One of the things I love best about travelling is the coming across small independent companies who put their heart and soul into making top notch chocolates. Sometimes they can be very ‘serious’ artisans like Signor Aguzzi in Milan, and at other times you find a more lighthearted approach, like our new friends the Cocoa Bean Chocolate Company.
It was in Spain (La Coruna to be precise) that I chanced upon a range of products from The Chocolat Factory, another company with a lighthearted approach to their work. In among the various bars, jars and tins was an information sheet which, as it turned out, included a recipe, an explanation of the reasons for a chocolate bouquet, and a little history.
First purchase was a pot of chocolate and pear jam – one of a range – which I just HAD to pick up, simply because I have never seen chocolate jam before. Chocolate spreads come in many forms, but a chocolate and fruit preserve was something piqued my interest.
The lovely thing about this jam is that it really is jam-like. There’s a good portion of pear in the jar, and the chocolate content isn’t excessively high. What you get is a well balanced product which allows you to taste both elements. Imagine finely chopped pears in a light cocoa based sauce and you’re getting pretty close to this jam. Just like any good conserve, the jam has nice little chunks of pear floating around in it, and the chocolate element isn’t too sweet. They’ve used candied pear, which I presume has meant that there isn’t a need for huge amounts of extra sugar. (It’s still pretty sweet, mind!).
So far my pear and chocolate jam experiments have been limited to spreading it on toast, and I really like the way that the heat of the toast amplifies the pear flavours. It’s been a lovely change from marmalade, and I’m sure that when I run out of it I’m going to regret not having bought more, so next time you’re in Spain (or any of the other countries listed on their very informative and well designed website) keep your eyes peeled for Chocolat Factory products.