Vegetarian food blog featuring delicious and nutritious whole food recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Time for Tea

Drink Reviews | 5th May 2014 | By

Time for tea? Or did I mean time for chocolate? In this household it’s both. We drink a lot of tea of varying sorts and we drink quite a bit of chocolate too. Our chocolate usually comes in the form of a teaspoon of cocoa in a mug of hot water. Occasionally we add a splash of milk. Sometimes though it’s fun to splash out and have what most people think of as hot chocolate – chocolate made with milk. Enthusiastic as we are for these drinks, I was delighted to be sent some drinking chocolate, some chocolate tea and a whisk to review.

Canton Chocolate Tea

This tea came in a very elegant white tin from the Canton Tea Company and was well packed in a sturdy white box. I really liked the signature crane which I found to be particularly apt as well as attractive. The tea is a loose leaved black tea with added cocoa nibs and vanilla pod and weighs in at 50g. It is actually a blend of two fine Chinese black teas: Bai Lin Gong Fu and Yunnan Black. I’m not normally a fan of black tea, preferring green, white or rooibos, but I was keen to try this one due to the cocoa content. Gosh and golly, I was in for a real treat. On opening the tin a strong aroma of chocolate wafted out. This was followed by a fruity note and then finally the tea came through.

Chocolate Tea

Neither CT or I like our tea particularly strong, so I brewed a pot of tea for two with one heaped teaspoon, rather than the recommended two to three flat teaspoons per mug. I steeped it for the stated two minutes with water that was just off the boil. This gave us a perfect cup of tea which was full of flavour, well rounded and really quite moreish. It wasn’t in the least bit bitter and tasted simultaneously of chocolate, tea and plum. When I later read the tasting notes on the tin I was surprised to see that plum was one of the flavours mentioned, along with cocoa of course. We both failed, however, to notice the caramel sweetness that was also described.

One of the benefits of using good quality tea leaves is that you can use them again and sometimes again and again and still enjoy a really good cup of tea. We had two good brews out of our one heaped teaspoon, so I suspect more would be achieved if the full amount was used. For a black tea I would give this one ten out of ten. A 50g bag costs £7.50 and is available from the Canton Tea Co. online shop.

If you’re going to have a “proper” hot chocolate, you may as well go the whole hog and have one made with pieces of real chocolate. It wasn’t until I received two different brands of drinking chocolate to review at the same time, however, that I realised that different hot chocolates lend themselves to different ways of preparation and serving.

Hans Sloane Drinking Chocolate

As soon as CT saw the name Hans Sloane, he approved. Not only was he a fellow botanist, but CT spent some months mowing the lawns in the London square that bears Sloane’s name. In fact, Hans Sloane was a 17th century chocolate pioneer, discovering it when he lived in Jamaica where the locals drank it with water and eggs. It was he that tried mixing it with milk so that it became the drink we know and love so well today. I was sent two two 270g packets of chocolate beads and indeed the variably sized, shiny pieces had a bead like quality.  I was really excited to read on the packets that either milk or water could be used. I’ve been meaning to try making hot chocolate with water for a very long time, but somehow never seem to get around to it. This gave me the prompt I needed.

Rich Dark (53%) – this was indeed rich and dark, also thick and unctuous with a creamy mouthfeel. Even made with only water it tastes like an indulgence. Mind you it is suggested that three tablespoons are used per 200ml of liquid. When I weighed this, it came to a whopping 60g – no wonder it was rich. I was truly wowed by this chocolate and reckon that water is the way to go.

Hans Sloane Review

Natural Honey (32%) – milk chocolate blended with honey, there was no doubting the flavour. Having had such success using the water with the Rich Dark beads, I decided to try it with the Natural Honey beads too. Again, this was rich, flavoursome and very sweet and it needed no other accompaniment. Yes it’s sweet, but then that’s what you expect of honey and it is, nevertheless delicious. As a beekeeper, CT’s approval just kept rising.

