Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and it doesn’t seem right not to cover some of the fabulous chocolate offerings out there for this special day. I’ve taken the burden from you and reviewed a few. There’s a selection from Miss Witt, who’s an award winning artisan chocolatier. There’s also a heart shaped box of treats from Godiva.
Chocolate by Miss Witt
I first came across Chocolate by Miss Witt when visiting CT’s mother in Lymington on the edge of the New Forest. You can read all about it on my Unexpected Find in the Forest post. Suffice it to say, that I’m not likely to miss an opportunity to pay a visit to her pop-up-shop at Lymington’s weekly market if the occasion arises. And arise it did last Saturday.
Miss Witt is a true artisan chocolateier and makes an intriguing range of handmade chocolates. Unusually, she eschews cream and butter for the virtues of spring water, yes, her chocolates are all made with water ganache.
It was a bitterly cold day and Miss Witt was well wrapped. CT managed to polish off a fair few of the tasters as we chatted. My attention, however, was focused on hearing of the latest developments in the world of New Forest chocolates. A number of stores in Lymington are now stocking her products. I came away clutching a collection of chocolate goodies to try in the warmth of my own home.
Miss Witt’s Earl Grey
A valentine’s special consisting of six elegant chocolates in grey and white. The centres are a dark or white chocolate ganache made with spring water and Earl Grey tea which are enrobed in dark or white chocolate accordingly. The dark chocolate is dusted with silver flecks and the white is topped by a cornflower.
Containing no cream or butter, the silver chocolates are completely dairy free, much to the delight of the local vegans. The ganache is soft and smooth in texture and has a distinctive but not overpowering floral and citrus bouquet.
CT and his fertile imagination thought this very refined – equivalent to drinking Earl Grey in a bone china cup. He is not one to lavish praise unnecessarily, but he really liked these. “I don’t need fifty shades of Earl Grey, a single one from Miss Witt will do”. The white chocolates are much sweeter and the subtle notes of bergamot struggle to be heard above the white noise of vanilla.
Miss Witt’s White Hot Chocolate Sticks (33%)
After hanging out the washing on an icy winter’s day here, my hands were so cold I almost couldn’t feel them any more. It was time to try one of Miss Witt’s hot chocolate sticks. What a fabulous idea. All I had to do was follow the instructions: place in a mug, heat 200 ml of milk, pour over and stir. It worked a treat and melted quite beautifully.
I topped it with a little bee pollen for effect, but when I tasted the chocolate I realised I must have tuned into the flavour of the white chocolate even before I’d tried it; it not only had a creamy texture but it tasted of honey too. Being white chocolate, I thought this might have been too sweet for me, but it was totally delicious and I downed my mug rather too quickly. It did the trick too; by the time I finished it, my hands were back to normal.
Miss Witt’s Limited Edition
Miss Witt is always coming up with new flavour combinations, so you never quite know what you might find when you visit her pop-up-shop on Saturdays. I found it hard to make a decision on what to try as everything looked good and sounded interesting, but the Cinnamon Brulée just had to go into my box.
Cinnamon Brulée – white chocolate ganache flavoured with cinnamon and horlicks and enrobed in rich dark chocolate. Can you see why I couldn’t miss it?
Rosemary & Sea Salt – I’ve made rosemary truffles before, but never thought to add sea salt to the mix – I missed a trick. This was a fantastic combination, made even better by an almost liquid centre; it tasted more like caramel than milk chocolate ganache. Wrapped in 70% Saint Domingue dark chocolate, this was one of the best chocolates I’ve tried in a while. I hope it becomes a more permanent member of the collection.
Lavender & Sea Salt – there is always a bit of a worry that lavender might be overdone in food and end up tasting like soap. The lavender used here was a little overplayed, but it was tempered by the sea salt and made for quite a delicious mouthful. The salt also helped reduce the sweetness of the white chocolate.
Berries & Tea – a rich and robust winter chocolate, flavoured not with soft fruit, but with juniper berries and Earl Grey tea. Now where did I put that G&T?
A Shooting Star – a winner of the Great Taste Awards, this is a permanent weapon in Miss Witt’s armoury. It deserves to be. A dark chocolate ganache containing blackcurrent purée and flavoured with tarragon and star anise, it is enrobed with 70% Saint Domingue chcocoate. The flavours are subtle and are not vying for individual attention, but marry well together to create a true taste of summer – very welcome on a cold winter’s day. A hint of blackcurrent lingered long on the palate leaving me feeling rather wistful and wishing I had another one or two.
