As you probably already know, Damian Allsop is famous for his water ganaches. Most filled chocolates are made with an emulsion of chocolate and cream (the ganache), but Damian uses a special technique and a healthy dose of magic to create ganaches using water instead. This isn’t as easy as it may at first sound, as anyone who has tried mixing chocolate with water will tell you.
The result is a ganache that retains all the flavour of the chocolate, but without the dairy. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with cream ganaches, but adding dairy to a chocolate completely changes the flavour. With a water ganache, you get much more of the natural flavour notes from the chocolate. In fact, a water ganache can even intensify the flavour as the ganache melts more quickly and covers the tongue more quickly.
Another benefit of water ganaches is that they have a longer shelf life than conventional fresh chocolates. A preservative-free chocolate with fresh cream tends to have a shelf life of a couple of weeks at the most. But I’ve had these water ganaches since attending the launch of Damian’s pop-up shop at The Corinthian late last year, and they’re still absolutely fine.
I’m sure you’ve already worked out that these chocolates are made with 67% dark chocolate made with beans from the Dominican Republic. The packaging is even helpful enough to tell us that the chocolate in question is Michel Cluizel Los Anconès. In a world where tracing where your chocolate has come from is increasingly complex, I really appreciate having that information on display prominently. And I already know it’s a great chocolate, so I can concentrate on the skill of the chocolatier, rather than trying to figure out what I’m tasting.
What’s even better is that this particular box contains four mini ‘bars’ of solid Los Anconès along with the four water ganaches. That means you can try both together and really get to grips with how the water ganache changes the flavour and texture of the chocolate. I can’t think of a better way of presenting a fine chocolate like this.
I decided to try one of these little bars first. It’s rather delicious, naturally sweet with hints of red fruits. Very easy to eat and very well balanced.
Moving on to the ganaches themselves. The first thing to note is just how elegant they look. Beautiful, dark cubes with shiny sides and a dimpled top. Bite into it and let it melt for a couple of seconds and the flavour simply floods your mouth. It definitely has the same notes as the solid chocolate bar, but those flavours are enhanced massively. What comes to the front most noticeably are the red fruits. In fact, it’s so fruity that you’ll probably want to check the ingredients to see what has been added. For the record, the ganache contains chocolate, spring water, glucose, sunflower oil and sea salt).
It’s difficult to say how much the sea salt has lifted the natural chocolate flavour and how much is down to the water. But that balance is down to the skill of the chocolatier and it’s something that’s been done perfectly here.
The texture of the ganache is ultra smooth and the ganache melts quickly and evenly. I suspect the addition of sunflower oil has something to do with this, but the texture is never oily, so I assume only a tiny amount is used.
As you may have guessed, I’ve fallen in love with these particular chocolates. If you’ve never tried Damian Allsop’s chocolates, you really must give them a go. You can buy them online from his website, and they really are worth spending your money on. I don’t think this particular box is available to buy, but his ‘Pure’ collection features this and other single origin chocolates (including many personal favourites). I can’t wait to try them.
Do yourself a favour and treat yourself to a box now.