If you were resolving to give up chocolate for 2016, it’s really rather unfortunate you’ve landed up on this post. What follows is not about doing without; instead, it aims to increase your enjoyment of all things chocolate-y without decreasing your consumption by one single iota. It concerns itself not with abstinence but abundance – in short, it aims to help helpless chocoholics get even more from their personal poison.
‘Happy new year?’ It certainly will be if you adopt any – or all – of these aims as your own… And next week, I’ll offer up even more gourmet goals for 2016.
Meet your makers
As with all artisan creations, putting a face to a product increases your ultimate appreciation of it. Get to know the minds behind your chocolate, and it’ll not only taste better but also afford you a free education in the what, why, when, how, and where of their wares. If you can’t meet, greet and pick their brains in person, connect with them on social media. Not sure what to ask? Lee McCoy offers expert inspiration in this post from Chocolatiers.co.uk.
Top tip: Matthieu de Gottal (@gottalchocolate) is one of the chattiest – and most amusing – makers to grace both Twitter & Instagram with his presence, whilst @5dchocolates‘ Russell and Albert take you along on their globetrotting adventures.
Learn from fellow fans
If you love chocolate, you’d surely love to sit and chat about it with fellow enthusiasts as you tuck into a dozen different examples over a glass or three of rather fine wine. That’s precisely what you’re letting yourself in for at Cocoa Runners’ monthly Craft Chocolate Tasting Salons, which explore bean-to-bar chocolates in themed sessions held at The Winemakers’ Club in London’s Holborn – an excellent way to spend an evening.
Coming up: Dark Milks (19th Jan); France Vs. USA (16th Feb)
Pay more for less
I love a bargain as much as the next cheapskate – but chocolate is a prime example of a product where you get precisely what you pay for. The cost of small-batch, bean-to-bar chocolate is undeniably much higher than big brand confectionary, but it also requires significantly more skill, time and effort on the maker’s part, uses superior raw materials, and works harder for the global cocoa community at all levels. If you’re not sure what you’re paying for, ask – any seller worth their salt will be wiling and able to clue you in. Instead of opting for a lot of low-quality stuff, spend the same on a smaller amount of top-notch choc, and really savour the flavour.
Learn more: Chocolatiers’ Lee McCoy details why good chocolate costs more in this post.
Choose choc to suit mood & moment
It’s common to start the day with a cup of breakfast tea (or a super-strength espresso), end it with something more mellow, and sip all sorts of different things in the interim – so try the same with your chocolate throughout the day. Rather than sticking to the same tried-and-tested favourites, stock up on a selection of origins, percentages and styles and question what you’re craving at a certain time or when you’re feeling a particular way; sometimes mild and milky might be just the thing, and on other occasions, a robust, dark and handsome number could be called for.
Take a tour
Fancy yourself as a bit of a Charlie Bucket? You don’t need a golden ticket to embark on one of Jennifer Earle’s renowned Chocolate Ecstasy tours, but you’ll discover just as much as you would in Willy Wonka’s factory as you rove London or Brighton with an expert guide; visiting local chocolate boutiques you didn’t know were there and sampling stuff you never knew existed. Along with an unending stream of treats, you’ll be fed constantly with enough trivia tidbits to render you a full-blown cocoa connoisseur. You can even procure a rather natty little map to remind you of all those all-important addresses.
Dates & deets: Visit the Chocolate Ecstasy Tours website here
- Look out for more chocolate-y new year’s resolutions next week
- To read more about Matthieu de Gottal, click here
- To read more about Fifth Dimension chocolates, click here