Chocolate selection boxes and roses are synonymous with Valentine’s Day. Most of the time however, it’s a case of trotting out the same stuff every year to make as much money out of yet another festival. The high streets are full of unimaginative chocolate which will be exactly the same as last year – save for new packaging. Thank heaven for people like Katie at Matcha Chocolat who have risk their own resources, not those of some faceless corporation, to bring you a veritable delight of unusual flavours in her Limited Edition Valentine’s Day Selection.
This is the eighth Matcha Chocolat review I’ve had the pleasure to conduct and every one of them seems to have an extremely relaxing effect. To say I’m going through a stressful time at the moment in an understatement, but the flavour of this Madagascan dark chocolate ganache with Vietnamese cinnamon managed to clear those anxieties in a way that Harry Potter might dispel the mist from the Forbidden Forest. The acidity forms a tart flavour when combined with the dark chocolate ganache which gives it beautifully unusual characteristic. At the first crunch through the shell there’s a waft of flavour that traverse your nasal passage and offers a strange Love Hearts sense which quickly subsides into the more cultured flavours.
The house dark chocolate ganache which had a more direct, simple but similarly elegant flavour. The coating is a few tones darker and more bitter than the centre and does offer some diversity if you just let it melt on your mouth. The couverture used her was from São Tomé and I didn’t think too much to that, but I really did enjoy this.
The aroma for the Jasmine Pearls is fairly strong – as it approaches your mouth you can definitely pick up its scent. However, there’s more to this than the inherent bitterness. It’s more sophisticated than that. The tart flavour occupies the bottom of the flavour range which you’ll notice at the front of your mouth whilst the slight sweetness from the ganache is pushed up around the sides and then top its roof. It’s immensely pleasurable when I notice filled chocolates that offer this variety of flavour. It might have been less rich, at least in appearance, than the others, but it was still very enjoyable. After I had written these thoughts a read that this one is a Great Taste Award winner last year as well as an Academy of Chocolate Award Winner too.
The Chesnutt and Japanese Whisky ganache was next. It also uses São Tomé dark chocolate couverture but it’s all about the other flavours for me. Of course I knew that it had Japanese whisky in it and as I bit in I was waiting for the flavour. But much like a Telsa Roadster the whisky flavour came out of nowhere and screeched around the corner with pure elegance. I couldn’t sense the whisky until it hit me – the front of my tongue was belted with flavour whilst the back of my mouth could pick up on the slight chestnut flavours. This is another example of how Katie manages to combine flavours that either act in sequence or in concert with the flavours playing a duet at opposite ends of a mouth-shaped concert stage.
Pistachio is my most favourite nut and combining it with matcha is a masterstroke. In the previous ganaches the flavours have been distinct. However, here they’re all swirling around just like you get when you put a dash of washing up liquid in a bowl and swirl it around – the vivid colours all mix and form a dance of colours as they combine and then separate. The shell coating is thick and crunchy with a dusty coating that serves as a delightful break from the more traditional textures. It’s those flavours that are just sublime though. To me matcha and pistachio are very similar tastes (for those of you interested I actually “see” flavour, hence the obscure descriptions), but even if they have as similar profile they work extremely well together. I could quite easily consume these all day.
The Yuzu puree a pure delight despite being tart. The citrus fruit didn’t know if it was a grapefruit or an orange and it’s this unusual flavour which I was enjoyable not only because it’s unique but if offered a sojourn into a different area of the flavour spectrum not yet approached in this box of chocolates.
The Ginger & Lemongrass is another sneaky ganache like the Chesnut and Whisky. It started off so meek and mild and then the ginger and lemongrass flavour game out of nowhere. Again this one is quite tart but at a much more focused level. Just the one side of my inner cheek is feeling a slight effect of the astringency of the ginger whilst the lemongrass offers another clean flavour. But yet there’s a great floral character too which underlies the distinct flavours of the spice and grass. I’m not entirely sure how Katie managed it, but it is just as pleasant as it is unusual.
The Cardamom and Banana was also another that I found immensely pleasurable. It helps that I’m a huge fan of banana with chocolate and am also partial to cardamom too. But what I loved about it is the floral fore-taste which is followed by the caramel-like flavour banana which has the spicy interesting notes of the cardamom above. Most delicious.
I feel that a selection box should be a journey just like a concept album. There should be a story that takes you somewhere you haven’t been before. I’ve travelled widely in a physical and in a chocolate sense, but I’ve never been to the places that this box took me on. This is no bucket package tour to Benidorm, this is air balloon tour through Asia – not bad for just £16.95!