When Forest Gump said life was like a box of chocolates I’m sure he had Katie’s Matcha Chocolat in mind. If it he did then I’m sure he was describing a life that’s full of sweet variety and wonderful experiences. I’ve had nothing but praise for Matcha Chocolat in the past, and with this being the eighth Matcha review, I’ve realised that her caramels and ganaches are getting ever more delightful with every selection she releases.
So what’s new in this box? Well there’s a mixture of caramels which incorporate firm favourites as banana, Sambuca, wasabi, single malt whisky, rum and honey. How can any life better than that combination of intoxicating flavours?
And what better way than to start with the Coffee, Sambuca Caramel? Visually it looks solid and robust; however, the flavours are so much more refined than that. The coffee is mild and the Sambuca just hiding in the background amongst the muted caramel which is incredibly soft to the touch. This caramel was much more muted that I expected, but actually this allowed a sophisticated character to shine through. Unlike a walk of intense flavours this is more of a Sara Hickman version of Mad World – a subtle version of flavours that in themselves can be harsh.
Secondly I tried the Tonka Bean caramel. Previously I loved the Thorntons Tonka bar and was intrigued to see what Katie could do with this underused bean. The aroma was full of that incredibly fragrant bean. The sweetness was divine and slightly more punchy thank the coffee and Sambuca caramel which was very surprising. Although less complex that that one, this Tonka Bean sill had sufficient flavour to be engaging.
The Vanilla Salted Caramel had a fairly strong hit of the vanilla at the forefront which quickly subsided into the sweet caramel and then a fantastic dark chocolate flavour which dominated the melt. Vanilla is often a frowned-upon additive to mask poor quality cocoa, but here as the primary flavour it was nice to have it as the centre of attention and not as a mask. I must admit I preferred the others, but it was pleasant to try the orchid in this form.
I’ve tried the Masala Chai in ganache form and loved it, but I actually feel I prefer it in this caramel form as the mildly spicy flavour seems better supported by the sugary caramel – it just seems to be more enhanced in this form.
The Rosemary, Raisin & Walnut ganache was next. Often I just find the flavour of raisin too in-congruent with other flavours in bon bons – it just seems to stand-out from the other flavours too much. But when they’re minced they appear to offer a more of undercurrent of flavour rather than the main attraction. And that’s to the benefit of this ganache. It’s far milder than it would be with a solitary raisin inside. With the rosemary and walnut oil there are added dimensions, but very subtle ones. What actually comes to mind is that there are four walls, a floor and ceiling of flavours here – they all seem combining to provide a complete experience.
The Raspberry and Wasabi is such a strange combination of flavours – but they work. It’s like a see-saw of flavours. At first you think the wasabi is dominating and then the raspberry becomes noticeable and then … In terms of sweet and sour they are completely different, but there does seem a similar sub-flavour. It’s a difficult concept to explain, but there are elements of the flavours that have the same presence. And that’s what I love about it.
The Rum, Orange and Honey have an aroma that is intoxicating and a flavour to match – although Katie does manage to keep the balance just right. There’s enough of the rum to give it a warm flavour with orange and honey giving it more depth. I’d probably say that this is the prefect Autumn ganache! I feel a box of these alone would be incredibly popular.
And if Rum wasn’t enough for you, perhaps some Whisky combined with Chestnut would further satiate your boozy desires? The distillery used in this ganache was the first in Japan (Yamazaki 1923) and is highly respected. Even though I’m from Irish and Scotch extraction I’m no expert with whisky, but I found this ganache to be fantastically earthy and with just the slightest effect on the back of my throat. It’s nowhere near as complex as the others, but perhaps more indulgent.
And the last is cardamom and banana which induced a facial expression that I feel the judges on Masterchef have when they taste something extremely agreeable. The slight spice which causes a dry-feeling to my lips is combined with that caramel-type flavour of cooked banana and is just utterly fantastic! I’ve now had over half the box and I could easily have a few more of these. The flavour is divine. I know others may not find it appealing, but for me it is so interesting that I just can’t fault it!
This selection box is certainly one of my highlights of the year. I do get to review the same flavours over and over again. I can’t complain as most of the time the experience is very enjoyable. It’s just that sometimes its refreshing to taste flavour combinations you’ve not tried before. I’m hugely grateful to Katie for sending these over to review and for keeping me abreast of her great strides forward in the world of intriguing chocolate.