The chocolate comes in four other flavours which I’d be very willing to try: Smooth Milk, Grenada 60%, Madagascar 67% and Ecuador 70%. The packs are available in Waitrose and Tesco with a RRP of £4.99.

Brown Bear Original Hot Chocolate

These dark chocolate flakes were quite different and came in a 350g tub. The cocoa content was slightly higher than the Hans Sloane, being 55% and on opening a rich chocolate aroma rose up to fill my senses in a most delightful way. The directions here were for three heaped teaspoons per 200ml of milk, which was considerably less than the aforementioned brand and only weighed 25g. This of course means the chocolate goes a lot further, but won’t be as rich. This being the case, I thought it lent itself to being made the traditional way, with milk; indeed, this was the only direction given. It made for a very nice cup of milky hot chocolate.

The tub stated that you could have a magical hot chocolate experience by topping with whipped cream, marshmallows and a generous sprinkling of chocolate flakes. I tried that out too – it would have been churlish not to. I used some of the Brown Bear flakes to sprinkle over the top which saved a bit of time and a lot of mess not having to flake the chocolate myself. Unsurprisingly, this worked very well. It was completely over the top, but so worth it.

For comparison, we also tried making this with hot water. Although pleasant, we found it a bit thin. To be fair, the quantities given in the directions varied between the two brands. This one used a lot less chocolate so the comparison was not exactly fair.

Recently launched, just in time for Easter, this is available £6.99 from the Brown Bear online shop.


Nova Multi-Quell Whisk

As I had been sent a manual hand held whisk to review from G3 Direct, I thought it would be good to try it out with my hot chocolate drinks. The Nova whisk is a little unusual in that you push down on the handle repeatedly to turn the head. This requires less effort than a balloon whisk and is meant to be helpful for those with wrist mobility problems or carpal tunnel syndrome. If you’d like to see it in action, head to the video provided by G3 Direct. The handle comes in various shades, but sadly not red. I opted for a vibrant green instead, although I was also quite tempted by the orange.

I whisked the hot chocolates rather than stirring them and also used it to whip up the cream. I have to say, since I first used it, I’ve abandoned all other whisks when it comes to whipping up double cream. It’s a dream to use requiring little effort and making less mess than a balloon or electric whisk.

Funnily enough, I saw a demo at the Big Cake Show where the whisk was used to froth semi-skimmed milk – in a matter of seconds it seemed. I don’t drink semi-skimmed, so tried this on some whole milk. It did froth up, but collapsed almost immediately, so my dreams of adding an attractive frothy top to my drinks didn’t last very long.

With thanks to the Canton Tea Co, Story Pr, Brown Bear and G3 Direct for the above mentioned products. I was not required to write a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.

Chocolate Log with a Whipped Dark Boozy Chocolate Ganache

The name of my blog might assume that I know what I’m doing when it comes to chocolate logs, even that I’m something of an expert. Well I’m not. My efforts at rolling  have been unsuccessful to say the least, as can be testified by my Liskeard Mess and the various other attempts I’ve made at a roulade. I’ve watched Mary Berry and any number of others do it and I’ve tried various techniques, but invariably my rolls crack hideously and have been known to disintegrate entirely. My least disastrous attempt was this Matcha Chocolate Roll.

Thus, when I was asked recently if I would make a chocolate log, my heart gave a little tremble.

Now it just so happened that I was sent one of the most beautifully packaged parcels I’ve received in a long time. A sturdy but elegant black box contained a newly designed 70cl bottle of Thorntons Chocolate Liqueur, dressed in black and hot fuchsia pink. It was accompanied by two special Thorntons chocolate liqueur glasses wrapped in matching paper and a £10 supermarket voucher nestled in a bed of wood straw. The colour scheme was eye catching indeed and the presentation lifted my spirits – so to speak. The premise was to create a recipe using the liqueur. Ding! With chocolate logs very much on my brain, my first thought was to incorporate the liqueur into the ganache that I’d planned to fill my log with and the thought stuck.