Sea Salt Caramel – I do love a good sea salt caramel and although I found this one a little on the salty side, the patriot in me was proud to note the presence of Cornish Sea Salt. The salty sweet caramel milk chocolate was tempered by the 70% Saint Domingue dark chocolate in which it was encased. Very similar in appearance to the rosemary & sea salt, this geodesic dome was flecked with white rather than blue.
Charbonnel et Walker Valentine’s Chocolates
A scarlet Valentine’s heart, edged with gold and tied with a navy satin ribbon, recently arrived at my door. I am by no means immune to the romance of heart shaped packages, so it was with a tremble of anticipation that I picked up the Charbonnel et Walker box. At first I wondered, but no, CT had nothing to do with it.
It was a good sized sturdy box containing thirty two chocolates weighing a whopping 400g. The chocolates were a mix of 33.5% milk and 60% dark chocolates containing traditional fillings of fondant, marzipan, ganache, caramel and praline. Rather less traditionally, the chocolates were of good quality if a little on the sweet side. These are not fresh artisan chocolates after all and shouldn’t be judged as such.
Hunting around in a large box of chocolates for the one you want is not an easy task and after trying a few that sounded particularly good, it was lucky dip. The menu card was rather charming in design, but not the most helpful in identifying the specific chocolates. Many were on the card, but were not present in the box and I spent some considerable time trying to find them.
Charbonnel et Walker – The Chocolates
Always one to avoid a strawberry fondant, I found the one in this box to be surprisingly good. The dark chocolate ameliorated any sweetness and the flavour was good. Not surprisingly with such a large box of chocolates, they have lasted for quite some time and are not finished yet.
Being a bit of a marzipan addict, I was pleased to find there were quite a variety including a rather nice one flavoured with Orange Cointreau. CT liked the coffee chocolates, but here are a few of my favourites:
Ginger Marzipan – was my first choice and I wasn’t disappointed. A dark chocolate containing marzipan flavoured with ginger and a good dose of rum. There was no mistaking the flavours here and the warmth of the ginger lingered long on the palate – just what is needed in the depths of winter.
Blend Crown – a delightful mix of hazelnut praline, marzipan and whisky all wrapped up in dark chocolate.
Pomponette – a blend of marzipan and pistachios enrobed in dark chocolate – did I mention I’m a bit of a marzipan fan?
Cecily – with its caramel flavoured truffle centre and enrobed in dark chocolate was elegantly simple to look at, but with a hidden decadence.
Barrel – this rum and raisin chocolate was a real nostalgic one for me. When I was a nipper, I would sometimes spend the whole of my 6d pocket money on a bar of Old Jamaica and this bought back all the joy of those occasions – À la recherche du temps perdu.
Rum Fourré – I think I must have a thing about rum too, because I really liked this one as well. A buttery ganache flavoured with rum which warmed my mouth and throat quite delightfully.
Established in 1926, Godiva is now well known for its luxurious Belgium chocolates and has shops in the most fashionable parts of Europe’s capitals. For those in the UK unable to get to London, they do, of course, have an online shop. I have used Godiva white and dark chocolate pearls to create these Amaretto Pots au Chocolat, but I’d never tried their chocolates until this most gorgeous heart shaped box arrived at my door.
You Have My Heart
A pretty heart shaped box containing eleven chocolates with nine different flavours. The box is one of those sturdy ones that you want to hang on to. You can keep it to store nicknacks in or reuse it as a gift box.
Rather annoyingly, there was no menu card included, so it wasn’t always easy to tell what the chocolate fillings were. However, I can say they were all delicious and the fillings were interesting and by no means run of the mill.
Pralines featured of course as did rich dark truffles, but there were also fruity fillings and buttery ones too. There was a good mixture of dark and milk chocolates, some sweeter than others. Many of the chocolates had layers with different textures and flavours which made for a diverting experience.
The shapes were fun and one chocolate featured Lady Godiva, whose good deeds inspired the company’s name, riding on her horse. If this box doesn’t grab your fancy there are plenty of other Valentine delights on offer – just hop over to the Godiva site and have a browse. Order by 12th February for delivery for the big day.
I’m not going to describe all of the chocolates in the box, but here are my three favourites.
- A hazelnut praline which had three distinct layers as well as a whole roasted and salted hazelnut – all covered in thick milk chocolate. I would have been happy with a whole box of these alone.
- A fruity raspberry caramel confection enrobed in dark chocolate which was possibly my favourite. It was both chewy and zingy and not too sweet.
- Then again a milk chocolate filled with a sandy textured almond mousse was very moreish indeed. Sadly, or perhaps luckily, there was only one.
Keep in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you try any of these chocolates I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or via social media. Do share photos on your preferred social media site and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.