La Maison du Chocolat are chocolatiers that I have a sense of guilt about. When I first started reviewing chocolate a few years ago I caught up in the swell created by their funkier alternatives. The Banksies of the chocolate world pushed from the underground closer to the mainstream and naively this seemed more exciting. I doubt I was the only one that felt blinded by celebrity.
At the heart of chocolate, however, there should be a focus on quality and flavour rather than novelty and intrigue. There is, of course, place for both. But there’s no denying the amount of pleasure contained within this bright box of Andalouise & Yuzu ganaches.
Sharp flavours can be so easily over-done. Their acidity, unless tamed, can become harsh and jarring. If cajoled properly those tangy flavours can be combined with sugar and cream to create the most inviting of bon bons. This over-simplification, however, does not do justice to the talent and craft that the creators, Robert Linxe and Nicolas Cloiseau have demonstrated with these invigorating ganaches.
Firstly the packaging can only allude to the bright and fresh flavours combined within. The yellow box and the ribbon gives the chocolate gift and air of quality. Whilst opening it up you will notice that Robert and Nicolas have bucked the trend of symmetrical and uniform display of chocolates. Instead the contents are tessellated and, to me at least, signify another attention to detail in that the dimensions are perfectly proportioned to fit together seamlessly. The Yuzu ganaches are half the height of the Andalousie – which gives you twice as many to enjoy.
The clarity and richness of the Yuzu fruit is just devine. The foretaste is primarily of the creamy ganache whilst the grapefruit-like flavours slowly build up like a summer dawn – the sweet and sour flavours intermingle and just exude indulgence. This fruity acidity given by the Mishoyuzu lasts an age. It has flashes of earthiness from the chocolate coating, but that just adds another interesting dimension.
The Merton lemon ganache comes in shard form and is much more tart and direct – no wonder they’re half the size of their bedfellows. The lemon flavour is incredibly fresh and natural. It wisps around your mouth and just won’t rest until its imparted its abundant flavour. Even pushing the flavour around your most won’t force it to desist. It won’t rest nor pause. Not even the relaxing tones of the chocolate itself can counter the beautiful tartness contained by the most beautiful ganache.
Chocolate can be the medium of such joy. It can also be the creator of jealousy and guilt. Often that guilt manifests itself in regret – the wish that you hadn’t of eaten so much of it. Paradoxically my guilt is that I had left it so long to try La Maison du Chocolat. This is a lesson I have learned, and one I won’t repeat.
* Disclosure – these sweet treats were sent to me via their PR agency.