When the Valrhona Blonde first came to the market I was sceptical. My long-held prejudice against white chocolate didn’t last long, however, as those 15 minutes I spent alone with it completely changed my perception of the medium. But now I have Al’s interpretation which has been diligently adulterated with Helen Mon, Angelsey sea salt.
It seems that many chocolatiers and chocolate makers have to include a sea salt bar. It seems they’re not doing the job if they don’t include a saline chocolate in their range. The point is that chocolate lovers crave it. And rightly so. Top quality sea salt is like sunshine and shoreline with chocolate. It brings out the inherent flavours of chocolate and seems to highlight them.
Of course ‘blonde chocolate’ isn’t conventional chocolate. There’s no inherent acidity to shine through. The caramel, fudge and cheesecake style flavours you would expect are firmly in full view, but, the intense, sharp and noticeable salinity is a random affair. Some squares are seemingly laden with the sea salt, whilst others are sparsely covered.
This is a particularly good chocolate to enjoy with a cup of tea as you can charge your taste buds with flavour, let linger, rinse and recharge as required.
The visual appearance is expertly created too. The logo is clearly defined, the reverse flat and unmarked, whilst the crystals of the sea salt are evident and pronounced which gives it a more ‘artisan’ feel. And it is this air of quality that is also carried through with the packaging as there is little clutter present. The front carries the company name, the product name and the weight – that is all. The reverse gives a touch off background, tasting notes, their address and the obligatory ingredients, allergy information and best before. Many chocolate bars we see seem to cram as much information as possible on to the reverse, Pacari comes to mind here. The focus here is on the chocolate and not marketing.
Of all chocolate in the ‘white’ category this happens to be my favourite purely because the creaminess is interrupted by the sea salt which brings some added sophistication and maturity to the experience.