It’s been a while since I did a round-up of chocolate treats. I’ve had a few sent to me over the last several months and now feels like a good time to let you know about them all. I hope you enjoy my mega review of chocolate treats.
Hokey Pokey from the Chocolate Society
A very tempting and pretty bag of Hokey Pokey arrived in the post recently from the Chocolate Society. I’m a big fan of honeycomb, but often find the commercial stuff too sweet for me these days. When I was younger and had a sweeter tooth, the inevitable Crunchie bars were one of my favourites.
Now when I see lovley crunchy, light golden, perforated chunks of sweetness it brings back nostalgic memories of childhood sweet making. How I used to marvel at the bubbling, frothing toffee when the bicarb was added and it looked the next best thing to a lava flow.
It was all I could do not to get stuck into this straight away, especially when I unwrapped the package and a sweet and chocolatey aroma pervaded my senses. It was not long after taking the obligatory photos that my resistance ran out. Mmmm, pure heaven.
This honeycomb is a rather more sophisticated version of the Crunchie bar and is covered in Valrhona’s 40% milk chocolate which is not anything like as sweet and contains a lot more cocoa. The honeycomb was perfect, just the right amount of caramel notes and a good texture – I have nearly broken my teeth on hard lumps in the past. The verdict? This is one yummy bag of deliciousness.
I have to say I wolfed these down rather faster than I should have and CT only got a small look in. He thought the honeycomb was more fragrant than your average Crunchie bar and the chocolate was thicker, creamier and tastier.
Madécasse Toasted Coconut Chocolate
Since I was first introduced to Madécasse earlier this year, it has become one of my favourite chocolate brands. Not only are the Madécasse chocolate bars deeply flavoursome, but the company has an ethical stance that I can relate to. You can read more about it in my chocolate bars you need to know about post.
The milk chocolate has a distinctive smell and taste that reminds me of buttermilk. In fact all of the chocolate I have tried from Madagascar has that certain distinctive note. The bar is deeply flavoursome with a slight buttermilk aroma as well as that of tropical coconut. It tasted just as delicious as I expected. I.m a real sucker for coconut chocolate after all. The coconut here was not a flavouring however, it was the real thing, toasted and scattered across the top.
Madécasse bars are available at Waitrose and retail at £2.99, though I notice they are on offer at the moment at £2.29.
Italian food has to be one of the best in the world, it’s certainly one of my favourites. Finding authentic high quality Italian ingredients isn’t always easy. Vorrei are a new online Italian food shop selling products ethically sourced from small scale Italian suppliers and farms. I noticed many of their products are organic too – bene. I was glad to see they have a particularly pleasing chocolate selection.
Giuliette (Colavolpe) – dried oven-baked figs, walnuts, sugar, cocoa butter, Bronte pistachios, powdered milk, lactose and milk proteins, flavouring, soy lecithin, colouring E131.
The Colavolpe family have been making figgy confections now for three generations. Based in Calabria, one of their signature ingredients is the dottato fig, a small but tasty variety that grows particularly well in that region.
I adore figs and pistachios both, so these little parcels of sumptuousness all wrapped up in white chocolate are just the sort of thing likely to appeal to me. The dried figs are stuffed with a mixture of walnuts, pistachios and white chocolate, then enrobed in more white chocolate.
Despite the minimal amount of pistachio in the filling, (only 5%), the flavour was still detectable. I would prefer a higher percentage of pistachio myself and for the food colouring to be omitted. That aside, I enjoyed these so much I really didn’t want to share. So poor CT didn’t get much of a look in. The outer chocolate is a good foil for the richer chewy fig within.
I found the packaging almost as appealing. Wrapped individually in pistachio coloured foil lined paper, the figs nestled in a similarly coloured box.
A box of 12, weighing 250g costs £10.50.
A small box I’d been awaiting with some anticipation, was finally delivered by the postman. The Chocolate were sending me some of their luxurious dark chocolate truffles complete with real gold for review purposes.
As I opened the box a wonderful aroma of fruity chocolate wafted upwards making me feel like I was in for a treat. This is a smell I associate with good quality chocolate. I was a little disappointed to find only two fairly small truffles in the box, but they were flaked in 24 carat gold and this gave them the lustre of real luxury. And sometimes less is more.