But first, I had to try the chocolate liqueur. CT was not going to pass this opportunity up either. We had a glass over ice followed by a glass neat. We could have gone on, it was so moreish, but I had to apply the brakes before we became inebriated. Originally launched in 2011, this liqueur was developed by the Thorntons master chocolatier, Keith Hurdman; it is a vodka based drink with cream and West African cocoa. It’s hard to think of a better combination than cream, chocolate and alcohol and because vodka does not have a strong taste of its own, the chocolate and cream were allowed to speak for themselves. At 17% volume, this is quite a strong drink, so a little goes a long way. It wasn’t quite as dark or as rich as the Bailey’s Chocolat Luxe, but it was nevertheless delicious. And at £13.99, this is an affordable treat.

Thorntons Chocolate Liqueur

If you are able to restrain yourself from drinking this chocolate liqueur just as it is, there are any number of ways you could use it. The bottle came with a recipe card for various cocktails, drinks and desserts. I haven’t tried any of them yet, but I think I’m going to have to, as some of them sound very tempting indeed. With the cold weather now upon us, a hot chocolate with a slug of this could be just the thing after a bracing walk. How about a Thorntons Chocolatini or a Thorntons White Russian to indulge and delight your guests. As for the recipe for Thorntons Fondant, it has my name written all over it.

This is how I made:

Chocolate Log with a Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache

  • Melted 50g 72% dark chocolate in a bowl over hot water, then removed from the heat.
  • Stirred in 2 tbsp Thorntons Chocolate Liqueur.
  • Stirred in 100 ml double cream until just incorporated.
  • Left to cool in the fridge for 1/2 hour whilst getting on with the sponge.
  • Whipped the ganache until light and moussy.
  • Whisked the eggs whites of 3 duck eggs in a bowl with electric beaters until stiff.
  • In another bowl, whisked the yolks of 3 duck eggs with 75g vanilla (caster) sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract for a minute or so until the yolks were pale.
  • Sifted in 30g cocoa powder and carefully stirred in.
  • Folded in the egg white until just incorporated, then scraped the mixture into a 19 x 29 cm Swiss roll tin lined with baking paper.
  • Baked for 20 minutes at 180°C when the sponge had risen and the top was bouncy when pressed. Left in the tin to cool.
  • Covered a clean piece of baking parchment with vanilla sugar. Turned the sponge onto this, then peeled off the backing paper.
  • Spread the ganache evenly over the sponge. Cut half way through the sponge, 1 cm in on the narrow end to help start the roll. Then using the sugar covered paper to help, rolled the sponge up as carefully as I could.
  • Cut about 1/2 cm of either end to neaten.
  • Dusted with vanilla sugar.
Chocolate Log

Well, maybe practice makes perfect, maybe I just got lucky or maybe the glass of Thornton’s liqueur I sipped whilst baking played its part. There were a few cracks, but the sponge held together and I was marginally pleased with the result. I was very pleased with the taste and texture of the chocolate log – thank goodness for neatened ends.

The whipped ganache containing Thorntons Chocolate Liqueur was, though I say it myself, sublime. It was light and moussy in texture with a rich chocolate flavour enhanced by the presence of the liqueur. It was a perfect match for the chocolate log and I’m now wondering why I’ve never tried anything like this before. The ganache is an ideal recipe for the festive season and could be used to fill any number of cakes and biscuits. I will most certainly be making it again.







As I was secretly, or maybe not so secretly, pleased with this chocolate log, especially the whipped dark boozy chocolate ganache, I’m using it as my entry for this month’s We Should Cocoa where alcohol is the special ingredient.

I am also submitting this to Lets Cook Christmas Party Food over at Simply Food.

Additionally, I’m sending this off to Javelin Warrior for his Made With Love Mondays.

It’s a very tricky letter that’s been picked for Alphabakes this month, but luckily it’s December so X for xmas is allowed. Hooray. I am thus sending my Xmas Chocolate Log to Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline of Caroline Makes.

