I happened to pass by one of Hotel Chocolat’s stores recently and decided to pop in for a look, since we’ve not been sent anything from them for a while. While Hotel Chocolat continue to bring out ever more outrageous, quirky and downright strange looking products, they’ve also been developing new ranges of bars and i was delighted to see a whole slew of new ‘Purist’ bars on display.
This bar is a very close relative of the 42% cocoa milk chocolate bar I was sent last year, and it was for that very reason that I selected this one. At almost £5 for 70g of chocolate, this is a fairly pricey purchase, but you’re buying the equivalent of a vintage wine – indeed, the wrapper does have the words ‘rare and vintage’ under the ‘Purist’ tag.
The beans for this bar are Trintario, grown on St. Lucia as part of Hotel Chocolat’s ‘engaged ethics’ programme. Beans are harvested and collected at the Rabot Estate, where they are fermented and dried under strict controls before being conched for only 48 hours. Once the cocoa is ready, all that’s added is the ‘dash of milk’, a touch of vanilla, and a minimal amount of sugar.
And the chocolate? Fantastic. Smooth, mellow cocoa with hints of caramel, a creamy, rich texture with a hint of citrus top notes, and enormous depth and character. If your normal choice is milk chocolate but you occasionally enjoy a good quality dark chocolate, then this bar will tick many boxes.
If you’re still eating Cadbury’s Dairy Filth this might just be the bar that turns you away from cheap, fatty, oversweetened fake chocolate say ‘milk chocolate’ to me, and I’ll say ‘Hotel Chocolat’s St Lucian Purist Bar’ back to you, It’s phenomenally good, even if the price will make you wince. It’s good enough to mean that I’ll more than likely be sampling more from this range – even if I have to pay for them myself.