Biting through the shell, I savoured their sophisticated dark, rich and not too sweet qualities. The chocolate was tangy with wonderful fruity notes and had a slight refreshing tartness about it. The beauty of these chocolates was more than skin deep, the smooth creamy ganache had a noticeably bubbly champagne persona. The flavours lingered on long after the chocolate had disappeared, another sign of good quality chocolate in my experience.
These are handmade artisan truffles at their finest. The chocolate used is award winning Toscano Black 63% from Italy; the ganache ingredients are a closely guarded secret. Eating these chocolates make you feel good just by their sheer luxury and deliciousness, but you can find out more about the well-being benefits claimed for both the chocolate and the gold here. My only complaint was that two, just weren’t quite enough. CT didn’t get a look in.
Last month, I won six Geert chocolates from Mostly About Chocolate. I haven’t had high quality artisan filled chocolates for a while so I relished these. They came in a cute little transparent box too. Thank you Judith.
Daintree Estates – smooth slightly caramel flavoured truffle.
Spotty green – praline with something I couldn’t quite decipher.
Madre – dark and bitter truffle with an unusual but exciting citrus like flavour I couldn’t identify.
Golf – praline with crunchy feuilletine and crystaline texture that tasted slightly peanutbuttery.
Ceibo – dark chocolate truffle – tasted of rum & raisin with a hint of orange, but far more sophisticated than the bars of Old Jamaica I used to love as a child.
Beans Original – a truffle with an odd flavour which again I couldn’t identify.
Guylian Sea Shells
Vegetarian I might be, but I am not averse to devouring creatures in chocolate form. When I was offered a box of Guylian’s signature chocolate sea shells to review I was not going to say no. Indeed, these were the high treat of the decade when I was young and I felt very privileged to partake on the odd occasion they were offered at family events.
I received a 250g box of 22 shapely chocolate sea shells containing praline. The shells are beautifully swirled in white and milk chocolates to create a stunning multi coloured effect. The shells come in 11 unique shapes, I say shells, but two of them are in the form of seahorses.
Seahorses are very important to Guylian who are the main sponsor of Project Seahorse. As its name suggests, this marine conservation organisation aims to protect seahorses which are a good indicator of healthy coastal ecosystems. By protecting these wonderful little creatures, they also help to protect the world’s oceans.
Although these days, pralines are generally a little too sweet for my taste, these were nonetheless delicious. They had a lovely smooth texture that is still oddly reminiscent of the crunch of hazelnuts. This could be because their taste is really quite powerful and remains in the mouth long after the chocolate has faded away.
The ingredients speak for themselves, you will not find any vegetable fats here, oh no, just sugar, hazelnuts and chocolate made with milk and cocoa butter to the same original recipe first used when Guylian was founded in 1960 by husband and wife team Guy & Liliana Foubert. There are a number of lookalikes on the market, but none of them can begin to compare with Guylian. Without mincing words, they are just not as good.
Beech’s Fine Chocolates
Beech’s Fine Chocolates pride themselves on traditional chocolates made in Britain since 1920. They have recently launched a new range of colourful chocolate bars. I fell in love with the packaging immediately. The colourful Indian inspired patterns were a delight to the eye. The colours cleverly reflect the flavours hidden within.
The ingredients are minimal as befits a good bar of chocolate. They are also all natural with no added vegetable oils, making them clean tasting and creating a good snap. At a recommended retail price of £1.25, these are a bit of a find. Weighing in at 60g and with resealable packs, these bars are particularly good when out and about and for people who show more restraint than I do.
Milk Chocolate – sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, skimmed milk powder, soya lecithin, natural vanilla.
This was creamy with caramel notes, but with the chocolate to the fore. We both liked it. With only 30% cocoa content, I was expecting this to be overly sweet and lacking in flavour, but I was wrong.
White Chocolate – sugar, whole milk powder, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, natural vanilla
This was creamy and tasted of vanilla. It was pleasant and altogether a good quality white chocolate.
Plain – cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin
This 55% cocoa content bar, although quite sweet, was smooth and neither harsh, nor bitter. It was fruity with caramel notes – not bad at all.