I’m sending the bottom photo off to No Croutons Required with Jac of Tinned Tomatoes who is looking for Festive Photos this month.

Well it doesn’t get more Christmassy than a Chocolate Log, especially a boozy one, so I am submitting this to Calendar Cakes where the theme this month is Jingle Bell Rocks. This event is co-hosted by DollyBakes and Laura Loves Cakes.

I was sent a bottle of Thorntons Chocolate Liqueur and a supermarket voucher in order to create a recipe. I was not required to write a positive review and as always, all opinions are my own.

Chocolates for Chocolate Week and Autumnal Cheer

The nights are drawing in and there is no escaping the autumnal nature of the weather. It’s also National Chocolate Week so time to get tucked up with a huge selection of chocolate.


Breakfast Bites – Sit Down and Tuck In

Breakfast Bites - two homemade rye sourdough loaves.

Here are a few breakfast bites you might not have thought of sitting down to in the mornings. You’ll find mini reviews of gluten-free pancakes, lemon green tea, a muesli variety pack and Mexican hot chocolate. There’s also a recipe for chocolate sauce and a link to my rye sourdough recipe.


Puro Fairtrade Coffee – a Review & Giveaway #23

Drink Reviews, Giveaways | 17th February 2013 | By

When I was offered some coffee to review, I was a initially a little hesitant. Coffee is not my favourite drink, nor is it my favourite flavour. But, since commencing this blog, I have been using it more and more to add an additional depth to chocolate cakes and find it works really well. I am not averse to a cup of coffee, it’s just not something I ever think to drink. The smell of roasting and brewing coffee is another matter entirely and usually has me going weak at the knees. In the end it was Puro’s ethical stance that swayed me and got me brewing.

As the name suggests, Puro Fairtrade Coffee is a fairtrade brand, certified by the Fairtrade Foundation and belonging to Belgian company Miko which has been roasting coffee for 212 years. Some of its coffee is also organic, although not certified by the Soil Association, the certifying body I trust most. Miko won an award last year for its partnership with the World Land Trust and its work in helping to protect the rainforests of South America; the trust is also supported by David Attenborough. A total of 8103 acres of rainforest in Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia have so far been saved and are now protected from logging. This may not seem a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. One new tree species, 12 orchids and one frog have all been discovered in these areas since they became reserves. One of the orchids is now known as the Puro orchid! I was also pleased to find that Miko produces all of its own electricity via solar panels.

You can find out more about the Puro story by watching this short clip.


When the coffee package arrived, I was ridiculously excited to find it all wrapped up in a hessian sack just like a sack of bona fide beans. I had a very good feeling about it from then on in. Diving into the bag was rather like a Christmas stocking; pulling out one lumpy unidentified item after another was an enjoyable guessing game. Not only did I pull out three 250g packets of coffee, but also a 3 cup cafetiere, a Pura cup and saucer, a pack of individual hot chocolate sachets and some sugar sachets too.

As neither CT nor I are coffee connoisseurs, I invited some more knowledgeable friends around for a tasting. I used the cafetiere provided to make three brews of filter coffee and we tasted them blind. First off, we breathed in the aroma, then tasted them black and finally added milk. The results were very interesting to my untutored palate – it seems quality will out. Arabica is meant to be the premier coffee species and the one with the highest percentage of Arabica to Robusta, was the one we liked best. Like chocolate, it seems that the best beans are grown in South America with the more standard everyday ones grown in Africa (Congo). That said, we liked all of them.

Each bag came with a hand written label showing type, origins, content and description – all are fairtrade and shade grown. I’ve written our tasting notes first, followed by Puro’s own in italics. We did not read the descriptions until after we’d done our own tasting, but as you can see our notes echoed theirs.

