Helsham is a small chocolate company who founded by Helen Wood and Shami Doshi who, according to their web site, “share a love and passion for fine food”. Aside from that, I don’t know a lot about them – they’re one of the many smaller chocolate makers that have contacted us out of the blue recently.
They sent us this little box of six handmade chocolates which is billed as the “Mother’s Day Selection” on the leaflet inside. Well it’s a bit late for that, but the chocs still look fresh and tasty to me.
The packaging is adequate, rather than anything more. It’s pretty, but clearly not luxury. The chocolates are obviously handmade, but the box doesn’t ooze quality and the menu leaflet is badly printed on cheap paper. First impressions definitely shout “home made” rather than just “hand made”, which isn’t necesarily a bad thing, but a little attention to detail would have been nice.
The chocolates don’t have names, but we have a raspberry in milk chocolate, strawberry in white chocolate, ginger in dark chocolate, Irish liqueur, lemon and Bombay Gin in white chocolate, and hazelnut in milk chocolate. Some fairly conventional flavours (with the possible exception of the Gin), but all made with fresh ingredients.
The other thing worth mentioning is that these are big chocolates – something that appeals to me a lot! They could quite easily gotten away with making 12 chocolates half the size adds to that home made feel and gives them a bit of a personal touch. The fillings are a little firm though. For chocolates these size, lighter, softer centres would have been more manageable.
The flavour combinations all work very well together, and I was particularly fond of the white chocolate ganache with lemon and gin. Any of those flavours could have been overpowering, but it was done with a subtlety that gave it a delicious, refreshing edge. All the flavours came through without being too sweet, too citrus or too alcoholic.
But mostly, these are fairly standard, run of the mill ganaches. They’re very pleasant, but nothing stands out – or goes much beyond what any of us could make in our own kitchens. If I had one word of advice for Helen & Shami, it would be to be a little more adventurous and pay a little more attention to detail. The market is filled with small companies like Helsham, and if you want to stand out, you have to make a bit more of an impact than this.