Britain’s chocolate community is small, savvy, and generous when it comes to wise words on what one should try. Tip-offs from highly-regarded experts should not go unheeded – because the likelihood is they’ll lead to some pretty darned delicious discoveries.
Like, for instance, the Winchester Cocoa Company. This ethical Hampshire chocolatier was first flagged to me by Cat Black – chocolate expert, commentator, and author. Praising founder Chris Attewell’s talent, innovation, and execution, she noted WCC as one to watch.
A few months later, having had the pleasure of sampling a quartet of Winchester Cocoa Company’s fantastic, Felchlin couverture-based flavoured chocolate bars myself, and with a selection box still waiting in the wings, I completely concur with her pronouncement.
One suspects this bar would be the result if Nutella outgrew its gawky, awkward teenage phase and blossomed into a sophisticated, debonair adult – the George Clooney of the chocolate world, if you will. And like gorge George, it’s rather rich, a serious smoothie, and a serial seducer. Roasted hazelnut paste makes up almost a fifth of the 64% Sambirano Madagascan chocolate bar; resulting in a buttery, yielding texture and a deep, rounded nuttiness. ‘MMM’ respresents both the overall impression and the three key qualities – mouthwatering, magical, majestic.
MORE HAZELS FROM HEAVEN
Geranium & Lemon
If you’re unfamiliar with geranium, you might baulk at the idea of this unusual ingredient – but to do so would be to miss out on a gentle, nuanced flavour that’s reminiscent of rose but a modicum more mellow. This floral has no quarrel with either intense lemon oil or powerful 65% Venezuelan dark chocolate; serving to both smooth the citrus’s bright edges and enhance the cocoa’s rich profile. With so many potentially dominant characters involved, a badly-balanced bar would be a culinary car crash, but this one is nothing short of excellently-executed.
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Pecan & Maple Syrup Toffee
A roasty, toasty pecan is a pleasure that’s pretty darn hard to beat – unless that nut is crystallised and crunchy, and snuggled up with chunks of terribly naughty and fabulously friable maple syrup butter toffee in 64% Madagascar Sambirano chocolate. A judicious sprinkle of sea salt not only brings balance but also manages to enhance the inherent, utterly addictive flavours still further. This one actually hovers close to being declared too good.
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Almond, Orange & Sea Salt
This fruity, nutty number is the Winchester Cocoa Company’s Academy of Chocolate Award-winner. At 38% and packed with textured extras, this Venezuelan chocolate is an easy eat, and an interesting one. Crystallising the almonds adds an extra element of crunch, whilst the candied orange is softer, zestier, and altogether superior to your common-or-garden stuff. A whisper of Cornish sea salt makes this something to shout about.
MORE FRUIT & NUT CASES
- For more on the Winchester Cocoa Company, follow @WinchesterCocoa on Twitter and visit the website here
- For more chocolate recommendations from chocolate experts, click here
- For more chocolate recommendations from chocolatiers and makers, click here
- For more about bean-to-bar chocolate from Dormouse Chocolates, click here
- For more about the 2015 Academy of Chocolate Awards winners, click here