Eating good quality chocolates made by an artisan producer is a privilege and one that I have been fortunate enough to enjoy on the odd occasion. I recently had the pleasure of receiving a box of Kokopelli’s artisan handmade fresh chocolates. I’ve been following the story of Kokopelli’s Chocolate since its founder Steph Saffer entered one of my We Should Cocoa challenges, the blackcurrant one, back in July last year. The business has been going from strength to strength since then. As well as selling her chocolates from her online shop, Steph also sells at various markets in London and holds workshops and hen party events – chocolate over some stripper would do it for me any day.
Kokopelli is an ancient Native American deity. Depicted as a hump backed flute player, he travels around spreading joy and fertility as he goes. This cheeky and creative character is an apt symbol for Steph’s imaganative and joyful chocolates. She explains: “some say he originated in Olmec society, the first people to discover the revered cocoa bean and produce chocolate“.
The box arrived well packaged and in perfect condition. With its distinctive livery, turquoise, brown and gold, the box looks good and invites further investigation. Tied with a brown ribbon, I thought it looked particularly stylish. After taking a quick peek inside, I inhaled deeply and breathed in the rich aroma of chocolate. It is not until I have done this that I feel I can sit back and admire the chocolates within, which I duly did. Nestled in the brown and gold packaging, sat some beautiful shiny chocolates made using one of the best couvertures available, Valrhona. Then it was time for the camera. Despite my eagerness to consume, I derive a perverse pleasure in delayed gratification – so much of the enjoyment is in the anticipation. After all, these are not chocolates to scoff in order to assuage a sugar craving, they are chocolates to linger over and savour.
I was not disappointed: the flavours were interesting and punchy. None of them were too sweet and like all good quality fresh chocolates, the flavours lingered on the palate long after the chocolate has disappeared.
Peanut Butter Praline – although the sea salt caramel beckoned, I was so intrigued by the peanut butter praline, that I just had to try this one first. No mistaking the peanut butter here, it tasted of Whole Earth peanuts without the vast quantities of sugar and salt found in so many brands – these tasted freshly roasted. The dark chocolate casing was just what was needed to support the robust flavour.
Raspberry & Black Pepper – there is a real mix of flavours and sensations going on here: tart fruity raspberries, with hint of heat and spice from the pepper and then the bitterness of dark chocolate. CT found the pepper helped ground the sweetness of the fruit.
Sea Salt Caramel – beautiful to behold; in the shape of a cocoa bean and dusted with gold, this could be resisted no longer. Sadly there was only one in the box. Oh, how I love salted caramel. Covered in dark chocolate, this one had a touch of salt that really brought out the caramel flavour without overwhelming it as some salted caramels do. I would have preferred the caramel to be a little more liquid and a higher proportion of caramel to chocolate, but those are minor quibbles – it was totally delicious.
Ginger Triangle – a smooth chocolate truffle heavily flavoured with ginger, this had a thin coating of milk chocolate – my idea of heaven and I think my favourite so far. CT agreed, an indulgent pleasure. I can imagine eating several of these and kidding myself they are good for me – it’s the ginger you see. Although sweeter than some, it left a very pleasant heat in the mouth. This is definitely one for ginger lovers.
Roasted Hazelnut – the thin coating of white chocolate was just right. White chocolate is very sweet and can be overpowering in excess. The hazelnut praline was full of texture, smooth in parts but also with a slight crunch and yes, it really did taste of roasted hazelnuts. I don’t normally associate white chocolate with nuts, but this combination worked very well.
Lime – a smooth ganache with a thin coating of dark chocolate, CT described this as deliciously sour. I found it a bit overpowering and it had a slightly drying feel in the mouth. Not, I hasten to add, that I would have refused a second one.
Sesame & Honey – covered in thin dark chocolate this one was reminiscent of halva, but not so sweet or gritty and with a milder taste. Both CT and I thoroughly approved of this one, finding it rich and filling, but in a very pleasant way.
Earl Grey – a smooth truffle filling, covered in a thin coating of milk chocolate, this was sweeter than some of the others. The fruity notes with sour overtones in the chocolate offset the sweetness, however. This would go very nicely with a cup of Earl Grey, the warm tea volatilising all those lovely flavourful molecules.
It’s been great to finally try Steph’s chocolates, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I wish her every success with Kokopelli’s Chocolate. If you’d like to find out more, there is a great 10 minute documentary video on the Kokopelli Chocolate site.
It is very hard to beat a good bagel; it’s even harder to find a good bagel. Having been on my list of things to try for many years, I finally got spurred into action by A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate, who put a picture on Facebook and stated they really weren’t that hard. And she was absolutely right, they really aren’t that hard to make. The difficulty comes in forming them into a good bagel shape, but I guess that might come with practice. As Dan’s recipe in Short and Sweet was titled simple bagels*, that is the one I went for. I made a few changes of course. I used fresh yeast (1oz), only 1 tsp salt, substituted 100g of the flour for wholemeal and used a wooden spoon rather than a finger to make the hole in the middle.
I was just a little bit chuffed with the result. Not perfect in shape by any means, but they tasted fantastic and were much closer to the taste and texture of the bagels I’ve eaten both in New York and California.
As I said before, bagels are wonderful things and they lend themselves well to both savoury and sweet toppings. I have never, until now though tried them with chocolate spread. I tried one half with Atkins and Potts milk chocolate spread and the other half with the dark chocolate and gosh they were good! So now I realise there is only one thing for it, I must make my own chocolate spread.
This must have hit the zeitgeist, because I’ve never had so many comments on a Facebook post as these bagels generated.
* The recipe I’ve linked to is different from the book in terms of quantities and I prefer the latter which uses less sugar, salt and yeast.
As I’ve had my eye on Dan’s recipe for a very long time, I am submitting this to Bookmarked Recipes with Jac of Tinned Tomatoes.