Puro Noble – 80% Arabica, 20% Robusta beans shade grown in Guatemala, Peru, Honduras and the Congo – smooth, mild and graceful – mellow and well balanced, this was pronounced (by the experts) to be a standard good cup of coffee they would be happy to drink at any time of the day. 6/10
The complex character of this blend comes from the mild and smooth yet floral Guatemalan high grown Arabica skilfully blended with the Peruvian Arabica for a perfect balance of flavour. Through the addition of premium Robusta, a hint of dark chocolate is injected into the cup.

Puro Organic – 100% Arabica beans shade grown in Peru & Honduras – lovely bouquet, chocolatey, rich, creamy, distinct smell. Chocolate taste, complex with several different flavours detected – strong but not too bitter – it would make a satisfying mid-morning or after dinner coffee 9/10
This amazingly delicate blend is distinctive in flavour. It combines beautifully soft notes of chocolate with citric overtones that gives it a fruitiness whilst adding natural sweetness.

Puro Fuerte – 50% Arabica, 50% Robusta, the beans come from Guatemala, Peru, Honduras and the Congo. Middle of the road, richer, fiercer, more bitter, richer bouquet, higher roast, robust – a wake-me-up morning coffee. 8/10
Wow, good morning and a warm welcome from this intense fiery blend. This dark roasted blend of high grown Arabica with the finest Congo Robusta creates a warm balanced cup with lively fragrant flavours, which when added to perfectly tempered milk create a bitter sweet chocolate.

To accompany the coffee, I made some coffee biscuits with whipped coffee chocolate ganache. For a change, I thought I would make coffee the star of the show rather than chocolate and much to my surprise, I found these biscuits to be utterly delicious. The Puro Fuerte, being of a robust nature, was an ideal coffee with which to flavour the biscuits. They proved to be very popular.

Puro coffee is drunk in a number of locations including all National Trust sites and Royal Parks. Each month there is a chance to win a coffee pack by entering a caption competition on Puro’s facebook page – definitely worth a try.

Puro Fairtrade Coffee have kindly offered the same coffee hamper as I received as a giveaway on Chocolate Log Blog.
To be in with a chance of winning, please fill in the Rafflecopter below. You will need to leave a comment on this post which then gives you additional chances to enter if you so wish. Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random from the entries received. Please give me some way of identifying you in the comment section as I will be verifying the validity of entries and will always check back to the comments to ensure that part has been done. Any automated entries will be disqualified. This giveaway is only open to those with a UK postal address. You need to be 18 or over to enter. Winners will need to respond within 7 days of being contacted. Failure to do this may result in another winner being picked.
Prizes are offered and provided by Puro Fairtrade Coffee and Chocolate Log Blog accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of said third party.
If you need some help to enter using Rafflecopter, here’s a quick clip to show you how.

Closing date is Sunday 17 March 2013

You might want to take a look at my giveaway page to see if there is anything else you would like to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s Summer – Time for Hot Chocolate?

Drink Reviews | 10th June 2011 | By

Well summer it may be, but it doesn’t really feel like it. It’s grey and a cold wind has been blowing for days. Now rain I would welcome, our garden and plot are parched and nothing is growing, but all we’ve been blessed with in this current bout of wintery weather is the odd splash here and there that gets blown away by the wind almost as soon as it has landed. Anyway, enough of that. The point I’m trying to get to is that despite it being summer, it feels very much like the weather for hot chocolate. This is probably just as well, as I was recently the recipient of two tins of organic drinking chocolate from the good folk at Steenbergs. I was particularly delighted by this as, not only do I like hot chocolate, but Steenbergs is a small family run company driven by ethics which started by selling organic and fairly traded herbs and spices. In addition to this, they have good eco credentials which always meets with my approval. Steenbergs have steadily been increasing their range to include teas, baking ingredients and other ethical products.

