Sciolti Botanical Chocolate Bars

Although Fiona Sciolti and I have been friends on Facebook for a while, it wasn’t until a recent summery Sunday at Tatton Park for a Foodies Festival that we actually met for the first time. One of her first words to me then are still my favourite: “here’s some chocolate for you”. Of course I didn’t say no even if I hadn’t of researched what her company was about and I always like to be one step ahead.

For me, there are just far too many chocolatiers in the UK alone for me to keep tracks on and many, I’m afraid just aren’t all that original. Thankfully Fiona has a twist that does make her stand out from the burgeoning crowd – her use of real fruits, teas, flowers, herbs and honeys. To my mind far too many in the industry use off-the-shelf extracts and oils rather than top quality, authentic ingredients. Once I became aware of her focus on natural ingredients that I couldn’t wait to tuck in.
Fiona has many chocolate bars to choose from; however the four to hand were Rose with milk chocolate, a Cocoa Nibs with Sea Salt also in milk, a Cherry & Pistachio in dark and an Orange and Chilli in dark.

Starting off with the Rose – I was a bit trepidatious with this one as generally I’m not milk chocolate fan and when I do I enjoy it with more powerful flavours than the very subtle and mellow rose. I’m still of the same opinion here but I do recognise the quality of the ingredients and the wonderful crunch that it offers in crystalised form. Of course this particular bar wasn’t aimed at grumpy, dark chocolate fans like myself so I’m sure Fiona won’t mind.

The next was the orange and chilli 58% dark bar which certainly does get my vote. The heat offered on the tip of the tongue all the way through to the back of the throat is utterly divine. I’m fed up with chocolate made with rubbish chilli oil. Here Fiona has used proper, natural chilli flakes which allow the heat to be delivered straight away as its flavour isn’t tucked away within the chocolate core. Orange too is often delivered by oil which is such a shame. Thankfully Fiona has included copious amounts of crystalised orange that creates a delightful sweet backdrop to the heights of the chilli.

The salt of the next milk bar hits you the very moment you place a piece of this chocolate on your tongue. The cocoa nibs offer their traditional, unique sweetness which is much acute than that offered by the milk chocolate. Again, I’m less in tune with this one than the previous due to its all-encompassing sweetness.

Cherry and Pistachio are two of my favourite ingredients and they do work well here. There is a flavour at the tip of my tongue, which I believe comes from the cherry which has great sweetness. At the back and underlying the whole experience is the pistachio. Again I found this one enjoyable, but not as much as the ginger and chilli.

Of course I’m a bean-to-bar fan, but not everybody is. For those of you who have traditionally liked sweet, all-consuming chocolate with big flavours but think it’s about time you stepped up to something not made by the big, greedy multi-nationals, but by somebody that does have a personal stake in what they do then they should definitely check out the chocolate that Fiona makes. Personally, I’m keen to try out the Limoncello dark!

You can find her other chocolate bars and selection boxes of filled chocolates here.

Lee McCoy

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