New Ethical Chocolate Bars – Seed and Bean and Divine
First off, Seed & Bean have produced three limited edition 85g chocolate bars specifically for this year’s Glastonbury Festival back in June. Certified by the Soil Association, bearing the Fairtrade symbol and an Ethical Award winner, this organic company is to be admired. The inner wrappers are compostable, made primarily from eucalyptus trees; all bars are handmade in small batches. The colourful and festive wrappers were designed by artist Matt Lyons aka C86. If you’re quick, you may be lucky enough to get your hands on a bar. They are available at £2.29 at the online shop, which seems reasonable for a top ethical product from a small British producer.
I was recently sent all three bars to try out. Sadly they melted in the heat whilst in the post – I don’t think any of us have got used to actually having a real summer yet. They arrived rather misshapen and not looking their best.
Fine Dark Chocolate Sicilian Hazelnut (58% cocoa – cane sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, vanilla extract, hazelnut paste).
This is like eating a fine bar of guinduja. It is rich, but very smooth and creamy at the same time, despite containing no dairy. The bitter notes from the dark chocolate has a slightly drying on the mouth quality and counteracts any cloying tendency there might have been. CT did his usual blind testing and detected hazelnut straight away. We really liked this bar.
Rich Milk Chocolate Cornish Sea Salt & West Indies Lime (30% cocoa solids – cane sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, vanilla extract, lime oil, smoked sea salt, soy lecithin).
Despite having quite a low cocoa content, this was my favourite bar. Although you think I might be a little biased by the inclusion of Cornish Sea Salt, I do like milk chocolate and I’m particularly fond of the sweet and salt combination. Some sea salt chocolate bars really go to town with the salt, but this one is much more finely balanced and suits me very well. The touch of lime, gives an uplifting quality and a tropical feel. If you can get to it before it melts, it’s ideal chocolate for the temperatures we’re currently experiencing. The chocolate is ultra smooth and melts beautifully in the mouth. A very fine chocolate bar indeed.
Creamy White Chocolate Raspberry & Vanilla (30% cocoa solids – cane sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, raspberry powder, soya lecithin, vanill powder).
White chocolate by its very nature is overly sweet and often cloying, but I wasn’t going to let that put me off. And actually, I guess because of the inclusion of fruit, this wasn’t as sweet as I was expecting. In my sweeter toothed moments, this bar would hit the spot very nicely. It has a grainier texture than the others, which helps to counteract the sweetness. The flavour of the raspberries themselves was quite pronounced and their sharpness reminded me of sherbet.
Another ethical chocolate producer I rate highly is Divine, which released the first Fairtrade chocolate available in the UK. The cocoa farmers in Ghana own nearly half of the company, so we can be assured that Divine is truly offering a fair price to the growers. I have written about them before in my post Divine Intervention where you can find out a bit more about the company. Some time ago now, I was sent a couple of bars of each of their newest creations. I really don’t understand where time goes anymore, but one thing I do know, there is always plenty of things to write about. As before, the chocolate arrived well packaged, but I was keen to open the box and have a look at the new bars. Divine chocolate bars are distinctively adorned with striking west African Adrinka motifs that draw my eye every time I see them. On the inside of each wrapper, you will find a story from some of the cocoa farmers belonging to the co-operative. This is a particularly inspiring feature which brings to life the journey of bean to bar and shows Divine really does care about the people involved in the whole chocolate making process. I have yet to be disappointed with any of the Divine bars I’ve tried, so let’s see how these two bars fare.
Milk Chocolate with Toffee and Sea Salt (38% cocoa – sugar, cocoa butter, skimmed milk powder, cocoa mass, butterscotch, butterfat, sea salt, soya lecithin, vanilla).
With my predilection for the sweet and salt combination, I was looking forward to trying this one. The chocolate itself is smooth but with interesting textural editions of toffee shards and salt crystals. The flavour of toffee is the first to impact the palate but then the salt comes through, which is probably the right way around. Interestingly the toffee lingers on the palate after the saltiness has dispersed – a pleasant sensation. It is not as sweet as you might expect and isn’t overly salty. Both CT and I detected notes of coconut in the chocolate, which we both really liked.
Dark Chocolate with Chilli & Orange (70% cocoa) – chilli chocolate is a particular favourite of mine, so I was looking forward to trying this one. Citrussy orange notes are the first to be detected, but are not overwhelming or synthetic in quality as is sometimes the case with other brands of orange chocolate. The chilli then begins to make its presence felt in a gentle but increasingly firm manner which leads to a pleasant afterglow in the mouth. Again, the chocolate is very smooth and melts delightfully on the tongue. We both found this to be surprisingly moreish for a dark chocolate.
These 100g bars are available at Waitrose and on the Divine online shop retailing at £2 a bar.