Chocolate Unwrapped – The Grand Finale to Chocolate Week

Chocolate Week 2012

My name is Helen and I am a fledgling chocolate geek.  My new passion is single origin bars of chocolate.  It takes time to learn and educate your palate (and memory) in the nuances of the tastes, but I have recently realised that chocolate is at least as complex as wine; with different beans, terroir, process and chocolatier all making a massive difference to the final product.

There is a massive world of fine chocolate out there and I am keen to learn more!  Tastes to savour include citrus, all manner of fruit, leather, tobacco to name a few; flavours develop and linger on the palate in vastly different ways, once you begin to notice them you gain more with every nibble.

Last week was Chocolate week, and after a cornucopia of chocolate related events  in London the culmination of the week was Chocolate Unwrapped, a celebration of some of the finest chocolate available.  With around 50 exhibitors there was a huge amount of chocolate to try and taste.

Chocolate from Chocolate Unwrapped

Fine bean to bar chocolate is not a cheap habit – the bars at the show averaged at around £5 a bar – but as you only nibble a tiny amount at once, a bar will last many evenings, and you will eat less overall.  This calibre of chocolate demands to be savoured and thought about without being wolfed down.  A great initial outlay, but great value for money and certainly better for your waist line.

I am hugely looking forward to nibbling my way though the bars above, and recording some tasting notes, and refining my palate.

Chocolate & Cheese Tasting

Cheese and Chocolate

As part of chocolate week I was asked to a cheese and chocolate tasting, pairing cheese from Paxton and Whitfield with chocolate from Chococo.  I know it sounds odd, but it was a very interesting experience, and I was surprised at both how good and how bad some chocolate and cheese pairings were.

Claire Burnet of Chococo had made a selection of chocolate “crackers”, 2 dark, 1 milk and 1 white – all very different in flavour

  • White chocolate – made from natural undeodorised cocoa butter from the Dominican Republic – 31% cocoa butter
  • Milk chocolate – 44% cocoa solids, made with Trinitario beans from Grenada
  • Dark chocolate – 60% organic Trinitario beans produced in Grenada by the Grenada Chocolate Company
  • Dark chocolate – 70% made with Trinitario beans from Grenada

It wa remarkable how different cheeses made the chocolate taste different – some accentuated the sweetness of the chocolate, others highlighted the bitterness of the cheese, and some enhanced the taste of both.   Think of having a sip of a dry crisp white wine with smoked salmon – it enhances the fish which instantly tastes fishier; then remember the jarring taste when you drink orange juice too soon after cleaning your teeth for a pairing which does not work.

  • Cheshire cheese worked well with the white chocolate – giving a hefty hint of fruit
  • Lancashire paired with the white chocolate was very creamy, and was delicious with the milk and a tiny pinch of salt.
  • Brie was perfect with milk – but made both dark chocolates very bitter.
  • Roquefort sweetened the white chocolate, and with the dark was initially sweet then very bitter.
  • Paxton’s Cheddar bought out the rich berry notes in the 60% dark, but did not work with the 70%.
  • I found Stilton made all the chocolate taste too bitter.

I really recommend that you give this a try at home, cheese and chocolate from the supermarket will also work well,  start with a white, milk and two dark chocolates and a selection of cheeses, try adding a touch of lemon zest of a pinch of salt too.  You might be very surprised at what you discover.

Many thanks to Chocolate Unwrapped for a press pass to the show, Paxton & Whitfield and Chococo for the tasting.

Perfectly Ripe Brie

Perfectly ripe Brie from Paxton & Whitfield – look for the wrinkles on the surface and the stippled effect – golden taupe on the ridges, and white in the hollows.

Visit the Fuss Free Flavours Giveaways Page for a chance to win some amazing prizes!
About Helen

Helen Best-Shaw is a freelance food & writer, photographer who has been writing about achievable, affordable and mostly healthy food on Fuss Free Flavours since 2007. She also contributes articles, recipes and photos to a number of online and print food magazines. Please do contact me if you would like to discuss commissioning work.

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Comments

  1. Fascinating post, Helen and really well written. I love the idea of adding some good quality chocolate to a cheeseboard! What a talking point. Will definitely try the white chocolate with Lancashire.

    • Thanks Ren, I think writing tends to flow better when you really care abut something.

      I’d be delighted to hear what you think of your cheese and chocolate pairings!

  2. What a fascinating post. Must try it. Never thought these flavours would go together. Thanks Helen for opening my eyes to it

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