Easter Chocolate Bites
Well the festival of chocolate is nearly upon us. I do know, of course that Easter is a very special occasion in the Christian calendar and for many others is about the celebration of Spring, but for us chocoholics, it’s a very good excuse to indulge.
For those of you who read my review of this incredible chocolate back in February, you will know that I am now a fan. Not only does the chocolate taste fantastic, but this bean to bar company is enriching the local economy right where the chocolate is made in Madagascar. Earlier on this month, co-founder Brett Beach was over in London giving talks about the company, its work in Madagascar and the Fair for Life brand. He was also conducting chocolate tastings. Sadly, I was unable to make it, but to help me get over my disappointment, I was sent a couple of bars of chocolate. Sampling Madécasse chocolate makes you stop and think a bit, not only about where chocolate comes from and how it is grown, but about the different flavours that circulate in the mouth. A pack of these bars would make a very special Easter gift for the chocolate connoisseur in your life.
Salted Almond (dark 59%)
Cocoa beans, sugar, almonds, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, sea salt (75g)
Fruity chocolate with a clear high note followed by a warm nutty taste. courtesy of the mildly salted almonds on top.
Sea Salt & Nibs (dark 63%)
Cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, sea salt (25g)
This has an earthier quality and despite having a higher cocoa content than the salted almond, it tastes sweeter. Earthy coffee notes with mildly salted crunchy cocoa nibs on top. Waves of flavour cross the palate which makes it quite intriguing – from salty to earthy, then sweet to bitter.
Fairtrade Easter Eggs
I wrote recently about the importance of buying fairly traded chocolate, so I am not going to repeat it all again here. Suffice it to say that there is a huge range of Easter Eggs on offer to suit all ages and tastes and they are not difficult to find here in the UK – just look for the Fairtrade mark. I was sent a few to sample from the Fairtrade Foundation.
Green & Black’s Plain Dark Chocolate Egg (70%)
I’ve been a fan of Green & Black’s since they produced there very first bar way back in the 1990s. Not only are their bars Fairtrade, but they are organic too. They are also very tasty. In fact their spicy orange bar Maya Gold, was the first chocolate bar to gain the Fairtrade mark in 1994. This 165g egg is plain chocolate made from high quality Trinitario cocoa beans. It’s robust and earthy in flavour with notes of tobacco and coffee – one of my mother’s favourites.
Cocoa Loco Raspberry Chocolate Pigs
sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, vanilla powder, freeze dried raspberry powder
Cocoa Loco is not a brand I am particularly familiar with, but if these cute little pigs are anything to go by, it’s one worth taking note of. Pigs heads certainly make an interesting change from Easter bunnies. These are organic as well as Fairtrade and the the sweet white chocolate is lifted by the sharp zingy notes of raspberry. I’m not normally a fan of white chocolate, but these disappeared with remarkable rapidity.
Divine Shaun the Sheep (23%)
sugar, cocoa butter, dried cream, cocoa mass, whole milk powder, soya lecithin, vanilla
This milk chocolate egg is made for youngsters and to tie in with the movie. It comes with sheep’s ears and a wooly top. I decided it would be far more appreciated by my next door neighbour’s grandchild than by me, so I passed this one on. I’ve written plenty about Divine over the years; it is co-owned by the farmers that grow the cocoa beans in Ghana and was the first UK company to be 100% Fairtrade.
The Meaningful Chocolate Company
The Easter eggs sold by The Meaningful Chocolate Company, are not only Fairtrade, but they tell the story of Easter. It is true that many no longer know the Christian meaning of Easter and why it is celebrated. With this in mind, David Marshall, now CEO, decided that an Easter egg was needed that was both ethical and put people back in touch with the Easter story of Jesus. In true Christian style, the company also donates a proportion of its sales to development and educational charities. This year 10p from every 150g egg will be donated to Traidcraft. In addition to the two eggs I was sent, there is also a 180g dark chocolate egg on offer. Eggs are stocked at varies independent retailers as well as Tesco, Morrisons and Waitrose.
The Real Easter Egg (36%)
sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, cocoa solids
These eggs come in two sizes, a 150g box which includes a 25g bag of milk chocolate chunky buttons and a large 280g one which includes an 80g bar of orange milk chocolate and an olive wood dove keyring from Bethlehem. Both contain booklets relating the Easter story, though one is illustrated for children and includes an Easter quiz, a recipe for Easter biscuits and a jolly 3 ft Easter banner. The chocolate has a relatively high cocoa content and is creamy with caramel and vanilla notes. It’s a little sweeter than I would normally prefer, but it has a good flavour and I really liked it. The orange chocolate bar had the scent and taste of real orange, which as it contained orange oil should not really have been a surprise. CT is very fussy when it comes to orange flavoured chocolate and is rarely keen. However, the balance here is good and he gave it the thumbs up.
Monty Bojangles (31%)
sugar, cocoa butter, milk powder, cocoa mass, soya lecithin, natural vanilla + additional ingredients for the truffles
For something whimsical, curious and completely different, there is fun to be had with Monty Bojangles. The Easter egg boxes weigh in at 200g and contain a 120g Belgian milk chocolate egg and 80g of truffles. The chocolate wasn’t overly sweet and it had a pleasant nutty flavour. Despite the purist in me sniffing at the palm oil included in the truffles, I really enjoyed them. They are all smooth, rich and unctuous and dusted in bitter cocoa powder which makes a fantastic contrast to the sweet insides. All contain intriguing crunchy bits. The packaging is colourful and interesting with lots of pictures to look at and snippets of the fantastical adventures of Monty Bojangles. At £6 an egg, these seem eminently reasonable.
We should perhaps have been alerted by the name, but CT and I were in for a surprise when we bit into these truffles; they made us both giggle as the crescendo of crunchy popping candy drowned out all other noises. With a rich and fruity flavour as well as the element of fun, we both quickly reached for seconds.
Not such a surprise, but equally tasty, these truffles held pieces of crunchy toasted hazelnuts.
Much as I loved the Berry Bubbly, these were my favourite. The slightly salty dark intense truffles contrasted very nicely with the sweet flecks of butterscotch.
cocoa mass, sugar, whey powder, milk, soya lecithin
Chocolate to cook with is always welcome around Easter time. I have used Dr Oetker’s 72% Fine Cooks’ dark chocolate on a number of occasion and I’ve always found it easy to work with and it’s consistently produced good results. It should be noted however, that this is not suitable for vegans or those with lactose intolerance as, unusually for dark chocolate, it contains whey and milk. I was sent a couple of bars of chocolate with some cocoa powder, baking powder, vanilla extract and a packet of rich chocolate cupcake centres with the intention of making these surprise inside chocolate cupcakes. I haven’t made them yet, but they may well appear on the Easter tea time table.
Thanks to Madécasse, the Fairtrade Foundation, The Meaningul Chocolate Company, Monty Bojangles and Dr Oetker for the chocolate. I was not required to write positive reviews and as always, all opinions are my own.