Being a chocolatier is a precarious business. Chocolate is a fragile product, you’re beholden the whims of the parcel delivery companies and the have the need to always offer your customers something different. Cocoa Black may have missed the mark with their Gourmet Easter Egg, but at least they replied to my concerns and are looking to put things right. With all small businesses, including my own, the views of others and our own desires to be the best in our field drive us to improve. So it’s great to see Cocoa Black doing exactly that.
Now, it’d be wrong to classify a chocolatier from one experience of a seasonal item, so I’m glad they sent me one of their dark selection boxes to get a truer picture of how talented they are. It looks like they sent me the right selection as I’m primarily a fan of dark chocolate bon bons with fruity fillings and there are some lovely sounding ones in this box of six flavours with three of each.
The first I tried was an orange and whisky truffle and they got the flavours spot on. When judging at the Academy of Chocolat were having a general chat (not about any particular entrant) about flavours and it came to orange. We all agreed that it’s just too easy to overpower the flavour of chocolate if there’s too much orange involved.
When you add whisky into the equation too, you’re just asking for trouble if you don’t know what you’re doing. Thankfully the guys there do, neither of the flavours dominates and you’re still able to get the creaminess coming through, but there definitely is an order to the flavours: orange, whisky, cream, chocolate – and that’s perfectly fine. They’re also not as “juicy” as I’ve tried in the past, but these are more “grown up” or sophisticated truffles that offer a very good level of resistance to the bite. They’re also very large as truffles go, so you do get a lengthier experience than some of the more commercial truffles.
I just adored the visual of the next – a “chewy caramel”. It appeared as if it’d be a mango comfit, but was actually a very chewy caramel enveloped by dark chocolate couverture. It was nice here to have a caramel that didn’t drip all over my face and desk as I ate it, instead offered a delightful amount of resistance. There were also fairly prominent vanilla notes the menu spoke of which added another dimension and took it away from the bland flavour the average fair offers.
And now for a Morello Cherry ganache. This was earthier than I’d anticipated, with a sweetness that felt restrained. There’s no chemical after-taste that many cherry-flavoured bon bons can have, instead it definitely tastes more “adult” than I’ve experienced from similar creations in the past. It did enjoy it, but stupidly craved for some flavour to knock my socks off like those artificial, mass-market chocolates we have at Christmas – sometimes you get what’s best for you!
I can’t actually remember the last time I had anything with chestnut in? Perhaps stuffing at Christmas? But this truffle was a strange one; I’m not entirely sure how I felt about it. Part of me thinks it was too sweet, but then I love the nutty after-taste it produces. I’ll have to save one to enjoy in isolation and not as part of a stream of bon bons.
When it comes to pralines I’m incredibly fussy. Only on very few occasions do I actually like them. I generally find them too coarse and salty. Although these had a definite crunch I actually very much liked the texture, it just seemed a little bit different. In terms of the flavour I still found it a bit too intense and it felt like the moisture was drawn to the back of my mouth. I’d still have another; it just didn’t give me the wow-factor I’d hoped for.
And now for the Raspberry Puree. This was another dense ganache and for some strange reason it reminded me very much of horseradish sauce. Of course there was no real spice to it, but just the “flavour map” as I call it, was very similar. There was a definite bitterness and a touch of salinity, but altogether pleasant – although I did prefer the cherry and orange bon bons in the box.
Overall, it was an enjoyable experience and a million miles away from the Easter egg. When I’ve worked through my stash (including loads of Cadbury’s :-( ) I’ll be buying myself some other of their chocolates to review.