Chocolate from the East India Company
When the East India Company contacted me recently, I was very excited. What, THE East India Company? Surely not? Not the one I studied in history at school, the one that played such a large part in building the British Empire, bringing tea and spices to the British table and at one time employing 1/3 of the British workforce? Surely, that couldn’t still be going?
Well, lots of question marks, so a bit of digging was required. The answer? Not quite; the original company, founded in 1600 by Royal Charter granted by Queen Elizabeth 1 was dissolved in 1874. Indian entrepreneur Sanjiv Mehta managed to buy the name in 2005 and has recently relaunched the brand by opening his first shop in London’s Mayfair in 2010. The company has an online store too and specialises in fine foods with chocolate featuring as one of the products offered.
The two bars I was sent to review came in sumptuous and exotic packaging – a reminder of the Raj. The flavours were exotic too.
Cinnamon Leaf (30%) – sugar, cocoa butter, full cream milk powder, cocoa mass, soya lecithin, cinnamon oil, vanilla.
This had an aromatic spicy smell and a nice snap when broken. It was very smooth, but not particularly creamy. CT thought it stayed solid in the mouth for an unusually long time before melting. It had an unusual but delicious flavour – the leaf being quite different to the usual cinnamon bark. The flavour could best be described as a mix of cloves and cinnamon. Overall, this was quite refreshing and the taste lingered on long after the chocolate has disappeared.
Nutmeg (30%) – sugar, cocoa butter, full cream milk powder, cocoa mass, soya lecithin, nutmeg oil, vanilla.
The aroma was again spicy but hard to identify. Biting into it, however, nutmeg surged across our palates. It’s a powerful, but pleasant taste, that persists long on the tongue. One small square has as much nutmeg as the average rice pudding thought CT, but it did combine well with chocolate.
I really enjoyed these bars, partly because of the historical association but mostly because of the flavours. Subtle they are not, so best avoided by those who prefer a more delicately flavoured bar. They are also quite low in cocoa, only 30% and way too sweet for my taste. Disappointingly, there was no mention of where the chocolate had come from. At £5 a go, these 80g bars are not cheap, but they would make a good present for a lover of spicy chocolate.