Green fingers run in the family, my grandfather was a professional gardener, and although I like how my garden looks, I’ve got the utmost respect for artists that can balance the visual, aromatic and horticultural characteristics of plants to produce a fantastic experience – it’s actually a great deal like the challenge chocolate makers have when they balance the flavours of their beans, their chemical make-up with other ingredients, conch times, how they roast, and so many different other variables. Chocolatiers, like gardeners, are also always striving for the new and unique, at that’s what Gerard and his team have done here.
Of course this isn’t the first floral bar given that I’ve had as I’ve tried rose, violet, lavender and countless other bars of chocolate made with plant material. But I just loved how this bar balanced the various flavours.
The aroma was very pleasant: dark – but not overly so; earthy but not dry. Sometimes it’s easy for chocolate that goes down the floral route to smell like my grandmother’s bathroom. Thankfully this bar is a great deal more restrained than that!
People unwilling to try something new may be a touch put off with the thought of eating chocolate made with orchids as that’s just a flower that they see on the way out of their local supermarket – wrong. Interestingly, most chocolate will have vanilla in it, and vanilla is an orchid. Thankfully this bar doesn’t have any vanilla, just distillates of flowers from Grasse – a town in the Alpine region of France.
Interestingly Artisan du Chocolat have chosen to use a blend of Venezuelan Criollo and Mexican Trinitario which must have been a huge job to not compromise the inherent subtle flavours of the finest of cacao variants with the often robust taste of orchid. I do feel it has paid off, however.
This is very relaxed bar for those who prefer punchy tones, but still a wonderful summer dark chocolate bar. There’s flavour but nowhere near as sweet or floral as it could be. And this is what I love about it. It would have been so easy just to whack some ingredients together and not think of the balance. Thankfully Artisan du Chocolat are experienced enough and proud enough not to just settle for a flavour profile to just tick the “floral chocolate bar” box.
If you’re going down to the Chelsea flower show, pop a couple of these in your handbag (or pocket) and nibble on them for flavoursome sustenance as I bet you’ll have to endure lengthy queues.