Sometimes when I get a selection box to review I can leisurely take the photos. Perhaps half an hour would pass and I’ll still be perched on a fold-away chair in my photography room where my ‘work’ would pass as slow as the red light during the evening rush-hour. It was a different story when it came time to review this Mothers’ Day selection from Matcha Chocolat – regular readers will know I’m a huge fan of her work. My usual laid-back, teardrop kind of approach was replaced by a child-like sense of anticipation as if they’ve heard Santa’s footsteps on a crisp winter morning. I tried to restrain myself, although I’m not sure if I’ve managed – the photos to below may reflect my sense of eagerness and impatience.
How does one produce a selection box for Mothers’ Day? For Christmas and Halloween the flavours may be obvious, but for mothers who play so many roles and duties surely the flavours should reflect their sweetness, their fragrance and their warmth? I think Katie somehow has managed to hit the proverbial nail on the head with these delights.
Cinnamon is used both within sweet and sour dishes and therefore reflects the duality of the maternal personality: the carrot and the stick along with the belt around the back of the head and the comforting shoulder to cry on. This hazelnut and cinnamon creation manages to convey a sweetness of that cinnamon and the dark chocolate enrobing with a bitterness and sharpness of the added sea salt. When I had a sneaky nibble during the photography I thought it was a touch too sharp, but with the calming influences of some Michael Nyman I see it as a lot more clever than that. Just as Picasso’s works are just the result of paint-laden brush strokes, and similarly a five year old’s first attempt at painting is fundamentally the same, what differentiates the two is skill improved by time and experience – the passion is the same. Neither Pablo’s nor Katie’s work are conventional. If you want conventional or safe chocolates, visit your high street. The texture in this feuillantine is more adroit than simply mixing ingredients – it offers something more light than what you’ll usually experience in a feuillantine and thank goodness for that!
The aroma of the blend of Passion fruit puree and organic cream from a distance reminded me sitting on Lyme Regis with the wafts of the local cuisine meeting the fragrant coastal breeze. However, the flavour is remarkably different. There’s still an intense acidity but it’s mitigated by a rich creaminess which gives it a welcome richness. This is a sweet buxom affair, but less complicated than the previous, still precious in its own way.
Next I tried the Los Ancones single plantation dark chocolate ganache and as my teeth clasped around and then closed around it, it let off a crisp whimper and then submitted a relaxing sigh. It’s remarkable how the enrobing can be so thin but yet so audible when snapped. Whilst the ganache inside is as light and airy as I’ve ever witnessed there’s some welcome acidity which gives a more indulgent way to enjoy fine dark chocolate than just breaking open a bar of the stuff.
My favourite bean has to be the Tonka as the flavour is so warm and engaging. In this instance Katie has blended it with a caramel and salted the bean and there’s just so many different tones going on here. The dark chocolate has its own profile and is firmly exhibited at the beginning of the melt and then forms a duet with the fabulous caramel. This is certainly an example when one just isn’t enough.
The next is the Masala Chai Caramel which is a blend of the caramel infused with Assam tea, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, peppercorn, cloves, nutmeg and Himalayan pink salt and should represent the most interesting and travelled of mothers. The flavours are abound, each in concert and each vying for attention, it must represent the paradox of the mother wanting to spend time with her children and her desire for some “me” time away from the maddening crowd. It’s difficult to pick out any flavour in particular as they just swirl around each other with sudden bursts of flavours of flavours and textures coming to the fore.
A much lighter experience was offered by the Lavender and Vanilla within a 64% and 49% dark chocolate ganache. It may be coated by the same dark chocolate as the others but represents a ‘nice sit down and a cup of tea’ moment with your mother where you take refuge from the day’s travails and engage in satisfying tittle-tattle. It certainly wasn’t as dramatic as the others, but still managed to provide some amusement.
Early grey is always an interesting flavour. It’s certainly one that some may not find agreeable. But I just love the sharp tannin quality of it which punches through the sweet Madagascan enrobing. I love the fact that it’s unusual and inconsistent with the rest of the selection box. For me it represents a motherly mood-swing, a strop and a bit of bother. It breaks up the profile of the selection box and if you weren’t aware of the flavour of Early Grey you might actually be shocked as, once more, it certainly is an unusual flavour.
Next, a blend of organic cream and grapefruit juice with Madagascan 64% dark chocolate and 67% Santo Domingo ganache offered a sensation that was truly wonderful. It’s clear, precise and serves as a wonderful juxtaposition of the previous ganache. There’s nothing rambunctious or complicated, it’s just pure, unadulterated pleasure. The fruity sharpness is a magnificent and acts as a palette-cleanser. You could quite easily see this one as the domestic goddess that are our mothers.
Overall, I love the complexity of the flavours and I enjoyed the fact that the unusual flavours managed to complement each other collectively, although many would be thrown off-kilter by the Early Grey. The attention to detail and the hard work that has gone into this selection box must be somewhat similar to the efforts your mother has expended in bringing you to adulthood.
I’m sure that when Freud first thought of the Oedipus complex it was inspired by some Mothers’ Day chocolates just like these, because how can you possibly give your mother something so sensual as this without being aware of her own sexuality? And this leads me to the suggestion that you shouldn’t only buy your mother these, but also your lover – your children will appreciate it.