You might love their chocolate (or indeed, learning about chocolate from them), but which chocs do the industry experts rate? When I posed the question to a few friends, the floodgates opened; with every individual involved eager to open eyes by sharing their discoveries with fellow fans.
This week, I’m revealing the current favourites of British bean to bar-ists and chocolatiers. Their working days may already be chock-full of cocoa, but that doesn’t dampen their enthusiasm; or, indeed, their appetites for more…
Russell Pullan – Fifth Dimension Chocolates
My current favourite chocolates are anything by Matthieu de Gottal, whose wares I first discovered at last year’s Chocolate Festival in London. He’s a great guy who really believes in his products (quite rightly) and loves both his ingredients and his job.
As a whisky-lover, I just love the way Matthieu pairs different examples with different couvertures. His chocolate selections are a real treat to enjoy, and each piece has its own character. They are to be savoured while doing nothing else. You will not be disappointed.
Tempted? To read more about Matthieu de Gottal’s whisky chocolates, click here
Aneesh Popat – The Chocolatier
I’m a big fan of Duffy’s Corazon del Ecuador 43% cocoa nibs and oak-smoked salt chocolate, which I discovered at The Chocolate Festival. Despite the common consumer perception of higher-percentage indicating higher-quality, I enjoy a decent milk chocolate, which this definitely is. I don’t know Duffy, but I love this bar. The nibs bring texture and bitterness to the biscuity chocolate, and it’s very well-seasoned. Try it – life’s too short not to!
Jamie Kemp, JK Oliver Chocolates
I have been enjoying a wide range of truffles and bean-to-bar products lately, but since Hazel Lee sent me a selection of her own bean-to-bar chocolates I haven’t been able to stop myself indulging. I enjoy her Madagascar 75% Dark immensely – it’s quite exquisite. Distinct tropical flavours are strong throughout, counteracting the bitterness of the chocolate very well. It certainly doesn’t taste like a 75% chocolate that you might typically expect, The fruity flavours are fresh and not too acidic, creating a natural sweetness in the chocolate.
Both dark and milk chocolate fans should sample Hazel’s Madagascar 75%. For the former, it demonstrates how diverse cocoa beans are, and for the latter, who perhaps don’t normally enjoy dark, it shows that bitterness in chocolate can be naturally counteracted – and could well convert them!
Hazel and I became good friends last year, after we discovered we’d both volunteered at La Iguana Chocolate in Costa Rica. Her passion for chocolate shines through more and more each day.
To read more about JK Oliver chocolates, click here
Dom Ramsey – Chocablog & Damson Chocolate
I’ve been so busy with creating my own bean-to-bar stuff (chocolate expert Dom won two Academy of Chocolate awards for with his nascent company, Damson Chocolate), that I’ve hardly eaten any other chocolate lately, so recommending current favourites is a tough one! There are a couple I do really like: Pump Street Bakery’s 60% Rye Crumb, Milk & Sea Salt chocolate – which won Gold at this year’s Academy of Chocolate awards; and the Honduran 61% Mayan Milk by Duffy, who I recently visited in Cleethorpes on a chocolate-making mission!
To read more about the AoC awards and Dom’s win, click here
Matthieu de Gottal, Matthieu de Gottal Chocolatier
I have three favourites – Belgium’s Laurent Gerbaud, and, from Britain, Marc Demarquette and Fifth Dimension Chocolate. I know Laurent through my sister, and the latter two I met at last year’s Chocolate Festival. I love them all for very different reasons – and if you haven’t tried them, you’re really missing out!
With Laurent, it’s the simplicity, purity and ethics behind his creations. His work lifts up the chocolate like no other. My favourite chocolates from Marc are his Royal Merina & Imperial China Selection; I just love the innovation, airy quality of texture, and the layered flavours – which offer something for all five senses. Russell from Fifth Dimension creates very interesting ganaches. As an old-fashioned Belgian, the flavour combinations would normally irritate – ‘wacky for the sake of being wacky’, yet here they complement the chocolate and deliver pleasure and happiness. I also have a soft spot for Shelly Preston’s Boutique Aromatique.
To read more about Great Taste Award-winning chocolates from Marc Demarquette and Fifth Dimension Chocolate, click here
That’s quite a decent lust list to be working on – but that’s not the end of it. Next week, I’ll be sharing what’s top of the chocs according to a host of esteemed chocolate experts. For now, your homework is a practical project; to go forth and discover the delicious, decadent creations spotlit in this post. I don’t imagine it’ll be an arduous task.
- Want to know how to get the most from your chocolate? Get to grips with my ‘Five ‘S’s’ tasting guide here
- To read about Great Taste Award-winning chocolate, click here
- To read about Academy of Chocolate award-winning chocolate, click here