Anglesey Sea Salt – sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, whey, soya lecithin, Anglesey Sea Salt
Little bursts of saltiness erupted on the tongue, but it was not overly and harshly salted as some sea salt chocolate can be. The caramel notes of this 30% chocolate, combined well with the salt and was reminiscent of my favourite salted caramel.
Ginger – cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, natural ginger
We got an immediate hit of ginger, which we both loved. The chocolate tasted fruity and was very smooth. We’d been expecting chunks of ginger, but the flavour permeated the whole bar and very pleasant it was too.
Lime and Chilli – cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, natural lime oil, chilli
The scent of lime emanating from the packet was strong and reminded me of old fashioned chocolate limes. The cooling lime is the first flavour that hits the palate, then the chilli kicks in at the back of the throat – a very nice combination. This is quite a spicy little number and may not be enjoyed by those averse to a little heat. As a chilli fiend I really enjoyed this one.
Barú is a Belgium confectionary company that has recently developed a new range of high end marshmallow confectionary in time for – shhhh – Christmas. The range is available at Harvey Nichols, Wholefoods and selected independent retailers. Waitrose stocks the dark, milk and sea salt caramel marshmallows. The packaging is light and fun. Individually wrapped, the marshmallows come in boxes of four (54g) and cost £2.99. The hippos come in a 45g box of three individually wrapped pieces and cost £3. Ideal stocking fillers all.
Milk Chocolate Wrapped Marshmallow Clouds – The thin coating of chocolate worked well so that the marshmallow can be enjoyed without being overwhelmed. The marshmallow itself was fluffy, as the name implies, but also chewy and without being overly glutinous as some marshmallows are.
Fleur de Sel Caramel Wrapped Marshmallow Clouds – The chocolate tasted stronger and was a good combination with the sweet marshmallow. There was only a smidgen of salted caramel, which was a shame: the salt was detectable, but not really the caramel. It was pleasant enough, but I couldn’t see see the advantage of having it – it’s a distraction from the marshmallow itself.
Dark Chocolate Forest Berry Caramel Hippo – Extremely cute and cuddly chocolate hippos were filled with a delicious fruity liquid caramel. They tasted slightly salty (although this wasn’t mentioned in the ingredients). I really enjoyed this one.
A cute little box containing six chocolates arrived in the post accompanied by a leaflet about chocolate parties for kids. Now that does seem like a good idea, what kid wouldn’t enjoy covering themselves, as well as their favourite biscuits, with chocolate? Looking at their website, it seems that in addition to this service, Owow create personalised chocolates to order. Their speciality is covering pieces of cake or biscuits, specifically oreo biscuits, with Belgian chocolate. I was sent two cake wrapped flavours to try. The list of ingredients on the back was quite large, but with cake included in the mix, this was only to be expected. The chocolate itself contained only sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, soya lecithin and natural vanilla flavouring.
Owow – We thought the differing textures of crunchy chocolate and soft cake worked very nicely and the flavour of hazelnut was pleasant. A nice concept and the sort of thing I would have loved as a child, but they were a little too sweet for old fogeys like us.
Caymana – Again the concept of this chocolate was very good and the name conjured up the flavours of the Caribbean well. On first tasting, CT cried, “Caribbean plum cakes”. There was a nice fruity flavour with a noticable dash of rum. However, the proportion of cake to chocolate was very small and the chocolate, being very thick, rather overwhelmed the flavour of the cakes.
Last year I reviewed some Kentish cobnut fudge from Potash Farm in Kent. This year I’ve been sent something even more exciting – chocolate and honey. Cobnuts are a type of hazelnut that grows particularly well in Kent. They lend themselves to all sorts of delicious treats. Weighing in at 120g each, the chocolate bars were quite sizeable. The chocolate is made by Linton Chocolate, but the cobnuts come from the farm.
Single origin Ghana chocolate bar with Kentish Cobnuts – sugar, cocoa butter, dry whole milk, cocoa mass (40%), soya lecithin, natural vanilla flavour, Kentish cobnuts.
A high cocoa content milk chocolate bar is almost guaranteed to please me and this one with its crunchy tasty cobnuts did not disappoint. The chocolate was creamy and whilst it didn’t have any outstanding characteristics, it didn’t need to, as the uber tasty cobnuts were the real star of the show.
