When the lovely people at Artisan du Chocolat were tweeting about working on some “magical” wands for Christmas I was left intrigued as I knew they are an ingenious bunch who have come up with some crazy caper such as chocolate Scotch eggs. And after seeing them in store I was thinking “what’s really magical about them?” – being the cynical person I was I was caught up in the seasonal hyperbole where retailers make outrageous claims which their products end up not living up to.
There are far too few original chocolatiers in this country, I could probably count them on the fingers of one very chocolaty hand, but Gerard, Anne and the team at Artisan du Chocolat are some of those people.
Being a typical bloke – I didn’t read the instructions. The fact that there were eight wands filled with banana, cinnamon, lemon, pear, vanilla, raspberry, strawberry and pineapple and then a list of combinations printed on the inner paper, it didn’t really ‘twig’ with me how I should be eating them. I was sitting there munching each and loving them, and then I realised that you’re supposed to combine the flavours together to get a different one. It’s a light-bulb moment I’m not exactly proud of – I’m sure the typical Harry Potter fan would have ‘got it’ straight away.
So to enjoy these wands properly I carefully located the correct wands and then put them together and bite off a handy sliver. And the resulting experience IS truly magical. Combining the lemon and cinnamon you really do get a cola flavour – delivered with a noticeably chocolaty backdrop. ‘Tell me it isn’t so’ I thought, but it did have a Pepsi Cola flavour – queue the quizical look on my face I often get when I’ve ‘finished’ putting together an Ikea bookcase and realise that its inside out, upside-down and in the wrong place.
Undeterred, I carried on as instructed – going for the raspberry and pear wands, combined them and then got a flavour that was definitively Apple Fizz Balls which was just surreal. There’s something a little strange going on here. Of course I was going to test this these chocolaty dark arts further with the strawberry and vanilla wands which together tasted like marshmallow. This is no longer a joke. Combining pineapple and raspberry does produce a strawberry flavour (but here the dark chocolate flavour was more pronounced), whilst banana and strawberry does produce a ‘bubble gum’ flavour that is so realistic that it just amazes me how can be so.
If truth be told, I’ve never had a more fun and engaging Christmas gift in my chocolate reviewing ‘career’. You can keep your tins of Roses, your traditional selection boxes. These, dare I say it, are the Real McCoy. I can picture families sitting in front of the Downton Abbey Christmas special more ingrossed in these flavoursome wands than whether Matthew and Lady Mary get it together.