Flavoured chocolates

I’ve recently started fixating on good, high-cocoa chocolates with unusual flavourings. Forget Terry’s Chocolate Orange – I want a bar full of exotic fruits, flower flavours and exciting spices. They’re increasingly popular at the moment; branches of Hotel du Chocolat are springing up all over the place, and Rococo Chocolates, NewTree and good old Green and Black’s are now supplying supermarkets. (Those after the ultimate posh chocolate experience should put in an order at l’Artisan du Chocolat, where flavours include banana and thyme, tonka bean and tobacco. The chocolates are expensive, but those I’ve had have been absolutely excellent – sadly, though, I have eaten the grand total of two of the things in my entire life. If I can get my hands on a box for Christmas, you’ll see them reviewed here.)

At the supermarket this week, I found myself scooping bars of chocolate into the basket like a woman possessed. Made to put most of them back by Dr Weasel, I held onto an organic bar of dark chocolate and cardamom from Rococo, and a bar of lavender and lime blossom milk chocolate from NewTree.

Rococo are based in Chelsea’s King’s Road, and have been producing organic chocolates of remarkably high quality for nearly 20 years. Luckily for you, they’ve discovered e-commerce and now ship worldwide, and some of their artisan bars and gift collections now appear in Waitrose. Their flower fondants are my very favourites, and have solidly replaced Charbonnel & Walker’s rose and violet creams in my affections. Always a sucker for good packaging design, I’m absolutely enchanted by Rococo’s wrappers, which use images from an 1850s French catalogue of chocolate moulds.

This cardamom artisan bar is, for me, about as good as dark chocolate gets. Cardamom has that same affinity with a bitter chocolate as it does with good, bitter coffee, and the 65% cocoa solids and high percentage of cocoa butter give the bar a beautifully clean snap when broken. The crisp, granular shards of cardamom seeds are glorious against the silky texture of the chocolate. It is unfortunate that these are so darn good; I can quite happily eat one in a single sitting.

NewTree (beware – very busy Flash site with music) a Belgian chocolate makers, are a brand I’d not come across before, but once I saw the label on their Tranquility milk chocolate, boasting lime blossom extract and lavender, I was sold. A single bar is said to have the same relaxing properties as three cups of lime blossom tisane. The milk chocolate was slightly granular, but delicately fragranced and delicious. If in quibblesome mood, I might complain that the chocolate was a little sweeter than the ideal, but this seems almost churlish given how well blended the unusual flower flavours were. I don’t really feel qualified to comment on whether or not I was left tranquil; any calming effect may have come from the glass of violet liqueur I was drinking on the side.

NewTree’s schtick is an appealing one; they flavour their chocolate bars with spices and herbs used not only for their flavour, but also for their health applications. With names like Pleasure, Eternity, Young, Digest, Vivacity, Sexy, Tranquility, Serenity and Cocoon, NewTree seem to have hit on something the rest of us have suspected for years – chocolate really is a universal panacea. Grab a bar if you see one, and please report back in the comments section and let me know whether you really did feel serene and cocooned.

15 Replies to “Flavoured chocolates”

  1. Ooh – rose. No, that’s not a brand I’ve seen before, but it *does* sound interesting. Rococo also do a rose bar (which again, I’ve not tried), but it’s a tried and tested flavour combination – think of all those chocolate coated bars of Turkish delight we ate when we were kids!

  2. Hi Liz
    Hotel Chocolat do a fruit centred selection box, within the cornucopia of heavenly delights is a blackcurrant bombe, I have never tasted a filling with such intensity or decadence.
    Glyn (season magazine)

  3. About fifteen years ago, you used to be able to buy chocs from Gerard Ronay at Harrods. They only kept for a few days, being chock-full of fresh cream, and had fillings like smoked lemon, tomato, geranium and rhubarb. I may be remembering them through glasses tinted with rosy youth (it was awfully nice being sixteen and having the sort of metabolism that means you can eat fresh cream chocolates with abandon), but I still think they’re among the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth.

    The chocolates have now vanished from Harrods, and Googling Gerard Ronay comes up with a chocolate-making kit you can buy at Amazon and some old articles pointing the greedy at Harrods. Other than that, not a sausage. Does anyone know what became of Gerard and his wonderful chocolates?

  4. It turns out Hotel du Chocolat do very lovely chocolate marble thingies for making hot chocolate. They come in all sorts of lovely flavours: I bought both Rose Petal and Chilli. Yum! Even the Young Man agreed that the chilli hot chocolate was lovely.

  5. Hey Mz Lz

    Mr Weasel ought to be giving you all the chocolate you need, want and demand! Am I thinking that you trawled down the same isle of the Waitrose in Trumpington that I did and got derailed by all overabundance of packaging and must have it now chocs?

    And, can you make some suggestions as to what to do with large bars of too bitter chocolate bought by accident (75% and over cocoa)?

  6. I loved your description of the gourmet chocolates, and will see if I can find either of them here in the states. One that you should try if you ever come across it are the bars made by Vosges Haut Chocolate (based out of Chicago I believe) http://www.vosgeschocolate.com/.

    My particular favorite is their “Black Pearl Bar,” which combines 55% cacao dark chocolate with wasabi, ginger, and black sesame seeds. It’s really spectacular.

  7. My diet was gone because of this post 😛 Hotel Chocolate is the heaven of chocolate! I like the blueberry choclate and Aztec receipe one…You mentioned about Turkish delight, in UK Turkish Delight is not a original receipe. You are the gourme that you should try Haci Bekir’s Turkish Delight.
    http://www.hacibekir.com.tr/eng/asayfa.html
    Also Divan is a good trade mark and you can find their products at Harrods or Selfridges.

  8. Hi Liz,

    as a chocoholic you might want to visit our site. We are minnows compared with Hotel Chocolat, but all of our chocolates are handmade from fresh ingredients, hence a short shelf life, but delicious taste! Our small batch bramble Jelly was made from blackberries growing in the garden last year.
    We have one trainee Oompah Loompah – our 15 month old son 🙂
    Our web is
    http://www.lickthespoon.co.uk
    (Sorry if we’ve just messed up your blog with unecessary advertising!), keep eating that real chocolate, it is good for you!

    Mat

  9. I was looking for a really good chocolate shop here in Houston, but nothing seems to compare! I wish the perishables could ship at a reasonable price..
    -Sylvia
    X

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