Lauden Chocolate Brownies

Lauden Brownie

Leeds-based Lauden Chocolate have long been one of my favourite chocolatiers. Their beautifully distinctive chocolates are packed with fresh, zingy flavours always leave me wanting more.

These brownies have a lot to live up to though. I first heard about them well over a year ago when Lauden owners Sun and Steven Trigg told me they had made the most amazing brownies, but lost the recipe! Since then, they have been on a quest to recreate that mythical brownie.

Luckily for us brownie lovers, they seem to have succeeded and I was given this box to try at The Chocolate Show last weekend.

Lauden Brownie

The box contains four small brownies. It’s an unusual format that works well for me. Each brownie is just enough to satisfy a chocolate craving without overindulging. They’re great for sharing or simply for pacing yourself. One little brownie makes the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

Of course, the only things that really matter with a brownie are texture and flavour. The Lauden brownie is light in texture, but rich and chocolatey in flavour with plenty of chunky chocolate chips thrown in for good measure. It’s not particularly moist or dense (it’s certainly nothing like Paul A Young’s chocolate brownie) but it’s not too cakey either. For me, it’s a traditional, expertly made and extremely satisfying brownie.

I loved Lauden’s brownies, but experience has shown brownies are a very personal thing and everyone seems to have a different idea of what makes a good one.

One friend found them to be a little dry for his tastes, but I can’t help but think he might be comparing them to Paul A Young’s delicious lumps of moist gooeyness, which aren’t strictly brownies at all. If you’re after something more traditional, you’d have to go a long way to beat this particular brownie.


Chocoholly Bean-To-Bar Chocolate Making Class

Much as I love filled chocolates, truffles and pralines, my real passion at the moment is bean-to-bar. Those makers who produce chocolate from the bean, dealing directly with cocoa farmers to produce something amazing from the most basic of ingredients; cocoa beans and sugar.

There’s still only around ten bean-to-bar chocolate makers in the UK who make chocolate from the bean commercially. We’re well behind the US, where there’s well over a hundred, but there are new makers starting up here every month, so it looks like we’re on the verge of a chocolate making boom this side of the atlantic as well.


One of those up and coming makers is Brighton’s* Chocoholly. Chocolatier and artist Holly Caulfield has been producing chocolate in very small batches for a while now. But rather than keep the process to herself, Holly has started giving bean-to-bar chocolate making classes to the public.

These fun events last an hour and a half and are designed to show all the basic principals of chocolate making. The location is great too. Holly’s Chocolate Workshop is just a stone’s throw from Brighton beach and really easy to get to from London by train.


Each part of the process is explained, with lots of hands-on time. You can taste the freshly roasted beans, straight from the oven and watch as the beans are ground – initially in a juicer, then in a small melanger.

It’s a process I know well, but one that I always love to see in action. But it was almost as much fun watching the reactions of the group as the solid beans slowly began to become liquid as they released their cocoa butter. If you’ve never seen chocolate being made, it’s very exciting to see first hand how the chocolate you love comes from something as simple as a cocoa bean.

Later in the process, Holly demonstrates table top tempering; another process that can be difficult to get your head around unless you see it first hand. Finally, you’ll get to mould and decorate your own bars to take home with you.


I don’t want to go into too much detail and spoil the fun, but I really enjoyed this little workshop. Although the process is simplified, it’s got enough factual information to help you understand the process in full, and I’m sure it will encourage people to have a go at home. More importantly though, it’s also a lot of fun for anyone who loves chocolate.

Chocoholly Chocolate Workshop
27 Western Road
East Sussex
01273 734 881

Photo Gallery

*Hove, actually.


In Pictures: The Chocolate Show


Chocolate Week has come to an end, and what a week it was!

The climax of the week was The Chocolate Show, a three day chocolate extravaganza at London’s Olympia. This year, the show was bigger and better than ever, with thousands flocking to try chocolate from around the world, take part in tastings, listen to talks and watch the spectacular chocolate fashion show.

I was lucky enough to be on stage every day talking and tasting, so I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone that came. It’s always great to meet real people who read what you write, especially when they say such nice things!

There was so much to see and do at the show that even being there all three days didn’t feel like enough. I did take lots of photos though, so rather than write a long report, I thought I’d just share some pictures.

Click the thumbnails to view the full sized photo and the arrow keys to navigate the gallery.


Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate With Toffee, Walnuts & Pecans

Trader Joe Toffee - Box

Because I live in Canada, I’ve never actually set foot in any of Trader Joe’s stores but I hear they are magical places full of all kinds of goodies at reasonable prices. That isn’t an endorsement or anything, it is just what I’ve heard from friends who have fallen under Joe’s spell.

One of those friends sent me a bar of chocolate so I could see what all the fuss is about. A cursory look at the rather pretty box led me to believe that this was something I’d really like because it ticked quite a few of my boxes. I like toffee in my chocolate, and I’m a big fan of walnuts too – the pecans were simply an added bonus.

The chocolate is rather nondescript. Even at 70% cocoa solids, it doesn’t have much in the way of depth and is simply something to mix all the other stuff into.

Trader Joe Toffee - Detail

That might not be entirely fair though because it might just be that it is completely overwhelmed by the little chunks of toffee which are definitely the star of the show. Or at least they are if you like your toffee a little bit on the burnt side, which I do. There’s also a healthy dose of sea salt thrown in too, and that makes periodic appearances as you munch away.

Sadly the pieces of nuts are rather small and don’t really add much to the entire experience. Personally, I’d have rather had a bit more nuttiness considering they get equal billing on the box and even if the pieces were big enough to add some crunch then I’d at least know they were there.

Considering that this only costs a couple of dollars, this is a perfectly acceptable bar of chocolate but that price tag should also bring some lowered expectations with it too. The bar is definitely a little one note but that’s ok if it’s a note that you enjoy. It isn’t enough to turn me into a Trader Joe’s convert, but chances are I’ll seek one out next time I’m south of the border.


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