The tins arrived plain and unadorned as these are new products and Steenbergs are still waiting for the labels to be produced. I was quite happy with this as the tins are attractive as they are and I can think of many uses to which they can be put – keeping drinking chocolate or cocoa in for instance! I was hoping I would receive some cocoa as I actually prefer this to drinking chocolate which I generally find too sweet, but it was not to be on this occasion. What I did receive was a tin of plain drinking chocolate and a tin of Christmas drinking chocolate – sadly I am unable to give the ingredients due to the lack of labels. All I needed to do was heat some milk in a pan and whisk in a couple of heaped teaspoons of the drinking chocolate mix. The flavour of both were good, but as a drink, they were sweeter than I was hoping. I am looking forward to using them both in baking though and have some recipes which call specifically for drinking chocolate rather than cocoa. The Christmas drinking chocolate had some intriguing flavours that I found quite hard to identify but I thought perhaps nutmeg stood out. There is also a chilli drinking chocolate, which being a chilli fiend, I would like to have tried too.

They will be retailing from between £4.50 and £5.50

Tea and Chocolate Tasting in Cornwall

On what was meant to be a beautiful blue skied autumnal day but turned out to be a grey and extremely blustery one, we set off for the one of Cornwall’s posher parts, the Roseland Peninsula.  It was the beginning of Chocolate Week and we were heading down to a tea and chocolate tasting event at Smugglers Cottage & Tea House at Tolverne on the Tregothnan Estate.

This was to be a double act with Jonathan Jones, the tea expert at Tregothnan and Marc Demarquette. Can that be right? Not the famed London artisan chocolatier in the depths of Cornwall?  Yes indeed, it was National Chocolate Week and for once we were not going to be deprived of a top notch event.

But before I get carried away with chocolate and my new found enthusiasm for mixing the leaf and the bean, thanks to Matcha Chocolat, I’ll just insert a short garden tour. Trelissick is on the opposite side of the river Fal to Tolverne and as we don’t go down that way very often, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to pay a visit to these beautiful gardens.  I had imagined sitting in the autumn sunshine, warming my bones and banishing my cold whilst admiring the beautiful colours of the autumnal leaves.  What we got was a gale force wind, no sunshine and a fast stomp around the garden, actually it was more of a shuffle in my case – teeth chattering all the while.  We were more worried about avoiding falling branches from the trees than admiring their beauty.

To cross the river, we had to take the King Harry Ferry, which whilst rather romantic, had us reeling in shock after £7.50 was extracted from our reluctant hands for the privilege of the 5 minute crossing there and back.

So to the chocolate.  We were greeted warmly on arrival and offered a cup of tea to help stave off the cold whilst we waited for the others to arrive.  Tregothnan is the only grower and producer of tea in the UK and is now in its 5th year of production. Most of the teas they offer are grown on the estate in Cornwall. We were already familiar with their green tea, which we find clean and refreshing, so that’s the one we both chose.  We were also given a much anticipated and thus much appreciated chocolate to try, one from the beautifully decorated Demarquette Ganache Collection, Thai Lemongrass.

The Tea House is currently a temporary structure and more like a tea tent; plans for a more permanent (and hopefully more aesthetic) one are in the pipeline. We sat huddled around the stage with thoughtfully-provided blankets draped around shoulders and laps. Trying to tune in above the flapping canvas and the roaring wind, we were reminded that we don’t really have a climate in Cornwall, just weather – it could just as easily have been midsummer or midwinter.

Jonathan Jones kicked off proceedings by explaining about tea growing in general and tea as grown on the Tregothnan estate in particular.  Plants were handed around to examine along with dry and used tea leaves.  He is passionate about promoting high quality loose leaf tea in this country – quite right too.  We had samplings of various brews to match the selected Demarquette chocolates.  Marc explained how the chocolate flavours were more powerfully released from the warmth the tea left on the tongue. We started with Afternoon Tea and some dark chocolate from Brazil.  He was right.

