Well, we’re only a few weeks away from Christmas, and of course that means seasonal chocolate products are already making their way onto the shelves.
The Cocoa Bean ladies were good enough to send me this rather interesting little number for my appraisal – a limited edition 53% cocoa bar containing (and I quote) “the heady aroma of Norwegian Spruce, the mellow melt of Rosemary, the burst of ginger, the tingle of winter spices and Clementine zest in the air”. Whew, that’s quite a lot to cram into a 75g bar!
It certainly has a distinct whiff of Rosemary and citrus about it, which is no bad thing in my book. I love the smell of Rosemary, and was delighted when I found my first Rosemary / chocolate combination earlier this year. Of course there is always the danger that using such a powerfully aromatic herb might detract from any other ingredient – particularly the chocolate! – so I didn’t hesitate too long before I popped a piece into my mouth for the real test.
The unique way Cocoa Bean make their bars means one can either select a virtuously small square or a slightly more satisfying rectangle. I opted for the virtuous square, and was rewarded with a first flavour of Rosemary that was surprisingly strong. However, it soon softened off as the citrus flavour of the Clementine zest. A glance at the ingredients told me that there was also a hint of clove (thankfully only a hint), cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, oil of pine (making this my second “tree” chocolate) and (but of course) frankincense and myrrh. In other words, there’s been some rather serious experimentation and blending going on to arrive at the final recipe.
The thing is – is this just a gimmicky Christmas novelty? The chocolate itself is excellent stuff. Dark, rich, soft on the palate, and it manages to make itself ‘heard’ above the zesty, spicy, Christmas flavours. The blend of flavours has obviously been perfected (one can only imagine how many hours were spent making THIS happen) and the whole thing hangs together very well. I found mysef admiring the Cocoa Bean sisters for daring to attempt this, and for pulling it off so well. It ought to be a limited edition just because of what it is, but I think it goes beyond ‘gimmick’. Think of it more like a Christmas special – like the seasonal edition of one of your favourite TV programmes. It’s brave, slightly wacky, and very tasty.
Definitely something special for a stocking filler or your Christmas hamper.