You can make the finest tasting chocolates in the world, but if they’re unimaginative, presented shoddily and have an unsavoury corporate attitude then frankly the quality of your chocolates is a moot point. Thankfully Claire, Andy, the rest of the team and Chococo are jolly nice people, they make very well crafted and imaginative chocolates and have a strong brand which I’m sure would be recognised by the vast majority of true chocolate lovers.
What more could you wish for? Well, I wished for and received a box of sixteen of their seasonal chocolates – as well as a box full of other goodies which I’ll be exploring in the run-up to Christmas.
One of my irritations is when you have a gorgeous and wide selection of chocolates but a menu card which you’d have to contact GCHQ to decipher. Despite the menu card that came with this selection box being as lengthy as a Belgian’s beer list, it was very easy to establish which chocolate was which. The only downside, from a customer point of view, is that you’ll get chocolate envy as you see some you’d love to try and then realise that they’re not in your box. But needs must. The selections change, and you’ll just be encouraged to buy some more.
Not wishing to over-indulge and consume the lot, which was a distinct possibly, I chose six almost at random. The one that stood out from the rest, purely for its colour and shape, which reminded me of an exploding supernova was the Raspberry Riot. This is had a sharp raspberry flavour due to the use of real fruit mixed with framboise liqueur. The ganache was coated with dried raspberries which contrasted, perhaps distracted, from the soft centre due to its slightly dry texture. You could flip that though. Should every ganache be soft and creamy? Perhaps this contrast, when consumed part-way through the box, would be more welcome?
The Bob’s Bees Purbeck honey in a milk and dark chocolate ganache was next. This had a much more mature flavour. The combination of couvertures alongside with the local honey was understated, but beautifully mellow. Honey can so often be used in excess, but not here. If viewed as more than a palette cleanser it worked very well. The chocolate shell gave it some resistance and melted wonderfully.
When I cut into the Prune and Armagnac I couldn’t wait to try it. The prune was very evident, as was the alcohol-laden soft centre. There’s some good boozy sharpness here which was balanced by the sweetness of the prune and chocolate dome itself added another layer of sweetness and imparted a velvety chocolate flavour.
The mulled wine chocolate started to get me into the Christmas spirit as I’d completely missed the Christmas Pudding chocolate (I’ll save that for later). This one, at least, contained Furleigh Estate red wine, orange, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and a dash of rum. This too was a serious chocolate. The lack of dairy was noticeable, but that was more than compensated for by the dark, winterary mulled wine flavour. This is one I could seriously “pop” throughout the night.
I fell in love with the Chilli Tickle. As chilli ganache should do, it started off slow. It leads you in so you consumed more of it until the heat built up and the creaminess rose with it. This is a special chilli ganache, and perhaps my favourite of any I’ve tried.
I finished off with the cooling Heavenly Honeycombe, and I must say that the soft, sweet characteristic of the plentiful chocolate was married perfectly with the honeycombe which featured as a stripe through the dome. If I could have a regular supply of these I’d be a very happy chap indeed (note to wife).
Overall, I’m very impressed. Christmas offers a time for chocolatiers to be imaginative. Some pass up the opportunity as they slide into overt commercialism. Others, like Chococo create fantastic chocolates that taste wholesome, natural and authentic are worth parting with your money with at this time of year. And what of the Christmas Pudding one? Damn lovely. Sweet, fuelled with rum, raisins, mixed spice, orange peel and a heap of good tidings.