Bettys Tea Rooms is one of those Yorkshire icons which must be visited if ever you are in the vicinity of York or Harrogate. I only managed a five minute visit on my one and only trip to York, but it was five minutes that has lodged in my memory. The place was crammed with delicious looking baked wares, fine teas and artisan chocolates as well as afternoon tea revellers. I had gone in for a curd tart, having been told by a Yorkshire colleague before my trip that this was a must. I had no idea there would be chocolates too. I ate the curd tart on the train home and mused on the delights I could have tried – not that I was the least bit disappointed with the curd tart, it was delicious. One day, I shall go back to Yorkshire and pay a proper visit to Bettys.
Luckily, a couple of years later, which happened to be last week, I finally got to try some of those tempting looking chocolates. When offered a box of Bettys Dark Chocolate Selection to try, I was not going to say no. Last year I was sent a Bettys Christmas Chocolate Gugelhupf which I was really impressed by, so my expectations were running high.
A delightfully elegant little box duly arrived in the post. As I am usually motivated by quantity as well as quality, at first glance I was a little disappointed at how small the box was. I needn’t have worried. When I opened it, not only were my nostrils filled with the wonderful aroma of dark fruity chocolate, but my eyes were filled with the sight of fourteen very tightly packed and rather attractive chocolates.
With fourteen chocolates and six different fillings, I was bound to find something I liked. Most were covered in a glossy dark Swiss chocolate couverture which was rich with fruity notes. All of them had that lingering-on-the-palate characteristic, which I take to be a sign of good quality chocolate. I tried them in the order in which they appealed to me. I enjoyed every one of these and am happy to report that the standard of Bettys chocolates is as good as I hoped it might be. And as for the matter of the small box, a little goes a long way.
Spiced Port Truffle – I was particularly taken with the ying yang pattern in dark and milk chocolate. This was a Christmassy truffle if ever there was one. I couldn’t quite identify the “stollen” spices, but they were definitely there and combined beautifully with the port, which was very noticeable. I felt the warmth travelling down my throat and body in a most delightful way. I thought I detected orange. CT also noted citrussy flavours along with cinnamon and just a hint of nutmeg.
Vanilla Caramel Heart – Brushed with gold, this looked particularly elegant. I’m a sucker for a good caramel, so I was pleased to see there were three of these in the box. A pleasant note of bitterness from the dark chocolate combined well with this sweet and creamy vanillary caramel, which we both found most pleasant.
Orange Marzipan – This had a lovely scent of orange. I adore marzipan, but often find it a little too sweet. This was the case here, but the flavour was excellent and lingered on most pleasantly in the mouth well after all traces of the chocolate had been consumed. It had a good chewy texture. CT who is not a fan of artificial tasting orange chocolate, really enjoyed this and found the bitterness of the crystallised orange peel made for a more authentic experience.
Cru Sauvage Truffle – Goodness these were nice. A rare dark chocolate from the Bolivean Amazon was dusted with cocoa and covered a soft and very smooth rich chocolate ganache with toffee notes. I would have been very happy with an entire box of these. As it happens Betty’s do sell such boxes. The others were all delicious, but this was by far and away my favourite. We noticed the difference in the chocolate which CT described as having an oaky quality reminiscent of whiskey.
Raspberry Ganache Truffle – No mistaking this one, the aroma of raspberries was strong. Tart fruity raspberries in a smooth ganache and not overly sweet, these were good too.
Cognac Truffle – To me cognac conjures up images of sophistication and that was definitely the case here. With its smooth ganache, this was delicious and indulgent. It felt as though one of these might even put you over the limit. CT thought it had a definite restorative quality.
If, like me, you live a long way from a Bettys Tea Room, you can still buy a goodly number of things on their online shop. They have quite a selection of Christmas items on offer including some very special hampers I’d be utterly delighted to recieve. This 115g box of chocolates cost £15.95.