Saturday, 28 March 2015

Sea Salted Caramel Bar - Paul A Young
An early raid on Easter chocolates was usurped by a bar of Sea Salted Caramel from Paul. A. Young. Phew...that was a close one!

For those of you who are new to the world of chocolate, Paul.A.Young, is a confectionary wizard when it comes to making fine chocolates with fresh ingredients. You can find PAY stores in Wardour Street, Camden Passage, The Royal Exchange and Heals. His empire is certainly expanding! I recently discovered that you can buy some of his chocolates online at Craved

You can find such flavours

including Sourdough; Chilli and that old favourite you either love it or hate it, marmite. Not surprisingly this rather edgy marmite bar is on offer at £3.50 reduced from £5.90.

Paul and his team of apprentice wizards, that's certainly an apprenticeship to end all apprenticeships if they offer such things, make all their chocolate delights without the use of complicated tempering machinery preferring the coolness of marble to facilitate the magical process.

As you would expect, the chocolate, a 64% Madagascan dark chocolate, is delicious,  delivering a woody and fruity almost zesty aroma.
50g - Sea Salted Caramel Bar

The soft caramel has been sandwiched in between two pieces of chocolate which have been cleverly glued back together. Maldon sea salt has been combined with the sweet caramel to provide a little astringency;  very subtle. This particular bar won Gold at the International Chocolate Awards European Semi-Final. You can now learn how to make this bar by joining one of his workshops,  but hurry as these events are selling out fast.

Little effort or for that matter expense has been made in regards to packaging. A simple piece of fairly thick clear plastic held together with two labels and a purple bow. Paul makes it clear he wants his chocolate to do all the talking. Substance over style. 

Nowadays caramel and sea salt is probably the most popular flavour in the world and can now be found in absolutely anything. I enjoyed this bar which is really well balanced but to be honest I prefer a plain bar rather than the squidgy mix.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Ecuador - Marks and Spencer
Hopefully, today we will be on safer ground and the actual wording on the outside of the packet will represent what is on the inside, see my previous post regarding the Marc De Champagne Egg.

On first inspection this looks like an interesting bar of chocolate titled, 'Equador' - single origin dark chocolate, from Marks and Spencer.

As with the Marc De Champagne Egg, this piece of chocolate also seems to be part of 'The Collection' which I now believe is a totally overused term and meaningless, as everything sold in Marks and Spencer seems to be part of The Collection

For some bizarre reason the packaging designers have become all excited and decided to go with two alternative spellings for the words 'Ecuador', spelt 'Equador' and 'Ecuadorian' spelt 'Equadorian'. Why? chocolate slab itself is bright and ebony in presentation and has an excellent snap. Marks and Spencer has described this chocolate thus, "this Equadorian dark chocolate possesses floral Jasmine notes with a slightly nutty aftertaste. The touch of astringency gives a surprising wholeness to the flavour profile. Perfectly paired with an aged tawny port"

I have noticed more and more retailers are now pairing their chocolates either with fine wines, ports or surprisingly beers. Another retail opportunity never to be missed! In fact you can now buy some interesting bottled beers from M&S...try their Cheshire Chocolate Porter.

To be honest I can't place the Jasmine but I can certainly pick up a slight tobacco aroma with a hint of lemon. Just breathe it all in...delicious! 

The dark chocolate melts quickly with a slight sweetness and a fair amount of acidity which hangs around for a while. This is not unpleasant and compliments the rich, silky smoothness of the melting dark chocolate. 

In terms of ingredients there are not many, including: Cocoa Mass - Sugar - Cocoa Butter - Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin...which is good news if you are allergic to Soya Lecithin.
Single Origin Dark Chocolate - Ecuador
I really enjoyed this bar of chocolate and at £3.00 for 80g it proves to be good value for money. If you are looking for alternatives check out similar chocolates from Chocolatiers but expect to pay a bit more.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Marc De Champagne Egg - M&S
Marc De Champagne Egg
Remember that old saying, "All that glitters is not gold" and so it would seem with this Easter Egg purchased from Marks and Spencer earlier today. Beware and read the label carefully before purchasing one of these colourful eggs...unlike me. 

At a quick glance you may be forgiven for actually thinking that you are buying a chocolate egg filled with marc de champagne truffles. When in actual fact you are buying a decorative piece of cardboard, tied with a turquoise bow, in the shape of an egg filled with marc de champagne truffles. 

This attractive and eye catching Faberge style egg stands about 6.5" or 16.5 cm high and is filled with 10 marc de champagne truffles, approx. 145 g, sealed within a plastic bag to stop the icing sugar going all over the place. This particular egg has been earmarked as being part of "The Collection" which as far as I can make out could apply to anything from denim jeans or a pair of slingbacks. So, just another nonsensical marketing ploy to make you think somebody has selected this item for its uniqueness and quality.
Made in Ireland
I've never been a great fan of Marks and Spencer truffles and this offering is very much the same old, same old, sugary and overly sweet concoction that I have come to expect from them. Each truffle is well made and covered liberally in icing sugar, perhaps best eaten naked. The soft sweet ganache is en-robed in a fairly thick casing of milk chocolate. I suggest you cut the truffle in half and scoop out the ganache with your tongue. 

The marc de champagne is not overpowering and adds a slightly pleasant alcoholic flavour. If only Marks and Spencer could cut down on the sugar and increase the cocoa content of their truffles then this might be a fairly pleasant experience. However, after the sugar hit you are left with a gloopy and slightly acidic feeling as it slides down your throat. Not the nicest of experiences and on reflection I've had more enjoyable sore throats.
Marc De Champagne Truffles - 30% Cocoa
I was disappointed from the start with this egg especially on discovering that there was no actual chocolate egg for me to crack open! So, staying objective was a problem from the beginning. However, the egg is well presented as are the champagne truffles. For the cost of £9.00 you do get a lovely egg shaped box and 10 'gob stopper' size champagne truffles. 

However, I feel that I could have done better with my money and perhaps I should have gone with a Percy Pig! However, if M&S is not your thing then here are a couple of examples of Easter chocolates available on the internet and high street:

This year's Easter gifts Chococo-style from £9.50...


Something with imagination from Hotel Chocolat from £7.00...