Saturday, 2 May 2015

Doisy & Dam - goji & orange we get down to the delicious subject of chocolate lets talk coffee...

Inspiration comes in many guises and a recent visit to The London Coffee Festival certainly helped provide that necessary ingredient by the bucket load. It has been a while since I've attended such a vibrant and enthusiastic event. It made me realize how creative, diverse and brilliant the London coffee scene is. 

As you'd expect I literally left the place buzzing, not from the caffeine hit, I didn't touch a drop, but the sheer vibrancy of the place. 

So, even if you don't know your v60 from your espresso why not percolate yourself down to The London Coffee Festival, Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane. 

Grab a deckchair, watch the coffee masters fight it out, visit a lab, indulge in some Bavarian comfort food from Herman Ze German and finish off with a joyous sticky Crosstown doughnut. Follow the exit signs and wander through Milk and Sugar for some retail therapy. Festival ends 3rd May...
Doisy & Dam - Goji and Orange
New kid on the chocolate block is Ed Smith's, Doisy and Dam. Made in Norfolk...yes you heard me correctly, made in Norfolk. Has climate change shifted dramatically in the night? 

Not only is their dark chocolate organic it is also suitable for vegans, gluten free and soy-free diets...ticking a lot of boxes so far. Current range is made exclusively from Dominican cacao, 74%. But a little birdie tells me white and milk chocolate varieties are not far off coming to market. 

Chocolate is always finding new ways of promoting itself as being healthy and Doisy and Dam has gone down the the super-food route. Introducing interesting but little known ingredients such as, hemp seed and Lucuma, a fruit native to the Peruvian Andes, that you wouldn't necessarily come across in other chocolate bars.
Dominican Cacao 74%
For this particular bar goji berries have been added and in my opinion not necessarily for the better.  The dark chocolate is certainly delicious but the goji berries are an unwelcome guest in this menage a trois of chocolate, orange and berry. However, the other half did say that the addition of the chewy goji berries added another there! The bar is well balanced and the orange is not at all over powering. However, coming across a goji berry lurking in the depths is like chomping on a piece of foil and needless to say you know what that feels like...I enjoyed this bar, minus the goji, and look forward to trying the other varieties in their range including, ginger, chilli flakes and hemp seed; coconut and lucuma.

Ocado and Planet Organic currently stock Doisy & Dam priced at £3.75 for a 100g bar. Click here to buy online or go directly to the Doisy & Dam shop.

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.