What do people want when they buy chocolate?
They want everything , they want nothing but chocolate , they want filled bars, they want the mutant truffle, they want white , dark , bitter, milky , bean-to-bar gluten free fair trade rawganic kosher halal fruit based aaaaaaaaarghhhh !
So basically,what I want to say is: you can do whatever you want when creating a line of chocolates. It will always be right, always be wrong, and most importantly , it will always be your vision!
The flavour route: there are only two true paths one is a simple path in that you just follow the path well trodden , the flavours have been done , tried tested and voted upon. The other path is simple too , you just pave the way as you go. Wrong . It’s not as simple as it looks. That brick you want to lay as the next step forward doesn’t always fit in place . Flavours are a pain in the behind sometimes.
On the well trodden path we all know that the Aztec and Mayan chaps had the whole cocoa chili pepper salty flavorxaptel thing sorted out LONG before any fancy city chocolatier rethought it up so it’s pretty safe nowadays to combine pepper and chocolate… It’s rapidly become the PB and J of the artisan chocolatier and I won’t knock it . There is a satisfying firework vibe to the proceedings when you first hold the soon to be tasted treat between your expectant finger tips. You know something’s going to happen and that is the unique art of this ancient combination. It’s a flavour with a reputation above and beyond any praliné or matcha infusion.
It does something.
The touch paper is lit the moment you bite into the chocolate. That initial snap and the first suggestion of the chocolate are a prelude to the collapse of that hard shell into a tongue enveloping bitterwsweet balm. The anticipation and apprehension are undeniable;like the best of Mr. Hitchcock we know the chilli is in there… but where is it?!
Never fear, the melting of the crisp chocolate was only intended to lull you into a false sense of (in)security . It begins with a slight tingle , almost akin to effervescence on the sides of your tongue, is it warm? Is it fresh? Ok, the cacao is back, and in the case of these tortillas some bakey corn and salt, then the flavour bubble bursts. Your up until now cocoa butter-coated taste buds are sufficiently ‘cleaned up’ to received the saliva reactivated capsaicin and its show time! Wave upon wave of tingling warmth cover your tongue and trickle past your tonsils, this flavour is a living thing , a wild animal, tethered (for your safety) by the familiar strength and trustworthiness of cacao and sugar. The storm gradually subsides, the crimson tide of pepper ebbs, swishing back onto the beach with each suck of the teeth and probe of the tongue. And then , it’s a memory , a warm rosy glow , cuddled up on the rug of your palate snuggling and smooching with that remaining flavour of dark chocolate sweetness.
I spent a lot of time creating a line of chocolates that would work flavour wise.
I love tart sweetness combined with chocolate . Chocolate is very full bodied and rich , even white chocolate , so that acidity cutting through the sweetness and richness and mouth-coatingness is a sensation parallel to none in my book .
One of my favourite combinations is rhubarb and white chocolate ; it has both nursery tea time charm and adult sophistication at once. That gorgeous baby pink ganache speckled with a dusting of ground sage is a feast for the eye. Then I dip it into 57% couverture and it becomes a dressed to kill vixen of a bonbon . The bitter sweetness as you bite into the coating with an audible ::crack:: giving way first to the bright acidity of the rhubarb and then to a wave of cream. The aftermath is a mouthgasm of cacao, fruit , sage, cream…… That’s what I meant by spending a lot of time creating .
I love the aroma of mint . That cool, alive and positively green aroma as you crush the fresh leaves under your nose and breathe it all in. There’s nothing quite like it.
The combination of mint and chocolate is not exactly a new thing, it teeters on the fence between classic and cliché and often the first thought is of sugary sweet centers with a toothpaste like flavour punch. I wanted to take this tired candy and create something that presented the true vitality of these phenomenal flavours. I wanted that fresh mint leaf experience without it being aromatic graffiti on the beautiful wall that is chocolate.
Well, as many of my followers know, I believe that the chocolate should be the star of the show and not the supporting role. The star of my Dark Minted Chocolate Bars is a Belgian couverture, 60% cacao, well balanced, rich, with a subtle marriage of bitterness and sweetness. This accented with a hint of organic essential oils of spearmint and peppermint. The herbaceous tones of the mint develop after the initial cacao hit to your taste buds ; I like that ‘layering’ of flavours. The bars are hand piped and decorated, not moulded, because I want each one to be truly handmade. Unique , like me, like the person not sharing this tastefully sized, minty chocolate corner of the universe that was intended just for them .