavour to the eye before the mouth, but no matter; nothing could disguise the fulsome fruitiness that bursts forth, the berry’s sharp notes qualified by the sweetness of the light, slightly fluffy, 35% milk ganache.
66% Dark chocolate ganache truffle
It’s dark, it’s rich, it’s handsome. What more do you need to know?
Dark chocolate salted caramel bar
The wonderfully-wiggly, caterpillar-like shape makes it easy to parsimoniously portion this lustre-dusted confection into slim slices; which you’ll probably then ingest in quick succession. The chocolate is that same rich-yet-mellow 54.5% stuff used elsewhere in the LFDC range, and offers just enough depth to offset the buttery, sweetly salty hit of the superbly-smooth caramel.
- Like the sound of La Fleur de Chocolat’s Tasting Club? Membership nets you a monthly bunch of swag comprising 15 seasonal chocolates, one bar each of filled and dark chocolate, and a surprise. Prices start from £90 for a 3-month subscription.
- To read about more salted chocolate treats, click here
- To read about more start-up chocolate companies, click here