Just in case you don’t know, Demarquette – Fine Chocolates is one of the top chocolatiers in London.   All of the chocolates are hand made using some of the finest quality chocolate to be grown and produced.  Marc Demarquette is as passionate about chocolate as Jonathon is about tea if not more so.  Ethically sourced and harvested produce is very high on his agenda; he featured in the Panorama documentary Chocolate – the bitter truth.  He spoke a little about the history and the ethics of buying truly “fair traded” chocolate.  He spoke to us about the importance of provenance as well as of production.  Real chocolate is slow chocolate – it takes a lot of time to ferment, roast and conch. Time is money and if poor people are not to be exploited along the supply chain, we the consumers should expect to pay a fair price. As with all top quality products, less is more.  Talking of luxury products, he has created three exclusive chocolates for Tregothnan, Kea Plum, Earl Grey and Honey.  All ingredients, other than the cocoa, come from the estate.

As I’m sure you are already aware, good quality chocolate contains cocoa butter, an ingredient much prized by the beauty industry which makes it a rather expensive commodity. The temptation for chocolate manufactures is to substitute this for vegetable oil and indeed this is what is used in most mass produced confectionery.  Samples of both deodorised (as used for skin products) and pure cocoa butter (as should be used by chocolate makers) were passed around for us to touch and sniff – we could certainly smell the difference.

Ganache emulsified
2nd batch of cream added

Marc also demonstrated how to make a “simple” (his words not mine) ganache.  This was the part I was most excited about, given my propensity for splitting ganache and making a total mess. He made a Tregothnan Earl Grey Tea ganache using the tea, cream and honey from the estate.  He made it look very easy, but the secret appeared to be in using a whisk to slowly fold the ingredients together.  We all then had the unenviable task of eating up the ganache whilst it was still warm. Awful, but someone had to do it.  Again the flavours exploded on the tongue, the secret being in the warmth of the chocolate, although I suspect that the ingredients had something to do with it too. I will be attempting his method sometime soon and if works I will tell you how to make a successful ganache!

At various points during the afternoon, we tried two more from the Ganache Collection, Fleur de Sel and Blanc Manger des Antilles.  This collection has the names of the chocolates printed on the chocolate itself, an ingenious method of being able to select just what you want from the box. Both were delicious indeed.  The salty sweet caramel really set off the slightly sour dark chocolate and the Antilles had one flavour chasing another across the tongue (nutmeg, cinnamon, coconut and rum) – wonderful stuff.  As well as another dark chocolate whose identity now escapes me, we also got to try the recently launched Vietnamese Ben Tre bars, both dark and milk.  In addition to being ethically sourced, £1 from every bar bought is donated to Action Against Hunger.  The 70% dark was robust whilst the 40% milk was creamy and tasted of honey and both have won awards.  Among some of the teas we tried were the Breakfast Tea, which not being a black tea fan, was way too strong for me and manuka tea.  This comes from the Leptospermum scoparium bush, also known as tea tree in New Zealand, where it seems to cover virtually every hillside.  It has a delicious warm aromatic quality and grows extremely well in Cornwall.

Unfortunately, I was not feeling so great and thus missed most of the photo opportunities that were presented – I could kick myself now.  Apart from forgetting to take some of the actual chocolates that we ate, I didn’t take any pictures of the venue.  Smugglers itself was a really picturesque thatched cottage.  We had a guided tour later and inside, it was cosy  and snug and was a good setting for a romantic meal. I was rather sorry we weren’t staying for the three course chocolate dinner that followed our event.  Eisenhower’s chair presided by the fireplace; he apparently stayed one night at the cottage when planning for the D-Day landings.  The location itself was stunning. remote – a mile down a wooded track with the Fal estuary lapping almost on its doorstep; indeed a visit by boat would probably be the best option. Fortunately, they have some pictures on their website, so you can see what it looks like there.

Both Marc and Jonathan waxed lyrical about their chosen subjects and I just wished I’d come better prepared with pen and paper so I could record every nugget of information.  It was a very friendly, relaxed and good humoured occasion with questions from the audience being answered throughout the session. Even CT, initially a reluctant participant, cheered up remarkably quickly when presented with tea and chocolate. Despite feeling under the weather this was a wonderful way to celebrate Chocolate Week, very different to what I did last year, but no less fun.