The Chocolate Show is less than three weeks away, giving Cocoa Nuts countrywide just time enough to ensure their cupboards are barer than Old Mother Hubbard’s so that they can replenish their stocks with chocs from many of the marvellous makers and chocolatiers who will be exhibiting.
The line-up is lengthy and diverse; a mixed selection box which encompasses British chocolate royalty like Rococo and Paul a. Young, innovative European artisans, and some exciting new upstarts like the two I’m tipping as my top new choc talents. Read on and get a flavour of what they’re all about before you get a taste of their wares in a few weeks’ time…
Manchester maker Isobel’s chocolate puts the ‘wonder’ in ‘Wonder Inn’ – the name of the place her company is based. Dormouse Chocolates has only been in business for ten months, and, in May, moved into bean-to-bar with a line of silky-smooth single origin chocolates whose moulds resemble Lego bricks; or, perhaps more aptly, building blocks to help elevate the house of Dormouse to the next level.
Along with the plain milk and dark bars, product lines include truffles and flavoured bars which are often the result of quirky collaborations with local artisans; using ingredients like coffee beans from Heart & Graft Roastery, peanut butter from Funky Nut Company, and quite a bit of booze – Winding River Liqueurs, Hunters Gin, Mobberley Fine Ales, and Riverside Sloe Gin.
Tempted by truffles? Shuffle over to Dormouse’s site or Chocolate Show stall and check out a range comprising everything from elegant Ecuadorean numbers wrapped in cocoa coats to salty-sweet peanut butter, raspberry and pretzel treats to slammin’ tequila truffles further perked up with pipettes of citrus juice. This little company from up North is set to make a big splash down South – try the chocolate; join the journey.
You might know maker Dom Ramsey as Mr. Chocablog, but now he’s forging a shiny new name for himself as a brilliant bean-to-bar-ist, along with fellow chocophile and Damson-ite Tom Millson. Despite taking his first baby steps to making himself into a maker just late last year, Dom’s already managed to set up shop in Islington’s Chapel Market and will be treating Chocolate Show attendees to tasters of some pretty wonderful wares.
The whole chocolate community feels warmly towards Dom, but friendship only goes so far. It would have been horrible if his products were less-than superb, and luckily, they’re not at all. In fact, Damson Chocolate’s 70% Ecudorean and Madagascan single-origin specimens are accessorised with Academy of Chocolate awards, and the company was dubbed ‘One To Watch’ at the same ceremony.
If you like what you taste, be sure to snap it up on the spot. Many of Damson’s small-batch bars are just that, and when they’re gone, they’re gone – to misquote a popular phrase, don’t bank on being able to have your chocolate and eat it. Instead, try, buy, slowly savour, then discover another origin with an entirely different character; from citrus-spritzed 70% Nicaraguan O’Payo to the totally tropical 70% Ecuadorean Los Rios.
You’ll also find beautiful blends like the devilish Angel bar, and, for something in the same vein as Galaxy but a few light years ahead in quality terms, Damson also produces a unique 60% Trinidad buffalo milk chocolate with a hint of Anglesey sea salt. After all, as the high street brand so handily puts it, ‘Why have cotton when you can have silk?’