As a chocolate reviewer and occasional judge I feel those of my ilk don’t do us any favours. We look down on certain chocolate brands with one part air of superiority and one part disdain. We’re quick to judge but less quick to understand. We get approached by chocolatiers who create chocolates for people unlike “us” – ordinary people going about their lives in ‘ignorant bliss’. Although intrinsically a Friis Holm couverture may be superior to a Barry Callebaut, who are we to say that a company trying to create affordable chocolate shouldn’t use the later? Not me.
So the lovely Natalie from House of Dorchester approached me with a very open and honest proposal. She knows they use Callebaut chocolate made with a blend of Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria – nations which won’t jump out at you as producers of the world’s finest beans. But should be actively dismiss any chocolatier that uses these beans or buys their affordable and standardised cocoa from Callebaut? Not by default. I’d love for them to get in touch with David Brearley and use some great, and reasonably priced Casa Luker, but I’ll just have to give my views on the current form their chocolates are offered.
I’m guilty of it. I’ll be in a supermarket and I’ll see a clear box of chocolates and I’ll dismiss them out of hand. I even did this in the Harvey Nichols food hall. It’s just wrong. But we should be aware of that there is a relationship and price. The cheaper the chocolate, generally the less pronounced and interesting the flavours. Some ‘top end’ chocolatiers and chocolate makers do take the Micky – but it is a good gauge. The problem comes when you just don’t know how expensive chocolate can be, or you just don’t know a historic quality of a chocolatier, or that most of what the chocolate industry tells you is rubbish. You’ll only actually be in a position to judge when you’ve tried the chocolate and formed an opinion. Spending £9.99 on these chocolates isn’t going to be an issue for most people.
Breaking my self-imposed diet to try these 70% dark chocolate enrobed stem gingers was difficult, but necessary. I just had to know how they tasted given they were made with Callebaut t and I generally stay away from it if I can. The upshot is that I did actually enjoy them. They’re in a different market to the Domori Ginger Dragées so a direct comparison would be unfair. But they still managed to deliver a noticeable ginger ‘hit’ accompanied by a decent, soft texture. The sugar which forms the crystallisation was thankfully kept to a minimum and the heat from the ginger was kept in check.
The chocolate coating was very mute for a 70% given that it had a liberal coating. But there was one thing odd. There was a distinct mint flavour. Now I checked the ingredients and there’s no mention of it, in fact the ingredients were very lean given they produced in some quantity, just: ginger, cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier (soya lecithin). Now, I do know they make mint chocolates too, so I don’t know if the flavours somehow imbued themselves in these ginger chocolates?
In terms of a target audience, obviously they would be suitable for people like ginger – that goes without saying. But perhaps people with a few years behind them. I don’t think these are anywhere near strident enough for people with immature palettes.