Winter is turning into spring, the days are lengthening and the birds are finding their voice. Although seasonal cooking seems to be the preserve of fine dining restaurants, I always respond positively to chocolatiers bringing seasonal fruits, nuts and flavours into their creations. Every morning I lay there for an hour or so, tweeting away whilst my avian neighbours are doing the same with their own entertaining dawn chorus. I couldn’t help getting in to the spirit of things when the opportunity arose to review Baruzzo’s Spring Collection.
For those that don’t know, Baruzzo is the name of the company founded by the delightful Raffaella Baruzzo to promote her chocolates which have an Italian influence. And Raffaella has a great deal of experience in the world of chocolate with a range of established chocolate brands, so as I sat down with this selection box, I had great expectations.
As an Italophile I revel in Italian culture, food and drink. I just adore the country and having travelled across it in my youth I found it to be a confusing, interesting, stimulating and most definitely the most inspirational nation I’ve ever the pleasure of visiting. So it’s great to have the opportunity to experience some more of Italy, if only vicariously through the wonderful medium of chocolate.
Raffaella was kind enough to send me a box containing nine of her new spring chocolates. It must be incredibly difficult to reinvent a season every year and even more so to differentiate yourself from other chocolatiers who are also launching similar collections. Interestingly the Baruzzo brand actively seeks to align themselves with couture dressmaking, which, in actual fact is more analogous than perhaps Raffaella may have realised, as obviously dressmakers also strive for the sense of exclusivity and rapture – which I believe every chocolatier should do.
When I opened that brown, eight point five centimetre box, that’s exactly what was delivered. It was like spring had sprung out at me with the colours as vibrant as the memorable Sony Bravia paint advert. The range of flavours within the complete collection include: pistachio, camomile, jasmine, amarissimo, orange blossom, marigold, cherry cumin, rosemary, vanilla, Ecuador 70%, hazelnut, violet, saffron, salted caramel and rose. Although I’ve got a box of nine, I’ll just review five and save the four as a treat.
The first was the saffron. This was as mild but still somehow managed to deliver a sweet flavour for an age after it had physically disappeared. The flavours were clean, clear and precise and came across as more of an l’antipasto rather than il secondo as it was far too delicate to be anything else. It also had a similar flavour profile to homemade marzipan – which a good thing in my book.
Secondly I tried the violet which when you breath the aroma in deeply you could feel it having some substance to it as it filled my lungs completely. The profile was again mild but with a delightful intensity on the tip of my tongue which seemed to wash back like the receding sea and then wash forth again. Although it wasn’t rambunctious, it was still full of fascinating flavour and incredibly enjoyable.
I next tried the camomile which was, perhaps understandably, less overt but managed to deliver a Cornish clotted-cream ice cream kind of flavour which somehow was both indulgent and refreshing. This is certainly another I’d like to try again. Alas I only have the one box.
The marigold was even lighter than the camomile as the flavour was slow to build up but when it did it was constant and interesting. Marigold certainly has a unique flavour and part of me wishes it was more pronounced, but that would contradict the style Rafaela has created. Perhaps it’s not my favourite compared the rest, but it still has a very relaxing affect.
The jasmine had a much more pronounced aroma. And the flavour was direct, fragrant and reminded me of when I walked into the Lili perfume “factory” in Bermuda last summer. Those jasmine flavours swirled around my mouth, washing the beautiful, flowery fragrances around and then settled like the wind had hwipped up jasmine petals and then the breeze had abated to leave a blanket of fragrant flowers.
Perhaps it was luck that the ganaches I picked at random fell into an operatic order where the narrative was unmelodramatic but engaging to start, and then where the pace was quickened and slowed in the build-up to a gripping climax. This is the chocolate equivalent to Tosca where Scarpia is tumultuously murdered, and if only all chocolate was like that. Simply put, if chocolate should be theatre then Baruzzo’s Spring Collection would be a smash box office hit with queues reaching as far as the eye could see.