Single origin Ecuador chocolate bar with Kentish Cobnuts – cocoa mass (70.4%), sugar, cocoa butter, natural vanilla flavour, Kentish cobnuts.
This was much darker and richer than the previous bar and the chocolate had more depth of flavour too. It had a smooth mouthfeel and was not at all bitter. It complemented the cobnuts well, but gave them quite a different taste to the milk chocolate bar – this was more of a duet than a solo. Despite my love of milk chocolate, this dark and luscious bar was my favourite. The nuts encourage a healthy munching and I found this didn’t last nearly as long as I thought it would.
Kentish Honey with Potash Farm Cobnuts
Two simple ingredients, but what a rich and complex flavour. I particularly enjoyed the heady aroma that made me almost swoon with delight when the lid was first removed. It tastes and smells like authentic honey straight out of the beehive, said CT. And who can resist honey coated hazelnuts – we couldn’t. Added to natural yogurt or ice-cream, these nuts turn a simple dish into a sophisticated and highly pleasurable treat. This would make an ideal gift for a honey lover.
Chocolate and Kentish Cobnut Fudge – sugar, evaporated milk, Kentish cobnuts, single cream, condensed milk, butter, cocoa powder, sea salt, vanilla seeds.
We have been noticing lots of hazelnuts in the hedgerows around here in East Cornwall, so we have surmised it must be a good year for them. Normally the squirrels get to them before we do. Hopefully this isn’t the case at Potash Farm, a leading producer of Kentish cobnuts, which I was very pleased to find is a Soil Association registered organic farm. Not only that, but it has the distinction of being the only farm to carry this status for cobnuts. Cobnuts are a type of large hazelnut traditionally grown in Kent and were particularly prized by the Victorians for their superior taste. They are harvested and sold both in their green juicy state for eating in late summer or in their dehusked and mature state for Autumn and Christmas consumption.
Along with such other chocolatey delights as their chocolate enrobed caramelised cobnuts, Potash Farm have recently launched this chocolate and Kentish cobnut fudge. Pairing chocolate and hazelnuts is a classic and much loved combination. So, how do they match up in fudge? Well the two testers in this house gave it the thumbs up and one had to be physically restrained from finishing the bag off all by him/herself. It’s easy to see why: this fudge is rich and chocolatey with the added bonus of an interesting texture delivered by little pieces of chewy cobnuts. Once the crumbly yet creamy fudge has disappeared there are still cobnut fragments to chew on – a piece of fudge lasts longer than you might expect.
A 200g bag costs £5.25 or £10 for two from their online shop which includes free delivery.
Dobbies Strawberries & Champagne Milk Chocolate Bar
To celebrate their 150th anniversary and to coincide with Wimbledon this year, Dobbies Carden Centres came up with this rather wonderful idea of a celebration Strawberries & Champagne milk chocolate bar. The chocolate is mildly flavoured with strawberries and Champagne, but its piece de resistance was the popping candy which exploded in the mouth giving the illusion of Champagne bubbles.
The chocolate has a perfectly acceptable 33.6% cocoa solids and was fun to eat. It costs £2.29 and is available at Dobbies Garden Centres.
I was sent two bars of Niederegger marzipan to review a few months ago, a 40g milk chocolate stick and a 100g bar covered in plain chocolate. Niederegger is a German company whose pedigree goes back to 1806 and is still run by the same family in Lbeck where it all started. Famed for its marzipan which is substantially higher in almonds and lower in sugar than many brands, it continues to sell a range of marzipan products. Rather stupidly, I disposed of the wrappers before writing down the ingredients, so I am unable to give them here.
The milk chocolate marzipan didn’t really do it for me. Marzipan is one of the things where I infinitely prefer plain chocolate as my accompaniment. The milk chocolate in this case was just too sweet and also rather chunky. I found that the ratio of marzipan to chocolate was too low and detracted from the glory of the obviously excellent marzipan.
