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.
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
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.