November 23 was the date of my last post and I've been making chocolate daily and nightly since then. I'm still making chocolate but it has calmed down a bit and allowed me to review a chocolate bar without having to worry if my own chocolate has tempered correctly!
I for one am really interested in the recent Mary Portas report which goes into great detail as to how we might save our High Streets becoming an economic desert. Increased Bingo Nights is probably one of the quirkiest ideas but you never know until you've tried it. I think High Street firms have just plodded along in the same old way not really bothering to think about how they can attract us 'would be shoppers' into town. There isn't a 'one size fits all' answer to this problem because each town and city has their own personality and different social make up which develops different needs. Villages that are not serviced by supermarkets have benefited from the rise of traditional farmers markets, providing local produce and crafts at reasonable prices. It should be fairly simple to transfer this to our High Streets but there is a lot of resistance from retailers as they see this as another attack on their profit margins. Local Councils have a big part to play and it will be interesting to see how they make it easier for the retailers and market traders to do business in future months.
Ok, let's talk about chocolate!
I picked this particular bar up from Akesson's at this year's Chocolate Week held at Vinopolis and is the first Bali Single Origin to be made in Europe. The cocoa is produced by the Sukrama family over 7 ha in the Melaya area in the Western part of the island.
The Chocolate: This bar has a cocoa content of 45% which unless I'm wrong is the highest cocoa content you can reach before it is regarded as a dark chocolate. This bar was awarded Silver at this year's Academy of Chocolate. Quoting directly from the packaging, "The chocolate is produced using natural sugar sourced from the juice of the coconut blossom, harvested by gently slicing the flower. Once collected, the nectars are kettle-boiled into a thick caramel and ground to a fine crystal. With one of the lowest glycemic index, (3 times lower than for cane sugar) this sugar s a great and healthy match to our Balinese fleur de sel".
Fleur de Sel is hand harvested sea salt and subsequently expensive. The bar is bright, well tempered and has a woody aroma and a strong sweet, creamy, dreamy, caramel flavour that works really well with the salt. Which is not too strong and I think it works better than our traditional Maldon Salt. The salt makes the flavour ever so slightly astringent but this is not unpleasant lingering on the tongue and roof of your mouth for sometime after. Every now and then your teeth crunch a granule of salt which adds an interesting texture.
An enjoyable bar of chocolate but I'm not a huge fan of salt and personally I'd like to try the chocolate without this addition as I don't think it really needs it. So, in terms of score I'm awarding this bar 8/10 for the quality of the milk chocolate. Delicious!
This bar was available from Chocolate and Love but they must be out of stock as the virtual shelf is bare! Other Akesson's bars can be purchased from The Chocolate Gourmet at £4.95 for 60g bar.