The plain chocolate version was much more to my taste. The marzipan was very much the main event and just a thin covering of plain chocolate gave it a welcome edge. The marzipan had a good texture and a nice almond flavour without being overpowered by excessive amounts of almond extract. It wasn’t particularly sweet either which I find is often the case with bought marzipan. All in all, I’d say, with Christmas just around the corner now, that this would be
Seed and Bean
Seed and Bean is a company I approve of. I’ve reviewed some of their 85g organic chocolate bars before and also in this rainbow of delight; the chocolate is both tasty and of good quality. They also come in a range of interesting flavours. But more than that, they are organically certified by the Soil Association and the only UK chocolate company to receive 100% ethical accreditation from The Ethical Company Organisation. This means, in their own words “we give a really fair deal to cocoa farmers, whilst fully respecting the rural environment, both in the UK and overseas”.
Cornish Sea Salt – (70% dark chocolate) – cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter, smoked sea salt, soya lecithin, vanilla extract.
With my patriotic Cornish hat on, I was very pleased to see that Seed and Bean were using Cornish sea salt in another of their bars. The chocolate is smooth and melts sumptuously in the mouth. It’s not in the least bit bitter, which is generally a sign of good quality dark chocolate. I’m unable to eat more than a square of some sea salted bars I’ve tried as they are just too salty, but here the salt takes a supporting role. There is a subtle note of smokiness that enriches the experience. This is a bar to savour and delight in.
Lavender – (72% dark chocolate) – cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla extract, lavender oil soya lecithin, .
Lavender is one of those flavours that you either like or dislike. Liking most things herbal, I’m rather partial to it as long as it’s not too overpowering. This one is quite strong, the scent emanates from the bar as soon as it is opened and you can certainly taste the lavender. Both CT and I felt it was a bit too much and thus better suited to baking into a chocolate lavender cake than savouring on its own. Lavender, I’ve found works very nicely in this form as demonstrated by this chocolate lavender cake.
Prices for these 85g bars are around £2.30.
Scotland’s first chilli farm has a name that immediately appeals to me. It’s no secret, I am a chilli head; next to our garlic, chillies are the most important crop we grow. Chillilicious not only has the distinction of being the most northerly chilli farm in Europe, but it is run by a team of women. Mother and daughter, Patricia and Stacey Galfskiy grow chillies in an environmentally sustainable way and make a variety of products from them. One such is a chocolate bar using the infamous naga – the world’s hottest chilli.
Heaven & Hell – (dark chocolate, 53.8% cocoa) cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, natural vanilla. (white chocolate, 28%) sugar, cocoa butter , whole milll powder, soya lecithin, natural vanilla. Naga chilli.
A mix of dark and white chocolate, this bar is topped by dried naga chilli and swirled artfully together, it looks very attractive. The dark chocolate contains the chilli as well as being topped by it. The idea is that the white chocolate soothes the mouth after eating the fiery dark part. Chilli fiend that I am, I was slightly concerned about trying this bar – I had heard stories. Well, it didn’t quite blow my head of, but it nearly did. My throat caught fire almost immediatly after the chocolate hit my mouth. But the sensation of hot chilli together with both dark and sweet white chocolate is quite exciting. Not something I’d want every day, but as an occasional wake up, it’s an experience worth having.
Available from the Chillilicious online shop at £4 for a 100g bar.
A handful of teeny tiny bars of chocolate recently arrived in the post. Little bars of 53% dark Belgian chocolate, but they contain a small dark secret. They are not hand crafted artisan bars featuring single origin estate chocolate, although that would be nice. No, you eat these bars for your health. Some of us have been deluding ourselves for years that this is our main reason for eating chocolate.
The Ohso claim? Weighing in at 13.5g and containing 72 calories a bar, they are packed full of healthy gut probiotics and these good bacteria last three times longer in chocolate than in milk products. This means that they arrive in better shape at the part of your gut where they do their good works. Plus chocolate is well known for its antioxidants and vitamins including D and E. These are, therefore, perhaps the ultimate chocolate detox.
Packaged in packs of seven, the idea is that you have one for each day of the week, providing your daily probiotic requirement. The mini bars have 24 mini squares, which enables the bar to be savoured slowly if wished. Retailing at £3.99, these are available online at Ohso and also in health food shops and other independent retailers.
OK, so enough of the health benefits, what do they actually taste like? The bar certainly smells chocolatey, with a sweet aroma emanating as soon as the wrapper is removed. Those first impressions are confirmed as the chocolate enters your mouth. It is pleasant with fruity notes, but is a little too sweet for me and resembles some of the mainstream dark chocolate bars which are widely available.